Destabilizing speculation

SDAIA aims to place Saudi Arabia in the world’s top 10 for data and AI


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RIYAD: Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) plans to position Saudi Arabia among top 10 countries for data and AI, and trains 25,000 data and AI specialists , according to Mishari Almishari, head of the authority’s strategy office.

Speaking at Saudi Arabia’s CIO summit held earlier this month in partnership with International Data Corporation (IDC), the goal is to attract SR20 billion ($ 5.3 billion) from investments in data and artificial intelligence, Almishari said.

“Our role is to enable digitization. I don’t think it’s a luxury; it is a key and an answer to many challenges, ”he said.

The future will be difficult and “the key element is preparation, preparation and preparation,” he said.

The SDAIA has helped contain the pandemic with the launch of Tawakkalna, a smartphone app that allows the government to trace people infected with COVID-19, Almishari said.

It only took three weeks to develop, as the foundations for digital transformation had already been laid before the pandemic. Today, the app has more than 22 million users and more than 75 services, Almishari said.

The IOC summit follows a number of initiatives taken by the SDAIA, including the Global AI Summit held last year and the LAUNCH event in August, where it was agreed with 10 global tech companies. to create academies to train Saudi youth.

Other speakers at the event included Richard Heitmann, vice president of automation at IBM, who said organizations that started with AI technology earlier did not suffer as much during the pandemic.

Fawaz Al-Harbi, vice president of the Saudi Cloud Computing Association, stressed the importance of cloud technology in terms of flexibility, supporting innovation and reducing costs.

“We saw how important the cloud is, as many organizations would have suffered in dealing with the changes brought about by the pandemic” without the cloud, he said.

Business leaders are making fundamental changes in operations, including connecting systems in the complex hybrid cloud environment, IBM’s Heitmann said.

Khasim Anwar, Samba Financial Group, pointed out that this approach is not always possible in Saudi Arabia. For example, the financial industry is one of the many industries that are not allowed to use hybrid clouds.

SDAIA hopes to host the second AI World Summit before the end of 2021, said Areej Alamri, strategy consultant for SAAIA. The final arrangements are underway and unlike last year which was a virtual event, “this year it will be a hybrid where some people attend in person and others online,” she said.

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