Saudi Arabia launched a series of technology initiatives worth over $1.2 billion to improve the digital skills of 100,000 Saudi youngsters by 2030.
The announcement was made at an event called Launch, hosted by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP), as well as the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), and the Saudi Federation for Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA).
Several multinational corporations, including Amazon, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Informa, and Microsoft, announced their partnership with the kingdom to create digital capability centres and innovation hubs for tech startups.
In addition, MCIT established the National Technology Development Programme, intending to make the kingdom the world’s leading technology country. The programme launched its early products, Financial Security, to strengthen trust between tech companies and financial entities, as well as the SME loan guarantee programme, Kafalah, which aims to provide up to 90 per cent insurance of the financing value so that technology SMEs can have a monetary fund to cover their expansion plans and implement them.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Chinese eWTP Arabia Capital fund with $400 million capital, seeks to support technology startups in the kingdom, was also unveiled at the Launch event. This investment came along after Alibaba Cloud chose Riyadh as its regional centre for management and training, with investments amounting to $500 million over five years in the region.
The event also witnessed the launch of the Tuwaiq 1000 Bootcamp, which ends in student employment and is supported by the MCIT’s future skills initiative. Projects in Saudi Arabia will be launched simultaneously in 13 regions around the country, with 40 training boot camps focusing on four tracks: cybersecurity, programming, artificial intelligence, and the electronic games sector.
The launch ceremony also announced the introduction of the SATR platform for learning programming principles, which coincided with the launch of CoderHub, the first Arab portal specialising in programming challenges.
The event witnessed the partnership between Google and Tuwaiq Academy (SAFCSP), in upskilling programmes and the cooperation with OneMT, an electronic games company. Moreover, the event marked the start of registrations for the Apple Developer Academy, the first of its kind in MENA, focusing on female developers and programmers in its first phase.
MCIT, SAFCSP, and the General Entertainments Authority also launched two events – LEAP and @HACK – collaborating with Informa.
LEAP will be held in Riyadh from February 1-3, 2022, and will feature over 500 international speakers, exhibit technologies from over 1,000 of the world’s tech companies and startups and is expected to attract at least 40,000 people. Some of the topics countries addressed at LEAP include artificial intelligence, Industry 5.0, robotics, smart cities, IoT, among other fields.
Thought leaders from companies including Google, Huawei, Microsoft and The Coca-Cola Company will deliver conference sessions at LEAP tackling poverty, disease and environmental disaster to inequality, access to education, productivity, mobility and smart living. Supported by Saudi Arabia’s MCIT and organised by Informa Tech, LEAP is a strategic initiative that aims to transform the national economy and position the kingdom as a visionary tech hub.
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@Hack, meanwhile, backed by the American hacking event Black Hat, will take place as part of Riyadh Season and will feature the most advanced ethical hacking training sessions to help the country defend against the threat of malicious cyberattacks. It will also include the region’s largest hacking tournament. Over 250 cybersecurity vendors will be present at Fortinet, Malwarebytes, STC, SPIRE, Honeywell, Qualys, SentinelOne, Synack, and RSA.
The event is being organised to support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and SAFCSP’s aim to make one out of every 100 Saudi nationals a programmer. @Hack is the official Middle East facilitator and distributor for offensive security. Its security instructors will be among the 50 Black Hat authorised trainers running a training series in the run-up to the event, which will take place from November 23-27.