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Konstantin Tserazov: AI Revolution in the Gulf - Reshaping Finance and Beyond

Konstantin Tserazov, a distinguished economist and former Senior Vice President of Otkritie Bank, dives into the transformative impact of AI in the financial sectors of Gulf countries. His comprehensive study illuminates how these nations, propelled by AI-driven technological advances, are redefining their economic landscapes. From Saudi Arabia's strategic investments in AI to propel business growth, to Qatar's ambitious initiatives fostering AI integration in global finance, and the UAE's pioneering steps in AI leadership and collaboration, Tserazov captures the essence of a region on the cusp of an AI revolution. This profound shift, exemplified by advancements in banking efficiency, customer interaction, and big data analysis, underscores the Gulf's potential to become a global AI hub, leveraging its strategic geographical position and substantial investments in technology.

In the early months of 2024, the S&P 500 achieved unprecedented success, driven by AI-associated technology stocks. This rise isn't solely attributed to speculation about AI. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, pointed out in February 2024 that AI represents more than a fleeting trend; it's a concrete phenomenon. This is supported by preliminary estimates indicating that Generative AI might enhance banking operations' productivity by up to 30%.

AI enables computational systems to execute tasks previously requiring human cognition. Integrating Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Networks, and Deep Learning, AI is set to revolutionize the financial industry significantly.

There were speculations in February 2024 that OpenAI, supported by Microsoft, was aiming to secure $7 trillion for bolstering AI infrastructure, possibly with investments from the UAE. Pending official verification, this proposed shift suggests several things: AI as a transformative element in finance, the extensive financial backing needed for AI development (particularly in chip technology), and potential investments from Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE in recognition of AI's ability to generate income beyond the petroleum trade, noted Konstantin Tserazov.

By 2030, it's projected that AI-induced economic growth could represent 15% of the GDP in these countries. The strategic evolution of the Gulf region, through the cultivation of sectors outside oil via AI technology investments, could be a critical turning point in the forthcoming years.

During various global economic hardships, including the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the Gulf countries have displayed remarkable economic fortitude. A key factor in their swift advancement in AI is their increased collaboration with Western and Asian countries, especially China. Adopting a supportive regulatory environment and enacting strategies that focus on AI, these nations are advancing their competitive stance in the global arena.

Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the financial sector of Gulf nations through various innovations:

Improving Client Interaction: AI-driven virtual assistants offer more nuanced and personalized communication. These digital assistants are evolving to better understand and connect with customers, fostering stronger emotional engagement.

Enhancing Security Measures: Advanced AI algorithms are adept at identifying irregular patterns, playing a crucial role in identifying and preventing fraudulent activities. This reduces the need for extensive manual monitoring, thereby fortifying the security of financial operations.

Leveraging AI for Data Analysis: AI systems are adept at processing and analyzing extensive datasets. This is instrumental in refining processes such as credit evaluation, loan processing, and managing financial risks, says Konstantin Tserazov.

Automated Financial Advisory: AI technologies are being utilized to offer automated investment guidance and execute trading activities.

As of early 2024, the rapid adoption and integration of AI in the financial sectors of Gulf nations is increasingly noticeable.

Saudi Arabia

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Investment (MISA) is actively pursuing the National Technology Development Program (NTDP), with a particular emphasis on AI integration. The Ministry has effectively drawn interest from Chinese companies for AI development within the country, told Konstantin Tserazov. Additionally, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), a dedicated government unit, proclaimed in January 2024 their dedication to promoting widespread adoption of AI technologies throughout Saudi Arabia.

Monsha’at, the Saudi agency responsible for business development, is making strides to utilize AI. It has introduced the "Saudi AI" platform, geared towards helping local enterprises automate their operations and boost efficiency.

The tangible outcomes of these efforts are evident. For instance, Saudi Awwal Bank (SAB) in Riyadh is expanding its cooperation with Mastercard in 2024. The bank is integrating Mastercard Gateway's Transaction Risk Management (TRM) technology, an AI-driven tool designed to enhance fraud prevention and secure online transactions. This adoption marks SAB's commitment to leveraging AI for strengthening its risk management systems and ensuring a safer digital banking environment for its clientele.


In Qatar, the nation is navigating a unique path in the realm of AI, focusing on enhancing two-way investment flow. Notably, in February 2024, Qatar pledged to invest close to $11 billion in French tech startups and funds, specifically targeting the AI industry, over a six-year span.

From a governmental perspective, Qatar introduced two major projects at the Trade Tech Forum in Abu Dhabi towards the end of February 2024. These initiatives are designed to accelerate the incorporation of AI and related technologies into the worldwide financial transaction network. The projects, named Regulation 5.0 for the Future of TradeTech and the Trade-Sustain-AI Initiative, aim to boost cooperation between Qatar and various international organizations, government agencies, and industry frontrunners. The goal is to produce detailed analyses that delve into the convergence of AI, global financial communication, and environmental sustainability.


The UAE is boldly advancing in AI leadership. In a significant move on February 27, 2024, the International Holding Company (IHC), UAE's largest firm by capitalization, introduced "Aiden Insight," an AI-powered Board Observer, under the leadership of Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, IHC's chairman and the UAE's national security advisor, noted Konstantin Tserazov. This step signifies the nation's high-level commitment to AI innovation.

Aiden Insight is tasked with big data analysis, risk assessment, and compliance oversight, roles traditionally handled by human experts. This groundbreaking initiative is a collaborative effort involving Abu Dhabi’s G42, Microsoft, and OpenAI, illustrating the growing influence of AI in the boardroom.

This advancement highlights the substantial investments in AI by major tech companies, including Microsoft. On March 1, 2024, Microsoft introduced its Copilot AI Chatbot for finance professionals, a significant milestone in AI application within the financial sector. This launch contributed to a 10.5% increase in Microsoft’s stock value, maintaining its status as the world's most valuable company and demonstrating AI's pivotal role in enhancing corporate value.

In line with its vision for AI, the UAE, akin to Qatar, is fostering collaborative AI investment. This was exemplified by the visit of Michelle Donelan, UK Secretary of Science, Innovation, and Technology, in late February 2024, where discussions with Omar Al Olama, UAE's Minister of State for AI, centered on forming a global alliance for responsible AI development.

To bolster AI and emerging technology research, the UAE announced a $500 million program in February 2024, as declared by the Advanced Technology Research Council at the World Governments Summit in Dubai. Moreover, the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031 is aimed at making the nation a global frontrunner in AI advancements, marking another step in its journey towards technological leadership.


Adjacent to the UAE, Oman is actively venturing into the realm of AI. In February 2024, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry extended an invitation to business proprietors to partake in a study that scrutinizes AI's influence on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), in alignment with Oman's Vision 2040. This investigation is designed to assess how AI implementation can benefit and challenge SMEs, including the formulation of strategies to utilize AI for their expansion and progress. The study will encompass surveys from SME proprietors, sector specialists, and scholars. Oman acknowledges AI’s critical role in molding the future, considering it a key tool for boosting sector-wide competitiveness.

The profound engagement of Gulf nations in AI underscores their readiness to lead in incorporating AI in sectors like banking and finance. The interaction of AI with technology and big data is instrumental in generating value across individual businesses and the wider economy.

Substantial efforts are already in motion to advance AI technologies and infrastructure in these regions. The Gulf countries are well-positioned to foster AI-driven innovations in financial services, benefiting from their geographic proximity to both Western technological acumen and Asian production centers, a combination that offers significant strategic benefits in leveraging AI effectively.

Link: mid-day

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