Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the Middle East by storm. According to a 2018 study by consultancy firm PwC Middle East, AI is set to bolster the region’s economy by a staggering $320 billion by the year 2030. Between readily-available AI technologies and those that can eventually fit wider applications, these innovations will permeate business in all industries.
For years, the Middle East has been laying the groundwork for the future success of AI. Dubai has already introduced automated processes and robot cops, and Saudi Arabia has granted citizenship to an AI-driven robot. Additional support for the AI movement has come from the region’s startups, which have driven innovation in every area from journalism to finance.
Here are seven startups that are helping nourish the future of AI in the Middle East:
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Narrativa leverages AI technology to consolidate big data and turn it into new content for online users in the Arabic language. Since its inception in 2015, the startup has gone on to become one of the first UAE-based startups of its kind to garner funding. Thanks to a pre-Series A round from media free zone twofour54, Narrativa has received the money that it needs to build its groundbreaking AI products.
By combining big data and AI, Narrativa is changing the face of journalism in the UAE. The startup has built its proprietary technology into its product, GabrieleAI, which helps organizations create narratives and news stories every day. Clients across such industries as media and e-commerce can use this technology to report on the stories that are not being told and move away from repetition. Moreover, Narrativa’s AI techniques deliver high-quality editorial work at minimal cost to the client.
In 2016, Widebot became the Middle East’s first platform for smart bot creation. Following the slogan “Built to Engage,” the startup makes it easy for people to develop, customize, and execute AI-driven bots with little to no knowledge of coding.
In as little as 10 minutes, Widebot users can create dynamic bots for a wide range of tasks. Whether they want to use machine learning to enhance the user experience or support user conversations, clients can publish smart bots on nearly any online platform.
Widebot is also well known for its flagship product, Menu Maker. Optimized for restaurant use, this AI solution allows business owners to develop bots for Facebook chat. Menu Maker also helps restaurateurs mimic the process of ordering food so that they can deliver better service to their customers.
Entrepreneurs Majd Baltagi and Nehmat El Wazir established the Lebanon-based Giftlivery to provide users with a means of sending thoughtful gifts to their loved ones. Through this mobile application, users can browse through a list of products that align with the recipient’s lifestyle and interests.
To make this process easier, Giftlivery utilizes an AI agent that assists with the gift selection process. This technology, which is powered by Machine Learning, follows clients’ purchasing choices and Facebook account information to suggest the perfect gifts. Once they find the right products, clients can select the wrapping that best fits their order and arrange for direct delivery.
Beirut’s Lexyom has been helping users find answers to legal questions since 2017. Through both AI and natural language processing tools, the startup is working to find accurate legal answers for its users. Lexyom’s algorithms are also creating a more direct path from questions to answers. Not only does this enable users to find legal information quickly, but it also creates a reliable source of answers. Outside of its AI focus, Lexyom delivers legal services and helps connect its clients with skilled lawyers.
Based in Dubai, Comae Technologies is helping address increasingly common issues of cyber security. The startup is perhaps best known for its partnership with Dubai Police. Since 2016, Comae Technologies has applied an AI focus on memory forensics analysis, which is helping the police force solve crimes more quickly.
Comae Technologies also uses its cyber security tools for the aggregation and study of threat data so that it can help its clients better understand what risks they face. This facilitates earlier threat discovery and minimizes the time spent investigating cyber crimes.
Botler helps businesses to develop bots and deploy them on digital platforms. The startup does not require its users to possess any prior knowledge of coding, which makes AI technology more accessible.
Instead, Botler offers a number of pre-built chatbot features that allow for the customization of bots. Whether users want to deliver better customer service or secure more leads, these bots enable them to automate their most important company functions. Users can even publish their AI creations on the startup’s website and sell them to others.
A groundbreaking software solution, Cherpa is hoping to revolutionize the way students learn about electronics and robotics in the classroom. Among its numerous initiatives, the startup is the first of its kind in Lebanon to apply AI technology in an educational setting.
To this end, Cherpa uses an innovative chatbot to assist students during the learning process. After simply selecting the coding project they would like to work on, students can collaborate with this smart “virtual instructor” on study objectives and hands-on work.