RIYADH: In an agreement with the World Bank, Saudi Arabia formed a public-private partnership to accelerate digital transformation in developing countries.
The move will enhance the digital economy in the Middle East and North African region, said a top official.
In an exclusive interaction with Arab News, Issam Abousleiman, regional director, Gulf Cooperation Council countries at the World Bank, said that an integrated digital economy could produce a lot of jobs in the MENA region and increase the gross domestic product by $1.6 trillion.
He added that the MENA region’s GDP per capita could increase to $7,000 with the extra deployment of digitalization and artificial intelligence.
“If you take the GCC countries out and concentrate on the low- and middle-income countries of the MENA region, the GDP per capita will increase by $7,000,” he added on the sidelines of the Global AI Summit. The Saudi Authority of Data and Artificial Intelligence announced that Saudi Arabia is joining the World Bank’s Digital Development Partnership and contributing to its fund for these purposes.
DDP was established in 2016 to help operationalize the 2016 World Development Report on digital dividends.
The World Bank also launched a cybersecurity fund as part of the broader DDP umbrella program in July 2021.
According to the World Bank statement, the projects will help developing countries leverage digital innovations to solve their most pressing challenges.
According to Abousleiman, the move can increase women’s participation in the labor force from 20-40 percent. The World Bank considers Saudi Arabia among the faster moving countries worldwide in deploying digital technology.
“When it comes to 5G internet, Saudi Arabia is among the top five to 10 worldwide. It has created a digital government and economy by putting its investments where needed,” said Abousleiman.
Organized by the SADIA, the Kingdom hosted the second edition of the Global AI Summit in Riyadh from Sep. 13-15, with thousands of policymakers, specialists, and people attending on the ground.
More than 40 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed between the global public and private sectors. Many local and international initiatives among multinational companies and institutions were announced to enhance international cooperation on AI and its uses.