Annual Spending on AI in the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa Set to Reach $7.2 Billion by 2026

  • By: Basel Khaled



    Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force reshaping businesses worldwide, with the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa (META) region at the forefront of this technological revolution. Indeed, the latest forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows AI spending in the META region soaring at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37%, with investments set to reach a staggering $7.2 billion in 2026.


    "With the rapid advancements in AI and generative AI (GenAI), we are now at the beginning of the 'AI Everywhere' era, where AI capability is widening, driving rapid and more widespread adoption," says Ranjit Rajan, IDC's vice president of research for the META region. "The UAE is making significant investments in infrastructure and skills, promoting AI adoption, developing supporting guardrails, and fostering an indigenous AI ecosystem to raise its global AI competitiveness. As UAE organizations across industries begin to accelerate their AI-led digitalization journeys, they are looking to identify use cases with the greatest ROI, develop AI governance frameworks, build a data foundation, and develop new skills that can help them to capitalize on the AI moment."


    Last week's UAE edition of the IDC AI Roadshow 2024 addressed the opportunities and challenges presented by this ongoing disruption, with expert insights from senior industry analysts and pioneering technology executives. Hosted at Dubai's Jumeirah Mina A'Salam hotel on May 9, the event served as a platform for exploring the latest AI adoption trends, delivering essential guidance for CIOs and CTOs seeking to leverage AI's full potential.


    The IDC AI Roadshow 2024 provided a comprehensive overview of AI's game-changing capabilities and the strategies needed for organizations to thrive in an AI-driven future, reinforcing IDC's commitment to guiding organizations on their digital transformation journeys as the META region continues to embrace AI-related technologies.


    Leading industry figures presented emerging use cases for GenAI and examined its role in driving measurable business outcomes across sectors. There was also a focus on the importance of industry ecosystem partnerships in maximizing the value of AI initiatives and the need for robust governance frameworks to ensure success in ecosystem-driven AI projects.

    Two notable highlights were the expert-led panel discussions on 'Building an Industry Ecosystem for AI-Led Transformation' and 'Capitalizing on the AI Opportunity', which showcased first-hand insights from some of the region's most prominent AI and data thought leaders, including:

    Bruno Ascencio, Head of Data Transformation and Innovation, First Abu Dhabi Bank

    Shaily Verma, Head of Digital & Data, A Leading Conglomerate

    Imran Sheikh, Head of AI, Abu Dhabi Media Network

    Dr. Ebrahim Al Alkeem Al Zaabi, Director of Digital Transformation, Cybersecurity, and AI, Abu Dhabi Government

    Rizwan Tufail, Group Chief Data Officer, Pure Health

    Uday Nedunuri, Head of Data Science and Analytics, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

    Shailesh Jain, Global Head of Analytics, Landmark Group

    Dr. Kalthoom AlBlooshi, Chief Innovation Officer, Emirates Health Services

    The IDC AI Roadshow 2024 concluded by honoring the UAE's Emirates Health Services for its stellar performance in this year's inaugural IDC Future Enterprise EMEA Awards. The awards program recognizes technology-buying organizations at the leading edge of innovation, digital transformation, and operation excellence, with IDC receiving nominations from over 600 organizations spanning more than 15 industries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

    Awards were handed out across eight categories in total — Digital Infrastructure, Work, Connectedness, Sustainability, Customer Experience, Trust, Intelligence, and Operations — with Emirates Health Services winning two and finishing runner-up in a third:

    Best in Future of Connectedness​ (Winner): Awarded to Amna Saleh AlHammadi on behalf of Emirates Health Services

    Best in Future of Customer Experience (Winner): Awarded to Dr. Sara AlShaya​ on behalf of Emirates Health Services




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