Citizens in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have long enjoyed a standard of living known to be among the best in the world, thanks to the region’s wealth of abundant natural resources. However, the slump in oil and gas prices has shed light on a number of challenges and calls for transformational efforts from governments, businesses, and individuals.
Low oil prices may mean the region’s governments will struggle to balance their budgets and find the resources needed to address other issues. For example, serving the region’s young, ambitious population will require generating a plethora of attractive jobs and providing the education needed to bridge any skill gaps. Healthcare will also be in the spotlight as the population has an array of health issues, including high rates of adult obesity. In addition, energy and access to water could become more challenging as the region has high rates of consumption. For example, per capita water consumption in the United Arab Emirates is about 80 percent higher than the global average.
The region’s governments know they need to wean their economies away from oil to ensure continuity in high standards of living, and they are making progress in their diversification and transformation efforts. Large investments in innovation, such as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund infusing money into Uber and Softbank and the anticipated launch of the $1 billion e-commerce company Noon, are testament to the importance of innovation on the business and national agendas of GCC countries.
The Internet of Things—the exponentially growing ecosystem of connected devices and systems—offers a major avenue for innovation and has the potential to address many of the region’s challenges while also spurring economic growth. The seamless combination of embedded intelligence, ubiquitous connectivity, and deep analytical insights creates a platform for unique and disruptive value for companies, individuals, and societies.
Here we discuss what IoT is, how it can transform major business sectors across the region, and what it will take for companies, governments, and the high-tech industry to attain the ultimate connectivity—bringing together the tremendous potential of this unifying phenomenon.