Coursera Global Skills Report 2024: UAE emerges as a global AI powerhouse with a 1,102% surge in genAI enrolments

Coursera, a leading online learning platform, has launched the sixth edition of its Global Skills Report, highlighting a remarkable 1,102% YoY increase in GenAI enrollments in the UAE, surpassing the 861% YoY growth in the MENA region and the 1,060% YoY growth globally. As AI continues to transform skills and work, this surge in demand reflects the growing interest among UAE learners in developing proficiency in AI and machine learning.

The 2024 report also shows a notable 27% YoY increase in learners from the UAE focused on building proficiency in digital skills and enhancing their career prospects.

Drawing on data and insights from over 148 million learners, 7,000 institutional customers, and content from 325 of the world’s leading university and industry partners, the report further reveals that the UAE has maintained its strength in business skills, ranking second worldwide, while leading the MENA region in overall skills proficiency.

The Global Skills Report 2024 emphasizes AI literacy as a rising global imperative, with countries prioritizing investments in GenAI as a key driver to rapidly expand the AI talent pool and prepare AI-ready economies. The UAE, now ranked third globally in the GenAI sector after the US and China, demonstrates a robust appetite for acquiring digital skills as learners prepare for AI’s impact on their careers. The surge in GenAI course enrollments is attributed to the concerted efforts of businesses, governments, and higher education institutions to lay the foundation for skill development and innovation. This effort aligns with the UAE’s National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031, which aims to establish the country as a global leader in artificial intelligence by 2031.

With two-thirds of jobs globally exposed to automation, learners in the UAE are strengthening their foundational AI skills through courses such as Google Cloud’s Introduction to GenAI, Vanderbilt University’s Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT, and DeepLearning.AI’s GenAI with LLM. The report identifies top skills for UAE learners, including leadership development, resilience, blockchain, and supply chain systems, preparing them for roles such as operations manager, IT project manager, and business analyst.

“Aligned with its vision of becoming one of the leading nations in AI by 2031, the UAE is accelerating AI proficiency to close skill gaps and build a competitive workforce,” said Kais Zribi, Coursera’s General Manager for the Middle East and Africa. “AI represents the most significant workplace opportunity for the UAE’s skilled workforce, evident in the country’s growth in GenAI enrollments. With AI integration across sectors, targeted training programs will be crucial to nurturing a skilled talent pool and significantly increasing its contribution to the UAE’s economic growth.”

The Global Skills Report 2024 ranks the UAE first in MENA and 34th globally for overall skills proficiency in business, technology, and data science. Scoring highly in business skills (99%), UAE learners have more than doubled their competencies in data science (55%) compared to 2023 (24%). However, despite remarkable advancements, technology skills proficiency (42%) remains a critical area of growth. The report also ranks the UAE third globally for training the highest percentage of its labor force on Coursera, reflecting a strong commitment to creating opportunities for individuals to adapt and succeed in the face of change.

In the UAE, enrollments in professional certificates on Coursera have surged by 40% YoY, with significant demand in areas such as data analytics, project management, and digital marketing & e-commerce. However, with 82% of UAE workers seeking more training for career confidence, further career-relevant skill development is crucial.

As of Q1 2024, the UAE has over 1 million Coursera learners, with a median age of 35 years. Among these learners, 33% are women, including 27% in STEM fields. Notably, 42% pursue their learning on mobile devices. With significant enrollment growth, learners in the UAE are increasingly investing in their education to prepare for digital jobs, particularly in areas like AI, data science, and other emerging fields.