The massive $3.5 billion investment in mobile black cab hailing service Uber made by the Public Innovation Fund of Saudi Arabia sparked comments by analysts worldwide about the interest of the Kingdom for technology companies.
Beyond the different points of view on the deal, will this be an isolated case? Will we cover deals like this (or even bigger) in the future? Yes we will! Why?
Actually, the investment by the Public Innovation Fund seems to align with the recently launched growth plan of the Kingdon of Saudi Arabia. Called “Vision 2030“, the new program expresses the Kingdom’s long-term goals and expectations to become a “a global investment powerhouse” in order to stimulate the economy and diversify revenues and leverage its strategic geographic position to become a global hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.
Taking into account the digital and tech sectors, the plan points out the importance of making investments in some stragric areas. Have a look at them.
Firstly, the country aims to expand the variety of digital services to reduce delays and cut bureaucracy, to facilitate the access to social media platforms in order to enable productive families to increase marketing opportunities. In addition, SMEs will be supported in their marketing and product and service exporting efforts by leveraging e-commerce and collaborating with international stakeholders.
The Kingdom will also increase the contribution of modern trade and e-commerce sector to 80% of the retail sector by 2020, goal to be achieved by attracting both regional and international retail investors and by easing restrictions on ownership and foreign investment.
The digital infrastructure, which is considered as a fundamental asset to attract investors and enhance the competitiveness of the economy, will be improved. To this end, the Kingdom will partner with the private sector to develop the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure, especially high-speed broadband, expanding its coverage and capacity within and around cities and improving its quality.
In the economic sector, the recently creted SME Authority plans to review laws and regulations thoroughly, remove obstacles, facilitate access to funding, and enable youth and entrepreneurs to market their ideas and products. In addition, new business incubators, specialized training institutions and venture capital funds will be established.
In education, a particular focus will be on innovation in advanced technologies and entrepreneurship.
In culture, an Islamic museum will be build, equipped with the latest methods in collection, preservation, presentation and documentation. Using modern technology, visitors will take an immersive journey through the different ages of Islamic civilization, as well as its science, scholars and culture.