According to a new survey, most CEOs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are optimistic about the direction their firm and the economy are taking in 2024 and beyond, but are concerned about the effects of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on their businesses.
Business leaders in the UAE and Saudi Arabia surveyed by international consulting firm AlixPartners expressed optimism about the future of their companies in 80% of cases, and about the state of the economy in 85% of cases.
The respondents were part of the global sample of 3,000 CEOs and executives that AlixPartners surveyed for their Disruption Index, an initiative designed to identify the most pressing issues facing corporate leaders.
According to the study, CEOs in the region are the most disrupted behind those in China, with nearly seven out of ten (68%) reporting that they experienced “highly disrupted” circumstances in the previous year.
Compared to 46% worldwide, the majority (87%) think that automation and artificial intelligence are the biggest disruptive forces affecting their company.
Many CEOs believe that their employees’ abilities are becoming outdated due to technological advancements, yet many of their employees are resistant to change.
Although 60% of CEOs in the region are actively altering their businesses, either now or within the next year, 67% of them are concerned that their company is not changing quickly enough to keep up with the speed of change.
Staffing issues continue to be a major concern; according to 85% of CEOs, the rate of change is rendering the skills of their employees obsolete, which is higher than the global average of 58%.
Approximately 8 out of 10 (80%) also acknowledged that their staff members are close to change, compared to 55% worldwide.
Company executives in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are investing more in technology in 2024 than they did in 2023 in order to address issues.
To secure corporate development over the next three to five years, almost 64% of respondents want to invest the most in digital transformation.
Process automation is ranked as the most important technology that half of CEOs (50%) believe they must address in the upcoming year. This percentage is twice as high as the global average.
According to Gabriel Chahine, Middle East Leader at AlixPartners, “The rise of generative artificial intelligence 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 priority.”