Minister: KSA close to becoming a fully digital economy

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawaha during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (SPA)
Updated 02 March 2019

Minister: KSA close to becoming a fully digital economy

  • Kingdom seeking to become the largest digital market in MENA by the end of the next decade
  • Traditional technological sector is now worth $12 billion every year to the Saudi economy, with a further $10 billion from emerging IT markets

BARCELONA, Spain: Saudi Arabia’s communications minister, Abdullah Al-Sawaha, has said the Kingdom is making great progress in becoming a leading digital economy. 

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, he added that the country was seeking to become the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa by the end of the next decade, noting that, among other things, the contribution of the Kingdom’s smart cities projects to the GDP was expected to reach over $2 billion annually by 2030.

The traditional technological sector is now worth $12 billion every year to the Saudi economy, while emerging information technology (IT) markets already add a further $10 billion, making the country one of the most developed digital markets in the world. Those markets are only expected to grow as new developments create the potential for further investment. 

Al-Sawaha expressed optimism for the future, stating that Saudi Arabia was uniquely positioned to take advantage of its own history and strengths to make more progress in the IT sector. He highlighted the successes the Kingdom has had in crowd control advances, from its experience in managing pilgrims during the Hajj, from electronic registration programs and facial recognition technology to smart parking systems to ease the visits of millions of people every year.

He added that other sectors, like health, were benefiting from similar advances, allowing hospitals to improve patient waiting times, efficiency of diagnoses, and even the quality of treatment as a result of technology. By 2030, the digital health sector alone was expected to contribute half-a-billion dollars to annual GDP, while other areas forecast to grow, including augmented reality techniques and automation, could add an additional $4 billion.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Al-Sawaha concluded, could be proud of its achievements in providing a strong digital infrastructure. That, he said, had eased the transition the country was making toward becoming a fully fledged digital economy and, he reasoned, allowed everyone from ordinary citizens to multinational businesses to accelerate progress in almost all sectors.


Work begins on project to document all aspects of Saudi art and culture across the Kingdom

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago

Work begins on project to document all aspects of Saudi art and culture across the Kingdom

  • The project is believed to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom in terms of exhaustiveness and diversity

RIYADH: Work has started on an ambitious initiative to document all aspects of Saudi culture across the Kingdom’s 13 regions. With its “13/16” project, the Ministry of Culture aims to highlight the nation’s cultural diversity and rich heritage by constructing a record of all forms of local art and culture.

The project, which includes the establishment of a visual library of cultural activity recorded in photographs and videos, is believed to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom in terms of exhaustiveness and diversity.

Teams of researchers familiar with 16 identified aspects of Saudi culture will visit all 13 regions — hence the name of the project — to photograph and film artists and creators and their work. The art forms and cultural activities in each distinct society that will be documented include theater, music, film, performing arts, literature, visual arts, architectural design, heritage and language.

The ministry has drawn up a year-long research plan covering all Saudi regions. It will begin in Riyadh region and end in the Eastern Province, passing through Jizan, Makkah, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders, Qassim, Hail, Asir, Al-Baha, Najran and Madinah along the way.
 

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