Saudi Arabia's Fast-Developing Blueprint for Growth is Powered by AI

Cisco AI Readiness Index in Saudi Arabia shows that 93% of organizations have an AI strategy in place or under development

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  • [Image source: Pankaj Kirdatt/MITSMR Middle East]

    Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in shaping the global narrative on sustainable and technological advancement, with AI as a central theme in its collective development efforts. The recent Cisco AI Readiness Index in Saudi Arabia finds that 93% of organizations in the kingdom have an AI strategy in place or under development.

    Last week, the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Priority Miami Summit, a landmark event poised to reshape the global investment and technological landscape, brought together investors from around the world gathered with CEOs of major global corporations and policy experts to seek workable impactful solutions to issues such as the regulation of AI. This year’s theme, On the Edge of a New Frontier, reflected the profound changes the world is experiencing as technology transforms society and economies.

    Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the summit showcased the kingdom’s pioneering vision, steering the country and setting a global precedent towards an era powered by artificial intelligence and underpinned by sustainability.

    In his opening conversation, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Public Investment Fund Governor and Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute Chairman underscored the role of AI and its key contribution to future economies.

    He said, “Al is coming in a big way. The impact will be very positive as soon as we have regulations to monitor, control, and enable this technology. AI could increase global GDP by 14%.”

    Al-Rumayyan said the kingdom is poised to be an AI hub and highlighted its unique advantages, including its leadership in clean energy and robust funding capabilities, as key drivers for this ambition. He said, “The kingdom is well positioned to be a significant global hub for AI and related industries.” 

    Meanwhile, Cisco announced the findings of its AI Readiness Index in Saudi Arabia. The survey showed that 93% of organizations in the kingdom have an AI strategy in place or under development. Nevertheless, only 8% could consider themselves fully prepared to deploy and leverage AI.

    Some top outcomes companies are looking to drive through adopting AI include – increasing productivity and improving efficiency. About 47%  of the respondents considered these factors the top gains they expect from AI. Lower on the list of expectations was opening new revenue streams, with 30% of the respondents ranking this factor.

    Salman Faqeeh, Managing Director, Cisco Saudi Arabia, stated in the press note that Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in recent years to establish itself as a leading player in AI. He added that the team believes in AI’s role to revolutionize industries and drive innovation, and it has been an important element across our portfolio for over a decade.

    The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) is working to implement the National Strategy for Data and AI.

    On talent development, 31% of KSA respondents ranked comprehension and proficiency of AI tools and technologies as the primary skill gap. The good news is that organizations are taking steps to address this gap. Among the organizations surveyed, close to 82 % say they are investing in training employees in this area.

    On infrastructure readiness, the survey shows that a mere 12% of local organizations in the kingdom have fully flexible networks to handle the complexity of AI workloads. 

    The kingdom’s ambition to lead in renewable energy and AI was clear, with initiatives aimed at positioning Saudi Arabia as a hub for innovation and sustainable development. It is already making significant strides to establish itself as a technology hub.

    Recently, the PIF company Alat announced four partnerships with global technology giants and will be investing $100 billion by 2030 to enhance the capabilities in the region’s technological sector.

    Keen to know how emerging technologies will impact your industry? MIT SMR Middle East will be hosting the second edition of NextTech Summit.


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