Disruptive Future Technologies in the Kingdom


The changes happening in the Kingdom in the adoption of latest technologies and digitization is very fast, experts discussed at the “AutoDesk Future Forum” in Riyadh this week.

In its first edition, the forum was conceptualized specifically for designers, makers and builders in the Kingdom to explore current and evolving technologies to contribute and realize the goals outlined in Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s industrial development.

The Futures’ Forum provided industry experts from across the Kingdom a central platform to explore future trends such as 3D printing, the Internet of Things, Virtual and Augmented Reality offered in strategic industries including: architecture, engineering, construction, and manufacturing.

Saudi Gazette met with AutoDesk’s regional head Mohammed Saleh and head of AEC Industry in the Middle East, Naji Atallah, to know more about their presence in the Kingdom and their views on the potential for technology in the market.

“AutoDesk started to have a presence in the Kingdom since decades,” says Saleh. “We serve different sectors such as architecture, engineering construction, manufacturing as well as media and entertainment. And with that through our distribution and partner network, we supply our solutions and technology to both public and private sectors.”

“From what we recently noticed is that the government sector has been dramatically more active since the past 18 months,” he added.

AutoDesk is working on several initiatives in line with the Vision 2030. “The Kingdom’s Vision focuses on developing the youth in terms of education and training and empowering local citizens by driving employment up,” he further said. “That has pushed us to think outside the box in our own way of supporting this promising vision. Over the past years, we worked on a plan and we started to execute it with certain universities. We are currently in discussions for multiple educational purposes.”

Among the innovations are free education licenses to educational institutions in softwares that enables 3D printing technology. The company is discussing with professors to push technology in educational curriculums.

AutoDesk believes that technology can play a dramatic role in driving local manufacturing by providing them with values through our technology so they can also innovate and move forward in a short period of time.

Speaking about the latest technology in construction and architecture, Atallah said transformative technologies are disrupting the industry, such as generative design, machine learning, robotics, additive manufacturing and more. He said, “One of the crucial topics is what comes next in the different industries in terms of use of technology and digitization. Development and growth in all sectors these days require the adoption of the latest technologies and workflows that have been never used before such as increased use of the cloud. We see the cloud as a tool that allows companies to have more computation and power at less cost.”

He added, “This means the way we used to design things is not limited to the power of a single computer now. Now, we can use 10,000 or even 20,000 computers working together.”

He believes digitization is happening very fast in the Saudi market. “More and more we are seeing sensors and controllers embedded in designs. NEOM is a great example of where the Kingdom is heading and where the city will be optimized. Artificial intelligence is hugely advancing as well in the Saudi market,” he said.

“Additive manufacturing and 3D printing is gaining momentum across the world in all sectors. We have seen 3D printed shoes, 3D printed furniture, 3D printed buildings and much more. As the Kingdom inches closer towards it’s 2030 goals, we can predict that 3D printing will be employed quite heavily in the future as it is relatively cheaper, potentially stronger and more sustainable than traditional means employed for manufacturing, design, construction and more,” said Naji Atallah, Head of AEC and Manufacturing at Autodesk Middle East.

In light of the vision of Saudi Arabia to build more connected, resilient cities, and infrastructure with a focused eye on sustainability, delegates were also briefed about the recent partnership between Autodesk and Esri.

The partnership between the global leaders in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and GIS (Geographic Information System) will now provide industry and city planners in Saudi, the ability to design in the context of the real world. By bridging the flow of data between GIS and BIM and placing that information at the center of infrastructure projects: houses, schools, roads, and other assets, no longer need to be planned, designed and built in isolation of everything else around it. Instead, planners and designers can better view infrastructure projects in relation to how those assets fit and interact with the surrounding ecosystem.

Autodesk also shed light on VR and AR technologies in helping potential investors to explore residential or commercial units, customize the look and feel of any unit from the comfort of their own home before making a purchase.