LEAP, one of the biggest tech events in the Middle East took place recently in Riyadh for the second year with more than 172,000 people in attendance. During the opening, Abdullah Alswaha, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia has announced that the Arab kingdom has received US$9 billion in investments to support future technologies, digital entrepreneurship, tech startups, and enhance the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies have already invested in the Kingdom, with Microsoft investing $2.1 billion in a global super-scaler cloud, and Oracle investing $1.5 billion to expand its MENA business by launching new cloud areas in the Kingdom. Huawei has invested $400 million in cloud infrastructure for its services in the Kingdom, while Zoom has partnered with Aramco to launch a cloud area in the Kingdom.
These investments are part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil. The plan seeks to attract foreign direct investment and position Saudi Arabia as a leader in technology and innovation.
“A few days ago it was announced that KSA has the most productive economy in the world. the GDP is increasing more than any other country in the world, they have an ambitious plan to change. All of Saudi Arabia wants to be leaders across tech or any other area that is relevant in the world of science and technology. I think that if any company has an interest to be at the forefront of innovation, Saudi Arabia is a leader in that, with NEOM project, or KAUST University and different projects across the Kingdom. In order to make this a reality we need to rely on technology and technology is going to be the driver behind all of that so LEAP is the biggest tech event in Saudi and everybody needs to be here,” Jason Roos, CIO at KAUST University explained at LEAP.
The NEOM project is just one example of the Kingdom’s ambitious plans. NEOM is a new economic-technological area being promoted by Saudi Arabia in the northwest of the country, facing the Sinai Peninsula. The project aims to shift the economic focus from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, taking advantage of the proximity with Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, and to rival the urban innovations of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha.
In conversations with different IT vendors at LEAP, CIO Middle East had the opportunity to discuss with Fady Richmany, Regional VP and General Manager, SEEMEA at Commvault, about the huge potential for the Saudi market. “As one of the top markets in the region, it is also poised to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with the implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 and the government’s modernisation efforts also driving the creation of more sustainable operations across all industries, as well as accelerating the nation’s digital transformation”, he added.