Saudi Arabia sets sights on AI development

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The kingdom officially put forward its National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) at the Global AI Summit in Riyadh, announcing it will seek $20 billion in local and foreign investment for the field by 2030.

Wednesday 21/10/2020

People attend the Global Al Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 21, 2020. (REUTERS)

RIYADH--Saudi Arabia announced a new artificial intelligence drive Wednesday aimed at making it a global leader in the cutting edge industry.

The oil-rich kingdom officially put forward its National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) at the Global AI Summit in Riyadh, announcing it will seek $20 billion in local and foreign investment for the field by 2030.

Speaking at the opening of the kingdom’s Global AI Summit, the head of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) said Riyadh would announce several AI partnerships.

“Saudi Arabia will implement a multi-phase, multi-faceted plan that includes skills, policy and regulation, investment, research and innovation, and ecosystem development,” the statement said.

Abdullah Bin Sharaf Alghamdi, President of Saudi Data and Al Authority, speaks during the Global Al Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 21, 2020. (REUTERS)

SDAIA President Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Alghamid 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. It 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 foster a comprehensive “forward-thinking ecosystem” that fosters AI adoption.

Alghamid, who will spearhead the NSDAI strategy, thanked Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his vision and commitment to AI growth.

Riyadh’s focus on AI development is part of its plans to diversify its economy away from oil, boost the private sector and create more jobs as part of its Vision 2030 programme headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

It has already carried out significant reforms to liberalise the country, including empowering women, promoting culture tolerance and opening the door to tourism.

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