Saudi Arabia has announced more than $6.4billion in investments in future technologies and entrepreneurship that will further secure the Kingdom’s position as the MENA region’s largest digital economy. The announcements were made during the opening day of LEAP, the international technology platform, which took place in Riyadh.
The investments and initiatives include the launch of Aramco Venture’s Prosperity7 fund with $1billion, and a billion dollar investment from NEOM Tech & Digital Company with a focus on future technologies. As part of its investment, NEOM announced the launch of the world’s first cognitive metaverse, XVRS that will serve residents and visitors of the smart giga-project, and M3LD, a personal data management platform that gives back control of data to the user.
LEAP also saw the launch of The Garage, a new platform for start-ups, investment and entrepreneurship by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). The Garage will create a full-service environment for local and international start-ups, to help them grow to become the leading technology companies of the future.
J&T Express Group, a logistics company, announced an investment of $2billion with eWTP Arabia Capital and other partners. The investment will see J&T establish its MENA headquarters in Riyadh, and set up an extensive network of smart logistics and distribution facilities that will extend Saudi Arabia’s reach as the regional centre for advanced logistics.
Saudi Arabia is the largest technology market in the MENA region, with a technology sector worth more than $40billion. The new investments announced at LEAP22 are part of the Kingdom’s ongoing plans to transform into an innovation-based economy, which have already seen the country become one of the fastest-growing new markets for fintech and digital content in the region.
“These investments and initiatives are a manifestation of the Kingdom’s push toward the growth of the digital economy for the greater good of people, the planet and the prosperity of the MENA region. They mark the next level of growth for the digital economy in Saudi Arabia, the MENA region’s largest technology and digital market,” said H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
During his keynote address at LEAP22, the Minister noted that Saudi Arabia is the regional leader for technology talent, with over 318,000 jobs in the technology sector in the Kingdom, and with a rate of participation of women in the ICT workforce that has jumped to 28 per cent in recent years.
Saudi Arabia is also home to some of the largest investments in cloud technology, with leading hyperscale cloud providers including Google, Alibaba, Oracle and SAP investing over $2.5billion in cloud in the Kingdom. Entrepreneurship is also flourishing in Saudi Arabia, with venture capital investment in Saudi Arabia in 2021 exceeding the total for 2019 and 2020 combined.