• | 11:00 am

LEAP24 kicks off with nearly $12 billion in investment deals

Saudi minister highlights a 33% growth in VC funding in Saudi Arabia, compared to a global decline of 30-40%

LEAP24 kicks off with nearly $12 billion in investment deals
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prominent player in the tech landscape, with a burgeoning startup ecosystem and tech-driven enterprises.

Touted as the biggest tech exhibition in the world, LEAP24 is underway in Riyadh, with many of the major players such as Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, Cisco, SAP, Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, and Huawei attending the event. 

In a major boost for the kingdom’s digital ambitions, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Eng. Abdullah Alswaha announced $11.9 billion in investments to support deep and emerging technologies, innovation, and cloud computing during the launch of LEAP24.

Alswaha highlighted the 33% growth in venture capital funding in Saudi Arabia, compared to a 30-40% global decline. 

These investments aim to solidify Saudi Arabia’s position as the leading technology hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, attracting major players like Amazon Web Services, IBM, Datavolt, and ServiceNow. The funds will also support developing local digital talent and fostering the growth of tech startups.

Several major announcements were made at the ongoing LEAP24 in Riyadh. 

Amazon Web Services: $5.3 billion investment in a new cloud zone in Saudi Arabia.

Datavolt: $5 billion investment in Saudi data centers with a capacity exceeding 300 megawatts.

IBM: $250 million investment in a global software development center within the kingdom.

ServiceNow: $500 million investment to localize its regional services in Saudi Arabia and establish training programs for Saudi talent.

Dell: Establishment of the first manufacturing and fulfillment center in the MENAT region.

The kingdom also announced a $1 billion commitment to its new accelerator for AI startups. The accelerator, GAIA, collaborates with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, the National Technology Development Program, and the US-headquartered global AI community New Native. The project – based out of Riyadh’s startup space, The Garage, which opened last year – has already recruited nearly 50 AI startups.

Additionally, Saudi Aramco, the national oil and gas giant, announced the Saudi Accelerator Innovation Lab (SAIL) launch, aiming to strengthen the country’s digital capabilities and develop cutting-edge AI solutions. This includes the “aramcoMETABRAIN,” an AI model based on Aramco’s extensive data, and the Aramco LLM, the world’s first industrial-grade GenAI model.

SAIL is anticipated to prioritize challenge-driven research and development, product enhancement, and the establishment of digital ventures by fostering a network of national and international partners to enhance its capabilities.

At LEAP24, more than 1,800 international and local exhibitors, including 600 startups, are attending, and the Saudi government is highlighting its digitalization drive. The event features talks by renowned experts.

The Innovation By Design Summit is in Doha on April 24. Attendance at the summit is by invitation only. Delegates can register here to receive their exclusive invite.

More Top Stories: