Business

Saudi Arabia to host major global tech event with aims to boost foreign investment

Saudi Arabia to host major global tech event with aims to boost foreign investment

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has revealed plans to host a landmark technology event of national importance that supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 for a knowledge-based economy.

Backed by a multitude of government organisations, LEAP will serve as a catalyst for monumental digital transformation across every sector of Saudi industry and business.

The aim is to stimulate public and private organisations, drive female empowerment, unlock the Kingdom’s investment potential for seismic economic diversification, and propel the nation into the ranks of the world’s top 20 tech-enabled nations.

LEAP will have 14 focused exhibition areas oozing innovation in artificial intelligence, blockchain and crypto, robotics, 3D Printing, Internet of Things, biotech and healthtech, smart mobility and unmanned systems, opensource, quantum, 5G, materials science, space and satellites, data and fintech.

Promising hundreds of hours of thought-leading conference content, keynote presentations, talks and lively debates with the major global tech disruptors and change-makers, audiences will also gain penetrating insights into tech advancements across several dedicated stages.

Hot topics impacting artificial intelligence, startups, future energy, FinTech, the creative economy, BioTech, EduTech and smart cities will be tackled at the event’s ‘LEAP Keynote Stage’, ‘LEAP AI Summit’, ‘Orbital Talks’ and ‘Startup Pitch Stage’.

Merging large-scale tech adoption solutions and ambitious pilot projects, the event will debut at the new Riyadh Front Exhibition Centre – the largest in Saudi Arabia – from February 1 to 3 next year.

Powered by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and organised by Informa Tech, LEAP is an initiative to transform the national economy and position Saudi Arabia as a visionary tech hub connecting three continents with the global industry.

Backed by Saudi Arabian government and the Kingdom’s major investors and mega infrastructure projects, LEAP aims to reform business opportunities and empower the funding of ideas and nurturing of tech start-ups – from Saudi Arabia to San Francisco, and everywhere in between.

LEAP arrives as Saudi’s investment in the domestic and international start up ecosystem is forecast to exceed the multi billions USD mark in coming years, with Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), a government-backed venture capitalist, pledging US$750 million to stimulate new businesses in the Kingdom; Saudi Technology Ventures (STV), the Middle East’s largest venture capital fund, launching a $500 million tech fund to back start up founders, young entrepreneurs; and Public Investment Fund (PIF) reporting over $50billion to invest in emerging technology. LEAP will feed the start-up climate and directly link star-gazing entrepreneurs with future focused investors.

The disruptive event’s global aspirations reflect Saudi Arabia’s national ambitions, with LEAP serving as a physical manifestation of the Kingdom’s goal to sit at the global forefront of emerging tech.

“LEAP will be the most iconic and seismic tech event for a generation; where East meets West and tech innovation meets investment,” Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology said. “The event will have reverberations around the world and serve as a catalyst as the Saudi government gears up to transform and diversify its economy.”

Al-Swaha added: “LEAP will be a key factor in growing the IT sector, boosting ICT’s GDP contribution by SR50 billion over five years, securing foreign investment, assisting our “Saudisation” employment ambitions, empowering a female workforce and attracting international talent.”

LEAP is integral to MCIT’s five-year strategy aimed at accelerating the growth of the Kingdom’s digital economy by 50%, elevating its GDP contribution by US$13.3 billion, increasing foreign investments and continuing the drive of empowering women in the Kingdom’s tech sector and encouraging Saudi youth to pursue their dreams.

“Saudi Arabia already has a flourishing female participation in its tech sector, and we aim to nourish that passion and boost female representation to the highest in the world,” said Wadha Bin Zarah, Women Empowerment Director at MCIT. “LEAP will look to empower women in the local IT industry further through several measures such as recognizing and rewarding female tech leaders and giving female-led startups access to potential funding.

“By creating an event which has true equality of opportunity, everyone in attendance will have equal possibilities to benefit from the awards, funding, prize funds, knowledge sharing and networking available.”

International innovators and business hopefuls will gain unprecedented access to potential investors and end-users via bespoke ‘LEAP Investor Club’ meetings designed to foster accelerated development programmes. Venture capitalists, private equity providers, sovereign wealth funds, corporate and government accelerators, family offices, university R&D labs, incubators, and angel investors will form the backbone of the Investors Club, with attendees eager to hear, see and purchase the latest tech solutions.