Saudi Arabia has the grandest tech vision of any nation, says top executive|Arab News Japan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in national technology development, earning recognition from a head at Founders Fund, who highlighted the Kingdom’s vision for a robust domestic market.

Speaking at Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative forum, Trae Stephens, partner at the top tech investment firm, urged other nations to nurture domestic technology development, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s efforts in establishing the foundation.

“There is a huge opportunity in front of us. Saudi Arabia has laid out the grandest vision of any modern nation,” he said.

He went on to emphasize the country’s efforts in nurturing local talent: “It is not gone unnoticed that the King Abdullah Scholarships and the Human Development Resource Fund are creating new pathways to invest in local talent, enabling them to engage in major projects.”

Stephens continued to underscore the region’s capacity to innovate globally, particularly in urban planning and governance.

“They (Saudi Arabia) have the potential to redefine the way we think about the future of cities and governance worldwide,” he said.

Discussing the Kingdom’s financial strategies, Stephens said: “Saudi Arabia has allocated $250 billion for construction as a part of Vision 2030 and is also looking ahead with plans for over $1 trillion in infrastructure and capital projects.”

Capturing the essence of the region’s drive and commitment, he noted: “The Kingdom is certainly not one to shy away from a challenge.”

He further praised the region’s innovative approach to growth, adding: “Saudi Arabia, in its national development strategies, mirrors the venture capital mindset more than any other nation.”

An example of the Kingdom pushing ahead with innovative use of technology comes from the Saudi Co. for Artificial Intelligence, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund.

Shahd Attar, the head of technology and media investments at PIF, told Arab News the firm is developing a system using AI to to predict diabetes by analyzing people’s eyes.

Attar emphasized the potential impact of AI on the global gross domestic product, stating that it could increase it by $7 trillion by 2030. 

She said “In just a small time, there are a lot of different products that we are testing and trying. For example, one of them we’re proud of is called AI Night Eyes. It uses artificial intelligence computer vision to look into the eyes and try to predict diabetes. As you know, diabetes is a challenge here in the Kingdom.”  

Attar added this advanced diabetes prediction technology is not yet available commercially and requires time for testing and obtaining the necessary licenses. 

According to her, investing in the technology value chain is crucial for the development of other sectors in the Kingdom. 

“The investments across the value chain of technology are enablers for all other sectors. Let’s take digital infrastructure, for example. By investing in connectivity and computing capabilities, like creating data centers, you’re able to support the digital transformation of all different entities across different sectors,” she said.   

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