Over the last few years, the UAE has become a mecca for IT. A hot climate, business-friendly conditions, and a favorable tax burden — what else could you ask for? But beyond that, what makes the Emirates so attractive is their commitment to technology. The Dubai Expo taking place there only encourages more and more IT companies to move to the UAE. But what should businesses expect in 2022?
Let’s look at the IT trends that have taken over the Emirates this year
AI is everywhere
According to Accenture, AI applications will bring $182 billion to the UAE economy by 2035. And the government shares that view and is delving deeper into the topic to ensure that various AI-based technologies are adopted for government and commercial use.
“Perhaps one of the UAE government’s boldest moves was to approve the use of facial recognition to access public and private sector services,” notes Carrington Malin, a Dubai-based entrepreneur, marketer, and writer who specializes in emerging technologies.
For example, AI is already heavily used in the “UAE Pass” application, where biometric facial recognition allows citizens getting different services from the government. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), Mashreq NEO, and various retailers have also launched services based on facial recognition technology via AI.
In addition, many UAE companies are already developing autonomous delivery services, and retailers Carrefour and Adnoc Distribution recently opened their first retail stores without cashiers. And it’s all thanks to artificial intelligence!
5G is not slowing down
By 2025, GSMA Intelligence predicts 45m 5G connections in the Middle East and North Africa, representing 6% of the region’s total connectivity.
That number is projected to be significantly higher in the Gulf countries, which also includes the Emirates. According to Jawad Abbassi, head of the GSMA Middle East and Africa, by 2025, the region will reach 17m 5G connections, representing 21% of the Gulf’s total connectivity.
And much of that growth will come from increased connectivity via smartphones. Despite global supply issues caused by the pandemic, according to IDC, 5G devices accounted for 35.4% of all devices shipped to this region in Q3 2021. Very impressive!
By being among the first to invest in 5G infrastructure, the UAE and other Gulf countries have laid the groundwork for their mobile operators, making these countries pioneers in providing 5G.
Ukrainian expo on DubaiExpo 2020
The investment boost for startups in the UAE won’t stop
As Digital Digest reported, by December 2021, more than $2.5b had been invested in regional startups in the Middle East, of which $270m was invested in November alone. The United Arab Emirates accounted for the most significant percentage of that investment (37.3%).
As Ramez El-Serafy, CEO of Flat6Labs says, this happened due to the “mega-rounds” of investment, which previously usually did not exceed $10-20m.
Dina El-Shenoufy, IT director at Flat6Labs, adds that there is a certain excitement in the market about the potential of startups, which is why we can see such a marked increase in interest in investing in them. For example, Dubai-based Swvl became the first Middle Eastern “unicorn” to be listed on the Nasdaq in early 2021. Moreover, the reason also lies in the fact that the region’s digital economy is starting to catch up with more developed markets. So there is every reason to believe that this investment growth will continue in 2022.
So those were the top three trends for IT business in the UAE in 2022. Will they pay off? We will soon find out!