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Saudi Arabia unveils national AI strategy

The kingdom recently launched its national strategy around artificial intelligence and data. A sector that it intends to make a major asset for the years to come, and to do so it has surrounded itself with leading digital players.

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority has just launched the country’s strategy at the very recent AI World Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, albeit in a dematerialized version this year because of the inevitable Covid-19. To sum up, the kingdom wants to attract investments to the tune of 20 billion dollars, and train nearly 20,000 experts. In addition, it intends to become one of the 15 best performing countries in terms of AI by 2030.

 

Allies of choice

To do so, it has surrounded itself with leading digital players. In order to open up as wide a field as possible, Saudi Arabia has just signed an agreement with the IT giant IBM, as well as the Chinese companies Alibaba and Huawei, respectively key pillars of e-commerce and information and communication technologies.

The agreement covers fields as varied as 5G, the cloud, and the creation of tools, systems, software and other algorithms that give pride of place to the use of Arabic. In fact, the project leaders deplore the fact that Arabic, spoken by some 400 million people around the world, is so little used in the field of artificial intelligence, and consider that democratizing such tools would benefit the entire Arab world.

 

 

A variety of expertise

Saudi researchers will collaborate with their counterparts at Huawei to produce cutting-edge solutions. “5G, AI and the cloud are the new drivers of growth… In the next five years, we will spend $100 billion in these three areas and this will help us maintain our leadership position in the global ICT field. 5G, AI and the Cloud will push the Saudi economy to new heights,” said Charles Yang, Huawei’s President for the Middle East and Africa, whose company has achieved impressive results in the first half of 2020 despite a particularly difficult environment, between the Covid-19 epidemic and fluctuating oil prices.

 

 

For its part, Alibaba Cloud will bring to the kingdom its expertise to develop smart cities through AI and to provide the urban areas of the kingdom with high-performance technological solutions.

As for IBM, its role will be to develop concrete cases of uses of artificial intelligence which will aim to ensure the transformation of several key sectors such as health or energy.

 

Work already underway

Recall that Saudi Arabia had already signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the International Telecommunication Union (the UN’s armed arm for internet and telecoms) to promote best practices in the kingdom in terms of AI. The latter should, according to a report by the consulting firm PwC, contribute up to 12.4% of the gross domestic product of the country – equivalent to 496.2 billion Dhirams – by 2030.