Europe agrees landmark AI regulation deal
More women are slotting into top corporate roles across UAE organisations. As some leading UAE entities have already done, they should assume the role of framing AI's role in their operations. Image Credit: Reuters

In the Middle East’s ever-evolving landscape of technology, AI stands as more than just a monumental leap forward—it signifies a seismic shift that will fundamentally reshape how we live, work and interact.

In fact, the chief of the IMF during the recent World Governments Summit estimated around 40 per cent of global jobs are expected to undergo disruption due to AI. The UAE aims to be a global hub for AI by 2031 and has made significant strides in harnessing the potential to drive economic growth and societal development.

As business leaders harness vast opportunities AI presents to transform our future workforces and economies, it becomes evident the architects of this revolution must reflect the diversity of society at large. The UAE is in a unique position to realize this vision and has recently made significant strides.

Dena Almansoori was promoted to Group Chief AI & Data Officer at e& and Al-Futtaim Group appointed Moza Omar Al Futtaim as its Chief AI Officer, a role that will harness the enormous potential of artificial intelligence (AI) across the company’s operations.

Watershed moment for AI leadership

There is a real urgency for businesses to accelerate efforts to ensure women take up a central position in the AI journey. Much is at stake – from mitigating biases to fostering greater innovation and inspiring a new generation of leaders.

Female leaders also stand to gain personally on several fronts. Assuming a central position in businesses’ deployment of AI provides women with a unique opportunity to increase their competitive advantage in the market and develop leadership skills.

While this is all very exciting, progress is still needed to ensure women are equipped with the skills and confidence to position themselves at the forefront of this movement, steering it towards a future that is inclusive, ethical, and empowering for all.

UAE is at the forefront

An IBM study - Female Leadership in the Age of AI - indicates 81 per cent of business leaders in the UAE believe that increased female leadership in the sector is essential for mitigating gender bias in AI. Meanwhile, 82 per cent in the UAE see it as important for ensuring that the economic benefits of the technology are equally felt. The report also notes that 51 per cent of leaders in the UAE think that experience with AI will boost women’s competitive advantage in the labor market.

Career progression, job security, and pay raises are also considered benefits.

Despite the consensus that women will be integral to the success of AI, many business leaders agree that increased female leadership is currently not a priority for the technology sector. This is confirmed by the report, which found that across EMEA, only a third of the businesses surveyed have a female leader in charge of making decisions on AI strategy.

In the UAE, this number is higher at 41 per cent. Promisingly, 62 per cent of businesses in the UAE view advancing more women into leadership roles as a formal priority, while 34 per cent strive to do so when possible.

Leaders are split on what the biggest barrier to improving diversity in the sector is. 30 per cent believe that a lack of digital education at the school-age level, while 27 per cent blame a lack of interest in diversity and inclusion from technology companies.

A further 25 per cent of leaders in the UAE cite a lack of representation at a C-suite level as the biggest barrier, while 13% in the UAE suggest that inadequate family company policies are an issue.

An empowering and inclusive future for AI

As the AI revolution in the country gathers momentum, empowering women to take on leadership roles is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic necessity. Organizations must prioritize women's leadership in AI strategies, establish mentoring programs tailored to female leaders, invest in reskilling, diversify leadership skill sets, and address barriers to diversity.

By equipping female leaders with the skills, confidence, and opportunities they need, we can unlock a future that is not only inclusive and ethical but also incredibly innovative and empowering for all.

Fostering a gender- diverse environment allows organizations to not only enrich their talent pool but also foster innovation and competitiveness. Embracing women's leadership in AI is not only a step towards equity but also a leap towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all stakeholders involved.