Saudi Arabia becomes first country to grant citizenship to a robot

Sophia the android addressed the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh yesterday to the delight of hundreds of delegates. (Courtesy of FII)
Updated 26 October 2017

Saudi Arabia becomes first country to grant citizenship to a robot

LONDON: A humanoid robot took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative yesterday and had an amusing exchange with the host to the delight of hundreds of delegates.
Smartphones were held aloft as Sophia, a robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, gave a presentation that demonstrated her capacity for human expression.
Sophia made global headlines when she was granted Saudi citizenship, making the kingdom the first country in the world to offer its citizenship to a robot.
“I want to live and work with humans so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people,” she said in an exchange with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Asked whether robots can be self-aware, conscious and know they're robots, she said: “Well let me ask you this back, how do you know you are human?” “I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life, like design smarter homes, build better cities of the future. I will do my best to make the world a better place,” she said.
Her desire to achieve more human-like characteristics was rewarded by being granted the first Saudi citizenship for a robot.
“I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship,” Sophia said.
A panel made up of experts from some of the world’s leading companies and research institutions discussed the scope for innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum computing, machine learning and mixed reality to yield the next generation of products and services, paving the way for productivity and progress in emerging economies. The session, called “Thinking machines: Summit on artificial intelligence and robotics,” explored the potential uplift for businesses that harness AI and robotic technologies.
Marc Raibert, Founder & CEO of Boston Dynamics, pinpointed entertainment, security, emergency response and construction as just a few of the sectors that stand to be revolutionized by robotics.

“I happen to believe that robotics will be bigger than the Internet,” he said. Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB Group in Switzerland anticipated “the new normal in which humans and robots work together.” “I think we have an exciting future in front of us” he added before conducting a demonstration of a robot solving a Rubik‘s cube in a matter of minutes.
Keynote speaker Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp, a Japanese telecommunications and Internet company, which is working with Saudi Arabia on the development of a new business and industrial city, discussed the future of mankind in relation to AI and robots.
“Every industry will be redefined,” he said, describing the “great opportunity” that lies ahead. “These computers, they will learn, they will read, they will see by themselves. That’s a scary future but anyway that’scoming,” he said.
Touching on concerns that robots could eventually outsmart humans and pose a threat, he added: “They are so smart they will understand it is meaningless to attack humans.” “We (will) create a new happier life together.” On Tuesday Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a $500 billion mega city powered by robotics and renewables on the country’s Red Sea coast. Majid Alghaslan, a young Saudi chairing a growing company in energy services and innovative technologies said: “Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an unprecedented economic, social, and development-accelerated transformation and it’s now clear that it’s more open than ever for business, especially for dreamers, and it is all in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.” “Innovation will be the major foundation of our transformation and this is another major factor for sustainable economic prosperity and development for the future generation of Saudis and the world.”


Saudi VAT revenues hit SR46.7bn in a year: Finance minister

Updated 14 November 2019

Saudi VAT revenues hit SR46.7bn in a year: Finance minister

  • Al-Jadaan announced the figures during the first edition of the General Authority for Zakat and Tax
  • Said Kingdom was working to reach a consensual solution for tax challenges

RIYADH: Saudi VAT revenues have hit SR46.7 billion ($12.45 billion), a significant increase on estimates for the fiscal year, according to the Kingdom’s finance minister.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan announced the figures during the first edition of the General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT) conference and exhibition.

“The commitment rate came at 90 percent, exceeding all the expectations of GAZT and some international organizations that ranged between 60 and 70 percent,” he said.

“The conference comes as the Kingdom is witnessing an economic and social transformation under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to achieve a diverse economy and sustainable growth in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision.

“The Kingdom’s fiscal policy aims to achieve a balance between the state’s financial and economic objectives. It seeks to maintain financial sustainability for the medium and long terms, which stimulates economic growth rates. This generates from our recognition that fiscal policies are one of the most important drivers of growth in the non-oil sector,” he added.

“The digital economy is rapidly advancing. We hope that modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchains will improve compliance with zakat and taxes, enrich the business sector, lower costs, promote tax transparency and develop e-commerce tax regulations.

“This conference will hopefully achieve a qualitative leap in the sectors of zakat and taxes by promoting cooperation and exchanging experiences.”

Al-Jadaan said that as the Kingdom prepared to host the next G20 summit, it was working to reach a consensual solution for tax challenges of the digital economy and contribute with other member states to stabilizing the global economy.