Saudi Arabia bets on artificial intelligence to develop local expertise and disrupt the economy

RIYADH: As artificial intelligence (AI) disrupts the global economy, the Middle East cannot afford to lag behind, as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates encourage adoption of the artificial intelligence in the region.

The Middle East is expected to accrue 2% of all global artificial intelligence profits in 2030, or $320 billion ($1 = 0.92 euros). Saudi Arabia is expected to see the biggest gains over this period, as artificial intelligence would fuel its economy by more than $135.2 billion, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). .

While businesses can reap great benefits from using AI applications, industry experts, who gave interviews to Arab News, point out that the region faces a number of hurdles.

“We need to establish a proper ecosystem for artificial intelligence and all other new technologies. We also need to ensure good and effective investments in data collection and privacy, building smart infrastructure, as well as human resource development,” says Fawwaz al-Chammari, Vice President and National Director of Industries digital at Siemens.

Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of technologies in the region, in line with the goals of the Vision 2030 initiative and its 2020 National Agenda for Transformation.

He asserts that the private sector – companies, start-ups or entrepreneurs – should first assess the real needs of the market to find the right solutions and develop the right skills within the Kingdom.

From the government’s perspective, Mr. Al-Shammari suggests that investments should be well regulated to ensure that the legal framework is in place “that will regulate the market and also allow private companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs to operate.” easily invest in artificial intelligence applications and solutions”.

Attract foreign investment
Saudi Arabia intends to attract 75 billion Saudi riyals ($20 billion) of investment in data and artificial intelligence to meet the goals set out under its national data and intelligence strategy. ‘IA.

Although there are investments in AI in Saudi Arabia thanks to the government’s commitment to ensuring the country’s digital transition, the PwC report shows that these are “largely dependent on domestic sources at the moment, in particular of the sovereign wealth fund”.

“To maintain the momentum of technological advancement in the country, there is a need to attract more foreign investment which is currently constrained by challenges in the business world,” the PwC report notes.

The latter assumes that, “by responding to the concerns raised by the business world, the Kingdom will be able to attract outside investment that will provide expertise capable of improving the skills of the local population”.

Saudi Arabia aims to transform its workforce by training 20,000 artificial intelligence and data experts. 5,000 of them will have strong skills and be highly qualified, in line with its national strategy for data and AI.

Talal al-Tamimi, co-founder and chief technology officer at Ebana, says there are two ways to use AI to help businesses grow in Saudi Arabia.

“First, businesses that need human beings can be replaced by technical solutions that use AI. Then it’s about using AI to improve performance, reduce costs and increase the productivity of internal processes.”

He points out that “many pioneer workers are rushing to adopt certain technical solutions, such as AI and blockchain, among others, without first considering whether there is a real need or problem that they could. solve for the people they want to help.

“They end up failing and wasting their investments,” Al-Tamimi said.

He considers that the technologies in which AI is used “are not the ultimate goal, but only a tool available to you”.

“They are useful when there is a real need. The success of any artificial intelligence depends on several requirements, such as a high volume of data and solid infrastructures to use these tools”, continues Mr. Al-Tamimi.

Data security
There are several risks and many challenges associated with the adoption of AI, Al-Chammari points out, since it is a new technology that is revolutionizing many markets and disrupting all kinds of businesses.

Regulations and data privacy are among the top global issues in terms of AI, but Mr. Al-Chammari argues that the Saudi government has tackled these challenges since the beginning with the creation of the Saudi Data Authority and of AI as well as the National Center for Artificial Intelligence.

“The government has an explicit mandate to develop the strategy that highlights the possibilities. He establishes the roadmap and thus takes up all the challenges by finding the right solutions and technologies based on the best practices”, specifies Mr. Al-Chammari.

The latter says that there is another major challenge, which is to find the people who have the required skills within the country, which will meet the real need for AI and provide the right solutions and applications.

Mohammed Mohaya al-Mutairi, advisor for quality and institutional excellence, says that AI applications are essential in many fields, but that they are “more important than ever today for business enterprises”.

He adds that the use of AI-related applications allows companies to reap several benefits, including improved decision-making processes, solving administrative problems, reducing costs and improving quality, all of which contribute directly and indirectly to enhancing the competitiveness of business enterprises.

“This will ensure the establishment of a competitive advantage and strengthen economic intelligence, which allows to stand out as well as create new opportunities for excellence and growth in a competitive environment”, explains Mr. Al-Mutairi who is also the Director of Institutional Excellence at the General Endowments Authority.

It encourages business leaders to properly assess the needs to decide whether or not it is necessary to apply economic intelligence within the company, as well as the right time to do so.

“Only once this decision has been made can they adopt the project and start implementing it. They will thus provide support to the teams to overcome challenges and difficulties in order to create a stimulating and conducive environment that fosters creativity and innovation,” concludes Mr. Al-Mutairi.
This text is the translation of an article published on

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Saudi Arabia bets on artificial intelligence to develop local expertise and disrupt the economy

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