How AI is Changing the Way We Hire in the Middle East

Explore the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Middle East.

March 4, 2024
0 min read time
Safa Asad

As artificial Intelligence(AI) takes center stage in the Middle East, the region is undergoing a profound transformation in its hiring practices. With Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the forefront, AI adoption is reshaping various sectors, promising to revolutionize industries and societies. 

To understand the true extent of AI's adoption in the Middle East, it is crucial to delve deeper into its potential impact. This article explores the implications of AI in the region, particularly in hiring practices, businesses, and future development, highlighting opportunities and challenges in embracing this transformative technology.

What is the potential impact of AI in the Middle East?

The Middle East is witnessing a transformative shift in its hiring practices as AI takes center stage. With nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the charge, the region is embracing AI's potential to revolutionize various sectors. According to recent reports, the artificial intelligence market in the MENA region is projected to soar from $500 million in 2020 to a staggering $8.4 billion by 2026, indicating the region's unwavering commitment to harnessing AI's capabilities.

McKinsey’s research further highlights the potential value that AI can bring to the Middle East's Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, projecting up to $150 billion, which is around 9% of the GCC countries' combined GDP. As the region experiences examples of successful AI implementation across various industries, there is an evident need to explore and understand the true extent of AI adoption in the Middle East. 

By delving deeper into this transformative technology's impact on the region's hiring practices using Adaptive AI, businesses and governments can better seize the opportunities that AI presents and pave the way for a dynamic and prosperous future.

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Are Recruiters Adopting AI in Hiring Processes in The Middle east?

The speed of adopting artificial intelligence (AI) varies across different sectors due to various factors. According to a McKinsey survey, energy and materials companies have been early adopters of AI, driven by their presence in a competitive global market, aiming to enhance production, distribution, and maintenance efficiency. 

Retail companies, identified as the fastest AI adopters in the survey, utilize their vast data reserves to gain consumer insights and inform pricing and promotions, which now facilitates AI deployment. In contrast, the Middle East construction industry faces challenges in data collection and lacks capabilities to implement AI effectively.

Moreover, the size of companies plays a role, with smaller firms in construction and financial services finding it difficult to afford AI due to high initial costs and a lack of IoT technology for data collection. In the financial services sector, regulatory hurdles and a lack of established risk frameworks pose obstacles to AI implementation. 

Despite some companies already using AI, the research indicates that its full potential remains largely untapped, with few organizations employing advanced machine learning analytics and AI models. Marketing and sales are the primary areas of AI application, but its integration in other business functions is still limited, leaving significant value unrealized. 

Notably, there is a notable lack of data and discussion about using AI for the hiring process, indicating untapped potential in this area.

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What is Dubai's stance on artificial intelligence?

Dubai’s Centennial Plan 2071 vision clearly underscores its commitment to embracing AI as an integral part of society. With a resolute ambition to lead global innovation in the next five decades, the UAE recognizes the transformative potential of AI and actively invests in this rapidly expanding sector. As a result, Dubai stands out as a pioneering city in AI adoption and emerging technologies, with CEOs in the Middle East acutely aware of AI's significance for their businesses and actively engaging in its development.

To fuel AI's growth, Dubai has initiated key programs and institutions. The Dubai Artificial Intelligence Roadmap and the Dubai Future Accelerators program play crucial roles in driving AI development, while the establishment of the Dubai AI Ethics Board highlights the city's commitment to responsible and ethical AI use. 

These efforts have already translated into tangible benefits, with AI applications enhancing public services ‚Äď from smart surveillance using AI and facial recognition by the Dubai Police to AI-driven improvements in healthcare services and disease diagnosis by the Dubai Health Authority.¬†

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Is Artificial Intelligence in demand in the UAE?

Considering Dubai fosters an environment of AI entrepreneurship and innovation, exemplified by initiatives like the Dubai Future Foundation, which actively supports startups and entrepreneurs working on emerging technologies, there is undoubtedly a growing demand for AI in the UAE.

According to the national news, AIQ, a joint venture between Adnoc and Group 42, foresees double-digit growth in demand for its AI offerings in the UAE in the coming years. The company has witnessed a surge in AI deployment and the emergence of new applications for the technology both in the UAE and on a global scale. 

The company has witnessed a remarkable increase in AI adoption and applications, both locally and globally, with a focus on critical projects in the oil and gas industry. AIQ's suite of products enhances emissions monitoring, process optimization, and safety in oil and gas facilities, while also targeting the growing renewable energy sector. With continued investments in AI technology, AIQ is set to drive transformative changes across industries and contribute significantly to the global economy.

Dubai's progressive approach to AI, coupled with its proactive measures to promote its development across various sectors, reinforces its position as a frontrunner in the responsible and impactful implementation of AI technology.


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Does Saudi Arabia Support Artificial Intelligence?

Similar to Dubai, the Saudi Arabian government acknowledges the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and its ability to propel the nation to new heights. Global consultancy firm PwC Middle East predicts that AI will play a significant role in the Saudi economy, contributing an estimated $135 billion by 2030, making it the leading beneficiary of AI in the Middle East. PwC's report highlights that AI could contribute $320 billion to the region's economy, equivalent to 11 percent of its gross domestic product.

In fact, the nation's Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020 prioritize digital transformation as a key goal to stimulate economic sectors, support industries and private sector entities, develop public-private business models, and reduce the reliance on oil revenues by diversifying the economy.

AI investment in Saudi Arabia is government-supported and mainly driven by domestic sources, including the Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund. However, to maintain momentum in technological advancement, attracting more foreign investment is crucial. The challenges in the current business environment hinder foreign investments, and addressing concerns raised by the business community is necessary to attract external investment, bringing in valuable skills and expertise to upskill the local workforce.

Notably, PwC estimates that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, surpassing the combined current output of China and India. This substantial contribution is anticipated to arise from increased productivity amounting to $6.6 trillion and benefits to consumers totaling $9.1 trillion. 

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Is Artificial Intelligence in demand in Saudi Arabia?

Considering the strong government support and domestic investment, Saudi Arabia is witnessing a significant demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning specialists. As the country undergoes a digital transformation, AI-powered construction projects are on the rise, presenting opportunities to improve productivity, safety, and quality in the industry. 

The World Economic Forum predicts that the fastest-growing roles in Saudi Arabia will be technology-driven, leading to a surge in demand for skilled professionals in various fields, including project managers, engineers, architects, and laborers. The adoption of AI is accelerating across industries, and LinkedIn has already seen a substantial increase in AI-related job listings in the region. 

To further enhance its professional manpower and ensure qualified workers, the country has introduced the Saudi Skill Verification Program for certain occupations. With the vision of economic diversification and the ambitious goals set forth by Vision 2030, AI is set to dominate future jobs in Saudi Arabia.


While comprehensive data on the specific impact of AI on hiring practices in the Middle East might be limited, several potential ways in which AI can transform the recruitment process have been identified. 

The region is experiencing significant technological advancements, and AI is gradually gaining momentum in various industries, including human resources and talent acquisition. 

Here are some ways AI potentially can affect hiring in the Middle East:

  • Improved Efficiency in Resume Screening: AI-powered resume screening tools equipped with NLP algorithms can efficiently analyze large volumes of resumes, saving time and effort for recruiters. By identifying relevant qualifications and skills, these tools can help match candidates to specific job requirements more effectively.
  • Personalized Job Recommendations: AI can analyze candidates' profiles and preferences, providing them with personalized job recommendations that align with their skills and career aspirations. This customization enhances the candidate experience and increases the likelihood of finding the right fit for each position.
  • Bias Reduction in Selection: AI-based pre-employment assessments and automated interview questions can help minimize human biases that might unconsciously affect the hiring process. By relying on data-driven insights and multi-platform outreach, organizations can focus on candidates' merit and potential, promoting a fairer and more inclusive hiring process.
  • Advanced Candidate Engagement: AI-powered chatbots offer personalized outreach that engages candidates throughout the recruitment process, providing instant responses and to queries and delivering a positive candidate experience. These interactions can be personalized and make candidates feel valued and engaged with the company.
  • Streamlined Onboarding Process: AI can also be utilized in the onboarding as well as the offboarding process to automate administrative tasks, provide personalized training modules, and facilitate the integration of new employees into the organization seamlessly.
  • Predictive Hiring Analytics: By analyzing historical hiring data, AI can provide valuable insights into the success and performance of past hires. This information can assist recruiters in making data-driven decisions, predicting candidate success, and identifying factors that contribute to employee retention and performance. ATS integration also simplifies the hiring workflow significantly.
  • Talent Market Analysis: AI can conduct real-time analysis of the talent market in the Middle East, identifying trends and demand for specific skills. This information can help organizations strategize their hiring efforts and stay competitive in attracting top talent.

As AI continues to evolve, more data will likely become available, enabling organizations in the Middle East to make informed decisions about integrating AI into their hiring processes. Embracing AI responsibly can lead to more efficient, inclusive, and successful talent acquisition in the region.

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Generative AI and its Impact on the Future of Jobs and IT

Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia's impressive $135.2 billion contribution (12.4% of GDP), and bolstered by the UAE's significant impact, with nearly 14% of its 2030 GDP expected to be AI-driven, the Middle East is setting its sights on an AI-powered future.

In his article, Impact of AI in GCC in 10 years, Adnan Al Noorani, Founder of Future Innovation Summit Dubai, explains that the integration of Generative AI is set to revolutionize industries across the Middle East, ranging from education, healthcare, finance, and transportation to communication and manufacturing. 

Already, AI-powered assistants have demonstrated their ability to simplify tasks, but the profound impact on jobs and society demands careful consideration. By embracing AI responsibly and ensuring equitable practices, the region aims to capitalize on AI's potential while addressing potential challenges. 

Thoughtful implementation, ethical frameworks, transparency, and mitigation of negative consequences will foster trust and accountability in the Middle East's AI landscape. Noorani believes that collaboration between governments, businesses, and academia is paramount in unlocking AI's transformative power. Such cooperation will drive innovation, invest in talent, and cultivate a robust AI ecosystem, positioning the Middle East as a global AI leader, attracting investments, fostering entrepreneurship, and propelling economic growth.

Generative AI is poised to become the catalyst for progress in the Middle East, empowering the region to enhance efficiency, elevate services, and uplift communities. Embracing AI's potential responsibly will shape a future where technology and societal well-being coexist harmoniously. By navigating challenges and seizing opportunities, the Middle East strives to create a future of positive change, progress, and prosperity for all, ensuring that Generative AI revolutionizes the landscape of jobs and IT in the region.

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Final Thoughts

In short, there is no doubt that AI is transforming businesses in the Middle East and has immense potential to transform Middle East’s hiring practices. With projected market growth and tangible benefits, AI can streamline recruitment and improve both recruiter and candidate experiences. 

UAE and Saudi Arabia's commitment to AI adoption is evident, offering a promising future. Responsible implementation and collaboration will propel the region as a global AI leader, shaping a prosperous landscape for jobs and IT.

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