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LEAP 2023 kicks off with $9 billion investment in future tech on Day 1

Huawei, Microsoft and Oracle are investing heavily in the kingdom.

LEAP 2023 kicks off with $9 billion investment in future tech on Day 1
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The first day of LEAP 2023 got underway with the announcement of investments totaling more than $9 billion to assist emerging technologies and digital entrepreneurship and strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as the region’s top digital economy.

Eng Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), made the announcements during a keynote speech at the event.

Alswaha confirmed that the investments included $400 million from Huawei for cloud infrastructure for its services in the kingdom, $2.1 billion from Microsoft for a global superscalar cloud in the kingdom, $1.5 billion from Oracle to expand its business by launching new cloud regions in the kingdom, and $1.1 billion for the opening of a Zoom cloud area in the kingdom in collaboration with Aramco.

According to Alswaha, an extra $4.5 billion has been put into regional and international assets across various industries.

Other significant announcements made on Day 1 included the opening of the first Metaverse Academy in MENA by Meta, the launch of Hektar by WEO Technology and Camel Lab, a social media app with a variety of content, and the launch of Beem by MENA Communication and STC, a new app with business features, high-quality voice and video calling, and instant messaging.

Several of the biggest brands have announced their plans and collaborations today.

In partnership with Ericsson, Mobily launched Mobily Pay, a mobile financial service for contactless payments, money transfers, international remittances, and digital card payments. 

Ericsson will develop and improve the Mobily Pay platform as part of this collaboration. 

“Deploying the Ericsson Wallet Platform solution, Mobily is actively contributing to the Digital Transformation Vision in line with Saudi Vision 2030 by advancing from cash to a cashless digital transactions society,” said Ayman Abdullah AlEissa, chief executive officer at Mobily Pay.

Meanwhile, analytics company SAS is displaying cloud-native and innovative fraud detection technologies. With a focus on partnerships in Saudi Arabia, SAS recently announced a partnership with Basserah, a Saudi firm founded by NOMD holding. By putting a particular emphasis on data and robotic process automation, this strategic alliance aims for a new era of analytics and AI in Saudi Arabia (RPA). 

“We are excited to be part of LEAP this year, where we will address the most pressing challenges to improve decision-making, accelerate digital transformation across all industries, and open new doors for future customers and partnerships,” said Bader Bahaian, country manager for Saudi Arabia at ‎SAS.

Furthermore, Logitech revealed the findings of its hybrid meeting survey in Saudi Arabia. The study found that over half of the respondents (52%) would prefer to work either in a hybrid or a remote work arrangement as workers returned to physical office premises.

According to the survey on hybrid meetings, 39% of participants felt they had fewer opportunities to establish rapport with meeting attendees. Additionally, 40% felt less involved than in-person meeting attendees, and 59% thought their input would be valued more if they were physically present.

Meanwhile, the creative economy, education, retail, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, future energy, smart cities, and health technology will be covered in some of the upcoming sessions scheduled for LEAP.

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