Amazon, Facebook seeking to help expand Saudi tech sector

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Saudi Arabia’s top official for communications and information technology has said that the Kingdom has received requests from international companies to enter the Saudi market, including Amazon and Facebook, as well as other international companies that are interested to work in the cloud computing.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais stressed that the ministry does not want to add new mobile operators in the market for the time being, referring to the current operators are sufficient, according to the Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

He said in the regional forum for the standardization of the IOT (Internet of Things) and artificial intelligence, which took place in the headquarters of the Communications and Information Technology Commission in Riyadh on Sunday: “Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest ICT investment market in the Middle East does not necessarily mean to have new companies, it is rather an intensification for what actually exists, which means that the current companies expanded its networks, coverage and market; which enriches their market and clients, it also increases its revenues in exchange of its services and the new applications.”

Al-Ruwais said regarding the possibility of taking advantage of the IOT and artificial intelligence and to avoid the risk associated with it in light of technical development, that the Ministry of Communications has established generic policies, and accordingly the Telecommunications Authority is working to develop general regulations based on the security and privacy of users, protecting competition in the market, and preserving the success of these competitors and subscribers also.

“Saudi Arabia is today the largest telecommunications and information technology market in the Middle East, where expenses are about $ 35 billion by the end of 2016. The Authority expects expenses to rise by the end of 2017 to $ 36.8 billion,” Ruwais added.

The governor said that despite the large area of Saudi Arabia, the penetration rate of mobile telecommunications services among the population reached 151% during 2016, while the penetration rate of mobile broadband reached 65% by the end of 2016, the Authority also seeks to connect about 80% of the fiber optic to houses.

Al-Ruwais highlighted that ICT sector participation rate in the GDP reached about 6%.

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