The UAE’s investment in artificial intelligence (AI) across the last decade reached $2.5 billion and the UAE is the biggest regional investor in AI in the region according to a report by Microsoft and Ernst and Young, according to reports in the regional media quoting Emirati news agency wam.

The AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa says that the bulk of the investments went toward social media and Internet of Things (IoT) projects. Another eight technologies also saw significant artificial intelligence investment in the UAE. These technologies included machine learning, smart mobility, and gamification.

According to the study, 18 percent of UAE businesses consider artificial intelligence as their main digital technology priority. The UAE’s achievement in applying artificial intelligence at scale is because of the fact that business leaders in the region understood its value proposition and prioritised AI-based projects.

The AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa finds that 94 percent of the companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level which is the highest in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

The report also finds that AI leadership capability in the region is also high compared to other regions in MEA. According to the report, 46 percent of the leadership in UAE companies are reportedly competent or very competent in AI as a technology, while close to a quarter are highly competent.

The UAE’s open culture with regard to AI adoption also positively affects the adoption of the technology. For up to 94 percent of the companies queried, AI strategy is an important part of the discussion at C-Suite level. At 35 percent of the companies, AI discussions are percolating from the top executive levels to the non-management levels.

The AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa draws upon multiple data sources to examine how, why, and where AI is being used in the MEA region’s businesses. The study draws upon surveys, interviews, and case studies across 101 companies across the Middle East and Africa.