Riyadh is set to become the Arab world’s first ever digital capital city in 2020.
This was at the 23rd session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Communications and Information Technology.
It took place on December 18 at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
The decision to name Riyadh the Arab Digital Capital follows the city’s prominent role in adopting and promoting the use of digital technologies to enhance socio-economic development.
Adding to advance healthcare, improve education, and increase community welfare.
All of which helped to elevate the ICT sector’s contribution to GDP to 4%.
Saudi Arabia topped the world’s ease of doing business
The Kingdom also climbed 16 places in World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Index 2019 in terms of ICT adoption, and topped in the ease of doing business ranking according to the World Bank’s 2020 report.
The first-ever Arab digital capital
The ‘Arab Digital Capital’ initiative seeks to encourage creating a stimulating ecosystem for investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
It also pursues activation of initiatives that develop knowledge within the ICT industry across Arab countries.
Moreover, it works on adopting new initiatives that facilitate and enhance tech entrepreneurship in the Arab region.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha congratulates King Salman, and to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The minister hailed the unlimited support to the sector by the Kingdom’s good government, which highlighted it regionally and internationally.
Saudi ICT records
Al-Swaha also emphasized the acknowledgment as an addition added to the record of the Saudi ICT sector’s march.
He confirmed that this has advanced the country’s digital infrastructure making it eligible for obtaining this title and precedence.
The largest ICT Market
Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest ICT market.
Furthermore, it ranks 13th globally, with a value of $28.7bn in 2019 and strong growth in both the consumer and enterprise segments.
Supported by a young and tech-savvy population, Saudi Arabia is a market of early technology adopters, with one of the highest social media penetrations in the world.
Mobile subscribers stood at 43.8 million in 2019, representing a 129% penetration of the total population.
Vision 2030 accelerates digital transformation initiatives
Following the launch of Vision 2030, the last few years have seen a significant acceleration in the proliferation of digital transformation initiatives.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia was second among G20 countries for radio spectrum liberalization.
This is due to a subsequent positive impact on the quality of digital services provided by local operators experienced.
The first adopter of commercial 5G technology in MENA
Supported by a 93% internet user penetration versus the global average of 53%, Saudi Arabia also became the first adopter of commercial 5G technology in the MENA, and the third largest globally.
This is an achievement that is set to boost the adoption of other digitalization trends characterizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In parallel, the Kingdom is the 5th G20 country in internet speed.
As it jumped 80 places from 105th to 25th in the relevant global rankings, with a 51.8Mbps average speed.
Earlier this year, MCIT launched a five-year strategy aims at accelerating sector’s growth by 50%.
The strategy also aims at elevating its contribution to GDP by $13.3bn.
Despite a global trend towards job disruption as a consequence of digitalization, MCIT’s technology localization initiatives significantly increased the ICT sector’s employment capacity in 2019.
The “Arab Digital Capital” award is a recognition of Saudi Arabia’s achievements in the ICT sector.
It is also set to provide an even greater impetus to the country’s already busy regional and international agenda in the coming year.
Hosting G20 meetings throughout 2020
As the only Arab nation represented in the G20, Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 meetings throughout 2020.
Theme of this session is “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.
The G20 Leaders Summit will be on November 20-21, 2020 in Riyadh, the newly nominated Digital Capital of the Arab World.