The Saudi minister said the new center will contribute to global discussions on the use of 4IR technology, such as 5G and artificial intelligence, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has introduced new challengers to countries.
“COVID-19 intensified the need for data and evidence-based iterative policymaking supported by technology-driven and innovation-based solutions,” he said at the first Saudi 4IR forum held in Riyadh.
The Kingdom has become a global role model in deploying digital technology at peak of the health crisis, Al-Ibrahim said, enumerating Saudi efforts to manage the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia ranks 4th in the world in 5G connectivity, he added, and a robust digital infrastructure helped the Kingdom overcome challenges in the education and finance sectors.
Over 850 thousand daily classes were executed for over 6 million students in 2020, and around 2.8 billion digital payment transactions were made.
“This demonstrates Saudi`s leadership in having the most modern digital platform and world class capabilities to design local and global solutions at the technological frontier,” the minister said.
A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said the technology market could reach the value of 3.2 trillion dollars in 2025, increasing by almost 10 times from 2018 figures.
Al-Ibrahim said the Saudi economy could benefit from this by capturing a slice of the industry over the next five years.
The Kingdom is already in a good position, he explained, saying it “has its work cut out for it to move up the Global Innovation Index rankings where we plan to be among the leading pack of our G20 peers.”
“We are passionate about the objectives and vision of the Center, and look forward to working closely with its team in bringing the public and private sectors as well as the science and technology community together,” he added.