A First Ever Artificial Intelligence Art Competition and the Upcoming Global AI Summit: Saudi Arabia by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times
AI Fintech Middle East & Africa

A First Ever Artificial Intelligence Art Competition and the Upcoming Global AI Summit: Saudi Arabia

The FinTech Times reported that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (commonly referred as KSA) can have its artificial intelligence (AI) sector contribute an estimated $135 billion to its gross domestic product (GDP), which corresponds to 12.4% of the national GDP.

As part of its wider Saudi Vision 2030 economic development transformation, AI, fintech and wider innovation and technological developments and digital transformation will play a great role in the future not just in Saudi Arabia but in the global economy.

First, under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA) has announced that the Global AI Summit will be held virtually on October 21-22, 2020.

Bringing together some of the world’s leading decision-makers, technologists, innovators, and investors, the Summit will be a unique global platform to explore what the new global era means to AI, how AI’s transformational potential can be best used to create a better future for all, and what this means for policy and decision makers interested in leveraging that potential, for the good of humanity.

Under the main theme “AI for the good of Humanity”, the Summit’s programme includes four key topics: Shaping the New Normal, AI & Leadership, AI Governance, and the Future of AI. Global AI Summit will provide concrete recommendations on how to develop impactful national AI strategies in a post-recovery context, offer insights into AI innovations and investment trends, and inspire and empower visions of the future and how AI can be used to shape it.

Key highlights will include a launch of several national and international initiatives, such as the Saudi Arabia’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which was recently approved by His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and reflects the Kingdom’s aspirations to become among top data-driven economies and to be a leader in driving AI for good.

Artificial Intelligence Can Contribute $135 Billion to This Country’s GDP by 2030 by Richie Santosdiaz for The FinTech Times
Artificial Intelligence Can Contribute $135 Billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030 IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Second, an initiative by Global AI Summit leading up to the event and organised by SDAIA, there was a recent AI Artathon, the first ever international AI Art competition held in Saudi Arabia. The finalists were revealed during a live stream event to showcase artworks created by the competitors using artificial intelligence tools and techniques.

Over 2,000 people from over 50 countries applied to participate in the hackathon, with 300 invited to participate in the hackathon. After the three-day hackathon, where teams were formed to create initial AI art concepts, 20 teams were selected to take part in a bootcamp phase, where they were coached by experts in techniques for using machine learning algorithms and generative adversarial networks (GAN) to create art.

Twenty teams made up of artists, graphic designers, AI experts and programmers, competed in this stage of the competition, after qualifying during a hackathon round held in Riyadh in January.

His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, President of SDAIA, and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Global AI Summit, said, “SDAIA is proud to see the quality of the artworks that have been created by the finalists of the AI Artathon. Even though the competition was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was very pleased to see the way that the competitors came together in the spirit of the Global AI Summit, to show innovation and collaboration and utilised the capabilities of advanced AI to create these artworks. I look forward to announcing the final winners during the AI Summit.”

The three winning teams will be announced at the Global AI Summit where they will share a prize of $133,000.

Below is an overview of the top ten finalists:

Saudi Picasso

The idea of this artwork was ‘what if Picasso was Saudi?’ The team created a database that consists of Picasso’s and Saudi artworks to enable the machine to create a final piece which highlights the depth, richness and diversity of Saudi art.

Emergent Typographies

Reflecting the beauty of the Kingdom’s nature, the artists used geographic and topographic graphics as well as existing lines and shapes to train AI to combine them to create a new digital artwork in which new patterns and inspirations are made.

Maruem – The Chimera Ant Queen

Inspired by a popular anime, and the character and traits of the ‘Chimera Ant’, this project uses digital graffiti and other artworks and concepts to create a unique new piece that follows the journey of a Chimera Ant from cell to birth.

AI Authentic clay

Personality is usually the result of knowledge accumulation, e.g., culture, religion, and civilisation. The artists express their deep feelings towards the authenticity of their culture, presenting an experience from a new scope by combining and reorganising several shapes and patterns through AI.

Esoteric & Energetic “Heya”

Words have certain meanings, energies and inspirations; “Heya”, in English ‘she’, has many meanings. She is a daughter, sister, mother, hard-working, etc. This artwork is inspired by Heya’s energy, feelings, and strength. The team took selfies of women representing diversity as well as drawings for the word ‘she’. AI technologies were used to analyse and link these photos and drawings to create a new unique digital art piece.

The Beauty of Belonging

As architecture is a fundamental characteristic of any cultural production that enhances the sense of belonging, this artwork aims to shed light on the richness and variety of Saudi culture’s architecture. Different architectural styles and patterns are combined and integrated using AI algorithms to produce an artwork with a new color and style, creating an abstract visual experience.

Museum of GANs

What if we could depict the emotional states and impressions about a character from portraits? And what if we could create new artworks based on different emotional states? This artwork tries to answer these questions after collecting and classifying a large number of well-known portraits according to their emotional states and impressions on which the machine contributed to creating the artwork.

Machine Mythology

As humans, when we read a text, there will always be intertextualities and associations to perceptions, figures, etc., in our minds. In this artwork, the team developed a model that enables the machine to read these associations using AI. A random text generator was used to write stories that are developed to transform the textual into visual.

Ultimate Pattern

Different architectural shapes and styles have developed over time around the Arab world and they are used in buildings, mosques and landmarks, creating a characteristic unique to Arab art. The team developed a single aesthetic pattern that combines many different patterns to reach the one that has the best comprehensive picture. Patterns are processed via DCGAN, which in turn, classifies, connects, develops, and redraws shapes to enable the machine to create a new art piece.


What distinguishes AI digital art is its limitless capabilities to recognise and translate human creativity. Taking the novel as a crucial element in literary creativity, this artwork is the result of an attempt to inspire the computer to create art by reading a novel using linguistic programming, extracting its concepts, and then transforming those concepts into photos and shapes.

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