Business / #ForbesBusiness

February 18, 2018,   2:34 PM

Nearly 20 Million Jobs In The Middle East Could Be Automated

Farah Al-Toukhi


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Nearly 45% of existing jobs in the Middle East could be automated in the near future, a new study has shown.

According to a recent survey done by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the potential for automation could translate into large scale economic value and opportunities within the Middle East region. The survey of six Middle Eastern countries showed that $366.6 billion in wage income and 20.8 million full-time equivalent employees are associated with activities that are already technically automatized today.

However, this might not be applicable across all sectors. Research has shown that certain sectors are more suitable for automation than others as they follow a routine. Manufacturing, transportation and warehousing were found to be the most suitable for automation while arts, entertainment, recreation, healthcare and education- all of which require human interaction- had the lowest potential for automation.

McKinsey also noted that the potential benefits of automation will significantly decrease for employees who do not hold bachelor or graduate degrees. With about 57% of the region's current employed workforce not having completed  high school education, this could risk the impact of automation.

But research shows that if policymakers equip workers with the right skills this will increase opportunities for new jobs.

“For countries such as the U.A.E., Bahrain and Kuwait, the projected proportion of work, and by extension workers, displaced is higher than the projected global average. This means workers in these countries will need to evolve to adapt to global forces of workforce automation and technological progress more rapidly than other countries in the region,”says Jan Peter Moore, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company.

In the U.A.E. and other similar markets in the Gulf region, partial automation has commenced in sectors such as administration and support, government, manufacturing, construction, and retail trade as well as wholesale trade. The survey estimates that more than 93% of the labor-saving technical automation potential applies to jobs currently held by expat workers.


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