Saudi Arabia has announced plans to host LEAP 2021, a landmark technology event to support its Vision 2030’s goals to transform the country into a diversified, knowledge-based economy and boost foreign investment in this vital sector.
The digital economy in the Kingdom tends to contribute to its non-oil GDP by three percent.
Powered by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and organized by Informa Tech, the event will take place from February 1-3 next year at the Kingdom’s largest Riyadh Front Exhibition Center.
LEAP is an initiative to transform the national economy and Saudi Arabia’s position as a visionary tech hub connecting three continents with the global industry.
Backed by the government, 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 billion dollars mark in coming years, with Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), a government-backed venture capitalist, pledging $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 cause a revelation in the technology sector at the local, regional and global levels,” said Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah al-Swaha.
The Kingdom will attract pioneering contributions to the most prominent technical innovations and the most important sources of investment and financing, he added, noting that it comes in line with the directives issued to mobilize all potentials and accelerate the development of this sector due to its direct impact and contribution to stimulating affiliated sectors and achieving the government’s goals to develop a diversified knowledge-based economy.
“LEAP will be a key factor in growing the IT sector, boosting ICT’s GDP contribution by SAR50 billion over five years, securing foreign investment, assisting our Saudization employment ambitions, empowering a female workforce and attracting international talent.”
It is integral to MCIT’s five-year strategy aimed at accelerating the growth of the Kingdom’s digital economy by 50 percent.
“Saudi Arabia already has 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 Women Empowerment Director at MCIT Wadha bin Zarah.
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, she added.
“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.”
The conference will hold 14 focused exhibition areas demonstrating innovations fields such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, blockchain, robotics, 3D printing, Internet of Things, biotech/health sciences, smart mobility, unmanned systems, quantum computing, materials sciences, space and satellites, data analytics and FinTech.