Saudi Arabia has announced over US$6.4bn in future technologies and entrepreneurship investments, in a move to secure its position as the MENA region's largest digital economy.
The announcements were made during LEAP, the international technology platform, which is taking place in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The investments and initiatives include the launch of Aramco Venture's Prosperity7 fund with US$1bn, and US$1bn investment from NEOM Tech & Digital Company with a focus on future technologies. As part of its investment, NEOM announced the launch of the world's first cognitive metaverse, XVRS that will serve residents and visitors of the smart giga-project, and M3LD, a personal data management platform that gives back control of data to the user.
The next level of growth for the digital economy in Saudi Arabia
"These investments and initiatives are a manifestation of the Kingdom's push toward the growth of the digital economy for the greater good of people, the planet and the prosperity of the MENA region. They mark the next level of growth for the digital economy in Saudi Arabia, the MENA region's largest technology and digital market," said H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
During his keynote address at LEAP22, the Minister noted that Saudi Arabia is the regional leader for technology talent, with over 318,000 jobs in the technology sector in the Kingdom, and with a rate of participation of women in the ICT workforce that has jumped to 28% in recent years.
Saudi Arabia is also home to some of the largest investments in cloud technology, with leading hyperscale cloud providers including Google, Alibaba, Oracle and SAP investing over US$2.5bn in cloud in the Kingdom. Venture capital investment in Saudi Arabia in 2021 exceeded the total for 2019 and 2020 combined.
Investing to create leading technology companies for the future
stc announced MENA HUB, a US$1bn investment in regional connectivity and infrastructure, which will support Saudi Arabia's rapidly expanding digital and cloud sector. The company will manage data centers and continue to invest in new data centers across the Kingdom and the region, along with other digital infrastructure to attract foreign direct investment.
LEAP also saw the launch of The Garage, a new platform for start-ups, investment and entrepreneurship by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). The Garage will create a full-service environment for local and international start-ups, to help them grow to become the leading technology companies of the future.
J&T Express Group, one of the world's fastest-growing logistics companies, announced an investment of US$2 billion with eWTP Arabia Capital and partners to open their MENA regional headquarters and set up logistics and distribution capabilities in Riyadh to better serve local customers and partners.
The investment will include providing world-class Sorting Centers, Auto Warehouse Systems, Air Cargo Terminals, E-commerce Industry Parks, and other modern industrial facilities and related infrastructure, to provide advanced tech-driven services to J&T clients and business partners.