Saudi Arabia eyes $21bn AI investment

19 March 2024
The strategy will focus on healthcare, energy, transport, manufacturing and smart cities

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Saudi Arabia aims to attract artificial intelligence (AI) investments worth SR80bn ($21.3bn) by 2030 to establish itself as a regional AI hub.

The plant entails establishing 400 startups and creating 25,000 AI-related jobs by 2030, according to Mohammed AlQahtani, chief executive of Saudi Arabia Holding Company.

In a social media post on 18 March, AlQahtani, who also chairs Riyadh-based Future Development Company, said the critical focus areas of the strategy cover healthcare, energy, transport, manufacturing and smart cities.

He said Saudi Arabia is taking concrete steps to achieve these goals by establishing a regional AI centre; providing financing and support programmes for AI startups; and developing a regulatory environment supportive of AI.

“This strategy represents a significant step towards the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, contributing to the diversification of the economy, creating new job opportunities and promoting innovation.”

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority oversees the kingdom's data and AI strategy.

AI play

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund, and state-backed Saudi Aramco are key actors in the kingdom’s AI ambitions.

PIF launched a subsidiary focusing on AI and emerging technologies in the kingdom in 2022. Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence is expected to foster innovation in strategic sectors and accelerate key national technological priorities.

For its part, Saudi Aramco has set up a fourth industrial revolution (4IR) hub in Dhahran, where experts can identify areas of its operations where AI could make the most impact. Aramco has mobilised 30 teams in its “digital factory”, which are working on producing new AI products every month to replace existing work processes.

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