In recent years, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated remarkable progress in modernizing its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. This transformation is driven by strategic initiatives from the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC), which has prioritized enhancing market competition through regulatory flexibility, transparency, and collaborative efforts. Notably, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognizes Saudi Arabia as a leader in the Arab State region, achieving a “generation 4” (G4) status in the ITU Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2020. Within the Middle East and North Africa regions, Saudi Arabia stands as one of the largest markets for Information and Communication Technology. With its strategic geographical location, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to emerge as a hub for technology services and cloud computing, boasting global connectivity access via the Red Sea, thereby serving markets in Europe, Asia, and Africa. As a G4 country, Saudi Arabia effectively integrates ICT regulation with a separate regulatory authority vested with enforcement powers. This authority operates with a clear mandate, overseeing a fully competitive market while safeguarding consumer interests under the “generation of regulation” model. Projections indicate that the Saudi Arabian ICT market is expected to experience a 5.6% growth in 2023, reaching a total value of $33.43 billion in 2022. This growth is predominantly driven by hardware expenditure, accounting for 58.5%, followed by services (30.4%), and software (11.1%).
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Key Business Opportunities and Factors Driving ICT Growth in Saudi Arabia:
- Cloud Adoption Surge: Anticipate a robust migration to cloud computing, as organizations increasingly embrace Infrastructure-As-A-Service and Platform-As-A-Service solutions.
- Emphasis on Edge Computing: Expect increased investments and collaborations in edge computing, facilitating the successful deployment of emerging technologies and use cases.
- IT Services in the AI Landscape: IT services providers have the opportunity to design and implement innovative business models while effectively managing data and infrastructure.
- Emerging Technology Integration: Witness a growing demand for industrial and intelligent automation, coupled with seamless integration with future technologies like IoT, AI, and Blockchain.
- Green Data Centers: Anticipate a surge in green data center initiatives, data center consolidation efforts, and policy changes aimed at enhancing data center sustainability.
Driving Forces for ICT Growth:
Saudi Arabia’s ICT expansion is propelled by rising personal incomes and a growing pool of specialists committed to advancing leadership in connectivity and information technology. Additionally, the nation boasts a robust economy, political stability, a youthful demographic, and national policies that prioritize economic diversification. Factors such as increased foreign direct investment (FDI), a burgeoning ecosystem that supports ICT innovation and entrepreneurship, a thriving telecommunications sector, and a growing IT service industry collectively stimulate ICT investments in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is embarking on a new era of digital innovation, with ICT spending projected to exceed $34.5 billion this year, underpinned by significant foreign direct investment and a substantial $7 trillion development plan for the giga project. In 2023, the Saudi government is making noteworthy investments in key areas, including AI, IoT, cybersecurity, and data analytics.
In the realm of foreign direct investment, Saudi Arabia is incentivizing data center investments of $400 million, which create a minimum of 20 jobs with an average annual wage of $40,000, thereby qualifying for up to 30 years of tax savings.
Furthermore, as part of its commitment to digital transformation and preparation for the future economy, Saudi Arabia has unveiled investments exceeding $9 billion in its technology sector. These investments are spearheaded by a substantial $2.1 billion commitment from Microsoft to establish a super-scalar cloud infrastructure in the country, and Oracle’s $1.5 billion investment to fortify the kingdom’s cloud computing capabilities. Additionally, China’s Huawei is contributing $400 million to enhance Saudi Arabia’s cloud infrastructure.
The information and communication technology sector in Saudi Arabia are valued at SR134 billion, constituting 4.1% of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP), emphasizing its growing economic significance.
During the forum, the Communications, Space, and Technology Commission (CST) announced that the ICT market in Saudi Arabia surged to a value of 154 billion in 2022, establishing itself as the largest and most rapidly expanding digital economy in the region. Additionally, Dr. Altamini emphasized that CST has introduced high-speed internet services in 21,000 villages across the nation, addressing the needs of over 5 million people and ensuring uninterrupted communication services. This underlines the substantial progress in the Kingdom’s communication and technology infrastructure. Notably, 5G coverage in Riyadh has reached an impressive 53%, while exceeding 94% in other regions. The utilization of fiber optics has extended to 3.7 million users in Saudi Arabia, reflecting a dynamic shift towards advanced and high-speed connectivity solutions.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) has been primarily focused on establishing a robust and advanced architectural framework to facilitate digital transformation across various domains such as e-commerce, smart cities, national data management, digital education, digital healthcare, and e-government. In line with Saudi Arabia’s ICT strategy for 2023, the objectives include generating more than 25,000 employment opportunities within the sector, achieving a 50% expansion in the IT market size and technology development, and increasing the sector’s contribution to GDP by $13.3 billion. The strategy also aims to attract international investments and promote the active participation of women in the field. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the Saudi ICT sector experienced an impressive 8% growth between 2019 and 2021, culminating in a total value of $32.1 billion.
In a move to bolster the resilience of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) through ICT solutions, the Saudi Fund for Improved SAI Performance (Saudi FISP) is facilitating the expansion and enhancement of ICT infrastructure. The Saudi Arabia General Court of Audit has generously allocated $1 million to be distributed among International Organization of Supreme Audit Institution (INTOSAI) members that require external assistance to advance their ICT infrastructure, thus fortifying the capabilities of these institutions.
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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is focused on the bolstering of the ICT sector with the goal of forging a digital society, digital government, digital economy, and a forward-thinking future for the Kingdom. Within this framework, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) establishes the groundwork for diversification and enhancing competitiveness. It revolves around three primary pillars, each delineating specific objective to be realized by 2030: fostering a dynamic society, fostering a prosperous economy, and shaping an ambitious nation via a well-crafted digital strategy, enabling a connected present and an innovative future.
Saudi Arabia encounters difficulties in both enlarging its domestic ICT workforce and attracting foreign talent. Moreover, sourcing local professionals with hands-on experience in cutting-edge technologies like cloud computing, mobility solutions, and cybersecurity proves to be a challenge. The nation also grapples with significant cybersecurity threats, further complicating its ICT landscape.
- IBM Middle East
- Saudi Telecommunication company
- Palo Alto Networks Saudi Arabian Limited Company
Gamifying the Online Casino Experience with NFTs
Australian online gambling operators are utilizing gamification strategies to enhance player experience, incorporating features like progress bars, NFTs, VIP programs, and PvP tournaments, despite concerns about addiction and legality.
Online gambling operators in Australia are increasingly using gamification strategies to tap into people’s natural desire for status, achievement, and competition. Features like progress bars, points, and tiered levels give players a sense of advancement as they continue wagering. Fun mini-games and quests add variety. Leaderboards foster social competition, while badges and trophies provide recognition.
Powered by non-fungible tokens NFT technology, players can now earn tradable digital rewards with real-world value and scarcity. Winning unique virtual collectibles and assets drives further engagement.
Loyalty Programs Redefined
A core area getting a gamification boost from NFTs is VIP and loyalty programs. Players can now earn tradable loyalty NFTs.
Paris Saint-Germain begins Web3 drive as a new blockchain validator for Chiliz Chain
The French football club aims to explore various avenues in the cryptocurrency sector, starting with becoming an infrastructure provider to Chiliz Chain.
French football giant Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is set to deepen its Web3 and SportFi involvement by becoming a validator for fan token blockchain Chiliz.
Cointelegraph recently traveled to Paris to speak exclusively to Chiliz founder Alexandre Dreyfus and PSG head of Web3 Pär Helgosson about the evolving partnership between the football club and the blockchain platform.
PSG is the first major football club to become a blockchain protocol validator and is set to reinvest revenue generated as a validator to buy back PSG tokens. The move is touted as a way to create a self-sustaining digital economy for the club and its fan base.
The Chiliz Chain is the infrastructure underpinning Socios, the platform that issues and manages fan tokens for over 150 professional football clubs and sports teams. PSG was an early adopter of the technology and launched its fan token on Chiliz in September 2018.
The club intends to explore opportunities in the broader cryptocurrency, Web3 and SportFi spaces, with Helgosson spearheading the efforts.
Venture capital firm Animoca Brands joined Chiliz Chain as a validator of its proof-of-stake protocol in November 2023 after Chiliz revamped its tokenomics model. Chiliz introduced a new inflation-staking rewards mechanism for CHZ holders and the integration of the transaction fee protocol burning scheme EIP-1559.
PSG gets first shot at token buy-back mechanism
Helgosson told Cointelegraph that PSG will use its accrued revenue as a node validator to carry out PSG fan token buybacks from public marketplaces. The buybacks will be automated and executed by smart contracts through its validator and on decentralized exchanges on the Chiliz Chain.
The program aims to increase revenue from the club’s validator through gas fees and supply inflation that are reinvested into PSG tokens. The club is interested in refreshing its token reserves to create a self-sustaining economy:
“We’re aiming to build a sustainable tokenomics model together where the club, because of our role as a node validator, can use the profits to buy back fan tokens and use them to reinvest back into the fan ecosystem.”
Helgosson says the move is expected to provide rewards, new utilities, functions, products and services that will benefit PSG tokenholders, sponsors and players.
PSG and Chiliz are also planning a blockchain hackathon hosted at the club’s iconic Parc des Princes stadium in the summer. The event aims to attract developers to build decentralized applications and products incorporating PSG tokens on the Chiliz Chain.
An alternative for sports organizations
Dreyfus tells Cointelegraph that PSG’s move to become a validator could be a catalyst for other clubs to follow suit and better understand how the ecosystem’s tokenomics work.
“As for the drawcard, PSG is going to play an active role in the operations of the Chiliz ecosystem, meaning they will help build trust and attract more brands and developers, also by co-hosting hackathons with us at their stadium,” Dreyfus explained.
Chiliz and Socios have been focused on building products and experiences for the broader sports industry. Dreyfus believes that its protocol needs stakeholders from the space to participate in its governance and ongoing operation.
The Chiliz founder says his long-term goal is to have dozens to hundreds of validators comprised of sports organizations, fan-owned nodes and cryptocurrency firms. The hope is that PSG’s move will prompt other major clubs to consider becoming node operators.
“This is a new income source for them, diversification, but also being part of the network effect brings value to everybody involved.”
PSG’s Web3 play
Off-the-record conversations with Helgosson reveal that PSG is ambitiously exploring a multitude of ways to diversify revenues and offerings in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem.
The club’s investment in becoming an infrastructure operator of Chiliz blockchain marks the start of its moves to actively participate in the Web3 ecosystem. PSG has explored and launched several nonfungible token collections, some of which offer exclusive rewards to holders.
Helgosson would not disclose the details of its investment or capital allocation for the Chiliz node-as-a-service partnership but said the club intends to actively engage and reinvest with its Web3 partners.
He highlighted that being a node validator is a core component in building a sustainable tokenomics model for the Paris Saint-Germain Fan Token ecosystem and Chiliz.
The post Paris Saint-Germain begins Web3 drive as a new blockchain validator for Chiliz Chain appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.
Luxury brand blockchain platform Arianee aims to scale, launches L2 on Polygon
Arianee has launched a Polygon CDK-powered layer 2 to issue and manage digital product passports for various luxury brands and companies.
Luxury brand blockchain infrastructure provider Arianee has developed a new layer 2 built on Polygon to scale its digital product passport platform used by various luxury brands and companies.
Arianee has been developing the optimized layer 2 since early 2023, using Polygon’s zero-knowledge proof (ZK-proof)-powered Chain Development Kit (CDK). Arianee co-founder and CEO Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel spoke to Cointelegraph about its reengineered infrastructure, allowing brands and developers to design highly customizable, cost-effective and performant digital passports and tokens linked to real-world products and assets.
“We exclusively build on EVM [Ethereum Virtual Machine], catering to enterprise and scalable use cases. When striving to deliver a service that operates seamlessly, universally and with predictable costs, it remains hard and risky to build on L1 or even on Polygon mainnet,” Hurstel explains.
The Arianee CEO said the company is focused on supporting brands engaged in scalable, high-performance and evolutive projects, which “demand an environment allowing precise control over efficiency in terms of both costs and energy consumption.”
Arianee’s native protocol token will be used for payments within the Polygon CDK application-specific chain (appchain), which is bridged to the Aria20 ERC-20 token on the Ethereum mainnet. Launching the layer-2 appchain will allow brands to launch and manage their digital product passport and loyalty tokens.
Arianee is currently the infrastructure provider to more than 40 brands, including Breitling, Moncler, Yves Saint Laurent and Lacoste. Luxury watch brands like Breitling issue digital product passports on the protocol to give owners blockchain-based proof of ownership.
These digital passports are nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that provide customizable utility for their real-world counterparts. Owners own and control their data and can interact with manufacturers to organize and manage product repairs, warranties, insurance and other services.
Polygon’s CDK is expected to deliver increased scalability and performance driven by ZK-proof technology. Brands using Ethereum’s ERC-721 token standard to issue NFTs and digital passports can also integrate existing infrastructure to Arianee’s protocol using the Polygon CDK.
Another drawcard of the new layer-2 functionality is the provision of block space dedicated to individual applications on the protocol. This is touted to reduce the impact on user experience as a result of high network activity. Polygon’s scaling infrastructure also reduces the operational costs of applications and services associated with gas fees and smart contract execution.
Polygon released a new Type 1 prover in February, allowing ecosystem chains like optimistic rollups to unlock ZK-proofs’ layer-2 functionality. The open-source technology unlocks the ability to generate ZK-proofs for mainnet Ethereum blocks at near-zero cost.
The post Luxury brand blockchain platform Arianee aims to scale, launches L2 on Polygon appeared first on HIPTHER Alerts.
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