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Digital Transformation

Highlighting the concept of digital transformation and the many attributes that go along with it, this section focuses on the Kingdom’s progression towards a new and improved method of accelerating the stages of development related to Digital Transformation, by adopting and implementing state-of-the-art telecommunication systems and ICT technology, which aid in the facilitation of the overall mechanisms of Digital Transformation, initiating the launch of a knowledge hungry economy and an immersive e-commerce language. This section will also shed light on the many e-government programs used to empower and support government agencies and assist in the creation of seamless services to improve the experience of the end-user. Additionally, this segment will cover the basis of the Digital Transformation Unit within the Kingdom and Digital Software and Platform initiatives launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.



With the rapid global technology development and government and institutional trends, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) government has evolved. It has replaced traditional processes with digital ones, developing five-year plans to achieved quality and efficiency. It aims to innovate the government digitally to facilitate services.


Digital Infrastructure

KSA maintains a robust digital infrastructure, accelerating the digital transformation. This structure has enabled the Kingdom to face public and private sector disruptive crises, ensuring business continuity, educational operations, citizen requirements, and daily resident lives. The Kingdom has been ranked among the top ten developed countries globally for its robust digital framework.


The National Strategy for Digital Transformation

The Kingdom has worked on developing a five-year strategy within three action plans.

  • First action plan: 2006 - 2010

    This first plan enabled everyone by the end of 2010 to obtain government services at a distinguished level from anywhere and at any time in an integrated, easy, and safe electronic means.

  • Second action plan: 2012 - 2016

    The second plan allowed everyone to use effective government services in a safe, integrated, and easy way through multiple electronic channels

  • Third action plan: 2020 - 2024

    The third plan, the current strategy, seeks to realize a smart government.


Digital Government Authority

The Council of Ministers approved the establishment of the Digital Government Authority, in accordance with Council Resolution No. (418) dated 25/7/1442 AH. The decision stipulates that “the authority has legal personality, financial and administrative independence, and it is linked organically to the Prime Minister,” and that it “is the authority concerned with everything related to digital government and it is the national reference in its affairs. It aims to regulate the work of digital government in government agencies, in order to reach a digital and proactive government capable of providing highly efficient digital services, and achieving integration in the field of digital government among all government agencies.


Digital Government Authority’s Jurisdictions

Without prejudice to the competencies of the relevant authorities, the authority shall assume the following specializations and tasks:

  • Approving the policies related to the Authority’s activities, and the plans and programs necessary for their implementation, and lifting what is required for the completion of procedures in this regard.

  • To propose draft regulations related to the authority’s jurisdiction, to propose to amend the applicable ones, and to submit them to complete the necessary legal procedures.

  • Participate in preparing the national strategy for the digital government - in coordination with the concerned authorities - in preparation for raising it in accordance with the followed legal procedures, and overseeing its implementation after its approval, developing its implementation plans and following up on compliance with it.

  • Coordination with the competent authorities to work on regulating the work of digital government, platforms, websites, digital government services, government networks, and the unified national portal, and this includes developing plans, programs, indicators and measures related to digital government work, shared digital government services, digital trust services in government agencies, and the market platform Governmental digital system, organizing the operations and management processes and related projects, disseminating them to the relevant authorities, and following up their commitment to them.

  • Issuing measurements, indicators, tools and reports; To measure the performance and capabilities of government agencies in the field of digital government, and the satisfaction of the beneficiaries with it.

  • Follow up on the commitment of government agencies to the decisions and orders issued in the matter of digital government transactions, in accordance with the frameworks and standards set by the authority.

  • Governance of the digital government cloud business and clouds related to the digital government sector.

  • Rationalizing the costs of digital government services, in order to ensure a better level of service, and setting the necessary controls for that, in partnership with the competent authorities.

  • Setting technical standards for digital transformation models in government sectors and following up compliance with them, in coordination with the competent authorities.

  • Provide support to government agencies with regard to digital government services, to adopt and enable modern technologies.

  • Contribute to building national capabilities specialized in digital government, and participate in preparing educational and training programs related to digital government.

  • Conducting studies and research in the field of digital government and encouraging investment in it.

  • Contribute to setting standard specifications for digital government products, and overseeing their implementation in cooperation with the competent authorities.

  • Providing advice and services in relation to digital government for government agencies and the private sector.


Governor of the Digital Government Authority


His Excellency Eng. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Soyyan

He holds a master's degree in business administration from Prince Sultan University, and a bachelor's in computer science from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and he worked as the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance for Technology and Development Affairs since 2017, and before that he was responsible for strategic planning and information technology in the Saudi Industrial Development Fund between 2015 And 2017.

His Excellency also held several positions in Etihad Etisalat "Mobily", most notably the Vice President for Application Development and Planning. In addition to his membership in the boards of directors of each of: the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, the Saudi Company for Electronic Information Exchange (exchange), the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the Communications and Information Technology Commission.


Board of Directors of the Digital Government Authority

Membership of the Authority’s Board of Directors is as follows:

    Position Adjective
    Minister of Communications and Information Technology Chairman
    Minister of Commerce
    Member
    Minister of Finance
    Member
    Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
    Member
    President of the Saudi for Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA)
    Member
    Governor of the National Cybersecurity Authority Member
    Deputy Minister of the Interior
    Member
    Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology Member
    Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority
    Member
    Governor of the Digital Government Authority
    Member



Digital Government Authority’s Services 

Digital Government Authority’s Services Provided to Government Agencies

The Kingdom empowers government agencies digitally through many programs by the Digital Government Authority to provide citizens with effortless services.

  • Governmental Integration Channel

    The channel exchanges shared government data between the authorized entities to collaborate and provide e-government services efficiently, accurately, swiftly, and securely.

  • National Center for Digital Certification

    The center completes many digital documentary services for various dealers (government, citizens, and businesses) while conducting various electronic operations with complete confidentiality, reliability, and safety and providing numerous services:

  • Government Certification Services:

    1. Turnkey service
    2. Link service
    3. Integration service
  • Governmental certification certificates:

    1. Secure Mail Certificate
    2. Name certificate
    3. Safe site certification
    4. Hardware Certification
  • The Unified National System for Government Correspondence

    Digital Government Authority has integrated a platform, permitting all government agencies to exchange government correspondence and documents safely, straightforward, high-quality electronic precision, saving time, effort, and cost, and striving for a paperless government.


Programs to Support and Empower Government Services

  • GOVx

    This specialized center leverages advanced tools, methods, and technologies innovating the digital government to improve the end-user experience with global aspirations, as the center contains three departments:

    1.Digital Competencies Center: develops digital capabilities to support digital transformation

    2.The Digital Consulting Center: supports digital transformation across government agencies

    3.Digital Innovation Center: promotes a leap in government agency' work

  • Goverment Service Observatory (Marsad)

    A system measuring digital service maturity elevates them until they reach full maturity and transform from a traditional service to 100% digital. It also standardizes joint business entity services.

  • Measurement (Qiyas)

    The Measurement (Qiyas) initiative was launched to develop the government digitally, following it periodically per a transparent methodology and global benchmarking.

  • Information Technology Leadership Portal

    An interactive portal for government agency technical leaders standardizing national services and applications provided by the Digital Government Authority to support KSA’s digital government. It also allows information technology managers to use services effectively and to update them directly.


Digital Government Authority’s Services Provided to the Citizen

Unified National Platform GOV.SA

It is an ambitious journey that aims to build an integrated model for providing high quality and efficient government services. Whether you are a citizen, resident, business owner or visitor, you can access the government services via omni-channel experience that is personalized and proactive.

Citizen Interaction Center (AMER)

Thousands of citizens use the electronic government agency services daily. Therefore, the Citizens Interaction Center (Amer) was launched to respond to all inquiries related to many communication channels of the electronic services:

  1. Toll-Free
  2. Text messages
  3. Instant chat
  4. Email
  5. Fax
  6. Social media channels

The center also visually interprets services in sign language for the deaf, maintaining the privacy of women with female interpreters


Digital Transformation Unit

This primary program in achieving the Kingdom's vision 2030 promotes digital transformation in the Kingdom. It provides strategic guidance, expertise, and supervision through cooperation with government and private agencies to raise the Kingdom’s index globally. It aims to realize the highest digital development through sustainable economic development, enhancing innovation and values through investing in young talent.

View the Digital transformation report – yearly report for 2021.

Legal Framework

The Digital Transformation in the Kingdom is supported by the adoption of the necessary legislation and regulatory framework. It aims to regulate the key aspects of the digital transformation, such as digital identity, digital signatures, data exchange and interoperability, data protection, cybersecurity, open data, freedom of information, transparency of Government spendings, and the adoption of Emerging technologies (Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, etc.).

Data Regulation and Policy

Freedom of Information

Privacy and Data Protection

Cybersecurity

Digital Signature

eProcurement

Publishing Government expenditures

Interoperability and Data Exchange

Open Government Data

Emerging Technologies

Regulatory Sandbox

Several Government authorities in the Kingdom have established regulatory sandboxes in using digital technologies to allows startups and other innovators to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under a regulator's supervision. These initiatives include:

  • Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has designed a Regulatory Sandbox that welcomes local and international firms wishing to test new digital solutions in a 'live' environment with a view to deploying them in the Kingdom in the future. The objective is to understand and assess the impact of new technologies in the KSA's Financial Sector market and help transform the Saudi market into a smart financial center.
  • The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) launched a Regulatory Sandbox for delivery applications. The initiative comes as part of the authority's mandate to regulate and supervise the postal sector, including the licensing and regulation of delivery apps operating in Saudi Arabia. This regulatory sandbox has been specifically crafted to support, enable, and sustain the growth of the Kingdom's delivery app ecosystem, for the benefit of all sector stakeholders, including consumers, producers, and delivery drivers. Specifically, it aims to reduce time to market for apps and potentially lower the cost of delivery services. It will also give app designers the ability to test innovative products and services in a controlled environment. By doing so, and providing better access to financing, CITC will help to develop an ecosystem conducive to innovation.

Foresight Tools

Several Government agencies have developed initiatives and platforms to explore the possibilities and limits of the new technologies and how these technologies will impact the future of the digital government, economy, and society in general. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Estishraf is the analytical arm of the National Information Center (NIC). It enables decision-makers and Government officials to unlock the powers of data science to drive factual decision-making. Estishraf employs an elite multidisciplinary team to apply advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence technology to the big centralized data in the Data Bank to produce valuable business insights and to tell domain stories.
  • International Performance Hub (IPH) is an interactive platform designed to track over 500 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) under 12 main pillars, ranging from education and energy to social and industry. Created by National Center for Performance Measurement 'Adaa,' the platform aggregates and visualizes data from many respected international bodies, including the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). IPH is unique in that it is:
    • Convenient: Collecting a broad spectrum of data into one comprehensive and intuitive platform;
    • Credible: Ensuring data can be relied upon by governments around the world, IPH sources only from highly-respected organizations with recognized data sets;
    • Insightful: Although IPH is still under development, future offerings include integrated analysis across data sources, and predictive and prioritization capabilities from a government practitioner lens.

Digital Identity

How Can I Obtain a Saudi Identification Card?

All citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia aged 15 and over, must have a valid National Identity Card (ID). The ID card contains biometric and digital information such as an image of your face, your fingerprints, and demographics. To enhance security and prevent identity theft, the ID card contains a bar code plus an optical stripe. The ID card also offers a digital signature through a secure application enabled by your ID card. You can use the ID card to confirm your identity with government agencies and third-party service providers such as banks and telecom operators. You can even use your ID card as a travel document when you visit any of the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates). You can also securely store and digitalize your ID documents including your national ID, residency permit (iqama), driving license and your vehicle’s registration (istimara) through the ‘Absher individuals’ application. You can benefit from the Digital ID through the possibility to prove your identity at various government institutions and third parties without the need to carry the physical ID documents.

How Do I Get a Digital ID for Online Services in Saudi Arabia?

If you are a citizen or a legal resident in Saudi Arabia you can now create your digital identity (or electronic ID) by registering on the National Single Sign-On system developed by the National Information Center and the Ministry of Interior. You can use your Digital ID for accessing more than 700 government online services available on my.gov.sa, other government portals, and services provided by third parties such as banks, telecom operators, etc. For more information on how to create and use your eID please visit the National Information Center.

Digital Signature

National Center for Digital Signature

The National Center for Digital Certification was established in accordance with the decision of the Standing Committee for E-Commerce on 10/1/1422 AH, which assigned the task of establishing and operating the structure of public keys for King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the royal approval was for this was passed on 17/5/1422 AH, according to the Royal Order No. 9378.

The role of the National Center for Digital Certification is aimed at providing an integrated system for managing the infrastructure of public keys for which all e-business is based, such as e-commerce and e-government. The system enables internet traders of all categories, including government, citizens or business, to conduct various e-operations confidentially and consistently with complete safety.

Digital Certification Systems and Regulations

The Honorable Council of Ministers approved, on Monday Rabi Al Awal 7, 1428 AH, overseen by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, may Allah have mercy on him, the e-transactions system. The system aims to control and organize e-transactions and signatures while also providing the legal framework for them. A person may set additional conditions for their own related to accepting e-transactions and signatures, ensuring that no conflict arises linked to the provisions of the system. The e-transactions, records, and signatures will contain their mandatory authority, and their validity or enforceability may not be denied, nor shall their implementation be prevented due to being wholly or partially carried out electronically, provided that this is done in accordance with the conditions specified in the system.

The system is permitted to offer and accept contracts through e-transactions and the contract is considered valid and enforceable whenever it is complete in accordance with the requirements of the system.

The issuance of the system will represent a major transfer in the legislative structure of the e-transactions system and the regulations and control of e-transactions and signatures, in general, in order to provide them with authenticity, ensuring that the e-document, when meeting the conditions and specifications required by law, is treated as a written document in terms of the order effects and the acceptance of authority in evidence and additional matters required based on the situation, in order to accept dealing with these transactions and trust on them as a new mechanism of dealing. The e-transaction system includes all e-transactions.

Digital Certification Policies

You can view the digital certification policies by clicking on this link.

Digital Certification Services

Certification Centers

The National Center for Digital Certification is specialized in operating and managing the Saudi Root Certification Center and is also affiliated with the Government Certification Center of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and is managed by the Shared Services Center at the National Center for Digital Certification.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Root Center

The National Center for Digital Certification operates and manages the Saudi Root Certification Center. The root center is the center reliance in the public key infrastructure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, this self-certified center appreciates a high degree of protection and security as it operates in a high privacy environment.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Government Certification Center

The General Certificate of the Government Certification Center was approved by the Saudi Root Certification Center and was authorized by the Saudi Root Certification Center to issue digital certificates to government employees and to issue devices and domains owned by government agencies through government certification service providers at government agencies.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Ready Service (Jahiz)

Through this program, NCDC enlists approved storage tokens and Smart Cards for digital certificates where the center in collaboration with the manufacturers of these tokens and Smart Cards work on performing the necessary tests and verify whether they meet the requirements of NCDC. The purpose of such qualification is to be selective in the usage of hardware in the Saudi PKI from a security viewpoint. NCDC may conduct appropriate testing to ensure that the hardware / software used in the Saudi PKI meets proper security requirements and helps mitigate risks associated with the usage of such devices/applications.
You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Rabit Service

Through this service, government agencies are linked with the NCDC, the service enables the admins at agencies to issue and manage all of their digital certificates and thus take advantage of all of the features offered by digital certificate such as secure email, strong authentication, and signing and encrypting data, files and documents.
Any government entity may issue digital certificates for the use of its employees, decision makers, suppliers, or systems integrated with the government entity or any entity that has the right to access, view or modify its private and confidential information.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Takamul Service

It is a free consulting service provided by the NCDC to help professionals within government/business sectors to develop solutions and applications to utilize the PKI digital certificates, and accordingly to raise the level of safety and trust in the transactions of Government entities/businesses through having:

  1. Strong authentication using digital certificates instead of a password.
  2. Digital signature using digital certificates to sign files/documents instead of a physical signature
  3. Encryption of files documents and all other data
  4. Electronic seal through digitally sealing any file issued by the entity, instead of a physical seal

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Types of Digital Certificates

Secure Email Certificate

A digital certificate that raises the level of safety and trust in email through both certified digital signature and encryption.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Name Certificate

A digital certificate that raises the level of safety and trust in electronic transactions, which depends on the person’s name as an identifier and a verification means for the user.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Secure Website Certificate

A secure website certificate raises safety and trust in electronic transactions based on a secure and encrypted connection between a browser or a visitor's device and the website's server.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Hardware Certificate

A digital certificate for storage hardware or servers with authentication and encryption features.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Organization Certificate

A digital certificate issued to persons within the organization with specific authority such as signing special transactions as specified by the organization in its electronic system.

You can access more information by clicking on this link.

Commercial Certification Service Providers

The Baud Telecommunication Company and the Arab Internet and Communications Services Company have been licensed to provide digital certification services by decision of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, in accordance with the regulations and conditions of the Commission.

Baud Telecommunication Company
STC Solutions Company


Shared Government Data Exchange

Government Service Bus

The Government Service Bus (GSB) represents one of the main pillars of the national infrastructure projects, implemented and managed by the Digital Government Authority (DGA), aiming to activate the exchange of joint government data between authorized entities, using the data to provide their government services electronically in an accurate, fast and secure manner.

Due to the nature of government services and their nature of relying on integration and interdependence between various agencies to implement government services, there are two forms of channel link. The first one includes the link of the entity to the channel as a provider of services and data that are provided through the channel for the benefit of other parties, while the other form includes the link to the channel as a beneficiary of the services and data through the channel.

The Government Integration Channel (GSB) is one of the many forms of support and assistance provided by the Digital Government Authority (DGA) to government agencies in order to provide their services electronically in an integrated, easy, and accessible manner, especially since the concept of e-government transactions requires all government agencies to provide their services while ensuring that the data and information required to complete the services is provided by other government agencies. This is carried out through the Government Service Bus (GSB Integration).

Benefits of Linking to the Government Service Bus (GSB)

  • Assisting government agencies to create integrated e-services.
  • Providing consistent updated data.
  • Enabling government agencies to complete and provide their services electronically.
  • Providing services offered by a single government agency to all government sectors.
  • Services provided through the channel are characterized by high-quality, efficient performance, reliability, and increased dependability.
  • Reducing the time and cost required for integration and interdependence between government agencies.
  • Reducing the development lifecycle of e-services.

Regulations Governing the Exchange of Shared Government Data


Digital Software and Platforms

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology launched a specialized, non-profit initiative to spread digital awareness among society. The initiative offers many specialized digital transformation and information security courses, and experts and specialists teach numerous seminars. It also provides an opportunity to obtain answers from specialists.

  • Digital Government Journal

  • The first Saudi electronic magazine specialized in the government sector provides visitors, interested parties, and digital transformation leaders with specialized content and data regarding artificial intelligence, digital transformation, and emerging technologies locally and globally.

Emerging Technologies

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is set to become the global leader of the digital economy through the full deployment of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Big Data, Robotics, Machine Learning, 5G across public and private sectors.

Blockchain

Saudi Arabia is among the first countries globally whose institutions started to experiment with the use of the blockchain and allowed international firms wishing to test new digital solutions in a 'live' environment to deploy them in the KSA in the future.

Regulation

  • SAMA Regulatory Sandbox: Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has designed a Regulatory Sandbox that welcomes local as well as international firms wishing to test new digital solutions in a 'live' environment with a view to deploy them in the KSA in the future. The objective is to understand and assess the impact of new technologies in the KSA's Financial Sector market and help transform the Saudi market into a smart financial center.

Projects

  • Blockchain for the Financial Sector: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA)  is among the first Saudi government authorities and central banks in the world that announced the deployment of blockchain technology for money transfer. In June 2020, SAMA piloted blockchain technology for money transfer to deposit part of the SR50 billion ($13.3 bn) of the liquidity that it had previously announced to inject into the banking sector. While still in a test phase, this pilot enabled SAMA to speed up its efforts in exploring and assessing the impacts of the emerging technologies on the financial sector.
  • Fintech Saudi: Fintech Saudi was launched by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) in partnership with the Capital Market Authority in April 2018 to act as a catalyst for the development of the financial services technology (fintech) industry in Saudi Arabia. The objective is to transform Saudi Arabia into an innovative fintech hub with a thriving and responsible fintech ecosystem by supporting the development of the infrastructure required for the growth of the fintech industry, building capabilities and talent required by fintech companies and supporting fintech entrepreneurs at every stage of their development.
  • Blockchain for cross-border trade: A key player on the Saudi trade and logistics landscape, Saudi Customs Authority is testing the use of blockchain to create a real solution for a fragmented peer-to-peer business ecosystem in solving complex problems such as platform challenges, business challenges, data interoperability, and solution construction.

The Saudi Customs Authority, in cooperation with the IT partner Tabadul, oversaw the integration of FASAH with TradeLens in December 2018, a blockchain-enabled global shipping solution jointly developed by Maersk and IBM. FASAH is Saudi Arabia's national platform which connects all Government and private entities involved in cross-border trade.‬ The pilot aimed to link FASAH with TradeLens for selected services to ensure immutability, traceability, reduced reconciliation, auditability, and compliance. Through its adoption of blockchain, Saudi Customs aims to be the first in the region that is able to provide remarkable customs services that will see the Kingdom become a global logistics hub. The first shipment that was launched using blockchain technology was from the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam to the port of Rotterdam on May 13, 2019.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Advancing Saudi Arabia Through Data and AI

Saudi Arabia wants to set the best example globally in using Artificial Intelligence for development. The Kingdom has already established strong institutions that will drive the agenda, adopted the National Strategy for Data and AI, including several regulations, and started or supported several projects to achieve this goal.

Institutional framework

The Kingdom has established several government authorities mandated to work on the national agenda for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

  • Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA): established to drive the national agenda for Data & AI to elevate the KSA as a global leader in the elite league of data-driven economies.
  • National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI): founded as a government agency responsible for driving the national AI strategy execution, AI innovation and, capabilities building.
  • AI Center for Energy: established as a joint initiative between the Saudi Ministry of Energy and the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA). The aim is to support integration between the ministry and SDAIA to achieve their common goals in supporting, developing, reviewing and implementing data and AI strategies in the energy and gas sectors.

Strategy and regulation

  • National Strategy for Data and AI: Saudi Arabia launched its first AI Strategy to become a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and data by 2030. The objectives include training for 20,000 specialists and experts, minimum of 300 active startups and attract $20 billion in national and foreign investment in data and AI.
  • Strategic objective: To enact the most welcoming legislation for Data & AI businesses and talents: Saudi Arabia aims to develop welcoming, flexible, and stable regulatory frameworks and incentive schemes to attract companies, investors and talents. Regulations will also focus on developing adaptive policy frameworks and standards on Data & AI, including the ethical use of AI. These policies will provide direction to key stakeholders and certainty over Data & AI activities.

Projects

  • Talent Excellence: Talent excellence's initiatives aim to focus on building the Kingdom's future expertise in the field of artificial intelligence through pioneering in training and education. The center aims to be a global and sustainable center for excellence in collaboration with academia and public and private sectors.
  • Driving AI Entities: National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) leads AI and directs its strategy for all sectors interested in harnessing technologies and solutions; it aims to unite efforts among them all and support their applications and ecosystems.
  • Research and Development: It aims to develop both basic and applied knowledge to become the national reference for research and innovation in the field of AI. In addition, NCAI plans to be the unified regulator that organizes and improves knowledge and research, transforming ideas into deliverable products. The center also aims to excel in providing solutions that invest in national capabilities and contribute to building a knowledge-based society and economy.
  • Innovation Hub: Achieving one of its strategic objectives, NCAI has initiated this hub to encourage innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. It aims to provide and develop AI applications and solutions for various government entities either directly or through partnerships and incubators. The center also plans to facilitate achieving the ambitious goals of anyone interested in data and AI. Further, the Innovation Haims to qualify startups established through innovation and scientific research in the field of data and AI, enabling them to contribute to the development of the Kingdom's economy and bridge the gap between education and the job market.
  • AI Oasis: In its attempt to enhance the Kingdom's standing and support its digital transformation, NCAI establishes the AI Oasis. This oasis aims to host art, digital, and educational exhibitions and create a unique educational and entertaining experience. AI Oasis will also enrich their experiences by providing Saudi Arabia's history and culture in a unique way that encourages youth to learn more about data and AI.
  • Global AI Summit: The Global AI Summit, organized by Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA), was held virtually in its inaugural edition on October 21st-22nd, 2020. The world's premier platform for dialogue that brings together stakeholders from the public, academic and private sector, including technology companies, investors, entrepreneurs and startups, to shape the future of AI.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Adopting IoT solutions by some of the enterprises in the Kingdom resulted in early success in industry sectors of education, energy, environmental management, health care, open data, smart cities, smart manufacturing, and is anticipated to reach its full potential over the coming years. Some of the major benefits that IoT adopting organizations have realized are: Enhanced Productivity, Safety and Security, Improved Asset Management, Real-Time Analytics, Cost Optimization, and Enhanced Customer Service.

Regulation

  • Internet of Things (IoT) Regulatory Framework: The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has adopted the Internet of Things (IoT) Regulatory Framework to regulate the issues for the IoT service provisioning requirements, the requirement for obtaining CITC certification for IoT equipment, IoT identifiers which uniquely identify objects to simplify communications with, such as IP addresses, and data management requirements. Also, the Framework outlines other general regulations for IoT service providers, which include communication with end-users regarding the importance of the network and data security and recommendations to protect data.
  • Regulatory Sandbox for delivery applications: The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) launched a Regulatory Sandbox for delivery applications. The initiative comes as part of the authority's mandate to regulate and supervise the postal sector, which includes the licensing and regulation of delivery apps operating in Saudi Arabia. This regulatory sandbox has been specifically crafted to support, enable, and sustain the growth of the Kingdom's delivery app ecosystem, for the benefit of all sector stakeholders, including consumers, producers, and delivery drivers. Specifically, it aims to reduce time to market for apps and potentially lower the cost of service delivery. It will also give app designers the ability to test innovative products and services in a controlled environment. By doing so, and providing better access to financing, CITC will help to develop an ecosystem conducive to innovation.
  • Public Transport Authority, 2011: Ministry of Transportation mandates that a fleet management system manage all heavy-duty and commercial vehicles and Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) using 10 million smart meters for consumers across KSA.

Projects

Several large diversification projects are rapidly catalyzing the uptake of IoT solutions and services. Key projects include:

  • Riyadh Metro and Riyadh Rapid Bus Transit System: This new public transit system provides citizens with advanced solutions for moving around the city easily. It allows driverless train cars equipped with cutting-edge technologies and WiFi. The users will be able to feel the new century with this new revolutionary transit system. Riyadh metro project offer users integrated solutions starting with car parking spaces, multi-line bus network, and cutting-edge metro equipped with the latest technology and much more exceptional service. The project has a state-of-the-art center for controlling and operating trains and surveillance systems for: stations, lines, and other facilities.
  • Intelligent Transport System: The Ministry of Transport is actively seeking to implement intelligent transport systems on its roads to enhance road safety and improve traffic management. In this regard, "the smart transport systems expansion and integration" plan was completed in December 2011 in Saudi Arabia. This plan outlines the main framework to apply the intelligent transport systems projects on the roads for the Ministry of Transport which can be implemented in the future.
  • NEOM: NEOM is a new vision of what the future could be. It's an attempt to do something that's never been done before and it's coming at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. Simplified, NEOM will not only be a destination, but a home for people who dream big and who want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living. NEOM will also be a hub for innovation, where established global businesses and emerging players can research, incubate and commercialize groundbreaking technologies to accelerate human progress. Commerce and industry will be integrated into community centers to build supply chains that facilitate innovative and efficient operations.
  • Amaala: The Public Investment Fund (PIF) Development Management Organisation established the blueprint for AMAALA as an ultra-luxury destination along Saudi Arabia's northwestern coast. With initial seed funding provided by PIF, private sector companies and market investors are invited to invest in the destination and operate its facilities. The development broke ground in 2020 and all phases will be completed in line with the realization of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030.
  • Qiddiya: Qiddiya will be a disruptive destination recognized on the world stage as the home of the most innovative and immersive experiences. It will have a wide range of offerings based on five cornerstones: Sports & Wellness; Nature & Environment; Parks & Attractions; Motion & Mobility; and Arts & Culture, making Qiddiya the capital of Entertainment, Sports and the Arts, not just in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but of the world.
  • Red Sea Project: The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) was established in 2018 as a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia to drive the development of The Red Sea Project. The Red Sea Project is the world's most ambitious luxury tourism development, offering an exclusive experience of unparalleled diversity for discerning global travelers. 
  • Saudi IoT: Saudi IoT is the flagship event focusing on the growth and development of technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region. The aim of Saudi IoT is to shine a light on the enormous potential offered by the growth of online technologies as well as applications and services built around IoT platforms. Saudi IoT is a tribute to the Kingdom's 2030 Vision, which sees Emerging technologies as a necessity and the key to finding smarter ways of doing business and adding value to the economy.

Leading IoT use cases can be found in manufacturing, freight management, fleet monitoring, production asset management, and public safety and emergency response. These areas are expected to lead to IoT technology uptake in the KSA over the next five years.

Big Data

Key government ministries, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Finance, are huge generators of open data and have begun to share extensive data sets on the Open Data portal – DATA.GOV.SA. Such datasets provide the public with a wide variety of opportunities. By utilizing data analytics techniques, they can potentially boost local manufacturing, design better services for citizens, increase R&D capabilities, amongst other applications.

The increased use of Big Data and analytics is identified as one of the Technology drivers by the Smart Government Strategy (2020-2024). It recognizes the potential of Big Data, Machine Learning, & Predictive Analytics for decision-making and to predict potential non-compliance in any focused area (e.g. tax).

Institutional framework

Regulation

  • National Data Governance Interim Regulations: The Regulation sets the standards, rules and obligations related to Data classification, Data sharing, Data privacy, Freedom of Information, and Open data.
  • Data Management and Personal Data Protection Standards: The standards are defined for 15 domains as per the Data Management and Personal Data Protection Framework and are intended to be adopted by all Public Entities within the Kingdom. In addition to Public Entities, the scope of the National Data Management and Personal Data Protection Standards also extends to business partners handling government data.

Projects

  • Estishraf is the analytical arm of the National Information Center. It enables decision-makers and government officials to unlock the powers of data science to drive factual decision-making. Estishraf employs an elite multidisciplinary team to apply advanced analytics and artificial intelligence technology to the centralized big data in the Data Bank to produce valuable business insights and to tell domain stories.
  • NEOM: NEOM is a new vision of what the future could be. It's an attempt to do something that's never been done before and it's coming at a time when the world needs fresh thinking and new solutions. Simplified, NEOM will not only be a destination, but a home for people who dream big and who want to be part of building a new model for sustainable living. NEOM will also be a hub for innovation, where established global businesses and emerging players can research, incubate and commercialize groundbreaking technologies to accelerate human progress. Commerce and industry will be integrated into community centers to build supply chains that facilitate innovative and efficient operations.

Robotics & Automation

Robotics & Automation are high on the Kingdom's Government agenda in line with the efforts, initiatives, regulations, and institutional framework for Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Big Data. The Kingdom has already established dedicated institutions, such as the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA), National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI), and National Data Management Office (NDMO), as well as adopted a regulatory framework for the use of robotics and automation (National Data Governance Interim Regulations, Internet of Things (IoT) Regulatory Framework).

Projects

  • Citizenship to "Sophia": Saudi Arabia is the first country globally to grant citizenship to a robot in October 2017. Sophia, a humanoid robot developed by Hanson Robotics, has subsequently represented the Kingdom at events, including a UN summit on "AI for Good" in Geneva (Switzerland) in May 2018.
  • First job for a robot at a government entity: In 2018, the first robot got its first job at a government entity in Jeddah aimed to contribute to serving customers through an electronic evaluation system, and the delivery of messages to visitors to exhibitions and activities of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC).
  • Robots for connecting doctors and patients: Ministry of Health has served over 200.000 Pilgrims with Healthcare Centers in the Holy Sites in Hajj Season 2019 by introducing robots for connecting doctors in Riyadh and Jeddah to the patients.

5G Technology

Strategy and Regulation

  • National Spectrum Strategy 2025

A strategic pillar of the National Spectrum Strategy 2025 is Foster Commercial and Innovative Uses (Drive 5G+), stating that it'll "push 5G+ deployment to position Saudi Arabia among leading nations in unlocking innovative high-performance use cases and applications based on 5G. With a focus on giving timely and sufficient spectrum access to operators in a way that will allow them to meet the quality of service objectives in terms of mobile services' performance, price, and coverage. Aiming to enable deployment of private 5G networks for industry verticals."

  • 5G Spectrum Outlook for Commercial and Innovative Use 2021-2023

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) adopted the 5G Spectrum Outlook for Commercial and Innovative Use to provide transparency and predictability for all spectrum users in the Kingdom, providing spectrum users certainty over the amount of spectrum available in different bands and the terms and regulations governing access and usage. The key regulatory changes that are proposed in the document are:

    • To introduce innovative approaches to spectrum management using databases to deliver greater sharing and more flexible access.
    • To introduce spectrum trading in a measured manner to allow the market to change the ownership and, in some cases, the use of spectrum.
    • To seek a balance between complementary technologies in those cases where the market cannot deliver this.
    • To monitor spectrum utilization as a way to provide more evidence for our decision-making.
    • To assist innovation by making a variety of bands available for new concepts in a range of different manners from trial licenses to shared and short-term access.

Achievements

The growth of 5G mobile services in the country plays a crucial part in the KSA's plan to modernize and digitize its economy as part of Vision 2030. The disruptive capabilities of 5G pave the way for new innovative and disruptive applications that the current LTE technology cannot support.

The CITC announced that Saudi Arabia would be the first country in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to make the full 6 GHz frequency band available for WiFi use. That means there are now 150% more open airwaves that routers can use for the new generation of WiFi networks. By allocating 1,200 MHz of the radio spectrum for the WiFi6e, Saudi Arabia has now made 2,035 MHz of spectrum available for the new generation of WiFi and other license-exempt technologies - more than any country in the world. 

In terms of internet speeds, Saudi Arabia retained its place as the 7th fastest country globally for mobile internet speeds, averaging 109.48 Mbps in Q4 2020, and 4th in the world for 5G internet speeds with an average of 264.7 Mbps. The world's fastest 5G peak download speed of 862.6 Mbps was recorded by Saudi 5G users, surpassing South Korea in second place by 11%.

In 2020, 5,358 new 5G towers were deployed across the country, bringing the total to 12,302 5G towers by the end of the year. This number is set to grow as the allocation of spectrum for commercial uses continues to increase, as does the demand for faster internet services.

WiFi 6e will also enable future network applications across a wide range of uses, including the Internet of Things, smart homes, and virtual reality applications. WiFi 6e will also increase the efficiency of wireless applications in the education, health, and entertainment industries by connecting WiFi networks with fiber optics to allow faster data transmission. WiFi 6e also paves the way for WiFi 7, the next generation of WiFi.

For more information, please visit the CITC website.

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Last Modified Date: 16/07/2021 - 10:20 AM Saudi Arabia Time
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