Science & Technology

Artificial intelligence: The cornerstone of Saudi 2030 Vision

Saudi Arabia has embarked on an ambitious economic and technological development plan, under the Saudi Vision 2030.

The kingdom aims to become a global leader in the artificial intelligence (AI) field by 2030, these efforts are spearheaded by the Saudi Arabia Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA).

SDAIA was established in 2019 as a government body directly linked to the prime minister. It is chaired by the deputy prime minister.

Data and AI are the cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, accoding to SDAIA spokesperson Majid Al-Shehry.

He previously said that the Kingdom aims to utilize AI through the development of a national AI strategy, that will boost the skills needed for the field.

The data and AI centre is responsible for several technological developments that took place over the past years, the most prominent of which is the Boroog platform. It is a secure government video conferencing system, used for the G-20 summit.

Last year, SDAIA revealed that it has countered more than 2 million cyberattacks using special protections it had developed.

Moreover, the authority was also behind the Tawakkalna app, which led the government efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic in Saudi Arabia. The app was responsible for the issuance of movement permits electronically during curfews for government and private sector employees.

Nevertheless, SDAIA is also playing an important role through data tracking in both the economic and defence sectors. The authority has created operation centre to boost efforts by both health and security sectors amid the pandemic. It aims to help decision-makers to develop effective strategies based on data and facts, to assist the the policies adopted to curb the pandemic.

Such operation used datasets from the National Data Bank (NDB), which were analyzed using SDAIA’s Estishraf platform. Nevertheless, SDAIA also utilizes the platforms from the National Information Center (NIC), when needed.

SDAIA spokesperson stressed that Saudi Arabia is at the crossroads of three continents, which will make it an ideal place for the world to come and partner with the Kingdom as it develop its AI capabilities.

Toward achieving these ambitious goals, SDAIA established the National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI), which aims to orchestrate AI research and development, provide AI strategic advisory to the government, and promote AI education.

NCAI is envisaged to raise national AI maturity by co-creating a portfolio of AI use cases along with priority sectors with relevant stakeholders, driving AI use cases developed in collaboration with AI partners, and supporting AI research and publications in order to generate impact and achieve sustainable economic growth.

SDAIA leads innovation and transformation of Saudi energy sector

In 2021, Saudi Arabia launched the Artificial Intelligence Center for Energy”, which aims to enhance the competitiveness of the energy sector.

Launched in cooperation between the Saudi Ministry of Energy and SDAIA, the centre aims to strengthen efforts to raise the Kingdom’s ranking in the leading global indicators related to data and artificial intelligence.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy, commented at the launch that with the energy sector constituting about 40% of the Kingdom’s GDP, data in the sector represents a large wealth and constitutes a golden opportunity to enhance leadership in the application of artificial intelligence.

The centre aims to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 joint between the Ministry of Energy and SDAIA and will enhance the competitiveness of the energy sector, especially in the aspect of joint innovation in artificial intelligence related to this sector.

The centre is expected to contribute to building national capabilities and competencies specialized in artificial intelligence in the energy sector, which is one of the priority sectors within the Saudi National Strategy for Data and AI adopted by SDAIA. The energy sector was identified as a priority sector in the National Strategy for Data and AI, which aims to reach more than 15,000 data and AI specialists by 2030 and to advance cooperation with leading national and international companies in these fields.

It also helps boost cooperation with major national and international leading companies in the fields of energy and artificial intelligence to localize technology and stimulate AI investments. The National Strategy for Data and AI aims to attract SAR 75 billion of local and foreign investments into the data and AI sector by 2030.

The Artificial Intelligence Center for Energy will be jointly managed by the Ministry of Energy and SDAIA, with the participation of key stakeholders in the national energy system.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy, stressed that the launch of the Artificial Intelligence Center for Energy comes at a time when the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is achieving great successes under the guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the follow-up of the Crown Prince.

“The energy sector depends on data, AI, innovation and transformation as a key pillar for its future. The cooperation will support the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 [to reduce dependence on oil] and other strategies such as the development and diversification of the Saudi economy and the creation of jobs in the sector,” he added.

He indicated that this centre comes as an extension of the directions of the Ministry of Energy, which depends on data, artificial intelligence, innovation and transformation as basic pillars for the future of the energy sector and maximizing the added value of it.

He explained that the energy system believes in the importance of integration and working as a joint government team with various relevant agencies, taking into account the responsibility and nature of the work of each party.

The Minister of Energy indicated that this cooperation will support achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and several other strategies such as developing and diversifying the Saudi economy and creating jobs in the sector.

Dr Abdullah bin Sharaf bin Jamaan Al-Ghamdi, Chairman of the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence said that these efforts aim to activate the national strategy for data and artificial intelligence, and support efforts related to the inclusion and raising of the Kingdom’s classification among international indicators related to data and artificial intelligence, and the exchange of experiences and expertise.

Al-Ghamdi explained out that by 2024, 70% of enterprises will use AI infrastructure and smart services for the cloud to activate AI, thus significantly alleviating concerns about integration and expansion of enterprises, and more than 50% of enterprises use hosted AI services to enhance portfolios by 2023.

Artificial intelligence will contribute to enhancing the growth opportunity for the energy sector, by reducing time and effort and reducing operational costs, which in turn will be reflected in the growth of the energy sector imports business and the companies operating in it.

SDAIA contributes directly to achieving the ambitions of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, as 70% of the vision’s goals are directly affected by data and artificial intelligence strategies.

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