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Saudi Arabia’s LEAP23 Sets Off to a Flying Start: Inside Day One

The second edition of Saudi Arabia’s highly-anticipated LEAP technology conference celebrates a successful first day as innovators from around the world come together to define the next generation of ground-breaking development.

The LEAP technology conference is officially underway at the Riyadh Front EXPO Centre in the heart of the Saudi Arabian capital. With 100,000 innovators in attendance, the conference is exploring the most cutting-edge technologies that are currently disrupting every corner of innovation.

Under the theme of ‘into new worlds’, attendees are relishing the conference’s rich and diversified agenda that has left no stone in the big wide world of technology unturned. Over 700 speakers form the stellar line-up supporting the technology conference.

With The Fintech Times among the crowds, here are our highlights from the second edition’s debut:

A whole new world with Deloitte

Professional services provider Deloitte has seized the opportunity of LEAP23 with full force, having introduced a series of revolutionary solutions on day one of the event.

The company’s focus throughout the event remains firmly in line with the event’s wider agenda, addressing a range of market needs such as sustainability, smart cities, cybersecurity, analytics, human capital and marketing.

As LEAP23’s official innovation and emerging technology partner, the company’s ‘GreenLight Solution’ made a welcomed debut in the KSA today, offering an end-to-end sustainability solution providing a path to net-zero emissions. This unveiling was in addition to the Deloitte risk advisory team exhibiting their ‘DroneHacking’ and ‘RobotHacking’ solutions, which together clearly demonstrate existing flaws in internet of things (IoT) security systems.

The Deloitte booth in Hall 4 featured the Space Shuttle VR, the experience-based tool presenting real-life tasks and challenges that astronauts face. Moreover, ‘DocQMiner’, a content extraction tool providing actionable insights, ‘Lead to Loyalty’, a marketing tool offering personalisation capabilities and ‘Synergy’, the smart operations solution for smart cities, all made an engaging appearance.

Deloitte’s engagement at LEAP

As expected, a number of the company’s figures are taking part as speakers, panellists and moderators across different stages, including its global emerging tech and innovation leader, Nuno Goncalves, its global AI leader, Dr. Costi Perricos and Saudamini Dubey, emerging tech and innovation leader at Deloitte Middle East.

“Deloitte is a global leading provider of emerging technology solutions, and LEAP presents the perfect platform for us to collaborate, share knowledge and exchange views with global pioneers within the tech space,” said Mutasem Dajani, CEO of Deloitte Middle East.

“A whole new world with Deloitte is the overarching theme we chose for our participation at LEAP23, as it reflects the transformational impact our services are having, including here in the Kingdom,” added Dajani.

As part of the LEAP23 opening day announcements, the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with MOZN, the Saudi technology company, focused on combating financial crime and regulation in the financial services industry in Saudi Arabia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.

PwC powers partnerships

On the topic of MOUs, the professional business services provider PwC made waves on the other side of the hall as it confirmed its collaboration with Flat6Labs, a seed and early-stage venture capital firm based in the region.

In light of the current economic turmoil facing start-ups in the region and across the world, PwC has responded to this with its latest MOU, which seeks to connect start-ups with valuable growth opportunities.

With digital signatures still fresh, Mark Stanley, financial services consulting partner at PwC Middle East, spoke with The Fintech Times on the wider impact of its work with Flat6Labs.

“We’re a demand-driven business,” confirms Stanley. “We’re focused on our clients, big priority agendas, we understand what’s driving their strategy and how we can help them execute that successfully.”

“What we’ll do through Flat6Labs is identify prospects or companies that can potentially plug into those big revenue opportunities in the market, and then curate partnerships through which large incumbents will benefit from the technology and the talent that the scaleups can bring, and delivering big, tangible outcomes for our clients. That’s the objective.”

Bridging the gap

Stanley acknowledges how PwC’s clients are increasingly recognising the power of partnerships when bringing new propositions and capabilities to the market. This is in conjunction with a considerable inflow of venture capital into the KSA, which has driven the region’s startup community to entirely new heights.

“On the demand side, the thinking is shifting from large incumbents that actually partnerships make sense,” he explains. “And then on the supply side, you’ve got a burgeoning sector that has the capability and the talent but doesn’t necessarily have access to the customers that the incumbents do.”

“PwC acting as a bridge between those two worlds in applying our strategy through execution capability to help improve the return on investment, to narrow that innovation funnel and ensure that both parties can really drive a better outcome for customers and drive revenue growth through those partnerships,” Stanley continues.

“With so many existing accelerators in this market, it makes sense rather than to compete, to partner with operators in that domain. Flat6Labs is one example of where we are establishing partnerships with established seed and later-stage investors that can give us insights into which scaleup sectors are interesting and which ones map back to the big opportunities that our incumbent clients are trying to deliver against.”

HPE showcases edge-to-cloud solutions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise‘s (HPE) unveiling of its portfolio of edge-to-cloud solutions caught everyone’s attention during the first day of LEAP.

Marc Waters, SVP and managing director, UKIMESA, HPE

This term, edge-to-cloud, is one of the most contemporary concepts to emerge from LEAP this year. Speaking to The Fintech Times, Marc Waters, SVP and managing director UKIMESA at HPE, talks through how this concept achieves results in an increasingly data-driven world.

“Data is not created in a data centre,” Waters explains, “data is created in multiple edges that exist. For example, this edge that we’re in now is a rich source of data and given HPE’s pervasiveness, not just in data centres in the cloud, but right the way through to the edge with our networking portfolio and our edge solutions, we can build that platform that stretches from the edge to the cloud.

“This enables data to be analysed, processed and made valuable at the most relevant and important point and back to the cloud, as required, and taken to the edge. We think this is where we are differentiated from versus every other single cloud service available.”

HPE’s application of edge-to-cloud

Of the very many edge-to-cloud solutions that HPE is presenting at the event, HPE GreenLake is the best embodiment of this concept. HPE GreenLake is HPE’s leading edge-to-cloud platform that enables organisations to drive a data-first modernisation strategy for production workloads across hybrid cloud environments.

“This platform enables our customers to access a rich set of cloud services comprised of multiple solutions that you see at the stand today,” Waters comments.

“Everything from networking, right the way through to data services, technologies, and then really innovative IP such as data mobility, such as solutions for our telecom customers, where we have some really interesting IP, and all underpinned with zero trust security across that platform.”

“So effectively, we can provide security why all the way through from the silicon to the service, which is where HPE GreenLake differentiates from any other cloud service provider,” he concludes.

AI goes under the microscope

Of the many notable panels and keynotes enjoyed during LEAP’s first day, ‘Bridging the Gap: AI and Globalisation’ was a certain highlight.

During the discussion, Dr. Hubert Etienne, adjunct professor in digital ethics at HEC Paris, and Rida Qadri, a research scientist at Google, analysed the complex relationship between one of the world’s fastest-evolving technologies and the road to globalisation.

And while the hype around AI is undeniable, Qadri’s comments questioned whether this hype is preventing the full force of the technology from being realised.

“I think something that we’re not talking about as much is as there is a lot of hype around new AI technologies, like generative AI, for example, there is less conversation on the limitations of the capabilities of these technologies,” Qadri told the audience.

“There’s a desire to embed these technologies and use them within contexts or within use cases where the capabilities just don’t map to what is being asked of these technologies.

“I think we need to consider more what these technologies can do, what they’re good at, and what their structural limitations are in achieving things.

“And then thinking more deeply about when we talk about intelligence, what do we mean? What is it that human intelligence brings that these technologies might try to mimic but they will not be as successful in?

“I think we need to be thinking about those capabilities more deeply. And it’s hard because these technologies are changing, but I think the hype doesn’t help anyone.”


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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