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Saudi Company for AI launches
Launch of SCAI heralds new chapter for Saudi AI
Seasoned Middle East-watchers will know that new developments can be hard to forecast and one can wait years for somethings to happen, and then everything seems to happen at once! Digital transformation in the GCC can be a little like that sometimes.
This week's operational launch of PIF-backed SCAI - the Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence - comes more than a year after the company's formation. However, it is but one piece of the digital transformation jigsaw that Saudi Arabia has assembled together over a very busy two year period, bringing together policies, digital infrastructure, big data, AI, tech investment, global partnerships and digital skills.
While the UAE has used its relatively small size to maximum advantage, nimbly reinventing policy and launching new programmes to compete in the global AI race, Saudi Arabia has very different advantages. With the country's scale and huge technology investment, comes a large volume of data that can provide business, government and firms developing new AI systems with enormous benefits in the years to come. In fact, it's probably fair to say, that unless Saudi Arabia finds effective ways to organise, access and share that data, AI will never be able to contribute $135.2 billion to the country's economy in 2030, as predicted by PwC.
So, it should come as no surprise then, that the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority's (SDAIA) first order of business, after being formed in 2019 to drive the Kingdom's national data and AI agenda, was data. SDAIA moved mountains in 2020 and during its first two years it oversaw the creation of the region's largest government cloud (Deem), new government data classification, the country's first data protection law, open data policy, data sharing policy and more.
In October 2020, the authority announced The National Strategy for Data & AI which included ambitious goals for achieving AI leadership, national skills development, the startup ecosystem and raising $20 billion in investment for data and AI initiatives.
Over the past two years we've seen a wide range of initiatives announced by the Saudi government, across skills and talent, entrepreneurship, R&D, digital government and investment in new high tech industries. This has all provided opportunities for local, regional and global digital and tech firms.
The launch of SCAI, now introduces a well-funded, AI developer and solution provider with a national focus to serve the needs of major public and private sector organisations. The new company will be able to leverage relationships, investment, AI capabilities and partnerships to help the country get the maximum value from all that data. With billions at stake for the Saudi economy, SCAI is unlikely to run short of customers.
Learn more about Saudi Arabia's AI journey: