Time: May 13, 2018
Recently Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, and Minister of Defense, embarked on a massive tour the United States in order to not only build and deepen business relationships to benefit Saudi Arabia but also drive the Prince’s Vision 2030 overall economic expansion, a large part of which centers on technology.
While not much is known about specific meeting details with such figures as Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sergey Brin, there is a definite goal to place Saudi Arabia firmly on the map of tech leadership in the years to come in key ways – and with the aid of a vital figure who just happens to be a woman.
“The Prince is not interested in creating Silicon Valley in Saudi Arabia,” explains Deema Al-Yahya, Secretary-General, National Digitization Committee, CEO of National Digitization Unit and Advisor and the CEO of Misk Innovation. She continues, “He is not interested in reinventing the wheel but instead wants to bring in the right partners together and leapfrog to become even more competitive.”
Al-Yahya says that the overall intent of the work is to create a value chain that can be used to inspire Saudi Arabia. The goal is to drive imagination and ideation through an infusion of new creative partnerships. Once sparked, the region is hoping for new levels of problem-solving, job creation and innovation opportunities both within and outside the country. Al-Yahya reveals that there are three main areas of technology on which the country is focusing. They are:
- Digital Society (increased broadband, open data)
- Digital Economy (all sectors, particularly healthcare; decrease the cost through digital, expansion of e-commerce)
- Digital Nation (focus on sustaining and empowering individuals via technology, particularly those under 30 which represent 50 percent of the current population)