Innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data¬heavy applications have become a driving force in advancing the digital economy globally. The scope and scale of their use cases have reached sophisticated levels of maturity around the world, with feasibility and impact increasing rapidly. These transformations have triggered diverse new business models, as well as influential societal innovations and impactful use cases in government operations and policymaking cycles. A widely present example today is the continuously evolving applications of AI-driven chatbots over the past decade. Today, their applications have reached sophisticated levels of maturity driven by advancements in Generative AI and Large Language Models.
The rapidly expanding digital readiness of societies, coupled with the digitization of private and public sector organizations, suggest that the impact of these transformations will only expand on disrupting business models, labor markets and service delivery approaches across the economy. In such cases of transitions through rapid digital transformations, the policy, regulatory and ethical implications for societies and economies tend to go through turbulent phases.
What are the gaps, challenges and future policy directions to grow the digital economy and drive AI impact towards public value creation, while governing the transition responsibly? Dubai has been at the forefront of digitization globally, with data and AI adoption playing a pivotal role in Dubai’s future vision for digital development.
Sustained advancements in digital development coupled with a thriving digital economy do not only have implications for Dubai and the UAE’s GDP and their future competitiveness, but also for virtually all social, educational, healthcare-related and societal wellbeing initiatives and priorities. Today, digital transformation and AI adoption are embedded as central pillars within Dubai’s strategic and developmental plans, impacting every sector of the economy. The quality and degree of digital adoption are therefore viewed as determinants of the future of economic and societal development.
As Dubai continues to diversify its economy and aims to be a locus for innovation regionally and globally, it is of utmost importance to understand the spectrum of challenges and opportunities facing diverse stakeholders in the age of data and AI.
Primarily, this includes economic and market players who rely on a sustained flow of data and solid digital infrastructures for their day-to-day functions, as well as those who are developing digital and AI products and services across a fast-changing economic landscape. Given the UAE’s vision of further establishing its position as a digital and AI leader, and Dubai’s ongoing efforts at building and sustaining a flourishing digital economy ecosystem, the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), in partnership with Dubai Digital Authority and with the support of Microsoft conducted a comprehensive study to identify opportunities and challenges to AI adoption in Dubai and the future of the its digital economy. The ultimate aim of the study is to distil policy directions and recommendations both informed by international best practice but rooted in localized policy, socioeconomic, legal and cultural contexts.