New jobs on horizon thanks to Fourth Industrial Revolution

September 20, 2017 5:04 pm

The Sharjah FDI Forum 2017

It’s time you heard of the fourth revolution, sweeping people and businesses. It’s fast, furious and, if you’re not careful, it can run you over.

According to Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create new jobs such as 3D printing design and production, robotics and smart systems programming, while, on the other, automation will replace some elements of the workforce.

How are business leaders in the Gulf reacting to the new emerging technologies that characterise the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Sharjah FDI Forum 2017 held on Monday gathered a group of renowned business leaders and technology gurus to explore the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on future economies and societies.

Human workforce cut at grass-root levels

Regional and global industry leaders agreed that technology offers a more efficient, connected and reliable way of working, but at the possible expense of many traditional jobs for a human workforce that could be cut at grass-roots levels.

“Many ‘blue-collar workers’ would be replaced with ‘new collar workers’,” said Bashar Kilani, Regional Executive, Gulf Countries and Levant, IBM Middle East.

FIR revolutionises oil sector

Zaid Alqufidi, Managing Director for Retail at ENOC, said that technology has beneficial impact on the oil sector.

“If we look back at the Fortune 500 companies some time ago, oil was at the top of the list, but that has now been replaced by IT. Energy is the same as any other industry in this fourth revolution; it becomes cheaper, more efficient and more accessible. We have adopted smart stations, solar energy, alternative payment methods – cash is disappearing and apps are becoming the future,” said Alqufidi.

 Unprecedented rate of change

Colin Hu, Managing Director, UAE Enterprise Business Group at Huawei Technologies, said that the rate of change is unprecedented and, unlike other giant leaps in production and efficiency, the Fourth Industrial Revolution was not restrictive.

“Previously, there was a tremendous amount of outlay and capital needed to take full advantage of the changes, everyone else was simply an employee. But now all you need is a smartphone to become a part of that revolution and benefit as well as contribute,” he said.


Colin Hu, Managing Director, UAE Enterprise Business Group at Huawei Technologies, believes, on the other hand, that people were skeptic about shifts in technology.

“When ATMs first came into operation, there was distinct paranoia about the security of money, but they are now integral to our lives. And when we look back to first industrial revolution and the advent of the locomotive, there were many workers who were against such radical changes because their livelihoods were threatened, despite it being a far more efficient way to travel and transport goods.”

Meanwhile, Kilani commented by saying that professional and personal lives would be enhanced and not replaced.

“I prefer to call it ‘augmented reality’. We will work with this intelligence to help us collect and analyse such enormous data. Fields such as medicine and teaching will benefit enormously, as digital, physical and biological spheres come together,” he said.



Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.