Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong collaboration for economic transformation is set to redefine their economic landscape under the Vision 2030 economic plan, as disclosed by the minister overseeing the kingdom’s digital infrastructure.
The strategic collaboration with Hong Kong spans various critical sectors, including fintech, technological entrepreneurship, and attracting venture capital funding.
The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha, highlighted additional areas of interest such as health sciences, biotechnology, the environment, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), with a particular focus on generative AI, and the development of smart cities.
During an interview with the Post, Al-Swaha emphasized the immense potential for innovation-driven economies to flourish in both Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
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He expressed a shared vision to establish an “innovation bridge” that propels both regions into a future characterized by cutting-edge technologies and economic growth.
Al-Swaha, who has been in his role since 2017, selected Hong Kong as the starting point for his visit to China due to the city’s impressive digital transformation and proliferation of information and communications technology (ICT).
A robust digital infrastructure, including a 5G network, is essential to further advance ICT development.
Saudi Arabia has shown a keen interest in sourcing such technology from Chinese companies, despite the challenges faced by Huawei Technologies and ZTE due to US sanctions.
The kingdom remains open and eager to forge partnerships with any entity that meets their security and regulatory requirements.
Al-Swaha, previously the CEO of Cisco Saudi Arabia before entering the public sector, is expected to visit Huawei in Shenzhen following his visit to Hong Kong.
Al-Swaha praised the outstanding achievements in information and communications technology (ICT) in both mainland China and Hong Kong, referring to them as success stories that Saudi Arabia aims to replicate and collaborate with. The purpose of his visit is to explore potential partnerships that enable knowledge exchange and technological advancements.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu highlighted the Hong Kong government’s priority to revitalize relations with Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East. Hong Kong’s Information and Technology (I&T) Development Blueprint, unveiled half a year ago, demonstrates the city’s commitment to new industrialization and its ambition to become a global I&T hub.
One of the key components of the blueprint is positioning Hong Kong as a bridge that connects mainland China with the rest of the world.
This concept, referred to as a “value-added super connector” by Lee, will be showcased at the upcoming Belt and Road Summit, which will include a dedicated Middle East session for the first time.
Private-sector entrepreneurs are quick to seize the opportunities arising from the growing ties between China and the Middle East.
The establishment of the Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneurs Association, a private-sector guild launched during the MCIT’s LEAP 2023 conference in February, further solidifies these connections. Its head office will be based in Hong Kong.
Several Hong Kong companies, including those at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP), have signed agreements with eWTP Arabia Capital to explore market opportunities in Saudi Arabia and join the association.
These companies represent diverse sectors such as aviation training, robotics, AI solutions, and AI drug research and development. Biotechnology, in which Hong Kong has emerged as a leading global funding hub for pharmaceutical start-ups, also presents potential for collaboration.
The healthcare sector offers significant areas of collaboration, particularly in tackling diseases such as Type II diabetes, and chronic diseases, and advancing cancer prevention and prediction.
Al-Swaha expressed the desire to partner with Hong Kong and leverage its expertise to address these challenges effectively.
As the minister responsible for building Saudi Arabia’s digital workforce and talent infrastructure, Al-Swaha considers China a key partner in developing and enhancing the technological capabilities of the kingdom’s 340,000-strong technology workforce. By doubling
the tech-savvy population within five years, Saudi Arabia aims to establish cooperation in technology and digital talent as a cornerstone for achieving its Vision 2030 aligned with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
In reciprocation, Saudi Arabia has invested in Chinese stocks listed on Nasdaq and Hong Kong, including prominent entities such as Pinduoduo, the AI giant SenseTime, and Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of this newspaper.
The collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong heralds an era of mutual growth, innovation, and economic transformation.
With a strong emphasis on technology, entrepreneurship, and strategic partnerships, both regions are poised to achieve remarkable progress in their respective economic visions.