New tech­nol­ogy deals could set the King­dom on a path to rapid in­no­va­tion

Arab News - - SAUDI ARABIA -

Sch­walje said he ex­pects to see more part­ner­ships an­nounced that sup­port the King­dom’s Vi­sion 2030 so­cial and eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion blue­print.

“For ex­am­ple, dur­ing the crown prince’s UK visit a deal was signed with Me­dopad and John­son & John­son to uti­lize ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to com­ple­ment the King­dom’s cur­rent ini­tia­tives to dig­i­tize health care as part of the Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gram,” said Sch­walje.

Scott Lu­cas, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, said the crown prince’s US meet­ings with tech you’ll get left be­hind.”

Saudi Ara­bia faces a ma­jor chal­lenge in de­vel­op­ing a do­mes­tic tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, he said. “The King­dom has faced this type of prob­lem be­fore, when it had to get the oil and gas out of the ground,” he added.

“How did they do it, and how did they get the skills and tech­nol­ogy to do it? They worked with part­ners. But when it comes to a dig­i­tal econ­omy, how do you get it? Where do you buy it?”

John David Love­lock, chief global fore­caster at IT re­search firm Gart­ner, said: “If Saudi Ara­bia wants to be the Sil­i­con Val­ley of the Mid­dle East, it will need to pro­vide ac­cess to skilled la­bor, as well as the abil­ity to sup­port this la­bor. It will also need strong IT reg­u­la­tions, re­li­able en­ergy and good in­ter­net.

“The tech re­cruit­ment strat­egy has to be ap­proached in mul­ti­ple ways. You can’t train up the work­force as quickly as you need them, but then again you can’t cre­ate an en­tirely im­ported force.

“You have to have some skin in the game. Sil­i­con Val­ley has a mix of im­ported and home­grown tal­ent.”

It is not too late to cre­ate a global tech­nol­ogy hub, Love­lock said. “There are three tech ar­eas that don’t yet have a rec­og­nized global hub: The In­ter­net of Things, AI and dig­i­tal busi­ness.

“No one coun­try has yet claimed the global crown for AI. There are many coun­tries that would like to claim the crown, but at the mo­ment it’s not set­tled,” Love­lock said.

“I’d ad­vise any coun­try now to fo­cus on be­com­ing a tech hub as the mar­ket is grow­ing and grow­ing.”

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