By now, you’ve probably heard of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious blueprint based on long-term objectives to diversify its economy beyond oil production. Part of this Vision, which is being spearheaded by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, includes encouraging Saudi women to join the workforce, nurturing the arts and culture scene, and opening up the Kingdom to tourism.
A key component of this plan is also the development of the Kingdom’s tech industry, one that now seems to have brought Google executives to Saudi Arabia according to Financial Times. The paper reported earlier this month that Google executives have visited Saudi Aramco’s eastern province headquarters in Dhahran in recent months.
In addition, Wall Street Journal has recently reported that Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest energy company, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, may be in discussions to form a joint venture and build a tech hub around the Kingdom. It seems that the talks, which have been ongoing for months, involve Alphabet’s CEO Larry Page. According to Reuters, both Amazon Inc. and Apple Inc. are also engaged in separate licensing discussions on investing in Saudi Arabia.
Over the past year, the Crown Prince has sought to attract global technology companies to the Kingdom as part of Vision 2030. Saudi Aramco’s board of directors held a meeting in 2016 in San Francisco, USA, and also made site visits to technology companies in the Silicon Valley area, including Google’s headquarters.
According to CNBC, the foundation of the Prince’s efforts to diversity Saudi Arabia’s economy has been one centered on the creation of a huge sovereign wealth fund, “underwritten by selling shares in the state-owned Aramco. The initial public offering.”