Saudi Arabia will launch some of the region’s largest technology initiatives for programmers and entrepreneurs next week as it looks to broaden its digital economic base.
The kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology will present the technology initiatives at a ceremony it is hosting next Wednesday, according to a state-run Saudi Press Agency report.
The Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones will also join the ministry’s initiative, along with several local public and private entities, as well as international companies.
Participants will be able to “seize opportunities of the digital economy and serve the technology communities in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa region”, the ministry said.
Saudi Arabia, Opec’s top oil exporter, is trying to develop its technology sector and boost its digital economy. The kingdom regards digital transformation to be among the central pillars of its Vision 2030 agenda that aims to cut its dependence on oil.
The kingdom is investing heavily in big projects such as the $500-billion futuristic city, Neom. It is also building the Red Sea, Qidiya and Waad Al Shamal developments, which are all tech-first projects with smart city infrastructure.
Riyadh has boosted spending on the digitisation of government services and has opened up its technology sector to foreign investors as part of its economic diversification agenda.
The country's communications ministry said the initiatives being unveiled next week will “contribute to strengthening the kingdom's role as a regional technology hub embracing innovators, programmers and entrepreneurs from various technology sectors”.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, is competing with other regional technology centres such as the UAE, which offers long-term visas to technology entrepreneurs and professionals from around the globe.
The UAE recently signed a deal with a host of technology companies such as Google and Amazon to train 100,000 programmers and coders within the next five years and create 1,000 digital companies to boost its economy.