How ready is the GCC for the ‘AI money’?

Is the GCC ready to make the “AI money”?

Yunqi Li | Wired.Me

A McKinsey survey finds that there’s still a lot needed for the GCC to fully unlock AI’s potential.

If you have followed the recent news of NVIDIA, the world’s largest chipmaker, witnessing skyrocketing stock share due to the AI hype, you might have a good idea of how much money is lying in AI and the industries supporting it.

The craze is sweeping all across the globe, and the Middle East’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is no exception.

AI adoption highest in Retail / consumer-packaged goods sector. Source:

AI’s Potential to Deliver

A survey conducted by McKinsey in partnership with GCC Board Directors Institute estimates that AI has the potential to deliver as much as $150 billion in the region, which is equivalent to 9 percent or more of GCC countries’ combined GDP.

The survey shows that 62 percent of the respondents from five main sectors across all six GCC counties are using AI in at least one business function. However, it is merely scratching the surface of AI’s potential.

Leveraging AI models from A-Z 

AI adoption is currently low in several areas despite the significant potential.

For instance, companies in the energy and materials sector haven’t fully leveraged machine learning models to optimize their processes from start to finish.

Retail companies in the GCC have made more progress, with 75 percent reporting the use of AI. But even in the most widely applied area, marketing and sales, only one-third of respondents reported using AI.

Obstacles to AI adoption

According to McKinsey, companies that generate at least an additional 20 percent of their earnings from AI compared to others are considered high-performing. 

But the truth is, there are several obstacles that companies face in adopting AI. These obstacles include the lack of data and technology infrastructure, regulatory challenges, and the perception of AI as an expensive investment. 

In the GCC region, only 30 percent of companies have a well-defined AI strategy or the necessary talent to implement it. And only 35 percent have the required infrastructure and architecture to support AI, and 25 percent have an effective change management program in place.

So how can companies and regulators accelerate the adoption of AI and fully profit from AI? 

McKinsey suggests that the key areas where companies need to focus include strategy, talent development, data infrastructure, and scaling AI adoption.

Tackling key challenges to accelerate AI adoption. 

With the significant amount of attention, money, and potential in AI, it is crucial for regulators, companies, and other entities to speed up the adoption of AI in an efficient and effective manner.

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