AI to add $215bn to Saudi economy by 2035: Accenture Research

May 22, 2018

RIYADH — Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to boost economic growth in Saudi Arabia by 1.1 percentage points and add $215 billion to the national economy by 2035, according to a recent report by Accenture.

The report looked at 13 industries in Saudi Arabia and 15 in the UAE to determine the potential sector-specific impact of AI on the economies of the Middle East.

The research found that in Saudi Arabia, AI will have the greatest impact on the manufacturing, public services and professional services industries, with increases of $37 billion, $67 billion and $26 billion, respectively, in their annual gross value added (GVA), which measures the output value of all goods and services in a sector.

Even the labor-intensive sectors of construction and utilities will see increases of $6 billion and US$8 billion, respectively, in their GVA over the same period.

The effects of AI will also be felt in the UAE, where it is expected to increase GVA by $182 billion. Accenture research has shown that, globally, AI could boost profitability by an average of 38 percent, leading to an economic boost of $14 trillion by 2035.

“The level of growth that AI stands to bring to Saudi Arabia’s economy is unparalleled,” said Amr El Saadani, managing director of Accenture’s Financial Services practice in the Middle East and Turkey. “AI can help support Saudi Vision 2030’s commitment to more efficient spending in the public sector by augmenting the human workforce and enabling people to become more productive, thus leading to profit increases. In the manufacturing industry, for example, AI-powered machines could eliminate faulty or idle equipment, resulting in a $37 billion increase in GVA by 2035.”

In recent years, low oil prices have forced the Saudi government to take bold steps towards a post-oil future. However, despite these efforts, the Kingdom’s economic and financial fortunes remain strongly tied to international energy markets. Economic diversification is at the center of the Kingdom’s transformation strategy, and AI can offer invaluable tools to ensure success.

“With governments in the region looking to break free from decades-long dependence on oil, AI can act as a key driver to future growth,” El Saadani said. “However, to overcome the social and economic challenges that can arise with a shift of this magnitude, governments will have to put in place a robust roadmap that will enable their countries to reap the rewards of this powerful technology.”

The report identifies five key strategies for policy makers to consider when looking to implement AI: growing the local talent pipeline using AI; advocating for a code of ethics for AI; becoming the global testbed for social AI; preparing the next generation of workers for the AI future; and minimizing the impact of labor market dislocation.

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 442,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. — SG

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