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Saudi delegation highlights kingdom’s growth story at World Economic Forum

On the last day at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Saudi Arabia highlighted its tech future – from urban design to metaverse

Saudi delegation highlights kingdom’s growth story at World Economic Forum
[Source photo: Venkat Reddy/Fast Company Middle East]

Saudi Arabia has launched initiatives to make the country one of the most technologically advanced in the world. Its Vision 2030 maps out a route to a more technologically advanced future as the government builds communities and boosts the economy by regenerating the country’s digital infrastructure.

On the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia discussed its tech future – from urban design and metaverse to building supply chain resilience. 

A number of high-ranking officials from the kingdom, including the Saudi ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, and Economy Minister Faisal Alibrahim, participated in a number of panel discussions. 

Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Climate Envoy for Saudi Arabia, said cognitive city NEOM would revolutionize how people view cities and urban planning.

During a panel session on Friday titled The Evolution of Urban Life, Al Jubeir said, “The Line will revolutionize the way people look at cities and urban planning. Neom is an attempt to create a city that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, that has a very high quality of life, but virtually no traffic.”

In another session on Reshuffling Value Chains, Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Falih explained how Saudi Arabia’s supply chain efforts would take advantage of the country’s infrastructure, resources, and location to improve local and global supply chain resilience.

“In Saudi Arabia, we launched the Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (GCSRI), to not only strengthen our resilience but also enable the kingdom to become part of the global multi-hub system while playing to our strengths,” he said.

During a session titled Deployment in the Industrial Metaverse, the minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha, stated that the “current 2D world that we live in today is not suitable for purpose in the 21st century.”

“I am a big advocate of the metaverse, which is going to be the next wave of how immersive experiences work for consumers, enterprises, and industry. We are bringing together academics, innovators, policymakers, and regulators into a sandbox to make sure that they have a safe environment to innovate,” he said.”

Likewise, Faisal F. Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning, said to the WEF audience that the country is on track to outpace anticipated growth rates for 2023.

“Saudi is becoming the global growth story. We had the strongest growth in the G20 last year, and if you look more closely at the 8.5% GDP growth figure, you will see that our non-oil activities and our private sector grew at a very high rate,” he added.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Economy and Planning collaborated with the WEF’s open innovation platform, UpLink, to create a challenge to boost food security in arid areas in addition to the panel discussions. A global initiative called the Food Ecosystems, and Arid Climates Challenge is looking for technological solutions to the world’s food shortage.

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