Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the brink of reshaping economies, business practices, and daily life, and Saudi Arabia is positioning itself at the forefront of this transformation. In a bid to harness the potential of AI, the Kingdom unveiled its National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence in October 2020, with the ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in the field by attracting $20 billion in investments, both foreign and local, by 2030.
One key aspect of Saudi Arabia’s AI strategy is its commitment to future-proof its workforce. The country is actively investing in training and developing a pool of 20,000 AI and data specialists, recognizing the pivotal role of skilled professionals in driving AI innovation.
The anticipated impact of Riyadh’s embrace of digitalization and emerging technologies is striking. A recent report by global consultancy firm PwC predicts that these initiatives could contribute approximately 2.4 percent to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2030. Additionally, the report highlights that Saudi Arabia is poised to capture a significant share of the AI expansion, with an estimated 31.3 percent average annual growth in AI contributions to the region’s development between 2018 and 2030.
Ali Al-Moussa, a prominent Saudi entrepreneur and AI expert, expressed his belief in Saudi Arabia’s enormous potential in the field of technology. He pointed out the presence of smart and talented individuals who can compete on a global scale, not only in artificial intelligence but also in various technology domains such as robotics and blockchain.
This strategic push toward new technologies aligns seamlessly with the objectives of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive social reform and economic diversification agenda. Vision 2030 aims to bolster the Kingdom’s leadership position in the technology sector, creating substantial opportunities for Saudi entrepreneurs to envision innovative applications and establish tech startups.
The surge of interest in AI technology has been notable since the release of ChatGPT, a prominent large-language model developed by OpenAI in November 2022. ChatGPT has garnered attention for its ability to explain complex scientific concepts, generate creative content, and even produce functional computer code, sparking fierce competition among tech giants in Silicon Valley to harness the potential of “generative AI.”
Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, recently unveiled its AI model, SeamlessM4T, capable of translating and transcribing speech in numerous languages. This breakthrough could pave the way for real-time communication across language barriers, with support for text-to-speech and speech-to-speech translation in nearly 100 languages, including Modern Standard Arabic.
In summary, Saudi Arabia’s strategic investments in AI research and development, coupled with its commitment to nurturing a skilled workforce, position the Kingdom as a prominent player in the global AI landscape. With its ambitious goals, Saudi Arabia is poised to lead the way in leveraging AI to transform economies and shape the future of work and consumption.