LEAP23 announces investments of more than US$9 billion to support future technology and startups
His Excellency Eng. Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) for the Kingdom, kickstarted LEAP23 in Riyadh announcing more than US$9 billion in investments to support future technologies, digital entrepreneurship, tech startups, and enhance the Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
H.E Alswaha confirmed the investments included Microsoft’s US$2.1 billion investment in a global super-scaler cloud in the Kingdom, Oracle investing US$1.5 billion to expand its MENA business by launching new cloud areas in the Kingdom, Huawei’s US$400 million investment in cloud infrastructure for its services in the Kingdom, and the launch of a Zoom cloud area in the Kingdom in partnership with Aramco. An additional US$ 4.5 billion has been invested in global and local assets across multiple sectors at LEAP23.
The investments are part of the HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s empowerment of the technology sector, which is one of Saudi Arabia’s most promising sectors amid unprecedented growth in the Kingdom’s digital economy, Internet of Things, biological and healthtech, quantitative science, space, satellites, fintech, and open sources.
An annual event that brings together the world's most important tech experts, LEAP23 is in its second year and rapidly evolving into a global tech movement, with the event expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors from around the world this year. The tech industry magnet comes as the Kingdom continues its leadership as the MENA region’s largest digital market, with more than US$42 billion in active investments.
H.E Alswaha also confirmed plans to strengthen the outcomes of LEAP23 in diversifying the economy, localising technology, and advancing industries.
Other major announcements on the first day of LEAP23 included Meta launching the opening of the first Metaverse Academy in MENA, WEO Technology and Camel Lab launching Hektar, a multi-content social media app; and MENA Communication and STC launching Beem – a new application for instant messaging, high-quality voice and video calls, and business features.
LEAP23 has garnered support from numerous leading government and private sector organisations. Strategic partners and sponsors for LEAP23 include NEOM, STC, Saudi Aramco, Mobily, IBM, Microsoft, Ericsson, Huawei, and Najm Insurance. The 2023 edition will also host country pavilions from the United Kingdom, Finland, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Oman and India.