SIDF marks 50 years of investing in more than 4,000 projects

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to bolster national competencies in artificial intelligence with a new dedicated center, as part of a drive to turn the Kingdom into a leading industrial powerhouse.

On the sidelines of the first Global Smart City Forum in Riyadh, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, in collaboration with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, announced the inauguration of the AI Center for Manufacturing and Mining.

This initiative aims to unlock the full potential of data and AI and support the strategic ambitions to make the Kingdom a global logistics hub, enhancing the growth rate of the industry and local content.

“Where we are focusing on helping our economy, be digitalized and be able to benefit from new technologies,” Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef said during his speech.

He underlined that Saudi Arabia had initiated its national industrial strategy, which entails ambitious objectives such as tripling manufacturing gross domestic product, more than doubling manufacturing employment, and increasing exports threefold by the end of 2030.

Additionally, the minister stated that the Kingdom plans to triple the number of factories under the National Industrial Strategy. 

“We are betting on technology to fulfill these objectives and leapfrog our global industrial competitiveness,” Alkhorayef said.

By clustering new factories equipped with the latest technology within smart industrial cities, the Kingdom aims to enhance competitiveness, prioritize worker safety, demonstrate resilience, and embrace sustainability.

“We are not starting from scratch,” Alkhorayef said, adding: “Saudi Arabia is fortunate to have clustered most of its manufacturing capabilities in 40 integrated industrial cities around the Kingdom.”

This grouping has led to various efficiency opportunities, including shared industrial infrastructure, common logistic solutions, and warehousing facilities.

Additionally, the deployment of smart city infrastructure and Internet of Things platforms in over 20 industrial cities enables real-time monitoring and management of various operational sectors.

These aspects include lighting, energy management, water usage and management, safety protocols, fire alarms, irrigation systems, environmental protection measures, and efficient transportation systems.

He elaborated on an innovative development within Jubail industrial city, citing a smart ambulance traffic system, “which reduced the average ambulance response time by 50 percent.”

Alkhorayef said: “These are examples of few ongoing applications, but we still have a long journey to go, and we seek technology partners to deploy new use cases in manufacturing and mining sites.” 

He added: “There are great opportunities for the future of Saudi industry and mining, but we realize that the path to realizing smart industrial cities opportunities begins with a clear vision and leadership drive.”

Moreover, the minister underscored that Saudi Arabia is well-prepared to embrace the concept of smart industrial cities and transform its factories and mining sites for the future.

The national industrial, mining, localization, and export strategies have “already set the course,” and the Kingdom is ready to implement these plans.

Alkhorayef concluded his speech by noting that Saudi Arabia has laid a solid foundation with many enablers, including the development of effective policies and regulations and investment in physical and digital infrastructure.

He added: “We have also launched various programs, such as the Future Factory program, which provides attractive financial incentives and comprehensive training initiatives.”

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