Saudi Arabia eyeing AI future ahead of G20 summit

Addressing a media briefing in Riyadh on Thursday, Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, president of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, said Saudi Arabia will be a global artificial intelligence leader by 2030. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Saudi Arabia eyeing AI future ahead of G20 summit

  • Al-Ghamdi: “We have finalized all logistic and procedures to set up the SDAIA Artificial Intelligence Company”

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will be a global artificial intelligence (AI) leader by 2030, a prominent Saudi expert has said.
Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, president of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), made the comments during a media briefing on shaping new frontiers at the International Media Center in Riyadh ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
Last year, the authority developed the Estishraf Platform, an AI-based platform that utilizes data to create diversified insights and respond to the top priorities of decision-makers in Saudi Arabia.
“Through this platform we were able to earn revenues amounting to SR43 billion ($11.5 billion), only in 2019,” said Al-Ghamdi. “Undoubtedly, this is an excellent indicator for the great opportunities the national economy is waiting for after AI has become a knowledge-based economy.”
The SDAIA chief said the authority launched the NSDAI during the Global AI Summit, organized by the SDAIA and the G20 Saudi Secretariat as part of the international conferences program two weeks ago.
“We have finalized all logistic and procedures to set up the SDAIA Artificial Intelligence Company, which will be the national AI investment arm for the country,” he said.
In his speech, Al-Ghamdi, who is also chairman of the Global AI Summit, shed light on digital economy topics and the role of technology, especially AI-related tech, and its role in surviving the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. He also focused on shaping the future into a “new normal” situation.
“As much as we are proud of our ability to overcome these challenges, despite all these circumstances we also recognize the criticality of delivering together all three themes of the Saudi G20 presidency to realize the opportunities of the 21st century  —empowering people, safeguarding the planet and shaping a new frontier,” he said.
“As we recover from the pandemic, there is an opportunity to unlock the potential of scientific advancements and utilize technologies to set the foundations for a brighter and sustainable future for us, our children and the generations to come.”
He said that digital technology is playing a central role in shaping today and tomorrow, and it continues to gain new grounds in people’s lives, work, education and more.
“While there is a lot of potential from emerging technologies such as AI, there is also a growing digital gap, which, if not addressed collectively, will further widen and lead to unfair distribution of the benefits and wealth that nations will be able to generate out of these technologies,” said Al-Ghamdi.
In recognition of these risks, Saudi Arabia has led fruitful G20 dialogues on critical topics that will shape digital economies and the future, including trustworthy AI, data free flow, smart cities and digital economy security and measurement.
Al-Ghamdi said that Saudi Arabia’s unique national digital and data capabilities were vital in enabling the country to fight and reduce the effects of the pandemic, while continuing to advance the national agenda towards the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The SDAIA president warned that, while AI can cause the disappearance of jobs, new AI-based job opportunities will flourish.
“As per the 2030 targets, we are going to train 40 percent of the relevant workforce in data and AI. We will also have over 20,000 AI and data specialists by the year 2030. Moreover, we are creating up to 40,000 direct and indirect jobs related to data and artificial intelligence,” he said.


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