DUBAI-Government ICT investment is transforming Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s innovation economy, enhancing development, business growth and productivity according to experts attending GITEX Technology Week.
Overall IT spending in the Kingdom – the Middle East’s largest IT market – is set grow by 23 percent from US$ 11.5 billion in 2014 to US$ 14.2 billion in 2017 according to IDC’s report ‘Saudi Arabia Vertical Markets 2013-2017 IT Spending Forecast’.
Government will be the fastest-growing vertical in this period, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.9 percent, according to IDC. Guiding investment is the Kingdom’s Ninth Development Plan, which projects a 27 percent increase in government spending from SAR 150 billion in 2009 to SAR 191 billion in 2014.
With the Kingdom ranked No. 6 in the world in government ICT usage according to the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index 2014, government-led ICT investment in e-services and infrastructure investment is fuelling Saudi’s knowledge-based economy growth.
Illustrating the demand for best practices in ICT, more than 500 of the Kingdom’s public and private sector technology organisations attended GITEX Technology Week 2013, with event organisers Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) expecting another strong turnout in 2014.
Among the Kingdom’s leading exhibitors at GITEX Technology Week are Saudi Telecom Company (STA), Al Elm Information Security and the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA).
The Kingdom hosts one of the world’s youngest technology and social media-aware populations, with half the population below 25 years of age and 40 percent of Arab Twitter users hailing from the Kingdom according to the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government’s 6th Arab Social Media Report.
This young, tech-savvy population is forcing businesses to offer a wider range of services across a variety of online platforms. The Saudi mobile phone market is the largest in the Middle East, with 53 million subscriptions by 2013, according to the Kingdom’s Communication and Information Technology Commission, a mobile penetration rate of 181.6 percent – almost two subscriptions per individual.
“Saudi Arabia’s innovative use of ICT to deliver development and business improvement is key to the Kingdom’s economic transformation plans,’’ said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, DWTC. “GITEX Technology Week is an unparalleled opportunity for more than 500 of the Kingdom’s organisations to share insights into the potential of technology.’’
Running under the theme ‘Re-Imagining our Future’, GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2014 is set to attract more than 142,000 ICT professionals, 25,000 C-level executives and over 3,700 exhibitors from 61 countries. The show will be held from 12-16 October at DWTC.