One critical element of Vision 2030 is the domestic economy in the Kingdom. Economics Professor at King Khalid University, Dr. Hussain Al-Obaid, noted that 'Small businesses and individual investment is an integral function of Vision 2030'. The national development plan entails a large increase in job opportunities for Saudi citizens. It is important that the Kingdom increase the domestic labor participation rate. This is especially critical as current estimates indicate that in excess of two million expatriate workers will be leaving the Kingdom in the short term. He further explained that the upcoming working-age youth and the exit of expatriates are a driver of Saudization. As our emphasis on education has yielded a highly skilled and intelligent workforce, the Kingdom has more than sufficient talents to develop its economy using increased citizen participation. For example, 12 professions previously operated primarily by expatriates are now completely nationalized. Overall, the Saudization rate Kingdom-wide is expected to reach 35% across all industries with many already exceeding this level. Prof. Al-Obaid noted that Saudization coupled with employment growth are two of the most critical factors in ensuring economic development. In support of these objectives, training programs and seminars on entrepreneurship are utilized to encourage employment innovation and growth. Moreover, there is significant public and private financial investment in new business and existing corporate expansion to provide the financial capital required. These programs are being offered in every region to provide opportunities to all. Also, the government is making great efforts to attract international investment through the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Prof. Al-Obaid: 'The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to making sure that employment opportunities are matched with domestic talent to fulfill economic development goals'.
While larger corporations and business entities garner much attention, small family businesses are and will continue to be an important driver of economic growth in the Kingdom he noted. As such, there is particular emphasis on helping small businesses develop and serve in various markets by way of modern marketing strategies. For example, many small businesses are adopting and/or increasingly utilizing social media platforms for business purposes. This allows investors and potential employees to connect with small businesses which in turn results in increased economic activity and additional employment opportunity.
The Kingdom is encouraging individuals and organizations to invest in small business. Note, however, that investors should do their due diligence prior to making any financial commitment in a growing enterprise. Prof. Al-Obaid explained that one must thoroughly examine the market, the business plans, the company finances, and the management team before investing.
As for individuals who are considering either starting or joining a small family business, Prof. Al-Obaid recommends that they invest only in those markets and enterprises with which they have intimate knowledge. He further related that potential investors/owners have clear goals, solid financial resources, and specific marketing plans.
King Khalid University is dedicated to supporting small businesses and economic development. We have and will continue to be a facilitator of business development through workshops, seminars, exhibitions and the like. Also, we have partnered with the Badir Technology Incubators and Accelerators Program to identify and encourage entrepreneurship within the student body. Most importantly, the university is graduating the bright young talent that will power the Kingdom's economic engine into the future.
In line with Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020, King Khalid University established an Artificial Intelligence Unit that is concerned with research, studies, and applications in various fields. The unit falls under the supervision of the Postgraduate Studies and Research Agency Administration and aims to enhance artificial intelligence applications research in multiple fields including medicine, education, military sciences, security and civil fields, and science research. The unit will also focus on developing software, applications, algorithms, and intelligent systems. It also aims to raise the level of creativity and innovation among students and members of the University as well as focusing on attracting investments and mutually beneficial agreements.
Al-Solamy: This unit will contribute to the development of important fields in our country.
In his statement, His Excellency Rector Al-Solamy, said: "This unit comes in line with our strategic plan which is adapted to Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020. The establishment of this unit that will appoint KKU as a home of expertise in this vital field. We will undertake the development of artificial intelligence technology in various fields and explore the future of cutting-edge technology in our country." Following after, His Excellency Dr. Saad bin Abdulrahman Al-Omari, Vice President of Graduate Studies and Scientific Research, said: "The university seeks to enhance the role of applied scientific research, which aims to develop modern technologies in line with the rapid pace of development of a knowledge-based economy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the University also intends to partner with national and international research centers in the field of artificial intelligence as well as expanding the development and capacity of Saudi youth in this field."
In his opening remarks, University CIO, Dr. Salem Aleyani, said: "The science of artificial intelligence is a modern science that is still in its early stages. It is our duty to take a leading role in encouraging research and the production of smart and intelligent products as well as supporting research centers (R&D) in companies and government sectors with the work of experts and consultants to contribute towards the production of local products. The field of artificial intelligence includes the study of computer science, robotics, business intelligence systems, and decision support."