Saudi Arabian efforts to cut back on the kingdom's reliance on oil are continuing. The latest initiative involves $6.4 billion of investments in future technology.
The Saudi minister of communication and information technology made the announcement that Saudi Arabia had launched the investments earlier this week.
In fact some of the money has already been earmarked. According to Reuters it includes $1 billion from Saudi oil giant Aramco to help entrepreneurs across the globe build transformative start-ups. Saudi Telecom meanwhile will invest $1 billion on submarine cables and data centre infrastructure. Work on green technologies and smart hubs is also being supported.
This may seem a vast sum but is modest compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars already committed to Vision 2030, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.
It is, however, part of a general flurry of non-oil activity that includes Neom, a new Saudi city on the Red Sea coast. Neom has launched $1 billion of investments in a metaverse to serve the city's residents and visitors, in addition to another platform that would help users to take control of their personal data.
Assuming qualified personnel are available, it is hoped that these investments will create job vacancies. With this no doubt in mind, some of the latest investment funds will also be spent on entrepreneurship and encouraging start-ups specialised in new technologies.
Saudi is not of course alone in this focus on diversification. With the future of oil unsure as prices fluctuate and climate change becomes an issue, a number of wealthy Gulf countries have launched initiatives to boost non-oil growth and reduce dependence on crude oil.