BEIRUT — As Saudi Arabia moves forward with an ambitious economic plan, the country’s data and artificial intelligence authority released a multiphase strategy that aims to position the nation as a global leader in the field by 2030.

“Data and AI are at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. By developing our own AI strategy and policies, we have developed the skills and resources that we wish to share with other nations to ensure that all countries are equally prepared to harness the value of AI,” said Majid AlShehry, a spokesperson for the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, a government office linked directly to the prime minister.

At the GITEX trade show, the organization showcased three developments:

  • The Boroog platform, a secure government videoconferencing system, used for the G-20 summit. SDAIA disclosed in November that the authority has repelled more than 2 million cyberattacks using special protections it had developed.
  • The Tawakkalna app, designed to support government efforts aimed at countering COVID-19. It facilitates the issuance of movement permits electronically during curfews for government and private sector employees.
  • AI Artathon, the first international artificial intelligence art competition held in Saudi Arabia.

AlShehry stressed SDAIA is helping during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the economic and defense sectors, by tracking data.

“SDAIA has responded to COVID-19 by creating the operations center for supporting the security and health sectors in tackling the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “The center has helped decision-makers to develop effective strategies based on data and facts and supported the nation’s precautionary measures to combat the spread of the virus.”

The operations center has utilized the datasets from the National Data Bank (NDB), together with its Estishraf platform’s advanced capabilities, to help analyze data, he added. In addition, the group makes use of platforms from its operational arm, the National Information Center (NIC), when required.

“These efforts have played a significant role in helping to contain the virus and reducing its impact on people and the economy,” AlShehry said.

SDAIA, established in 2019, is a government body directly linked to the prime minister. It is chaired by the board of directors deputy prime minister.

“Saudi Arabia is at the crossroads of three continents. We believe that our experience in placing AI at the center of the kingdom’s transformation, together with our position between the East and the West, makes Saudi Arabia an ideal place for the world to come and partner with us in our journey to move AI in the right direction for the benefit of humanity,” AlShehry said.

Agnes Helou was a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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