RIYADH: Riyadh’s LEAP23 Conference on Monday announced more than $9 billion in investments to support future technologies, entrepreneurship, and tech startups to enhance the Kingdom’s position as the largest digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The investments were announced by the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha.
He added: “The LEAP23 Conference has become an annual occasion that brings together the most important international technology experts.”
Al-Swaha said that the financial backing included Microsoft’s $2.1 billion investment in a global super-scale cloud in the Kingdom; Oracle’s $1.5 billion aimed at expanding its MENA business by launching new cloud areas in Saudi Arabia; Huawei’s $400 million toward cloud infrastructure for its services; and the launch of a Zoom cloud area in the Kingdom, in partnership with Aramco, worth $434 million.
He added that an additional $4.5 billion had been invested in global and local assets across multiple sectors.
Al-Swaha said the investments were part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s empowerment of the technology sector, adding that the Kingdom continues to lead when it comes to manpower, with more than 340,000 people working in the sector.
He added that the country is also witnessing exceptional progress in female participation in the telecommunications and information technology sector, as it stands now at 32.5 percent — a rate higher than both the EU and Silicon Valley.
Outcomes of the conference will contribute to diversifying the economy, according to Al-Swaha.
It has now become one of the most important annual global technical events, connecting people with entrepreneurs and decision-makers, creating scores of opportunities.
Meta announced on the conference’s first day the opening of the first Metaverse Academy in the MENA region, headquartered in Saudi Arabia.
WEO Technology and Camel Lab announced the launch of Hektar, a multi-content social media app; and MENA Communication and STC publicized the launch of Beem, a new application for instant messaging, high-quality voice and video calls, and business features.
The conference is expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors from around the world.