Amazon sets up academy in Saudi Arabia to support digital economy

The project is expected to issue 35,000 certificates and offer 100 internships by 2025

Amazon Mena executive Abdo Chlala and Faris Alsaqabi, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister for Future Jobs and Capabilities, announce the launch of the Amazon Academy in Riyadh. Alvin R Cabral / The National
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Amazon, the world's biggest e-commerce company, has launched a new academy in Saudi Arabia as it seeks to support the kingdom's human capital programme for the digital economy.

The academy, which will offer the “largest talent development programme of its kind in the Middle East”, aims to train more than 30,000 Saudis, issue 35,000 certificates and offer 100 internships by 2025, the Seattle-based technology company said at the Leap technology exhibition in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The academy is being built in co-operation with Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and will be operated by the Saudi Digital Academy and the Tuwaiq Academy.

Amazon and the ministry did not disclose the investment details.

“We continue to empower small and medium enterprises and partner with thousands of Saudi companies. Our aim continues to focus on delivering meaningful progress,” Abdo Chlala, director for the GCC at Amazon's Mena division, said at the launch.

“The academy closely aligns with the MCIT’s skills programme and develop capacity goals in the kingdom.”

The kingdom is diversifying its economy away from oil as part of its Vision 2030 strategy, with technology one of the key pillars of the plan.

Saudi Arabia is encouraging entrepreneurship and seeking investments into its digital transformation programme as it promotes the use of new age technology in preparation for the future economy.

The global digital transformation market is projected to hit about $3.95 trillion by 2030, from about $608 billion last year, growing at a compound annual rate of more than 23 per cent, according to data from Grand View Research.

Empowering people with the mix of skills needed to succeed in a digital world of work is critical, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This can be achieved by improving education and training systems, supporting job-to-job transitions and ensuring adequate social protection, it said.

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The Amazon Academy's curriculum has been designed by Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing unit, as well as its operations and customer experience teams.

Training programmes will be conducted by combining virtual self-paced modules with in-classroom sessions and hands-on workshops, Mr Chlala said.

Among the courses that will be covered are cloud architecture, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, end-to-end customer fulfilment and last-mile logistics and entrepreneurship.

We invite Saudi talent from all walks of life and educational backgrounds, as we move one step forward to a common goal to build a digital future for Saudi Arabia
Abdo Chlala, director for the GCC at Amazon's Mena unit

The academy will provide a boost to the kingdom's ambitions of creating the local talent necessary to support the goals of Vision 2030, said Faris Alsaqabi, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of Future Jobs and Capabilities at the MCIT.

“Saudi Arabia has the largest market for technology and innovation, and ... we are among the 10 fastest-growing countries in digital content and commerce,” he said.

Amazon set up shop in Saudi Arabia in 2020, and its operations have grown more than 80 per cent since then, Mr Chlala said.

“We invite Saudi talent from all walks of life and educational backgrounds, as we move one step forward to a common goal to build a digital future for Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The launch of the Amazon Academy comes after a similar move by Meta Platforms, which unveiled the Mena region's first metaverse academy in Saudi Arabia at Leap, as the Facebook parent aims to accelerate the development of the emerging technology.

Amazon has been actively investing in the Middle East. In the UAE, it is building the Middle East's most technologically advanced warehouse and also opened a major warehouse in Abu Dhabi.

Amazon also operates the AWS Academy, which provides higher education institutions with a free, ready-to-teach cloud-computing curriculum.

Updated: February 08, 2023, 1:52 PM