This introductory chapter starts with a short historical overview of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it has evolved over time. It then puts into context current and anticipated implications on politics, economics and society, and contextualizes some of the expectations surrounding AI held by its key stakeholders (national systems, economic sectors, businesses, and individuals). Next, we narrow quickly on the emerging economies of the GCC region, their evolving nature, and the role envisioned for AI in their transformation from oil-based to knowledge-based economies. We then acknowledge the significant gap that exists between an increased interest in AI in the GCC region, and the lack of scholarly work on the topic, motivating the need for this current volume. Finally, we present the objectives, expected contributions, scope, and target audience of the volume.