UAE optimistic about AI inclusion at workplace

  • 11th Jun 2019

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Published By Khaleej Times

The UAE is synonymous to being addressed as ‘bed of innovation’ and soon residents will get another peek of how artificial intelligence and robotics will be adapted in day-to-day lifestyle.

“We are seeing robotics process automation starting to be deployed across large enterprises like etisalat, Emirates, Adnoc and others. This is the first and necessary step towards AI- and machine learning-driven automation. The top industries that will benefit from such AI-driven automation will be the telecom sector, oil and gas, and transport. We should start to see this shift in the UAE as early as late-2019 and Expo 2020 will be a great showcase of UAE innovation,” said Jay Srage, CEO of Centrigent and head of MEA operations at the Michigan Ross School of Business.

“The UAE has been a global leader as a government to push AI into its economic sectors to drive future growth, and gain higher competitiveness as a global economy. Starting with the inception of the Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, through its implementation across government agencies to improve and streamline customer service, and finally with the establishment of the AI Academy and the UAE AI Council. Now, as solutions are developed by blue-chip tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, Amazon and others, and by disruptive startups and mid-size companies, we are at a stage where the environment of government facilitation and solution availability will drive the adoption across industries.”

He also had his take on whether AI will take over many jobs. “Whenever there is disruptive technology, there is a shift in labour skills, which results from the creation of a new economic sector. ATM machines were expected to eliminate bank tellers; however, that did not happen since the job function of the teller has changed as result. AI will have a similar impact. New jobs will be created. Old industry jobs will be eliminated, and those placed in those jobs will undergo a transfer of skills that will allow them to work in different industries. It happened before, it will happen again,” added Srage.

A UAE survey by Citrix shines light on the optimism of local workforce has when it comes to AI and robotics in the workplace, with 45 per cent indicating a positive outcome within the next five years and 55 per cent indicating both positive and negative effects. When asked about the biggest benefit of AI within the workplace, 47 per cent said it will help them perform very complex tasks, while nearly 35 per cent of workers said AI and robotics will help them become free from the most repetitive tasks.

“It is evident that the UAE workforce believes the outlook of AI and robotics within the workplace is a positive one. This is a green light for technology companies to continue to adapt and evolve our solutions that will aid in this transformation,” said Ali Kaddoura, UAE country manager at Citrix.

Across the UAE, Dubai and the youngest generation of workers showed more enthusiasm when it comes to the positive impact of integrating AI and robots at the workplace.

AI is also a source of concern with 50 per cent of respondents fearing its propagation will lead to a loss of jobs. Despite this worry, a mere 2.8 per cent of workers said AI and robots will negatively affect their jobs.

However, AI is not seen as a panacea. While nearly 30 per cent of knowledge workers wish to be equipped with superhuman intelligence as a super power, they primarily wish for developing their creativity at work. This is the No.1 skill (44 per cent) respondents would like to acquire within the next five years and the No.1 soft skill companies need the most in 2019 according to LinkedIn.

Dr Oualid Ali, founder and president of, said: “The future is here, if you want to be part of it, you have to take action today and now. Most of the successful nations are the nations that continuously watch the changes and trends of the Vuca [volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous] future. As a futurist and technology watcher, I’m always amazed by the UAE and its futuristic vision and strategies. Today, I think that the UAE is ready for an automated and smart future via its AI strategy under the Ministry of AI. This has put the UAE far ahead comparing, even to the most advanced and developed nations.”

Dr Ali advises businesses that digital transformation is the key to success. “Robots and AI are here, from autonomous car driving us to drones irrigating our farms. If we don’t prepare out strategy today, we will face the black swan later and sooner. We live in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the fifth one is coming soon. In this revolution, the technology [especially the digital one] is advancing in an exponential rate. Thus, if you don’t transform digitally today, you will die soon. The digital transformation is a must now and businesses have to embrace it, whatever the sector of this business. If you are a new business or startup, let’s start digital from now, otherwise, you need to transform. Digital transformation is not only adopting technology only and blindly, it is a full ecosystem from preparing the right culture, the talents and skilled workforce, policies, regulations, etc.”

Dos and Don’ts while adopting AI or Robotics for businesses to remain competitive


> Do Invest in AI and create your own startup around AI: The future is smart.
> Do Select carefully the right sector to invest in it and develop your own strategy around AI and Robotics.
> Do Try to use many technologies with the AI such as Internet of Things, Big Data, BlockChain, Drones, 3D printing, etc.
> Do prepare your people for the future jobs, you need to upskill and reskill them: Training and education is the key.

> Don’t use any type AI application, be careful. AI and Robotics have a lot to promises, but we have to be careful with the AI bias. Some AI applications are gender or race biased. This will lead us to a very important subject which is the AI Ethics.
>There is a myth saying that AI will take all of our jobs and the future is jobless, Don’t believe in this, the AI will create more jobs that it takes, you need to just upskill and reskill –

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