Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Plan has identified research and development-driven innovation as a key activity in its long-term social and economic goals.
One of Saudi Arabia’s goals, as stated in Vision 2030, is to be among the top ten countries in the global competitiveness index by 2030, from 24th place in 2022.
Two main components of the Global Competitiveness Index relate directly to research and development.
Saudi Arabia can improve these metrics by increasing public-private partnerships in research and development and focusing on an innovative talent pool.
Another goal mentioned in Vision 2030 is to make at least five Saudi universities among the top 200 universities in international rankings.
These two goals can be pursued to achieve social and economic development.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a new program for the research, development and innovation (RDI) sector.
The plan aims to add an additional 60 billion Saudi Riyal ($16 billion) to the country’s GDP by 2040.
Most importantly, RDI’s priorities include an annual investment equal to 2.5% of the country’s GDP by 2040, creating jobs in science and technology, ultimately leading to making the kingdom the largest economy in the Arab world .
Technology is a strong pillar of the Saudi Vision 2030.
The government enables entrepreneurship and seeks investment from private and public companies to develop the sector.
According to the International Data Corporation, Saudi Arabia is expected to spend $33 billion on ICT development in 2022 as the technology sector expands by 8 percent between 2019 and 2021.
Government data also indicates that the country’s economy experienced the highest growth rate in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the past ten years due to increased activity in the oil sector.
China is a good example to learn about national development strategies that focus on promoting innovation, which focus on innovations that have a tremendous impact on the economy and national competitiveness.
In recent years, significant public and private investment in R&D has made China a leader in R&D and a global innovation leader, especially in technology through technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G.
In the field of artificial intelligence, China is eroding the significant leadership that the West, especially the United States, has achieved in its research.
Chinese researchers are now publishing more papers on AI and getting more patents than their American counterparts, and the country is poised to become a leader in AI-powered companies.
China will also account for nearly a fifth of global private investment funding by 2021, attracting $17 billion to AI startups, a promising direction Saudi Arabia is already taking.
Saudi Arabia can also use artificial intelligence to accelerate its digital economy.
The Middle East is expected to receive 2 percent of the total global benefits of artificial intelligence in 2030, equivalent to $320 billion, while Saudi Arabia will contribute more than $135.2 billion to its economy in that period, according to a report by Price. Waterhouse Coopers. a report
Data platform Magnet said in its annual report to the Kingdom that the Kingdom’s budding ecosystem ended its best year in terms of project and deal funding in 2021, growing nearly fourfold and attracting about $548 million in funding.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to attract the “best” national and international talent, and collaborate and invest with major research centers, global companies, private and non-profit organizations. Priority will be given to startups.
Saudi Arabia aims to attract $20 billion in investments in data and AI as outlined in its National Data and AI Strategy. The strategy aims to transform its workforce by building a pool of 20,000 AI and data experts and experts, of whom 5,000 are highly qualified AI and data scientists.
This focus on AI will help Saudi companies remain competitive by improving decision-making processes, solving administrative problems, reducing costs and increasing service delivery.
China is another world leader in 5G innovation. China has the world’s largest 5G mobile infrastructure, with 1.43 million 5G base stations installed in 2021, more than 60 percent of the global total.
As a result, the Chinese mobile ecosystem has become an important driver for the development of 5G networks worldwide.
China is expanding its leadership in 5G technology to include the next generation 6th generation networks; The country announced its 6G strategy in 2019, even before industry standards or benchmarks were set.
It is a leading research and development company related to 6G. According to a report by Nikkei, China leads with 40.3% of 6G patent applications, ahead of the United States with 35.2%.
Chinese companies followed suit, with Chinese companies’ R&D outpacing GDP in 2019-2020.
The R&D/GDP rate of firms rose to 1.84 percent from 1.26 percent in 2010, a faster increase than most developed countries.
A good example is Huawei, a Chinese and global company that demonstrates the direct link between R&D and innovation.
Huawei’s R&D spending will reach $22.4 billion in 2021, accounting for 22.4 percent of total revenue and bringing its total R&D spending over the past 10 years to more than $132.5 billion.
The company was ranked second in the European Union’s industrial investment in R&D scoreboard for 2021.
In 2021, Huawei had about 107,000 employees, representing about 54.8 percent of the total workforce, working in research and development.
Today, Huawei has one of the largest patent portfolios worldwide.
By 2021, Huawei has more than 110,000 active patents in more than 45,000 families.
In 5G, Huawei has been at the forefront, investing more than $600 million in 5G technology research between 2009 and 2013.
This was followed by an additional $1.4 billion in 2017 and 2018 to develop 5G products.
The company has been at the forefront of 6G innovation since launching 6G R&D in early 2019 and announcing plans to launch 6G networks in 2030.
Research and development not only drives Huawei’s past success, but also strengthens its business diversification drive.
Through its research and development efforts, Huawei is developing new business units such as Huawei Digital Power, which integrates digital and energy electronic technologies, promotes clean energy, energy digitization and enables carbon neutral trends.
In this case, Huawei signed an energy-saving project agreement with the new Saudi city of Red Sea.
The energy storage capacity of the project reaches 1,300 megawatt-hours, making it the largest off-grid energy storage and energy storage project in the world.
Huawei’s rotating chairman, Guo Ping, also announced plans to launch a cloud zone in Saudi Arabia, where 10 percent of companies that embrace digitization increase their revenue five times faster.
Following the Chinese government’s initiative to promote startups, Huawei announced a new support program in the region last year called SPARK.
It is part of the HUAWEI CLOUD Oasis project launched in September 2021, which plans to invest $15 million over the next three years to accelerate the development of technology and ecosystem companies in the Middle East.
The company contributes to the development of ICT talents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and has successfully implemented the Saudi Talent Empowerment Program (STEP) which aims to build an ecosystem of ICT talent in the Kingdom.
This public-private collaboration will help the country bridge the gap between the demand for the future digital workforce and the supply of local talent.
Huawei also recently added a new category for its global app content for 2022 – “Best Arabic App” – to encourage regional developers to create app solutions that meet the needs of the region and enrich Arabic content.
Innovation is also key to building a resilient economy that is strengthened against global turmoil.
Research and development has helped China avoid a US-led campaign to isolate Chinese companies from the global technology market. China’s public and private sector enterprises have responded to the challenge of technological self-sufficiency, particularly in semiconductors.
China has traditionally been the world’s largest importer of chips. However, China’s imports of integrated circuits (ICs) shrank by 9.6% in the first quarter of 2022, compared with a 33.6% increase in the same period in 2021, according to Chinese customs data last year.
The decrease in the volume of imports is mainly due to China’s strong tendency towards technological self-sufficiency.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an ambitious country that is currently making great leaps towards the future and innovation.
As a result of the positive changes the Kingdom saw in 2020-2021, the Al-Turath Foundation Index for Independent Economies increased from 83rd to 63rd.
The country has already made impressive progress in building a knowledge-based economy over the past decade, thanks to ambitious government initiatives.
With a solid foundation of tech-savvy population, world-class ICT infrastructure and the largest economy in the region, innovation will be the spark that accelerates this mission.