Saudi Arabia has announced more than Ksh. 727 billion (USD 6.4 billion) in investments in future technologies and entrepreneurship. The investments aim to further secure the Kingdom’s position as the MENA region’s largest digital economy. The announcements were made during the opening day of LEAP, the international technology platform which took place in Riyadh.

The investments and initiatives include the launch of Aramco Venture’s Prosperity7 fund with Ksh. 113.7 billion (USD 1 billion), and a billion-dollar investment from NEOM Tech and Digital Company with a focus on future technologies. As part of its investment, NEOM announced the launch of the world’s first cognitive metaverse, the XVRS.

LEAP also saw the launch of The Garage, a new platform for start-ups, investment and entrepreneurship by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). The Garage will create a full-service environment for local and international start-ups, to help them grow and become the leading technology companies of the future.

J&T Express Group, a logistics company, also announced an investment of Ksh. 226 billion (USD 2 billion) with eWTP Arabia Capital and other partners. The investment will see J&T establish its MENA headquarters in Riyadh, and set up an extensive network of smart logistics and distribution facilities that will extend Saudi Arabia’s reach as the regional center for advanced logistics.

“These investments and initiatives are a manifestation of the Kingdom’s push toward the growth of the digital economy for the greater good of people, the planet and the prosperity of the MENA region. They mark the next level of growth for the digital economy in Saudi Arabia, the MENA region’s largest technology and digital market,” said H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

During his keynote address at LEAP22, the Minister noted that Saudi Arabia is the regional leader for technology talent, with over 318,000 jobs in the technology sector in the Kingdom, and with a rate of participation of women in the ICT workforce that has jumped to 28% in recent years.