Middle East Tech News Round-up

With a number of rapidly developing markets and countries, the Middle East is a hot bed of technological advancement. With these developments happened as such a rapid pace it can be difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on in the space.

In recent months we have seen moves both by western businesses into the Middle East space, Middle Eastern businesses seeking to maintain and grow their foothold in the area as well as governments seeking to regulate some new and innovative technologies.

Spotify Expand in Middle East

Spotify, the world’s leading music streaming service are looking to break the MENA market with a United Arab Emirates launch taking place in Q4 of this year. Although not yet public knowledge, this move by the Swedish streaming service was leaked by a source close to the development team to MENAbytes.

The source also disclosed that Spotify have already leased an office space in Dubai, a fact confirmed by recent public information released during their public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Recent job listings on the Spotify careers website also back these facts with both a position as Senior Editor Middle East and Africa and Technical Account Manager – Middle East & North Africa being advertised in the Dubai, UAE area.

Dubai Blockchain Court

Tech savvy readers will not be surprised that blockchain is currently huge news in the tech space. Many will also be aware of the issues and challenges also faced by those that use the technology in business.

With this in mind, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have recently announced plans to form the world’s first blockchain court.

Created in partnership with Smart Dubai, the court will introduce blockchain technology to the judicial system, seeking to support verification, remove document duplications and create more efficiencies – therefore increase the suitability and sustainability of the technology in business.

The court will also aims to take a future position in remedying disputes related to private and public blockchains.

If successful, this move will see blockchain and the technologies it supports such as cryptocurrency further secured into every day and business life as a dependable and trustworthy technology.

Smart City and AI Overseas Collaboration

The last few months have seen a number of collaboration between the Middle East and other industry leaders to help boost the development of technology.

The first of these collaborations sees an artificial intelligence (AI) bilateral agreement between the UAE and India. This collaboration has been developed with an aim to encourage economic benefits between the two developing nations.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between two key players; UAE’s Minister of State for AI Olama and the MD & CEO of Invest India, Deepak Bagla. An assessment of the partnership and the evolution of technology it will facilitate has been forecast to generate $20bn in economic benefits over the next ten years.

The second collaboration has seen Oman and South Korea signing a MoU for the development of smart cities. This agreement was signed in Oman during the Omani-Korean Business Forum on the 25th July 2018.

The initial focus of the partnership will be financing the technology projects required to create smart cities. This is a continuation of relationship that is already seeing the countries working together to plan smart cities for the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD)

2035 AI $182bn Contribution to UAE Economy

A recent report by Accenture has highlighted that Artificial Intelligence AI has the potential to boost economic growth in the UAE by 1.6% by 2035. Practically this mean a huge $182 billion could be added to the national economy in the same time period.

The report has predicted that AI will have the biggest impact on a number of industries including financial services ($37 billion), healthcare ($22 billion) and the transport and storage industries ($19 billion) in their annual gross added value (GVA).

Equally, less technological advanced and more labour centric industries including education and construction could see increases of $6 billion and $ billion respectively via the use of AI which will increase efficiency and profitability.

The report examined 15 of the biggest industries in the UAE and 13 in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Two Million GB of Data for Saudi Hajj Pilgrims

The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology alongside the Communications and Information Technology Commissions recently announced an initiative that will see two million gigabytes of data being distributed amongst the 2 million pilgrims performing Hajj this year.

This initiative has been made possible via a collaboration with leading mobile operators including Saudi Telecom, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Virgin Mobile, Etihad Jawraa (Lebara) and Mobile Telecommunication Company Saudi Arabia (Zain).

Pilgrims on certain packages with the networks will be able to access one free gigabyte of data for 48 hours. The gift has been made in accordance with directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “to do everything possible to make it easy for pilgrims to perform the rituals of Hajj”.

It is clear that the Middle East is home to a rapidly evolving technological market. The opportunities for growth are being jumped on by huge businesses such as Spotify. We are also seeing some exciting and world leading developments in areas including blockchain and smart city technologies.

Studies and reports are showing that many area of technology are set to make an even bigger impact on the prosperity of the Middle East. We for one are excited about watching these predictions unfold.


Keith Barrett

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