New research indicates that the sentiment towards generative AI in the UAE is predominantly positive, aligning with worldwide trends that demonstrate high consumer awareness and enthusiasm for AI. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), titled 'Consumers Know More About AI than Business Leaders Think', reveals that consumers have a high level of knowledge and excitement about AI. The research, conducted by BCG’s Center for Customer Insight, surveyed 21,000 respondents from 21 countries across six continents to gauge awareness, usage, and sentiment towards AI and GenAI. It also investigated the role of AI in the workplace.

Rami Mourtada, Partner & Director at BCG, noted, 'While perception and usage differ by market, age, and exposure, consumers in the UAE deeply value AI, outpacing many other regions. This underscores the region’s progressive stance on technology and should alert business leaders. High engagement in the UAE necessitates responsible AI frameworks that tackle consumers’ data privacy issues. We must nurture this positive perspective while handling the concerns that come with such significant changes.'

Globally, over 80% of survey participants are aware of GenAI, with a quarter actively using it. Younger individuals under 35 show greater engagement, with 86% awareness and 32% usage compared to 80% awareness and 20% usage among those over 35. In the UAE, 91% of consumers are aware of GenAI, and 34% use these technologies. Emotions vary: 37% are excited, 46% feel conflicted, and 17% are concerned, yielding a net sentiment of 20%.

The UAE government demonstrates strong AI engagement, with initiatives like the Falcon 2 AI model, aiming to rival Meta and Open AI, positioning the country as a leader in AI development. This commitment to integrating AI across industries is evident. In the UAE, 67% of employees are excited about GenAI’s potential to improve their work environment, with only 13% expressing concerns, reflecting a workforce that views AI as a tool for innovation and efficiency, resulting in a net sentiment of 54% in favor of AI.

AI applications are swiftly gaining traction, and the UAE shows its readiness to integrate AI at all business levels. Leaders must concentrate on people, process changes, and technological implementation to harness AI’s potential. Mark Zaleski, Managing Partner & Director at BCG X, stated, 'The enthusiasm for GenAI among UAE professionals highlights a dynamic workforce that sees AI as a tool and a partner in driving innovation and efficiency. We must continue to foster this positive outlook while addressing the concerns that accompany such transformative changes.'

The BCG report offers several recommendations for business leaders to successfully leverage GenAI, including emphasizing transparency and balanced sales when developing new consumer applications, piloting new ideas in receptive markets, and focusing on change management and people-related processes rather than solely on technology. Trust is vital in AI adoption, and leaders must address consumer and employee concerns while capitalizing on market opportunities.