Start-ups crucial to the future of Saudi Arabia: Officials

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SOURCE: Gulf News

Time: 13 April, 2018

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation will be fuelled by start-ups, according to UAE Ministry of Economy officials speaking at last week’s Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) event in Dubai.

As the country moves from an economy largely based on hydrocarbons to one more based on knowledge, the kingdom’s economic Vision 2030 is being driven by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

Mohammad Bin Salman recently concluded a visit to Silicon Valley where he urged the global tech companies to invest in Saudi Arabia and help its economic transformation.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has been mulling investments in a number of global start-ups in recent years.

Juma Al Kait, assistant undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Economy, opened the AIM start-up conference on April 11 by introducing Nabeel Koshak, dean at MBSC, Saudi Arabia, as the chief guest.

Koshak, who accompanied the Saudi crown prince on his recent tour around the United States, talked about the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s national economy, and how it was affecting start-ups.

According to a statement, Koshak said that Saudi Arabia cannot afford to be slow as the world changes around them.

He added that start-ups in Saudi Arabia had massive support from Mohammad Bin Salman, as the country attempted to diversify its economy, by giving more importance to small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.

Alongside Nabeel Koshak was Kevin Cullen, vice-president of innovation and economic development at KAUST in Saudi Arabia.

Cullen said that he sees massive potential in Saudi Arabian students, talking about the social, economic and cultural changes in today’s youth.

Educational institutions in Saudi Arabia are now teaching bachelors and masters students how to pursue a career as an entrepreneur.

“So, failure is part of the learning process. If we are not failing, that means we are not trying,” Cullen said.

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