RIYADH: “With the right policies, Saudi Arabia can provide the right environment for businesses and economies to maximize the potential of AI,” Google’s vice president for global public affairs and public policy, Karan Bhatia, said during an exclusive press roundtable on Tuesday.
“The Kingdom is well-positioned to leverage AI with its young, educated population and its strong commitment to innovation,” he added.
“It is important to establish the right environment, policies and skills for AI so that people, businesses and communities in Saudi Arabia can benefit from AI.”
During the roundtable event, which was attended by Arab News, Bhatia stressed that Google was taking “a bold and responsible approach to AI” but is “very conscious that this whole new (AI) world comes with definitely some very serious risks.”
The multinational tech giant, he said, is determined to “balance boldness with a strong sense of responsibility,” adding that AI was “too important not to regulate well,” especially as this technology is destined to “flow across borders.”
Saudi Arabia is set to gain $200 billion from AI by 2030, according to the Economist.
“We, at Google, have been deeply invested in and excited by the opportunities that AI presents,” Bhatia said. “Many of our products today — probably almost all of our products today — incorporate some elements of AI.
“If you look at the future, obviously what has captured a lot of people’s attention right now is large language models and the generative AI products,” he said, underlining that Google’s conversational AI chatbot, Bard, was available in the Kingdom in English, with Arabic following soon.
To protect the region’s young people online, Google launched in 2018 its safety program Abtal Al-Internet (Internet heroes), in which 449 students from 45 public schools in Jeddah and Riyadh have participated so far.
Bhatia pointed out that various industries in the Kingdom, such as tourism and aviation, have been exploring ways to incorporate AI and benefit from it to cut costs and improve services.
As part of its commitment to Saudi Arabia, Google has been supporting the Kingdom’s tourism and cultural sectors, whether through media campaigns on Search and YouTube or the collaboration with the Royal Commission of AlUla to bring Saudi Arabia’s historical sites to Google Arts & Culture.
The multinational technology company has also been supporting local businesses and e-commerce players in the Kingdom through partnership with Saudi Post, products such as Google Shopping, Grow my Store and Google Cloud’s Centre of Excellence and the upcoming cloud region in Dammam.
In addition, to ensure everyone is included in this technology transformation, Google has trained 300,000 people in Saudi Arabia through its digital skills program, Maharat min Google, and over 17,000 through the Google Cloud Centre of Excellence.
YouTube, Google’s video sharing platform, has also exposed local Saudi content to the world, with 55 percent of watch time on content produced in the Kingdom coming from abroad, according to a Google press release.