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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

AI and Autonomy

Saudi Arabia plans to become world AI leader with US$40 billion technology fund

The country has discussed potential partnerships with American venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz

Saudi Arabia plans to become world AI leader with US$40 billion technology fund
The 2020 Global AI Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia may soon be one of the world’s most advanced developers of AI technology.

The Middle Eastern nation plans to accomplish this by establishing a US$40 billion fund, the New York Times reported last week. Representatives from the country recently held discussions with potential partners for the initiative. These include the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (AH) and other financiers.

The head of the nation’s Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chatted with AH about the possibility of the American firm setting up an office in Riyadh. He is reportedly friends with co-founder Ben Horowitz.

Al-Rumayyan says Saudi Arabia has the political will and financial resources to make the country’s AI goals come to fruition. His fund has approximately US$925 billion in assets and aims to have US$2 trillion by the end of the decade.

The Saudis are still trying to iron out the details of how the fund would work. The funding campaign is expected to start during the latter half of 2024. They are interested in supporting AI tech start-ups, large data centres and chip producers, according to the New York Times.

Read more: California city trains AI to detect homeless encampments

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AI market in MENA region to grow immensely

The market for artificial intelligence in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to be worth US$8.4 billion within the next two years. Research and Markets, an analytics firm based in Ireland, made that prediction.

It was valued at only half a billion in 2020. It is expected to ascend at a significant compound annual growth rate of 47.8 per cent in the coming years.

Furthermore, a study from the global consulting firm Proviti found that 80 per cent of chief executives in the Middle East region feel that AI is critical for the future of their businesses. More than 70 per cent of them are investing in the technology.

Saudi Arabia has established a Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (DAIA) to help facilitate the technology’s implementation in the country. Through a partnership between that organization and NVIDIA Corp (Nasdaq: NVDA), the country opened its Center of Excellence for Generative Artificial Intelligence last May.

The centre has an academy where engineers, scientists and other researchers can learn about AI and how they can use it in their respective lines of work. It will educate Saudis on subjects such as large language models, deep learning, image generation and natural language processing.

The head of Saudi Arabia’s DAIA Abdullah al-Ghamdi previously announced a commitment to invest US$20 billion in AI technologies by 2030 three and a half years ago.

“As per the 2030 targets, we are going to train 40 per cent of the relevant workforce in data and AI. We will also have over 20,000 AI and data specialists by the year 2030,” al-Ghamdi said.

“Moreover, we are creating up to 40,000 direct and indirect jobs related to data and artificial intelligence.”


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