Saudi Arabia partners with Royal Philips to boost kingdom's AI healthcare capabilities

The organisations will execute a scientific exchange programme and invest in training local staff

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority joined forces with Dutch health technology company Royal Philips to advance its AI healthcare capabilities.

The public-private partnership will create an AI ecosystem to make the kingdom one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, SDAIA said in a statement on Monday.

The organisations will also execute a scientific exchange programme and invest in local training to empower Saudi Arabia’s data scientists and healthcare professionals with the latest technologies.

“This agreement is part of our efforts to promote advanced technologies in the health field, support expertise exchange and develop national capabilities … [it] will enhance the quality of health services, create new job opportunities and elevate our national economy to become a data and AI-driven economy,” Abdullah bin Sharaf Alghamdi, SDAIA’s president, said.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, aims to attract foreign and local investment worth $20 billion into the fields of AI and data in the next 10 years, according to SDAIA.

AI is expected to contribute up to 12.4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product – about $135bn – by 2030, according to PwC.

AI-based health technology solutions have great potential to improve patient outcomes and the efficiency of care delivery, said Frans Van Houten, chief executive of Royal Philips. This could in turn free up valuable time for healthcare professionals to focus more on the patients.

“Getting every aspect of an AI-enabled solution right, requires extensive collaboration between clinicians, data scientists and other experts … we are pleased to partner with the SDAIA to enable AI across all healthcare facilities in the kingdom,” he added.

The SDAIA has forged partnerships with various companies such as US tech giants IBM and Dell and China's Alibaba and Huawei to build advanced capabilities in the fields of AI and smart cities.

Its latest collaboration with Royal Philips will focus on five key areas.

These include harnessing AI capabilities in healthcare on a national scale, establishing a dedicated knowledge hub to develop local talent, enabling new business opportunities, introducing solutions that integrate technology into clinical workflows as well as facilitating knowledge exchange and collaborative research.