Saudi Arabia has been trying to diversify its economy and reduce its reliability on the oil sector. It has decided to focus on technology sector. It has plans to facilitate a procedure to obtain license to help foreign tech companies launch their projects sin its country. In an attempt to expand into non-oil sector and open the nation’s economy, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited various companies in Silicon Valley in a tour that began in the last week of March. The meetings with top executives of tech giants were organized for discussion about potential collaborations between the U.S. tech companies and Saudi Arabia. In an array of meetings, the Crown Prince met Alphabet Co-Founder Sergey Bin, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz, Virgin Founder Richard Branson, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The main objective of meeting with Tim Cook was to talk about technological solutions regarding creation of curriculum for schools in Saudi and “enriching the Arabic educational content in the classroom”. The modernization of education system has always been the reason for which Apple has been approached by the heads of state. Education has been one of the significant pillars of Apple’s business. The Cupertino-based firm Apple showed its latest developments in the education-based event in Chicago in March. The company has launched new software tools as per the requirements of teachers and students in the classroom. Its vision for 21st century classroom has reflected in its technological developments. Its Everyone Can Create curriculum is a combination of technology and creativity, which has been helping students to explore various disciplines such as math, coding, and science.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia discussed collaboration strategies to develop apps in the country and create job opportunities for Saudi youth. Moreover, technical presentations regarding Apple’s efforts in health, education, and marketing sectors were given. The visiting dignitaries also toured the Steve Jobs Theater where the company displayed its “modern voice applications,” including its Siri virtual assistant. Many experts and analysts believe that Apple will open its retail store in Saudi soon. It is possible that the tech giant would open its first retail store in early 2019. Apple executives in attendance included Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson.
Besides exploring potential collaboration opportunities in research, job, education, and health, this tour was an attempt to polish the impression of Saudis and the prince himself in the U.S. Mohammed bin Salman is next in line to be crowned on the throne. He has always shown interest in tech economy and social reforms such as permission women to drive and appear at public film screenings. Besides the U.S. tech companies, Saudi Arabia has partnered with the Japanese firm Softbank Group to initiate a $100 billion tech fund. Saudi’s approach to diversify its economy is an important step toward growth in the global stage.