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Addressing the keynote stage at the LEAP 2022 event, HE Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, the minister of communications and information technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), shared the aspirations and notable technological developments behind the nation’s leap towards innovation.

As we live in a world that has immensely changed, especially during COVID years, His Excellency emphasized how education, health, and fintech have transformed to cater to the needs of people, alongside the impact of billions of dollars of investments made by unicorns, digital entrepreneurship, and startups.

“This is why it gives me great pleasure to announce LEAP, our opportunity to lead with new talent and technology, lead with agility and resilience to join hands with you to leapfrog into the future with new horizons,” said Alswaha.

As a result of the ability of the government and businesses in the society to pivot new variables, anticipate market challenges, and absorb the shock wave, “we have gone a long way as a region and as a nation.”

The Middle East, with its half a billion population, is one of the fastest-growing regions globally, and Alswaha proudly claimed that KSA has become the “largest, the highest, and the fastest digital economy in the region,” showing high social media penetration and digital media consumption.

Alswaha also mentioned that in line with His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz statement three years ago that the Middle East will be the new Europe, in two years' time, two out of six unicorns have come from KSA — stc pay and Jahez. 

Moreover, talking about future tech, Alswaha highlighted the only company in the region that has placed a billion dollars towards the future tech, cognitive AI solutions which is NEOM Tech & Digital, as well as Aramco and how they're leveraging data and technologies, sustaining innovation within the energy sector to become number one, and pivoting to apply the tech and green tech to make sure that we have also the lowest carbon intensity.

Exhibiting the importance of people as pillars, the Kingdom also has 380,000 talents and counting. “And it's not just about quantity, it's about quality because if you're a little deeper into that number, we have jumped from 7% women participation to 28%,” expressed Alswaha.

Cloud computing in the region is also thriving with Oracle, Alibaba, Google, SAP, and other players joining into the region’s major tech hub. Declaring collaboration as the Kingdom “will not work alone” even beyond the MENA region, attracting more investments — $6.4 billion — to progress further as a digital economy, Alswaha affirmed close partnerships with other nations like Nigeria, Bahrain, and Jordan.

Showing success for the debut tech event, LEAP has clocked in more than 100,000 registered visitors, in support of leading sponsors. “Indeed this is a lifelong partnership to lead and leapfrog into the future,” concluded Alswaha.

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