Saudi Arabia Launches Strategy to Become Global AI Leader

Saudi Arabia launched a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy this week aimed at making that country a global leader in AI by 2030, Reuters reported. That country's leaders expect to attract $20 billion in local and foreign investments, which would go a long way toward diversifying its oil-based economy. It's part of the wider Saudi Vision 2030 economic development transformation initiative.

"Saudi Arabia wants to set the best example globally in using AI for the development of a nation," said Abdullah Bin Sharaf Alghamdi, president of the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA), during his opening speech at the two-day Global AI Summit.

The ambitious National Strategy for Data and AI will implement "a multi-phase, multi-faceted plan that includes skills, policy and regulation, investment, research and innovation, and ecosystem development," the Kingdom said in a statement. Among other things, the Kingdom plans to train 20,000 data and AI specialists over the next ten years and spur 300 active data and AI startups.

Alghamdi said announcements about several new AI partnerships focused on accelerating AI for sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries "for a more inclusive future" in which "no one is left is behind," are forthcoming at the conference.

"The strategy aims to make Saudi Arabia the place where the best of data and artificial intelligence is made reality," Alghamdi said. "[I]t sets the foundation and direction upon which we will unlock the potential of data and AI to fulfil our national transformation priorities and establish Saudi Arabia as a global hub for data and AI."

This was the inaugural Global AI Summit, which was organized by the SDAIA and held online. Organizers billed the event as "a unique global opportunity to explore what the new global era means to AI, how AI's transformational potential can be best used to create a better future for all, and what this means for policy and decision makers interested in leveraging the potential, for the good of humanity."

The list of speakers includes Sri Ambati, founder and CEO of; South African Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology President Dr. Tony Chan; Rwanda Information Society Authority CEO Innocent B. Muhizi; and Dan Brennan, vice president of business operations at

The Global AI Summit is also sponsoring what organizers claim is the first ever AI Art competition. Twenty teams made up of artists, graphic designers, AI experts and programmers competed in initial stage of the competition. The winners will announced in Riyadh in January.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at