RIYADH — Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Al-Swaha, who is also chairman of the Board of Directors of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), inaugurated on Wednesday the Fourth Industrial Revolution Center in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF). The center was launched on the sidelines of the opening of the activities of the first Saudi Forum for the Fourth Industrial Revolution being organized by KACST at its headquarters here.
Those who attended the inaugural session included WEF founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab, several ministers and senior officials, as well as prominent Saudi and international speakers. The forum is discussing a number of challenges facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including restoring the ecosystem and the future of financing. The sessions also see discussions on the impact of emerging technologies on the future of transportation, building healthcare systems that are able to withstand crises, clean energy transformations, and building smart cities in the future.
In his inaugural speech, Al-Swaha said that the forum offers an opportunity to combine talent and technology to present organizations that stimulate innovation. He highlighted the importance of the meeting of thinkers and actors such as representatives of governments, non-governmental institutions and business leaders in supporting this initiative.
“The flexibility and speed in setting policies and regulations is a key element to move forward in the 21st century,” he said while citing the Kingdom’s experience in the “THE LINE” project in NEOM announced by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, which adapts data and artificial intelligence to create an experience without problems and at the same time preserving the environment. What is happening in NEOM today is the largest innovative platform for planning urban models and future cities for the next 150 years.”
In his address, Professor Klaus Schwab congratulated the Kingdom for inaugurating the Fourth Industrial Revolution Center, which aims to harness new technologies with the best principles of flexible governance, which need government, business and civil society together to make technology a force for good and ensure that society benefits from it.
On his part, KACST President Dr. Munir El-Desouki said “our country needs cooperation and coordination of efforts in the public, private and non-profit sectors and open channels of dialogue to raise awareness about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and identify potential risks. He stressed that this revolution is a complex phenomenon, and it cannot be for any segment to be formed on its own because of its expected effects on the future of work.
“The Kingdom has a solid economic base to build on, through recent reforms to the governance model and the creation of new entities such as the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, the Cybersecurity Authority, the Digital Government Authority, and the Research, Development and Innovation Development Authority,” he said.
In his speech, Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Haitham Al-Ohali, announced that the two giants, Google and Alibaba, have already made the file of investments in the Saudi market, adding at the same time that a number of programs were also activated in countries that encourage investment in the field of electronic cloud. He emphasized that data is the fuel for the fourth industrial revolution.
“How Saudi Arabia flourished digitally during the COVID-19 period was a clear testament to show how robust the infrastructure was.”In his speech, Dr. Essam Al-Wagait, director of the National Information Center, stressed: “The internet is with you from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, and this pattern is to apply in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). When it comes to 4IR, you can summarize it into two words: Big data and AI.” Olayan Al-Wetaid, CEO of STC, said: “The collaboration methodology is the key part where public, private, and policymakers are becoming partners to create the ecosystem. The investment appetite is for sure there, and we are pushing the boundaries on every front.”Sheila Warren, deputy head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network and Head of Blockchain Platform, said: “Recognizing digital economy is something global in nature; the innovations we’re building are eventually intended to connect citizens and enable them to participate in that digital economy.”
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