Saudi Arabia embraces AI-driven innovation

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO

Saudi Arabia’s, Deputy Minister of Technology, Industry and Digital Capabilities, Dr. Ahmed Al Theneyan, talks about his country’s ambitions to drive innovation and economic growth using advanced digital technologies to deliver on its bold reform program, Vision 2030.


What role does artificial intelligence play in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030?

Saudi Arabia is undertaking the largest and most ambitious economic reform and transformation program in its history. A broad range of initiatives is being rolled out to realize the objectives of Vision 2030. Digitization and artificial intelligence (AI) are key enablers of these wide-ranging reforms. Our digitization initiatives support our Vision 2030 objectives in various ways, and in particular, by building an information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure fit for the 21st century. All technologies rely on this, so it’s a top priority.

We are also working to enhance the digital capabilities of the workforce to align with AI and technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain, to build, maintain, and operate the solutions and services that will emerge from the Vision 2030 transformation. This is an enormous undertaking that involves major educational reform to make sure students acquire the digital skills for the jobs of the future. That’s why we are now introducing digital skills in K-12 education. To meet the changing demands of the workplace, we are working with the Ministry of Education so that school and university curricula match future needs and build skills in areas such as AI, data science, data security, and so on. This is absolutely essential. We need to prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future.

We’re also building a robust localized technology sector to support Vision 2030 programs. Our aim is not only to supply local demand, but to export our technology and compete with leading international providers. Vision 2030 programs also promote innovation, the widespread use of open data – which we believe is the fuel of the 21st century – and efficient government.

I believe that AI and robotics have huge potential to improve our lives and boost productivity. We just need to employ them and use them in the right manner.

Dr. Ahmed Al Theneyan, Deputy Minister of Technology, Industry and Digital Capabilities, Saudi Arabia

In summary, Vision 2030 commits to building sustainable cities and communities, improving the health and well-being of our citizens, improving the quality of education, providing decent work, and fostering innovation-driven economic growth. This is a huge undertaking, so we are rolling programs out gradually; we are starting by building the technical infrastructure and enabling its use. Only then will...

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