ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for IT Dr. Umar Saif said on Monday Pakistan could benefit by becoming part of the “incredible growth story” of Saudi Arabia, a day after Islamabad and Riyadh signed multiple memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to boost IT cooperation.
A delegation comprising 15 top Pakistani IT companies led by Saif is visiting Saudi Arabia where they signed deals last week to accelerate digital transformation, foster innovation and advance digital infrastructure. The agreements will also boost the ecosystems for small and medium-sized enterprises and startups and encourage transfer of businesses and exchange of information on accelerators and incubators.
Both countries have also decided to establish a special task force to promote Saudi-Pakistan digital cooperation.
“There is a huge opportunity for Pakistan in Saudi Arabia as everyone we met here, the IT minister, the investment minister, the small and medium enterprises, the digital corporations, everyone is eagerly waiting for us,” Saif told Arab News on Monday.
The Kingdom has in recent years been pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into an economic plan, known as Vision 2030, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Earlier this year the Saudi government said it had attracted more than $9 billion in investments in future technologies, including by US giants Microsoft and Oracle Corp, which are building cloud regions in the kingdom.
“Pakistan could be part of this development story because the growth is so fast, they [Saudis] need people, they need technical skills, companies to make software, to make IT systems and to make financial systems for them,” Saif said.
“Now it is largely up to us [Pakistan] that we should make sure to grab this opportunity, turn this into business for our IT companies, and become part of this incredible growth story in Saudi Arabia.”
A statement from Pakistan’s mission in Riyadh on Sunday said the two countries would support each other in e-governance, smart infrastructure, e-health, e-education, and emerging technologie, such as AI, IoT, robotics, cloud computing, e-gaming, and blockchain.
Muhammad Zohaib Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), who is part of the delegation visiting Riyadh, said a “significant” outcome of the visit was that Saudi Arabia had agreed to a demand by Pakistani IT companies for a dedicated desk to support their operations in the Kingdom.
“This desk will help immensely by providing exclusive access to Pakistani companies to liaison with Saudi companies to benefit from the opportunities provided by Saudi Vision 2030,” Khan told Arab News over the phone from Riyadh.
“During our meetings, we have requested to allocate a point of contact everywhere, so that further follow-up is easier for us with the private and government sectors in the Kingdom.”