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DCCI examines role of data, AI in driving UAE’s digital economy

Data and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to become key pillars that will build and grow the UAE’s digital economy in the future, adding a major boost to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the long term, industry experts predicted during a recent virtual panel discussion hosted by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The panel was organised as part of the Chamber’s 360 Dialogue Series virtual event titled Data – The Golden Resource of the Future, which was joined by 100 delegates from 16 countries, including Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai & CEO, Dubai Data Establishment; Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President, International Relations, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Baheya Obeid, Insights Director – Africa, Middle East & South Asia, Pepsico; Leila Serhan, Public Sector Director, Microsoft UAE; and Xavier Anglada

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting Lead Middle East, Accenture.

During the discussion, Xavier Anglada, Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting Lead Middle East, Accenture, noted that according to Accenture research, data and artificial intelligence could contribute an estimated $182 billion to the UAE economy by 2035.

The panellists elaborated on key sectors that are witnessing high levels of data and AI-driven transformation, including energy, climate change, supply chain, water management, healthcare, financial services and transportation.

Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Smart Dubai & CEO, Dubai Data Establishment, said: “Smart cities are rooted in data, and as the government entity tasked with leading Dubai’s transformation into a world-class smart city, Smart Dubai has spearheaded the emirate’s efforts to harness the power of data and build a robust, data-driven infrastructure. We believe data is an exceptionally effective instrument to drive sustainable development, and serves as a solid foundation for calculated decision-making.”

Leila Serhan, Public Sector Director, Microsoft UAE Transformation shared her insights on “tech intensity” as a key factor for the resilience and the survival of many businesses. She spoke about Microsoft’s various initiatives to drive the digital transformation of the UAE economy, including its cloud regions and data centres, efforts to upskill and reskill talent, promote coding education, and support startups through tailored programmes that give them market access.

Baheya Obeid, Insights Director – Africa, Middle East & South Asia, Pepsico, noted that Pepsico shifted its strategies to put more emphasis on consumer data and utilised more online platforms to analyse data over shorter periods. The company also responded to Covid-19 by building new partnerships with e-commerce platforms to enhance the consumer experience.

She encouraged businesses to focus on investing and testing when developing new capabilities, stressing the importance of engaging the consumer throughout the whole process.

Addressing participants, Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that the Covid-led digital transformation has not only underlined the tremendous value that data offers from a business standpoint, but made it a necessary tool for any company that wants to remain profitable and competitive.

“Here in Dubai, data-driven innovation is playing a crucial role in supporting the emirate’s vision of becoming a global smart city, developing new sectors and driving sustainable economic growth,” said Al Hashemi, adding that considerable progress is being made on this front as the government implements open data policies and procedures enabling access to UAE data for the community through different e-portals. The country currently ranks 16th globally out of 187 countries in the Open Data Inventory Report 2020, he noted.

“Amidst all of these changes, Dubai Chamber is playing a crucial role in keeping the business community informed of the latest economic developments and market trends. The 360 Dialogue series is a key initiative advancing these efforts and supporting companies as they prepare for post-Covid recovery,” Al Hashemi added.

Established in 1965, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry is a non-profit public entity, whose mission is to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai by creating a favourable business environment, supporting the development of business, and by promoting Dubai as an international business hub.


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