Saudi Arabia Dazzles the World with the Second Edition of LEAP
All eyes surrounded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ahead of the second edition of the international technology conference LEAP which took place in Riyadh from February 6-9, 2023 under the theme “Into New Worlds.”
The global tech event is a gathering of the world’s greatest minds, the keynote stage will explore new technologies and their positive, unlimited potential.
The major event brings the global technology community to Riyadh to tackle the world’s biggest socio-cultural challenges.
Dubbed the digital Davos, LEAP has turned into a truly global platform for the entire innovation ecosystem. It works to link and gather pioneers and disruptors with business and government leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and more to experience and learn about the technologies of the future.
In its second edition, the LEAP conference brings together more than 700 speakers from more than 50 countries, representing the world’s most important sides in technology, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation, such as Joseph Bradley, Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy, Abdulrahman Al-Thaiban, Sofia Graflund, and Rajiv Ramaswami, where women’s participation exceeds 35% of the total speakers.
More than 900 global and local companies, including Ericsson, STC, Huawei, IBM, Mobily, neoleap, NEOM, SAAB, Aramco, SITE, Elm, Google Cloud, Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Alibaba Cloud, and other technology companies, as well as more than 400 local and international emerging technology companies, are participating in the conference.
The conference contains seven platforms with more than 400 keynote speeches and interactive sessions, including the main stage, and four specialized platforms for specialized panels with two themes each, the investor stage will see huge investment deals with the presence of major tech actors worldwide, and the DeepFest platform that will launch its business on February 7 under the title “Beyond Imagination”, where it will highlight AI initiatives, and the latest innovations in many sectors.
The platform will feature key tracks: The world of Metaverse, NFT, Space Technology and Women’s Empowerment in Technology, where the DeepFest platform is a key place for AI technology, with a selection of data scientists, makers of change and technology, many large and emerging companies, and innovative entrepreneurs, thus making an important addition to the LEAP Conference, especially with regard to artificial intelligence.
In its second edition, LEAP Conference contributes to supporting startups through the Rocket Fuel competition, in which 90 startups compete for more than $1 million in awards, where LEAP supports many startups through the presence of more than 500 investors to assist startups.
Organized and produced by Informa Markets, LEAP is sponsored by leading local and international companies including, Microsoft, CISCO, KPMG, SoftwareAG, Nutanix, STC, Zain, Mobily, and Ericsson, who will act together as strategic partners to bring this event to life.
Leap is the latest of the Kingdom’s tech renaissance and the extraordinary transformation under HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
HRH has spared no effort to boost the Saudi tech sector, allocating $7 trillion to boost the private sector and turn the Kingdom into a global tech and innovation hub.
Over the past years, tech giants have been flocking to Saudi Arabia, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, IBM, and Cisco have all signed up to provide training for the country’s growing software development and digital sector.
Also, the giant from the East, Huawei announced its plans to open its largest overseas flagship store in Riyadh, amid surging demand for digital products and services.
This comes as the Saudi entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem has been on the rise. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the Middle East and North Africa’s start in startup funding which hiked by 102% to record $95 million in the first half of 2020, despite the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said: “Technology and innovation have enormous potential to transform economies and societies. We live in a time where you either leap or be left behind. We are proud to host LEAP to help the region lead and leapfrog with technology and innovation”.
Mike Champion, Regional Executive Vice President of Informa Markets, the largest events company in the world, said “Informa is delighted to have launched LEAP in Saudi Arabia. It is clear to us that with the enormous technology projects happening in the country, there is no hub in the world to host such an amazing event. In its first year, LEAP will be the largest debut technology event in history. There can be no better evidence than that to prove Saudi Arabia is a future global technology hub.”
Saudi global LEAP into the future
The huge technology event LEAP, a kind of World Economic Forum of the future, which will be held at the Riyadh Front exhibition center will lead the move towards the Saudi tech future.
It will gather many of the world’s most influential thinkers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and government representatives. Under one roof, all these intellectual minds will engage with new technologies and explore how to tackle some of the planet’s biggest challenges. They will be joined by more than 700 startups that could each have a major impact on the way we live our lives.
With its brimming program of keynotes, workshops, and assemblies—which embrace everything from smart cities to space and satellites—LEAP mirrors Saudi Arabia’s own digital journey.
The Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha is scheduled to showcase the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey, highlighting its role in achieving the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.
Additionally, the Saudi Minister of Communication will provide updates regarding the Kingdom’s digital transformation strategy.
LEAP Sessions and Programs
According to the event organizers, LEAP is poised to galvanize public and private organizations in the region and beyond, drive female empowerment, unlock the Kingdom’s boundless investment potential for seismic economic diversification, and propel the nation into the ranks of the world’s top 20 tech-enabled nations.
The landmark technology event will focus on several tech areas and their impact on the way we live, such as health tech, future energy, and smart cities. It will tackle their challenges and opportunities to better our societies and the way we live.
Nevertheless, it will also tackle artificial intelligence, blockchain and crypto, robotics, 3D Printing, IoT, biotech smart mobility and unmanned systems, open source, quantum, 5G, materials science, space, and satellites, data, and fintech.
Promising hundreds of hours of thought-leading conference content, keynote presentations, talks and lively debates with the major global tech disruptors and change-makers, audiences will also gain penetrating insights into tech advancements across several dedicated stages.
During the event, experts and tech leaders will discuss how we can develop biometric-enabled life, but will also consider how tech will influence global finance hubs in the future.
Also, the event is poised to discuss how can we augment the human body with robotics.
Set to showcase a jaw-dropping amount of inspiring technology across all major sectors including health, finance, energy, education, digital entertainment, transport, smart cities, and more. LEAP will be led by a speaker faculty of globally celebrated tech innovators and will focus on the most inspiring case studies around the world – and of course, the current Giga and mega-projects financed and being delivered right now in Saudi Arabia.
LEAP won’t be like any other tech event. Backed by many government organizations, LEAP will serve as a catalyst for monumental digital transformation across every sector of Saudi industry and business. Merging large-scale tech adoption solutions and ambitious pilot projects,
As Minister Al-Swaha said: “LEAP will be a key factor in growing the IT sector, boosting ICT’s GDP contribution by SAR 50 billion over five years, securing foreign investment, assisting our Saudisation employment ambitions, empowering a female workforce, and attracting international talent.”
“We bring together the world’s greatest minds; from leading technology corporations to inspiring pioneers from global start-ups and venture capitalists with the means to make it all happen. If you are seriously interested in new technology and its positive, unlimited potential, you just cannot miss it,” the event website indicated.
Nevertheless, LEAP will provide an outlet for international innovators and business hopefuls will gain unprecedented access to potential investors and end-users via bespoke ‘LEAP Investor Club’ meetings designed to foster accelerated development programs. Venture capitalists, private equity providers, sovereign wealth funds, corporate and government accelerators, family offices, university R&D labs, incubators, and angel investors will form the backbone of the Investors Club, with attendees eager to hear, see and purchase the latest tech solutions.
The “LEAP Forward” stage covers the most prominent future technologies—from self-driving vehicles and AI to exosuits, nanorobotics, augmented reality, and bionics. There are also various sessions on the future of reality, exponential AI, future cities, smart living, and future health care.
Raghu Raghuram, chief executive of VMware, the California-based cloud computing giant, and Börje Ekholm, president and chief executive of Ericsson, are among the high-profile speakers confirmed for the event. Others include Steven Bartlett, the youngest-ever dragon on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den; Carlo Ratti, founding partner of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, which researches the impact of new tech on urban living; Dr. Saket Kumar, a chief data scientist for Global Premium Services at Google; Celeste Fralick, the chief data scientist at security software company McAfee; Siim Sikkut, the government chief information officer in Estonia; and Supreet Manchanda, managing director of Silicon Valley and Toronto-based tech investor Raiven Capital.
Regional speakers, meanwhile, include Manar Al-Moneef, the regional chief executive of GE Renewable Energy, and Ghinwa Baradhi, HSBC’s chief information officer in the Middle East and North Africa, who are both involved in some of the mega projects being financed and delivered in Saudi Arabia. In total, more than 450 speakers and 40,000 visitors are expected to attend the event.
The event is also rich in inspiration and insight from the sporting world, including addresses from France’s Stéphane Houdet, a top Paralympian tennis player, and soccer legends Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, who recently partnered with SportsIcon in one of sport’s first non-fungible token (NFT) schemes. They will be joined by former Real Madrid teammate Michel Salgado, who now runs the Dubai grassroots club Fursan Hispania.
According to Mike Champion, regional executive vice president of Informa Markets, which is staging LEAP, the event is integral to the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s five-year strategy, announced in 2019, which is aimed at accelerating the growth of the kingdom’s digital economy by 50%, and elevating its economic contribution by $13.3 billion.
“Informa receives many proposals from countries to help build them a global technology event. In this instance it was clear to us that Saudi Arabia was the forerunner,” says Champion. “We believe that the kingdom is a future epicenter of technology—the inspiring vision of the government, coupled with its enormous energy to achieve huge strides in technology adoption, has meant that when LEAP kicks off, it will be the largest technology event ever launched.”