By : Taha Sakr & Mohamed Samir
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a global, and regional tech hub, under Saudi Vision 2030, driven by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology, H.E. Eng. Abdullah Bin Amer Al-Swaha told Leaders MENA magazine.
This came during a Wednesday press conference ahead of the LEAP 2023, which will run from February 6 to 9 at the Riyadh Front Exhibition & Conference Centre.
He added that the Leap 2022 event, in its first edition, was a “historic” one that exceeded all expectations, as nearly 100,000 attended.
An expected 100,000 global tech innovators and disruptors will gather at LEAP 2023 to unveil and accelerate a huge platform of breakthrough products and ideas, and forge partnerships that will drive new worldwide collaborations leveraging technology’s limitless potential.
Al-Swaha confirmed that the Saudi Ministry of Communications had conducted studies comparing similar events, noting that those studies proved that the first version of LEAP was standard, indicating that similar international events did not have the same number of participants as previously mentioned.
Regarding investments within LEAP, it amounted to $6.4 billion, and it was represented in projects that have been achieved, not just launch announcements.
“We must impress the world today that we have a global network of creators and specialized tech media,” he stressed.
Al-Swaha appreciated the support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, may God protect him and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“The Saudi Kingdom has become a regional and global technology hub in numbers and facts,” he stressed.
The work of the second edition of the world’s largest tech conference LEAP will be launched in the capital, Riyadh, under the title “Towards New Horizons”.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the LEAP conference in the Saudi capital, including football legend and tech investor Thierry Henry, Dragon’s Den investor and podcaster Steve Bartlett, and the presidents of Nokia and Ericsson Pekka Lundmark and Borje Ekholm.
Speakers also include billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper; two-time World Boxing Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua; the youngest Dragon’s Den investor, podcaster, and founder of Social Chain; Gitanjali Rao, the 17-year-old American inventor and TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year; Susan Kilrain, NASA astronaut and the second woman and youngest person to pilot the Space Shuttle; and Sian Proctor, an explorer and mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space.
The scheduled investors control a combined and unprecedented US $1.6 trillion fund pool.
The second edition is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, and Tahaluf Company. It includes the participation of major government and private agencies, and technology and communications companies. This is because the Kingdom hosts a group of the brightest innovators and investors, and those interested in sustainable technologies from all over the world.
This year’s edition represents a huge economic leap in the Kingdom through a number of partnerships, deals, and investment tours.
The “LEAP” conference, in its second edition, includes more than 700 male and female speakers from more than 50 countries, representing the most influential global players in technology, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation, such as Joseph Bradley, Dr. Rajeev Ramaswamy, and a host of other distinguished speakers, with female participation exceeding more than 35% of the total speakers.
More than 900 international and local companies will participate in the conference. These include Ericsson, STC, Huawei, IBM, Mobily, Nulip, NEOM, SAP, Aramco, Site, Elm, Google Cloud, Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Alibaba. Cloud, and other companies in the technology field, in addition to more than 400 emerging global and local technology companies.
In its second edition, Leap addresses many topics such as the innovative economy, financial technologies, smart cities, health technologies, the fourth industrial revolution, clean technology, and retail trade. In addition, it addresses many other topics such as the future of energy and educational technologies.
The conference includes seven platforms in which more than 400 keynote speeches and dialogue sessions will be held, namely: the main platform, four platforms for specialized sessions in which two topics are presented in each of them, the investors’ platform, which will witness huge investment deals with the presence of major tech firms around the world.
LEAP Start-up Pitch Competition
Also during the conference, the Rocket Fuel LEAP’s Start-up Pitch Competition will take place.
Rocket Fuel will witness 90 startups pitch their business ideas live at LEAP. The competition will take place in several stages. After 6 semi-final heats from 6 to 8 February, the 15 best pitches will enter the Grand Finale on 9 February. Five startups will be crowned category winners, and a sixth shall ascend to victory and hold the LEAP Award for the best overall startup. All of this will take place in front of seasoned judges, angel investors, tech experts, and government stakeholders from around the world!
Moreover, mingling with exhibitors and visitors will be robotic humanoids from Japan and Hong Kong, dancing robots from the USA, the American innovators of the ‘Space 4 Girls’ weather balloon, which captures flight and low orbit images from space, and the team behind Roybi, the AI-powered companions designed to tutor children. They will demo alongside Magic Keys augmented reality, which helps budding musicians learn to play instruments without reading music; the Stage11 music experience, which combines gaming, mixed reality and digital collectibles; the South Korean haptic suit that has been integrated into VR games; Italy’s ‘Mirror’, which customizes PINKO bags and mints them into NFTs; Interstellar Lab advanced farming technologies; and, from Estonia, the world’s first hydrogen-powered autonomous vehicle.
LEAP has garnered support from numerous leading government and private sector organizations. Strategic partners and sponsors for LEAP23 include NEOM, STC, Saudi Aramco, Mobily, IBM, Microsoft, Ericsson, Huawei, and Najm Insurance. The 2023 edition will also host country pavilions from the United Kingdom, Finland, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Oman, and India.