Digital Transformation Key Enablers

Digital Identity

Saudi Citizens Identity 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 the face, fingerprints, and demographics. To enhance security and prevent identity theft, the ID card contains a bar code plus an optical stripe. It also offers a digital signature through a secure application enabled by the holder of an ID card.

ID cards are used to confirm the holder’s identity with government agencies and third-party service providers such as banks and telecom operators. In fact, ID cards can be used as a travel document to any of the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates). In addition, it can be used securely to store and digitalize ID documents including your national ID, residency permit (iqama), driving license and holder’s vehicle registration (istimara) through the ‘Absher individuals’ application. The Digital ID is a valid proof of identity at various government institutions and third parties without the need to carry physical ID documents.

Digital ID for Online Services in Saudi Arabia

All Saudi citizens or legal residents in Saudi Arabia can create their 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. Holders of Digital ID can use it to access more than 700 government online services available on, other government portals, and services provided by third parties such as banks, telecom operators, etc. Details are well defined on the National Information Center.

Digital Signatures and Public Key Infrastructure

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, as mandated through the royal approval dated 17/5/1422 AH, according to the Royal Order No. 9378.

The role of the National Center for Digital Certification aims to provide an integrated system for managing the infrastructure of public keys on 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 businesses, to conduct various e-operations confidentially and consistently with complete safety.

Digital Certification Systems and Regulations

The Council of Ministers approved, on Monday Rabi Al Awal 7, 1428 AH, the e-Transactions Law. The Law aims to manage and organize e-transactions and e-signatures while providing the legal framework for them. A person may set additional conditions for their own transactions, 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 represents a major development in the legislative structure of the e-Transactions Law and the regulations and control of e-transactions and signatures. The system provides authenticity and validation of electronic documents if they meet the conditions and specifications required by law and are consequently considered as original hardcopy documents in terms of the order effects and the acceptance of authority in evidence and additional matters in regard to accepting these transactions formally. The e-Transactions Law includes all e-transactions.

Digital Certification Policies: Many Policies support digital certification in KSA, such as the Saudi National PKI policy and NCDC Cross Certification Policy, other digital certification policies that are listed here.

Interoperability and Shared Government Data Exchange

The Government Service Bus (GSB) represents one of the main pillars of the national infrastructure projects, operated and managed by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA), 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 links. 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 National Data Center (NIC) 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 are 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.

There are an established set of regulations for governing the exchange of shared government data. Among them are the following:

Digital Software and Platforms

The Kingdom adopted and developed comprehensive government platforms, which launched several e-platforms and services aimed at promoting integration principles in providing services between government entities and providing streamlined and safe experiences for all beneficiaries. This was emphasized by supporting and operating the Government Service Bus (GSB) and the Chief Information Officers Portal, which generated the launch of remote work campaigns for 229 government agencies, completed 249 services for government agencies through the portal while currently providing 165 services, and adopting a unified smart attendance system.

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.

The Kingdom launched the Digital Giving Initiative, Attaa Digital, which was awarded the 2020 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in the category of cultural and linguistic diversity and local content. This contributed to launching the “Ethra” platform in partnership with the private sector and the launch of the “Kollona Attaa” initiative.

The main 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.

  • Masder

The Kingdom supported open-source solutions by launching the Masdar platform, a integrated platform for Saudi government entities, public and private companies, universities and research institutions focused on open-source software, which contributed to reducing costs, encouraging digital innovation, maximizing local content, and establishing the giving and sharing concept to build an effective digital society in the Kingdom.

  • “ThinkTech”

The Kingdom launched the Digital Knowledge Platform, “ThinkTech”, which is a platform that includes awareness projects for exploring new technological developments aimed at raising digital awareness. It contributed to serving over 3 million digital content beneficiaries and 100,000 event beneficiaries, launching “Future Trucks” and “Virtual Lab” initiatives to raise awareness about Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, with 31,800 beneficiaries, organizing and holding the World Robot Olympiad for the first time in the Kingdom, where more than 800 Saudi teams and over 2,000 students were trained on Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, launching the “Educational Journeys” platform for exploring new technological developments to achieve sustainable development, and launching the “IBM Digital-Nation” platforming partnership with IBM company to provide a wide range of courses at different levels in emerging technologies.

  • “Tech Champions”

The Kingdom launched the “Tech Champions” program, which has achieved many projects such as 4 camps, 3 business accelerators, 3,000 incubators, 350 participants in bootcamps, 60 beneficiaries of accelerators, 50 new digital business models, and 20 incubated entrepreneurs in its first version. The program contributes to supporting entrepreneurs and motivating new companies to enter the market with entrepreneurs and individuals interested in this field.

  • “Digital Hemam Bookcamps”

The Kingdom launched the “Digital Himam Bookcamps”by the Saudi Digital Academy to professionalize and qualify recent graduates and job seekers through intensive, qualitative and specialized training camps, including the Software Quality Assurance Bootcamp, which is a 13 week intensive remote training camp.

  • Alibaba Cloud Center

The Kingdom launched Alibaba Cloud Center for cloud computing in Riyadh, which contributed to achieving digital sustainability, developing and training local talents, accelerating the growth of the local economic ecosystem, raising the rates of Saudization of technological jobs and building a strong national economy over the next five years.

The Kingdom launched the largest advanced cloud center in the Kingdom as part of the strategic agreement signed by Saudi Aramco Co, and Google Cloud. The partnership supports entrepreneurs and companies by reducing efforts by 70%, reducing costs by 30% and providing innovative solutions in the 4th industrial revolution, data, and artificial intelligence.

Wazen Methodology

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology launched the Wazen Methodology, with methodologies and tools to calculate costs of government services. This contributed to numerous achievements in 2020, including the development of a methodology for calculating and reducing the cost of digital services, based on global best practices by Technology Business Management (TBM) Council, designed a tool for calculating and optimizing costs, in addition to preparing training materials and changing management plans, designed a performance measurement dashboard to enable decision makers to develop and improve the cost of performance of digital government services, developed a detail plan using the aforementioned methodology for calculating and reducing the cost of digital government services 2020/2021, and trained executives in 18 government entities.

Digital-by-Default and Once-Only Principle

One of the most crucial principles in the digital transformation that have been taken into account in the NDGS and the Digital Government Regulatory Framework is the digital-by-default principle. The Saudi government taking the lead in trying to develop a digital model and trend for citizen experiences, as that helps to make the service delivery to them much easier and faster. This is a type example of “digital-by-default” approach. It endeavors to set digital platforms as the primary communication channel with citizens by 2024. An innovative feature of the Kingdom’s e-government strategy is the “once-only” policy, whereby data is not collected several times by separate agencies, reducing redundancies and enabling a more integrated experience accessing various public services. This strategy is efficient for digital economy as well, and being adopted. Through these efforts, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) awarded the Kingdom the Government Leadership Award in 2020, recognizing the country’s efforts in developing policies and regulations that support the digital economy, stimulate investment and creativity, and contribute to sustainable development goals. The ITU also took note of the Kingdom’s application of international best practices in transparency, the inclusion of public views and organizational independence in the ICT sector. Another major priority for the Kingdom is upgrading national talent to meet future job requirements. Accordingly, significant investments have been made to promote knowledge and increase the capacity of the national talent pool in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through supportive programs and policies. But classroom teaching is not enough to meet the digital economy’s demands. Here again, local universities can tap into the expertise and capabilities of technology companies to prepare students for the future.

ePayment Channels

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides various systems for making government payments, thereby linking the government with its various sectors, and with the individuals. This in turn is designed to facilitate the process of making government payments, while elevating them to the global standards of payment and data security. The Ministry of Finance and the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA) are considered the two most relevant entities when it comes to monetary payment processes.

Payments methods differ to meet the individuals and entities’ various needs. These are:

  • Electronic Payment: which is done through online banking services (Government Payments, Sadad)
  • Phone call: through banking services – phone banking.
  • ATMs
  • At the Bank

Government initiatives

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has facilitated financial services by confirming a number of electronic methods including:

  • Sadad: an online system that operates by providing services for making payments and taxes for individuals, businesses and the public sector, and enables individuals to pay their electricity, water, telecommunications, and government fees.
  • Saree’: Known as the Saudi Fast Transfer System which enables the user to make remittances automatically and ensures access to the beneficiary immediately in order to reduce financial risks and dispense with carrying money to transfer from one bank to another.
  • Mada: a system that enables ATM, POS and online payment services to perform the online tasks easily and simply.

Electronic Payment Applications

  • STC Pay: a digital wallet equipped with all the means and options that enable individuals to control their payments in all, where they can transfer, receive, shop and control their financial matters through a single mobile application.
  • Bayan Portfolio: an innovative and simplified way to enable individuals and businesses to accept, and spend electronic payments.
  • Mada Pay: an application allows bank customers, who have issued cards, to save all their bank cards (whether related to the current or credit account) in one application on the smart phone and pay through it.
  • Apple Pay: a feature available on iPhones or Apple Watch that enables the user to pay directly with no need to use a credit card.

For more information about the ePayment methods available in the Kingdom, please visit the following link.

AI-powered Chatbots and Human Support

All government agencies in Saudi Arabia use AI-powered live chatbots on their government websites, service portals and their call centres.

Users can quickly and in real-time get answers to their questions by using these chatbots. Chatbots provide 24/7 conversational AI communication to users, providing them with information about regulations, policies, laws, services, procedures, etc. These AI-powered chatbots use machine learning to improve their interactions with users continuously.

However, if the users are unsatisfied with the answer or have a complex problem, they may choose to talk to an agent from the call or customer centre. Both the chatbots and human support are available 24/7 across all government agencies. For the opening hours and location of physical customer centres please consult the contact us section of the government agency in question or find them in the government directory.

For more information about government agencies and the use of AI-powered chatbots, please visit the government directory containing a list of all agencies in Saudi Arabia, they contact points and opening hours or the Beneficiaries Engagement Center (Amer).