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WEF, KACST collaborate to boost emerging technologies
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 11 - 2019

Governments and companies around the world are investing heavily in emerging technologies to boost growth.
The Middle East and North Africa region could see approximately $400 billion added to its economies over the next 15 years if artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are adopted. In Saudi Arabia alone, investment in AI is forecast to add 12.4%to GDP.
To help accelerate the development and implementation of emerging technologies while mitigating risks, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Wednesday announced the launch of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Saudi Arabia with the World Economic Forum.
As the latest affiliate to join the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, this new hub will benefit from the agile governance methodology designed in San Francisco and will apply it to pilot projects in the country.
The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Saudi Arabia will be run and managed locally to help the country achieve its Vision 2030.
"To use the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as AI and blockchain, and many others, for driving economic development and social progress, we need global cooperation," said Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum.
"On the eve of its G20 presidency, we welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the establishment of a new Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Riyadh, to shape those technologies in a way that serves society."
Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri and Schwab signed the agreement to establish WEF's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the fifth such center in the world, during a ceremony in Riyadh on Wednesday. This agreement marks the beginning of cooperation between WEF and KACST with the support and coordination of the Saudi Centre for International Strategic Partnerships (SCISP).
Several princes and high ranking Saudi officials witnessed the signing ceremony following their meeting with Schwab and other WEF officials. They included Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal Bin Farhan; Minister of Culture Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan; Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan; Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha and The Royal Court Advisor and General Secretary of the Saudi G20 Secretariat Dr. Fahad Toonsi.
KACST will manage the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) in cooperation with WEF. The center will provide space for the development of the mechanisms, plans and applications of the FIR in the Kingdom and will contribute to the adoption of technology and best practices in the region and the world, which reinforces the directives of the leadership and harnesses the tools provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution to serve the Kingdom.
This cooperation will bring the Kingdom into the global FIR network with countries such as India, China and Japan. The center will also provide the opportunity to cooperate with various government agencies, international institutions and private companies, in line with the efforts to develop effective solutions to the challenges of vital sectors, alongside preparing competencies and capacity-building, and advanced skill development in the areas related to the FIR.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is based on a number of areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, robots, smart cities, the governance and future shaping of technology and data policy, automated mobility, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the future of airspace.
The signing of the pact with WEF came at a time when Saudi Arabia has been undertaking large-scale digitalization efforts as part of its National Transformation plan and in the run-up to its G20 presidency. The commercial 5G roll out, recent establishment of the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence and the high percentage of mobile phone and Internet use show that the country is taking steps towards shaping the trajectory of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.
The World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network was founded in 2017 to accelerate the development of emerging technologies by bringing together a multistakeholder community to co-design agile governance policies. To facilitate this process, the Forum launched an Affiliate Centre program in early 2019 to help countries develop national Fourth Industrial Revolution strategies and public-private initiatives.
Affiliate Centre tap into and share research across the Forum's global network. The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Saudi Arabia will focus on the following emerging technology portfolio areas: artificial intelligence; blockchain; data policy; Internet of Things, smart cities and robotics; and mobility.


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