The Middle-East, particularly the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have been in the headlines, worldwide for their rapid modernization and the creation of true architectural wonders of the world. From Palm Jumeirah in the UAE to Qatar’s new World Cup 2020 infrastructure, the obscenely wealthy nations of the region appear to be in a footrace to see which can meet or exceed the urban standards, long-dominated by European, North America, and the Far East nations.
Now, as we enter the fabled fourth industrial revolution (4IR), it’s clear that the affluent nations of the Middle-East have been positioning themselves to become global leaders. Investing heavily in tech with extravagant plans for the future might seem absurd to outsiders but might appear right to those familiar with the region. The Middle-East already looks to have the momentum at the forefront of 4IR as it comes to fruition.
Creating a Digi-tech-savvy populous
Any nation that hopes to be classed as a leader should have powerful, widespread internet access. The Middle-East countries, particularly those within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – invested heavily in getting the internet to the people. In Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE, internet penetration rates exceed 97 %, above 90 % in Saudi Arabia and nearly 77% in Oman.
People, who have internet access across the region, have greater connectivity, faster business, and access to the world’s information platforms. However, what’s been most compelling about adopting the online space in the Middle-East is its massive usage for entertainment purposes. As people log in for work and fun, everyone’s become very online-savvy, knowing how to use and apply the internet capabilities.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the rise of the iGaming industry across Arabic nations. iGaming – which encompasses betting and online casino gaming, isn’t present in a land-based form across the region. Through a decent internet connection, people have adopted online games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, slots, and even Pai Gow Poker. In fact, these online casinos have had so many new players from the region that many offer their services in local languages. Sites like this offer reviews and rankings of the available casino operators, helping players find the best games. Even more, new bettors will find guides that explain the most important details they need to know.
Another form of entertainment that has been made possible by the rapid adoption of the latest tech and the internet is video gaming. It’s already estimated that the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region has a gaming market worth close to $4.5 billion with over 100 million gamers in the Middle-East alone. In fact, Saudi Arabia sits 19th in global gaming revenues, with the UAE in 35th, while familiarity and engagement in MENA eSports in those two nations stand 19th and 23rd in the world.
These aspects may seem somewhat trivial to some. Still, widespread adoption of such tech-forward options in peoples’ spare time shows a hunger among the public to embrace and utilize new technologies. Now they’re booming.
Backing tech financially and in practice
Cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, had been a buzzword for the last few years but had predominantly been advertised as an investment vehicle. In the Middle-East, while trading platforms for these virtual coins, like BitOasis, have a place, the leading nations have gone big on digital cash. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are aiming to set the trends for the future of finance.
New regulations in the Gulf nations have made them very appealing to fintech companies. Being thorough in their rules and forward-thinking is enough for serious industry growth. At one point, Malta looked to position itself as a loose-regulations haven for blockchains and the cryptocurrencies that utilize the technology. But the more methodical and clear-cut approach from Bahrain and UAE have seen them already hand out licenses to crypto companies.
Decentralized economies are seen as the future of finance, particularly after the scrutiny of Central Banks in developing nations. The market collapses and oddities are also predominantly seen in the US. The issue of Bitcoin, which allows people to escape the talons of governments and the rich, was a lack of regulation, even though, in theory, it doesn’t need any because of the blockchain. Still, nations of the GCC are putting down a favorable regulatory framework that will go a long way towards reaching the future of finance.
For the future of the planet and humanity, the audacious investment in smart and green technologies is important. Through the use of key green technologies, like renewable energies, the prominent Middle-East nations are continually trying to build towards a green future, having established their wealth on harmful fossil fuels.
There has been a tremendous amount of investment from progressive governments of the region into renewable energy companies. These governments have also introduced sustainability initiatives and directly called on specific institutions to adopt green policies.
Across GCC nations, solar has become the new oil with tariffs of fossil fuel power and renewable power reaching parity. Much of this is seldom advertised to the rest of the world, but the Saudi Crown Prince’s plans for NEOM – a $500 billion project-create a network of smart cities powered entirely by clean energy, with the focus being on nature.
The Middle-East is making all the right moves to position itself among the leaders of 4IR. Thanks to its nations’ identifying aspects like digital currencies and green technology that are crucially going forward.