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Davos Spotlight: From Oil to AI .. Saudi Arabia plans to be the Middle East’s premier AI tech hub

Davos Spotlight: From Oil to AI .. Saudi Arabia plans to be the Middle East’s premier AI tech hub

In recent years, the Middle East has witnessed a surge in technological advancements, with the United Arab Emirates leading the way as the region’s tech hub. However, Saudi Arabia is now making its presence felt on the global stage, aiming to become a prominent player in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Saudi Arabia’s delegation showcased its commitment to establishing the country as a top AI tech hub in the Middle East. Let’s delve into the details of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan and its potential for success.


Vision 2030 and Economic Diversification


Saudi Arabia’s push to become an AI tech hub is intricately linked to its Vision 2030 strategy, a comprehensive plan for economic diversification and social transformation. The country aims to reduce its dependence on oil revenues and develop a diversified, knowledge-based economy. The Neom project, a new urban development in northwestern Saudi Arabia, plays a significant role in this vision, promoting innovation, tourism, and luxury living.


Unveiling Neom’s Prospects


At the Davos Promenade, the Saudi delegation highlighted Neom’s potential as a global destination for tourism, luxury living, and, importantly, innovation. The showcase aimed to educate the investment community and demonstrate that Saudi Arabia is open for business. Neom, along with other “giga” projects, represents Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which focuses on infrastructure investments and attracting fintech talent.


Investing in Talent and Infrastructure


To realize its AI ambitions, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in talent and infrastructure. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is spearheading the effort by attracting international talent and driving innovation in AI. KAUST, aligned with Saudi Arabia’s goal to be a global AI leader by 2030, has established strategic partnerships, including the National AI Strategy and the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA). Additionally, Riyadh’s International Center for AI Research and Ethics (ICAIRE) and Saudi Aramco’s AI research center are advancing AI projects in various sectors.


Attracting Global Interest


Experts and industry leaders have taken notice of Saudi Arabia’s potential as an AI tech hub. Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group, commended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts in driving entrepreneurship, diversifying the economy, and improving education. With the country’s economy recently surpassing the $1 trillion mark, Saudi Arabia is attracting attention as a global player and negotiator.


Learning from Success Stories


Saudi Arabia is drawing inspiration from successful tech-driven nations like Singapore and Israel. These countries, despite lacking natural resources, have leveraged the power of technology and innovation to become global leaders. Saudi Arabia aims to replicate their success by capitalizing on its resources, flexible regulations, and a young, educated population hungry for innovation.


The Road Ahead


While Saudi Arabia faces competition from established tech hubs in the region, such as the UAE, its commitment to AI development and economic diversification positions it as a formidable contender. By investing in talent, fostering strategic partnerships, and creating an enabling environment for innovation, the country is laying the foundation for sustained growth in the AI sector.

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