Saudi PIF’s SCAI to invest $776m to boost AI in Kingdom

Saudi PIF’s SCAI to invest $776m to boost AI in Kingdom
Ayman AlRashed, CEO of SCAI, with George Huang from SenseTime (Supplied)
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Updated 13 September 2022

Saudi PIF’s SCAI to invest $776m to boost AI in Kingdom

Saudi PIF’s SCAI to invest $776m to boost AI in Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence has announced an investment of $776 million in a joint venture with China’s SenseTime to develop the artificial intelligence ecosystem in the nation.

The announcement was made by Ayman AlRashed, CEO of SCAI, during the Global AI Summit in Riyadh on Sept.13.

SCAI — wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — works in line with the Kingdom’s goals outlined in Vision 2030, and it aims to position Saudi Arabia as a global AI leader by supporting local firms as they get to grips with the technology.

According to a press release, SCAI will work closely with SenseTime, and will also operate an AI lab which will serve as a dedicated research and development center, allowing the next generation of data scientists to benefit from the transfer of technology. 

“Today’s agreement represents an important strategic step on SCAI’s journey to develop national capabilities and build a robust, innovation-driven AI ecosystem. We look forward to working closely to provide world-class AI solutions that will contribute to the success of diverse smart city, business intelligence, health care, and education initiatives in the Kingdom and beyond,” said AlRashed. 

Xu Li, executive chairman and CEO of SenseTime, said: “It’s exciting to see the rapid digital transformation that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undertaking, especially in the development of an AI ecosystem.” 

Li added that the new partnership will contribute to the goals outlined in Vision 2030, and will emerge as a “driving engine of next-generation cities across the Kingdom.” 

He further noted that Saudi Arabia is undergoing a rapid digital transformation, especially in the AI sector. 

In January, SCAI launched operations in the Kingdom to grow and develop artificial intelligence and emerging technologies industries.

At the time, Al-Rashed said that AI is swiftly altering the way of living and the Kingdom should invest in the sector’s foundation to unveil long-term sustainable value for shareholders.

The launch of SCAI is a part of the Kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy by 2030, and also aligns with PIF’s strategy aimed at prioritizing 13 major sectors, one of which is technology.