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Tech investments approach $13bn on Day 2 at LEAP 2024

LEAP 2024, among one of the world’s most attended technology exhibitions, continued its momentum by announcing a new wave of investments exceeding $888m on its second day, further bolstering Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning tech ecosystem. This announcement comes hot on the heels of Monday’s staggering revelation of $11.9bn in investments.

The Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham, the venue for LEAP 2024, buzzed with excitement as key players in the technology sector converged to witness the unveiling of investments aimed at supporting local start-up ecosystems.

Among the industries set to benefit are digital payments, e-gaming, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Investcorp spearheaded the investment drive with the launch of a $500m growth stage fund, while Oasis Capital followed suit with the inauguration of Fund II, boasting a capital injection of $100m . The National Development Fund and the Social Development Bank joined forces to establish the $40m Gaming and Esports Investment Fund, which will be managed by Impact46.

Merak Capital also contributed to the initiative by establishing an $80m fund dedicated to supporting gaming accelerators in Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Takamol Holdings, a prominent Saudi Arabian entity, launched a $50m investment arm aimed at funding early-stage tech companies. The renowned Plug and Play organisation made its mark at LEAP 2024 by announcing its inaugural fund designed to invest in technology startups. Similarly, X by Unifonic unveiled its first investment fund, earmarked to support business software services for startups.

Zoom expands commitment to Saudi Arabia

One of the highlights of LEAP 2024 was the significant expansion of Zoom’s presence in Saudi Arabia. Eric Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom, took to the main stage to announce various initiatives aimed at further integrating Zoom’s services into the kingdom’s technological fabric.

Eric Yuan, CEO, Zoom. Image credit: Supplied

Yuan revealed plans for Zoom AI Companion to be available for kingdom-based customers by July 2024, followed by the rollout of Zoom Phone in October 2024 and Zoom Contact Centre by year-end. Additionally, Zoom announced the establishment of two new cloud regions within the country, the first of which will be operational later this month.

Yuan’s vision for the future of Zoom hinted at revolutionary advancements in artificial intelligence. “Step one for Zoom is the integration of AI into our product, which is already happening,” Yuan remarked. He elaborated on a future scenario where a ‘Digital Twin’ could seamlessly attend meetings on behalf of users, highlighting the potential for innovation to reshape human interactions.

META foresees AI’s impact on content creation

LEAP 2024’s Creative Economy and Gaming Orbital Stage witnessed insightful discussions on the transformative potential of AI in content creation. Moon Baz, head of Global Partnerships for Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at META, highlighted the shift towards creator-driven brands empowered by AI integration.

Baz outlined the increasing adoption of AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, and visual arts by content creators, emphasising the productivity gains and immersive experiences enabled by these technologies. The emergence of AI influencers, while still niche, hinted at broader trends reshaping the content landscape.

UK, Saudi Arabia forge research collaboration

In a significant development at LEAP 2024, the UK and Saudi Arabia solidified their commitment to scientific collaboration through a landmark agreement aimed at fostering research partnerships and advancing technological breakthroughs.

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation, hailed the agreement as a crucial step towards addressing global challenges, from food security to clean energy. “Collaboration on a global scale is an essential part of realizing the UK’s ambitions in science and innovation,” Griffith emphasised, underlining the mutual benefits of cooperation between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious space exploration plans

The Saudi Space Agency (SSA) captured the imagination of LEAP 2024 attendees with its ambitious plans for space exploration. Sharif Abdel-Magid, vice president of Space Operations at SSA, outlined the kingdom’s vision to establish a permanent presence on the Moon as a precursor to missions to Mars.

Abdel-Magid emphasised the role of spin-off technologies from space exploration in benefiting society on Earth, underscoring the SSA’s commitment to driving technological innovation.

Cognitive robots at LEAP 2024

David Reger, CEO of Neura Robotics, offered a glimpse into the future of robotics at LEAP 2024’s Orbital Talks – 4IR Stage. Reger envisioned cognitive robots as collaborative partners for humans, capable of performing tasks to enhance human productivity and well-being.

Reger emphasised the importance of embodying AI into robots to enable them to operate safely in human environments, heralding a transformative shift from industrial usage to human-centric applications.

Saudi Arabia’s potential for floating cities

Itai Madamombe, founder, Oceanix. Image credit: Supplied

Itai Madamombe, founder and CEO of Oceanix, shed light on the potential for floating cities in Saudi Arabia during LEAP 2024’s Orbital Talks focused on Future Energy and Smart Cities.

Madamombe highlighted the country’s natural advantages for floating infrastructure and emphasised the sustainability benefits of such developments.

Madamombe’s vision resonated with attendees as she outlined Oceanix’s innovative approach to creating reconfigurable, sustainable communities that coexist harmoniously with nature.

As LEAP 2024 continues to inspire innovation and collaboration, Saudi Arabia emerges as a global hub for technological advancement, poised to shape the future of industries ranging from space exploration to content creation