Saudi Arabia signs strategic MoUs with three technology giants on AI

October 22, 2020

Saudi Gazette report

The Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA), the organizer of the Global AI Summit, on Thursday signed three strategic agreements with IT giants — IBM, Alibaba, and Huawei on the second day of the even bein held in the Saudi capital, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Global AI Summit comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s endeavor to achieve its aspirations for global leadership through the data-based economy and artificial intelligence.

In partnership with Alibaba Cloud, SDAIA will support Saudi Arabia’s path to develop smart cities through artificial intelligence.

“Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has clear goals to transform Saudi cities into smart ones by unlocking the value of city data as a national asset to realize Vision 2030 aspirations," said Abdullah Bin Sharaf Alghandi, president of SDAIA.

SDAIA's agreement with Huawei seeks to enable strategic cooperation on the Kingdom’snational AI capability development program.

As part of the agreement, Huawei will support Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) to train Saudi AI engineers and students and to address Arabic language AI-related capabilities. NCAI and Huawei will also explore the creation of an AI capability platform to localize technology solutions.

The partnership will aim to create a comprehensive strategy, including an AI capability landscape, that will develop AI skills and capabilities in line with the goals of Vision 2030.

Commenting on the agreement, Dr. Majid Altuwaijri, EO of the NCAI, said: “We welcome this partnership with Huawei which seeks to transform the Saudi workforce so that it can utilize the power of data and AI. This will be done through education, upskilling and reskilling of Saudis to create a steady supply of data and AI-empowered talent for the country’s workforce.

“This initiative will play an important role in supporting the Kingdom in achieving its Vision 2030 goals, of which around 70 percent are directly impacted by the data and AI agenda; and in supporting the national ambition to make Saudi Arabia a world leader in the field of AI.”

Charles Yang, president of Huawei Middle East, commented: “Huawei has adopted an ambitious long-term research and development strategy regarding AI, creating unprecedented opportunities through the synergy of AI with 5G connectivity, cloud, computing, and industrial applications. In cooperation with SDAIA, we look forward to creating new value across these tech domains, collaborating with local AI developer and industry partners to transform the Kingdom into a leading data-driven economy.”

The NCAI is an arm of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), with responsibility for driving the national AI strategy execution, AI innovation, and capabilities building.

SDAIA is seeking IBM’s help in developing “real use cases” of AI in areas of health, energy, and other sectors, as well as training through a strategic relationship, it said.

Saudi Arabia wants to train 20,000 people over the next decade in the field of AI.

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