McKinsey research suggests the digital market could add $95 billion per year to the Middle East's annual GDP by 2020 if the correct government, business, funding and talent measures are taken. This would involve creating a policy framework that fosters digital innovation and digital venture capitalist funding to encourage and develop domestic technological players. Businesses would have to play a crucial role by creating digital platforms which meet the requirements of the increasingly rapid business environment, through collaboration with corporations and digital disruptors. Attracting and retaining top digital talent will also be a key component if this economic value is to be unlocked.

To realize the region's digital potential, institutions in MENA must make a generation's worth of progress in 10 years. Some solutions will come from combining existing technologies. For example, bio-printed human skin will be one of the first living organs introduced in the marketplace; it brings together stem-cell research, nanotechnology, genetic science with 3D printing technology.

Tarek Elmasry, Managing Director for the Middle East, McKinsey & Company, said,

'The three traits that make The Middle East's population unique are - connected, unemployed and educated; there might be a billion such people globally by 2030. The region has one of the world's most connected and digitally savvy populations and if we can create the right environment to support digital development and entrepreneurialism, this would have many benefits, such as economic growth and higher productivity.'

In several sessions at the World Economic Forum Middle East North Africa meeting at the Dead Sea last weekend, McKinsey addressed the role of government, business and society in digital leapfrogging in the MENA region, and the increasing impact of technology on humanitarian systems.

Elmasry noted, 'The networked world is dynamic and unpredictable. Future-proofing our businesses will be key - In 1935, the half-life of a S&P 500 company was ninety years. Today, it's nine. Change will mostly come from being able to reinvent business models and thinking about digital as not just a function in your organizations but as something that pervades all activities'.

Licensed content from: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Citibank UAE.