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Saudi Arabia signs AI agreements with leading tech firms 

A mobile phone, made by telecom Huawei, is displayed in a store in Beijing on 2 August 2015 [GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images]
A mobile phone, made by telecom Huawei, is displayed in a store in Beijing on 2 August 2015 [GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with international tech companies, including IBM, Huawei and Alibaba covering artificial intelligence (AI). The move follows the formation of the Kingdom's National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence which was launched during the Global AI Summit hosted online by Riyadh last month.

The agreements form part of the Saudi Vision 2030 aimed at bringing economic and social reforms to the country, initiated by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Part of the strategy envisages Saudi Arabia becoming a global leader in data and AI as it tries to steer its economy away from dependence on oil. The Kingdom aims to be among the top 15 countries in AI by 2030, with the target of creating 20,000 AI and data specialists by the same year.

China's Huawei will train staff at Saudi Arabia's National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) who will in turn train local AI engineers and explore Arabic language AI-related capabilities. The NCAI and Huawei will also look to provide professional training in AI to Saudi university students and AI researchers and developers to enable them to master relevant technologies and tools.

According to a study by the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness, Digital Riser 2020, Saudi Arabia was named the top digital riser among G20 countries, followed by France and Indonesia in second and third place respectively.

READ: Saudi Arabia excludes 5 professions from amendments to sponsorship system 

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