PwC calls $4 billion boost to UAE through virtual/augmented reality

16 January 2020 2 min. read

Global professional services firm PwC has touted a potential $4 billion-plus boost to the UAE economy over the next decade through virtual and augmented reality technology.

As part of a global analysis into virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR), Big Four professional services firm PwC has calculated a $1.5 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030 through the implementation of these technologies – with $4.1 billion of that figure to be generated in the UAE. In addition, VR and AR could create upwards of 42,000 new local jobs, and possibly 23 million worldwide.

To put these figures into perspective, the $4.1 billion projection represents a near 1% boost to the UAE GDP by 2030, while the job creation estimate would account for around 0.6 percent of all local employment. In global terms, both the economy and employment are set for significant boosts, with the technology today contributing only $46.4 billion to global GDP and fewer than one million jobs.

“The Middle East is at a crossroads today as it undergoes a once-in-a-lifetime transformation,” commented PwC Middle East Chief Digital Officer Ali Al Hosseini. “Choosing the path of early technology adoption will have tremendous implications for business, society and the region’s economy as a whole. No place exemplifies this drive for innovation and openness to change better than the UAE.”

PwC calls $4 billion boost to UAE through virtual/augmented reality

While ‘virtual reality’ may be the more familiar of two terms in the popular imagination, it’s augmented reality – the enhancement of the real-world environment through additional digital inputs; think Google Goggles or Pokémon Go – which will deliver the bulk of economic windfall, estimated at a $2.8 billion share of the UAE projection and accounting for $1 trillion of the $1.5 trillion worldwide.

As a breakdown, PwC points to the healthcare (~$350 billion) and retail & consumer (~$200 billion) sectors which could see the greatest benefits locally and around the world, while the analysis further notes significant gains in areas such as the efficiency, productivity and accuracy of employees and processes, in its use for development and training, and as a tool for product and service development.

As one example given, VR and AR technology will make it possible to train employees where previously it was not practical or safe to do in a real-world environment – such as by recreating remote physical environments and potentially dangerous scenarios digitally – thereby saving on both time and costs while broadening exposure. Such programmes could also be accessed simultaneously worldwide.

The firm however expects the benefits to extend to wide range of industries. Al Hosseini continued; “As AR and VR technology finally comes of age, the technologies will improve how organisations in the country operate, make for a seamless transition to more effective processes, and – most important of all – educate people more effectively and generate incredible user experiences.”