Leading Digital Trends in Saudi Arabia 2022
Over the past decades, the world has been on a steady path toward digitalization. This has also been the case in many MENA countries. In particular, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made major strides toward digital transformation in recent years. The pandemic further revved this, which necessitated the digitalization of several sectors.
This article will consider some of the most notable Saudi Arabia digital trends in 2022.
Investment in Digital Transformation
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has laid bare its intention to accelerate digital transformation in its Vision 2030 initiative. However, the Kingdom has not limited its support for digital technologies to policy making. It appears the country is also prepared to invest heavily in this initiative.
Earlier this year, the Saudi minister of communication and investment technology announced that the Kingdom had launched investments worth $6.4 billion in future technologies. The investments are targeted at helping the Kingdom diversify its economy. Notably, the announced investments include a $1 billion investment by Saudi Aramco through its fund Prosperity7 Ventures.
There is a significant investment in digital technologies from the private sector as well. Currently, there are around 318,000 jobs in Saudi’s technology sector. In addition, companies like Google, Alibaba, Oracle, and SAP have invested more than $2.5 billion in the Saudi sector.
Increased Focus on AIML – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming a prominent area of focus for the Saudi government in its digital transformation plan. The Kingdom has demonstrated its increased interest in AI through a series of moves. For instance, the Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence (SCAI) recently partnered with US company DataRobot. The partnership is intended to strengthen the AI ecosystem in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom has made similar partnerships to improve AI implementation in the past. For instance, Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence partnered with Huawei to develop AI capacity in the country. Similarly, the agency partnered with Alibaba Cloud to develop various digital and AI services.
The Kingdom’s increased focus on AI is quite justified, given that the technology is set to play a significant economic role. According to PwC, AI is expected to contribute up to 12.4% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030.
An Expanding Digital Services Market
Saudi Arabia’s digital services market is the largest in the region. The country’s digital services market is expected to reach $38 billion by 2025. This has been thanks to the substantial investment in the sector. In 2021 alone, the government spent an estimated $2 billion on IT. This figure is the largest of all the market segments.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia currently hosts more than 60 fintech start-ups. Similarly, the Kingdom has seen significant growth in its IT sector, recording over 10 million sectors.
Improved Cyber Resilience
With the notable increase in Saudi Arabia’s digitalization, cyber attack has emerged as a critical threat. For instance, there have been cyber-attack attempts on the Saudi Arabian oil giant Saudi Aramco. With the growing threat, the Kingdom has taken measures to enhance cybersecurity capabilities. For instance, the Kingdom has put in place a National Cybersecurity Strategy to improve cyber resilience. The said strategy is to be implemented by the National Cybersecurity Agency.
These efforts have yielded results as Saudi Arabia ranked second globally in the cybersecurity index within the World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2022.