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July-September 2018

Saudi-con Valley? Kingdom’s bid for global tech leadership

In April this year, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman visited Silicon Valley in the US to meet with tech giants such as Apple and Amazon as part of efforts to fast-forward the kingdom’s technology capabilities. An understanding of what these companies want from a tech hub is vital if Saudi Arabia is to achieve its lofty tech ambitions. As part of Saudi Arabia’s drive to modernise its economy by 2030, the kingdom’s push into technology has so far included a $3.5bn deal with Uber in 2016, the creation of a massive tech fund with Japan’s SoftBank Group and the announcement of a $500bn business and tech city, dubbed Neom. “Saudi Arabia has made significant gains in modernising and adopting progressive technology policies that other Arab countries have been reluctant to consider,” according to Wes Schwalje, COO of Dubai-based research firm Tahseen Consulting. “Through the Public Investment Fund, its open approach to regulating emerging technologies, and evolving entrepreneurship ecosystem, Saudi Arabia is emerging as a ...

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