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Saudi IT spending to hit $11bn in 2021

Saudi Arabian organisations will spend about $11bn on IT this year, with emerging technologies high on shopping lists

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Saudi Arabian organisations will spend $11bn on IT this year, as emerging technologies are adopted to adapt to the post-pandemic business environment.

Post-pandemic challenges will fuel IT spending alongside existing strategies to diversify the local economy, where IT will play a key role in reducing reliance on oil revenues.

Spending on IT services and devices will account for more than half of the IT spend, said IDC. The total spent on IT this year will be 4.2% higher than last year, and Saudi government, finance, and communications organisations will spend about $3.6bn on IT.

Speaking at the virtual edition of IDC Directions Middle East, Turkey & Africa event, regional director for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Hamza Naqshbandi, “IDC expects that emerging technologies will continue to play a critical role in the post-pandemic digital economy as business and IT leaders in Saudi Arabia look ahead to 2021 and the new normal.”

“Saudi Arabia’s vision for a smart economy relies heavily on digital transformation initiatives, an area the government has always focused on and heavily invested in long before Covid-19,” added Naqshbandi. “The ongoing pandemic has validated the country’s strategic direction, acting as a catalyst to spur the adoption of emerging technologies.”

The figures from IDC also predicts that almost $33bn will be spend on IT and communications technology combined. IDC said the public sector would remain the kingdom’s largest in terms of spending on IT and communications through 2024, followed by finance and communications. The education and healthcare sectors are expected to be the fastest growing over that period.

According to Saudi Arabian government statistics, more than 99% of active national organisations are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but these types of businesses contribute to less than a quarter of the IT spending in Saudi Arabia, IDC noted. Most large spending still originates from mass-scale government projects.

Read more about how Covid-19 will change business practices

However, SMEs are being driven to invest in new technologies because of the current pandemic. Cloud computing is an example. Last year, IDC said Saudi SMEs were already on a road to higher cloud adoption, and the Covid-19 crisis accelerated this.

IDC said more than 25% of enterprises in the kingdom have plans in place to deploy a mix of on-premise/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.

Security is another area of IT set to see increased spending as a consequence of the Covid-19 disruption. Saudi Arabian CIOs had to adapt quickly to the security challenges posed by staff working from home, on a huge scale.

In a country, which has traditionally seen high levels of strictly in-office working, swathes of workers are now working from home, which meant the kingdom’s CIOs rewrite company security policies.

There is good reason to bolster security postures in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East region.

According to security technology supplier Mimecast, its Threat Centre found witnessed a significant uptick in cyber attacks in the Middle East. The centre saw increases in malware (22%) and spam (36%) in the region during February and March 2020, when the virus started spreading.

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