Is Saudi Arabia investing in AI?

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Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in AI. As detailed in the Vision 2030, the country is dedicated to driving innovation and economic transformation through tech investments, as well as other support for startups and innovators. So it’s an exciting place to be for AI developers, and for businesses that know they need to adopt AI in order to future-proof their success.  

Not just funding: Saudi Arabia is investing in AI skills

AI skills are increasingly in demand. Yet only one in ten workers who took part in a recent digital skills survey by Salesforce said they have AI skills – and this points to a problematic talent gap looming on the horizon. 

But Saudi Arabia knows this. And it’s investing in AI training to upskill its workforce, and ensure it has a strong pool of talent for businesses to draw on in the future. 

The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence aims to rank among the top countries for AI in the world. And with this aim in mind, the authority plans to train 25,000 specialists in data and AI by 2030. 

Simultaneously, it will provide digital training courses in AI and coding for an ambitious 300,000 middle and high school students. These students are being selected from 3 million school children, and the courses are organised in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Education and the Mawhiba (the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity). 

This school initiative is part of preparation work for the country’s National Olympiad for Programming and Artificial Intelligence, which starts in January 2024. 

The government also aims to double the participation of women in ICT, including within AI professions. 

A national strategy

In October 2020, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched its National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence. The strategy aims to attract USD $20 billion in local and foreign investments by 2030, and to empower top data institutions to become global leaders in AI research and development. 

Domestic investments in AI include significant funding from the sovereign wealth fund; and Riyadh has approved the establishment of a new International Center for Artificial Intelligence Research and Ethics which will accelerate the responsible development of AI tech in the country and the wider region. 

Overall, PwC forecasts that by 2030, AI will contribute approximately 2.4% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP – as part of a broader shift towards digitisation and a thriving digital economy. 

What’s the impact? 

It’s expected that Saudi Arabia will see the biggest positive impact from AI, compared with all other countries in the Middle East. PwC predicts that AI will contribute $135 billion to the national economy in 2030. 

Saudi Arabia’s commitment to AI means that it’s well-placed to become a global leader in the development and adoption of the technology. According to the Global Artificial Intelligence Index, Saudi Arabia ranked the highest in terms of government strategy this year (ahead of Germany and China, which took second and third place) – demonstrating that the country’s efforts have real potential to drive real innovation and economic growth.

It’s the perfect place to explore the potential of AI, discover the latest innovations, and engage in the global conversation that will shape how we live with artificial intelligence in the future. Which is exactly why you should join us at DeepFest 2024. 


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We're counting down to DeepFest 2024. Dive into the world of AI and cutting-edge innovations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Register for DeepFest 2024.

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