Technological Changes are Rendering Workers’ Skills Obsolete, Say UAE and Saudi CEOs

A new report finds leaders are worried about the impacts of AI and automation on their business.

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  • [Image source: Anvita Gupta/MITSMR Middle East]

    Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming businesses, the nature of work, and the workplace. Machines can carry out more of the tasks done by humans and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change.

    A new survey found that most CEOs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are worried about the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation on their business.

    According to AlixPartners’ Disruption Index, the majority (87%) believe that AI and automation are the largest disruptive forces impacting their business, compared to 46% globally.

    “The rise of generative AI is both exciting and daunting for many leaders in the world, but from what we’re observing here in the region, companies are embracing this adoption as a priority,” said Gabriel Chahine, Middle East Leader at AlixPartners.

    The study found that executives in the region are the second-highest disrupted, after China, with around seven in ten (68%) saying they were “highly disrupted” in the past year.

    Also, 80% of the UAE and Saudi business leaders polled said they are optimistic about the prospects for their company, while 85% are optimistic about the overall economy.

    Many CEOs feel that technological changes are rendering their workers’ skills obsolete, while many of their staff are also not warming up to transformation.

    CEOs are worried that their company is not adapting fast enough to the pace of change (67%), although 60% are actively changing their business, either currently or within the next year.

    Staff-related challenges remain significant, with 85% of the CEOs saying that the pace of change is making their workers’ skills obsolete, compared to a global average of 58%.

    About eight in 10 (80%) also admitted their employees are not open to change, compared to 55% globally.

    To respond to challenges, company bosses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia invest more in technology than they did in the prior year.

    Around 64% plan to invest the most in digital transformation to ensure business growth over the next three to five years.

    Half of the CEOs (50%) are prioritizing process automation as the key technique they need to address in the coming year, which is twice as high as the global average.


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