Saudi Arabia has developed its digital competitiveness more than the 19 other most powerful nations that make up the Group of 20 (G20) in the past three years, according to the Digital Riser Report published by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness on Tuesday.
The Digital Riser report sought to examine how and why countries have become more digitally competitive. The report ranked Saudi Arabia first out of the G20 nations, attributing its top performance mainly to the government’s “ICT Strategy 2023” and other policies.
“Saudi Arabia’s outperformance can be mainly explained by its ‘ICT Strategy 2023’, which was launched in 2018 to transform the kingdom into a digital and technological powerhouse. Furthermore, the smart city project NEOM, to which the government allocated 500 billion dollars, also highlights aspirations around the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’,” the report read.
The report examined 140 countries and ranked them based on a variety of factors. Researchers looked at the country’s ecosystem, including the cost of starting a business, availability of venture capital, and time to start a business; and the country’s mindset – examining digital skills among the population, the extent to which companies embraced disruption, and the attitude to entrepreneurial risk.
“Within the Group of Twenty, Saudi Arabia was the top Digital Riser, while India and Italy fell significantly behind. Interestingly, otherwise comparable countries differed remarkably with regard to their Digital Riser status: while Argentina ranked fifth, Brazil ranked fifth to last. When breaking down the results, Argentina and Saudi Arabia improved the most in the ecosystem and mindset dimensions, respectively,” the report said.
The Kingdom’s authorities have been making significant steps towards improving its business environment over the past few years.
In the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report, Saudi Arabia jumped 30 places, making the Kingdom the world’s top improver.
Experts have also previously said that despite the challenging global business environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, setting up a business in Saudi Arabia is now much easier as economic stimulus measures put in place by authorities have made the process faster and cheaper than before.