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