Saudi Arabia announces ambitious AI plans

Saudi Arabia announces ambitious AI plans

Saudi Arabia has launched a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. This initiative, widely reported in both the regional and international press, aims to attract $20 billion in foreign and local investments by 2030 and to make the country a global leader in the AI field.

2030 is not a randomly chosen date of course. It fits in with the Vision 2030 concept, a multi-faceted plan with no fewer than 96 strategic objectives. Simply put, however, this is a strategic framework that aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. 

And it seems AI in general – and the National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence (NSDAI) in particular – will play an important part in enabling that vision. Speaking at the opening of the kingdom’s Global AI Summit, which took place virtually on 21 and 22 October, the head of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) – which will spearhead the AI strategy, said Riyadh was planning to announce several AI partnerships.

In fact, according to local press reports, SDAIA president Dr Abdullah bin Sharaf Alghamid has said the country will accelerate its AI development through education and training initiatives, a new ‘world-class regulatory framework’ that encourages data-driven businesses, and local and foreign investment funds.

The kingdom also aims to empower core AI research and innovation institutions, train some 2,000 Saudi data and AI specialists over the next 10 years and encourage a comprehensive ‘forward-thinking ecosystem’ that fosters AI adoption.

While thin on detail, this is certainly an ambitious strategy. It will be interesting to see who the first partners are and in which areas of AI they operate.

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