Saudi Arabia on path to digital future, says Intel Chairman
During his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett commended the country for making strides to diversify its economy through technology.
“The expansion of information and communication technology (ICT) is a high priority for the government,” said Barrett. The government’s plan, a centerpiece of national policy for the next five years, spans all of Saudi Arabia’s traditional sectors, including health care, community development, governance and education, which will get the largest portion of the 2006 budget. The country, Barrett noted, is committed to the acceleration of IT usage to deliver benefits of technology to citizens and businesses.
The ICT plan and other technology-related initiatives have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s IT sector being one of the largest and fastest growing in the Middle East. “This is investing in ICT as the next natural resource,” said Barrett.
The emerging global economy and interest in IT are helping chart a course for future growth. Barrett cited a July report in the newspaper Al-Bayan that puts Saudi Arabia's investments in the IT sector today at SAR 20 billion (US$5.3 billion). The figure is expected to grow to SR 68 billion (US$18.1 billion) by 2035.
To further economic growth, Barrett announced that the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Intel Capital, Intel’s venture investment program, have engaged in a cooperative effort to establish a US$100 million venture capital fund to invest in technology companies located in or having a connection with Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Gulf states.
During his visit, Barrett also announced the establishment of a US$50 million venture capital fund to invest in technology companies in the Middle East and Turkey. This is part of Intel’s long-term commitment to the development of the region as part of the recently launched Intel Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. The multi-year program will expand Intel’s economic, educational and technology-related investments.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)