RIYADH: Artificial intelligence is set to contribute $135 billion to the Saudi economy in 2030, making the Kingdom the biggest beneficiary of the technology in the Middle East, according to global consultancy firm PwC.
A report from the company noted that AI could add $320 billion to the region’s economy, equivalent to 11 percent of gross domestic product.
Amid the government’s massive push for digitization and future technology, Saudi Arabia will see AI’s contribution to GDP rise to 12.4 percent in 2030.
In terms of average annual growth in the contribution of AI by region, Saudi Arabia is expected to slice off a 31.3 percent share in the technology’s expansion between 2018 to 2030, the PwC report noted.
“Saudi’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020 identify digital transformation as a key goal to activate economic sectors, to support industries and private sector entities, to advocate for the development of public-private business models and to ultimately reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenues through a diversification of the economy,” the report noted.
Investment in AI in Saudi Arabia is supported by the government and is currently largely driven through domestic sources, in particular the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.
“In order to maintain momentum in the pace of technological advancement in the country, there is a need for it to attract more foreign investment which is currently constrained by the challenges in the business environment,” it said.
PwC pointed out that Saudi Arabia ranked 92 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index in 2017.
“Addressing concerns raised by the business community will allow it to attract external investment which will bring with it skills and expertise to upskill the local population,” the report said.
PwC, meanwhile, estimated that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, surpassing the current output of both China and India.
It added that $6.6 trillion of this figure is likely to come from increased productivity while $9.1 trillion is set to come from benefits to consumers.