GCC Digital Transformation Adoption

November 10, 2020

The volatility in oil prices and economic downturn due to COVID-19 has given the necessary impetus for industries in the GCC to adopt digital transformation more rapidly than ever. Moreover, in order to remain competitive during the pandemic-driven downturn, all sectors such as financial, manufacturing, schools, hospitals, retail, energy, and construction are leveraging digital transformation technologies that can deliver profits. Rising adoption of digital transformation among industries are expected to fuel its growth in the coming years. Among the GCC countries, the UAE is expected to be the leader in terms of total revenue generation. The UAE government’s has prioritized technology at the forefront of the country’s post-Covid-19 recovery plan, which is expected to build a strong foundation for the future.


GCC banks are moving rapidly towards digital transformation, and an increasing growth which is witnessed in the financial technology sector called “fintech”, this offers digital solutions for finance due to Covid-19. In the UAE, Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) has been leading in adopting digital transformation. The bank has deployed mission critical workloads on the cloud. Mashreq has migrated to the intelligent cloud to scale productivity and boost collaboration. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has launched its digital booking service enabling customers to schedule appointments for branch through their online banking platform. The remote booking service results in less waiting time and reduces crowding as per UAE social distancing norms.


Digital transformation is dramatically reshaping the construction sector by driving away low productivity. For the construction industry, 3D printing, Internet of Things (IoT), drones, robotic construction processes, cloud technologies, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are not only delivering advantages in terms of driving cost optimization, but also acting as a cushion for potential risks associated with sudden future externalities. For example, the Dubai government is trying to collaborate with real estate developers such as Dubailand on potential collaborations in blockchain.

Oil and Gas

GCC’s oil and gas companies in order to remain resilient to oil price shocks, enhance operational efficiency, maximize performance, and drive profitability are turning to AI, Big Data, Blockchain. Implementation of digital technologies such as cloud, AI, big data could cut capital expenditure by 25%. Companies such as Saudi Aramco have expedited its digital transformation strategy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Due to the pandemic, the GCC has made several drastic changes to the structure of the healthcare system. The UAE is at the cutting edge of digital transformation within healthcare. The vision along with strong investments in AI, blockchain and related technologies has all helped in expediting the pace of development.


Digital transformation and automation reduce processing costs and enhance cost efficiency in the manufacturing industry. Pre-Covid, manufacturing companies used to focus less on the production cost of a product, which led to high-end product costs. However, the rising integration of digital transformation post-Covid, leading to automation, has helped in reducing unnecessary costs. The GCC manufacturing sector by adopting digital transformation can achieve Industry 4.0 goals. However, the rapid adoption of automation and digital transformation in the manufacturing industry demands high-skilled labors, which could pose a challenge.


Covid-19 has completely overhauled the GCC’s education system and accelerated digital transformation. Pre-Covid, a number of prestigious universities and public school systems had overlooked the possibility of online education, but currently has been pushed to rely solely on remote learning. A number of schools are also investing in AI-based adaptive tutors, which can utilise Big Data to guide and coach students in online learning.


Retailers are expediting operations online, embracing technology and integrating AI into their operations. The pandemic has given rise to new trends, including contactless checkout, which are being expedited across the GCC due to social distancing norms. Data and AI are expected to elevate growth of the retail sector.
The pandemic has no doubt helped in fast-tracking migration to the latest technology. There is also expected to be a need for over a million jobs in the GCC the next five years, as digital transformation accelerates in several industries during COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, digital transformation will play a crucial role in shaping the future of all industries in the GCC region even post-Covid.

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