With an annual budget of $22 billion for the digital and IT sector, Saudi Arabia has become one of the top-ranked digital markets not only in the MENA region, but worldwide.
The Kingdom is establishing the structural base and funding to become a leading player in the digital market, according to Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha.
Speaking in a keynote address at the largest annual mobile conference in the world, the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Al-Swaha said: “Ninety-five percent of smartphones displayed here today in this room, and at MWC, are made with chipsets that are made in partnership with Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, 40 percent of the innovated material of these smartphones is actually made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Arm Holdings (ARM), a British multinational semiconductor and software design company, is one of the industry’s leading chipset manufacturers. It is owned by Softbank and Vision Fund of Saudi Arabia. ARM’s line of graphics processing units (GPU) are found in laptops, in more than 50 percent of Android tablets by market share, versions of Samsung’s smartphones, and smartwatches. Overall, it is the third most popular GPU in mobile devices. Apple iPhone smartphones and their processing systems frequently include many chips with one or more licensed ARM cores, in addition to those in the main ARM-based processor. The Saudi diversified manufacturing corporation known as SABIC is the second largest global petrochemical manufacturing company, and is responsible for making the innovative materials that go into the smartphones.
Along with serving as the general-purpose processors for the industry’s leading tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops, ARM’s processors can be found in all classes of computing devices that include smartwatches, Smart TVs, home and car safety systems, and fingerprint sensors. ARM’s core designs are also used in chips that support many common network-related technologies in smartphones: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and broadband, in addition to Bluetooth headsets, AC routers, and all network providers’ cellular LTE.
Saudi Arabia is doubling down on a national digital agenda by transforming the Kingdom into an investment powerhouse. In an interview with Bloomberg last October, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detailed how the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia plans to invest $45 billion in the second SoftBank Vision Fund, two years after putting the same amount into the original $100 billion Vision Fund.
One example of how Saudi Arabia is digitally redefining the industries of education and health care can be found in their mobile app “Sehha” (the Arabic word for “health”).
With this application, patients are able to reduce waiting times drastically by consulting directly with qualified doctors accredited by the Ministry of Health, through text messages, voice messages, images and videos. In 2018, Sehha delivered 1.4 million virtual doctor consultations and reduced human-related errors by 90 percent.
Alswaha said: “By leveraging connectivity, big data, and AI, 50 percent of all doctor visits can now be delivered virtually. Those that we managed in an experimental fashion within a regulatory sandbox — delivered by machine, by data, and by AI — we’ve managed to reduce the cost of service in health care from $100, to $30, to $15, and in some cases a single $1, for those medical consultations that are completely delivered by machine.”
In the past 13 months alone, Saudi Arabia’s national digital local operators have outperformed the local stock market by $18 billion dollars, outperforming both the region, and the global MSCI Global Index.
By Abdulaziz Alaquil
Copyright: Arab News © 2019 All rights reserved.