Regional, global tech scene takes the ‘LEAP’ in Riyadh

Regional, global tech scene takes the ‘LEAP’ in Riyadh
The conference includes a program of more than 400 speakers (FILE/Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 February 2022

Regional, global tech scene takes the ‘LEAP’ in Riyadh

Regional, global tech scene takes the ‘LEAP’ in Riyadh
  • Saudi Arabia to invest $6.4 billion in future technologies
  • NEOM to invest $1 billion in cognitive digital projects for residents and visitors

RIYADH: The LEAP conference in Saudi Arabia starts today — with a lineup of more than 400 speakers set to address the promises of modern technology and the increasing prominence of digital economies. 

Organizers, supported by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology are expecting around 40,000 visitors to attend the three-day conference at the Riyadh Front exhibition center. 

Dubbed the “digital Davos,” the event builds on the government’s many initiatives to invest in technology — a key pillar in the Saudi Vision 2030, which sets out the Kingdom’s action plan to diversify its economy away from oil dependence. 

Over the next three days, LEAP will cover a wide range of topics, including financial and health tech, robotics, smart cities, and future energy technologies. 

High-profile tech icons are taking part in the event, as well as top entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are set to engage in an investor program. 

Saudi minister for communications and information technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha, is expected to deliver a keynote speech, underlining the role of the digital economy.

Other speakers attending come from a range of international and local organizations — including Visa, Ericsson, JP Morgan, Cisco, and Huawei, as well as stc, NEOM, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

Follow our coverage (All times are GMT):

13:30 — Saudi Arabia's minister of communication and information technology has been on the stage talking up the Kingdom's creditenials when it comes to technology of the future. Abdullah Alswaha praised Saudi Arabia's two tech 'unicorns' —  stc pay and Jahez — before highlighting the work of NEOM and Saudi Aramco.

10:07 — A panel, which includes high-profile Saudi speakers from stc and The National Industrial Industrial Development and Logistics Program or NIDLP, discussed opportunities and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, which involves advanced tech applications. 

Suliman Almazroua of NDLIP said it was important to identify Saudi companies operating “in the past,” and those “living in the future” to better create strategies to support them.

09:28 — SAP CEO Christian Klein delivered a keynoted address at LEAP on how technology can help turn challenges into opportunities.

He said the company, which specializes in developing enterprise software, will invest in Saudi Arabia to enhance the productivity of government entities.

Klein mentioned building an innovation hub in Riyadh, as well as engaging local startups and talent in the fields of cybersecurity, AI, and blockchain.

09:07 — Emirati minister of artificial intelligence, Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, highlighted the importance of technology in “shaping the future of society and government.”

He was speaking at a panel discussion titled “Legislating for innovation and digital transformation.”

09:00 — Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperate and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari said he saw a “great level of ambition” from Saudi Arabia in providing digital services.

He talked about the important role the private sector plays in leading the adoption of technology, especially in crucial industries such as energy.

06:24 — Kicking off today, LEAP22 includes a program crammed with 400 speakers over three days, here’s just a few