Yet another country has gone to release the potential of artificial intelligence to fuel its economic growth plans. One of the largest oil manufacturing nations, Saudi Arabia, has now formulated and launched a nation-wide policy on AI. The project has been signed with approval from King Salman and aims to add the market value of up to 500 billion riyals (US$133 billion) in the country's GDP by 2030. The policy formulation had begun last year when the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) was established through a royal decree in August 2019 to lead the charge of the nation's transformation into a data-driven economy. Besides, the body is working on implementing a cloud platform, intending to build one of the biggest cloud frameworks in the Middle East by connecting 83 data centres controlled by over 40 government bodies.
SoftBank Group Corp. has secured pledges from Microsoft Corp. and other investors of around $108 billion for a second Vision Fund aimed at investing in technology firms. The Japanese conglomerate itself plans to invest $38 billion in the fund, it said in a statement. Others set to join include Apple Inc. and Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (Foxconn) -- both investors in the first fund. Notable for their absence on the list of state and corporate backers were the sovereign wealth funds of the two countries that formed the cornerstone of its first fund: Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, as well as investment bank Goldman Sachs. SoftBank said it is still talking to potential investors and that it expects the fund's anticipated capital to grow.
Masayoshi Son, with a net worth of $21.5bn, is reputed to be Japan's wealthiest person. He is also one of the world's slickest and smartest salesmen. In September 2016, Son met then Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. By the end of the 45-minute meeting, bin Salman, MBS, as he is known, had committed $45bn from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to Son's Vision Fund. That's nearly half the value of what has become the biggest investment fund the world has ever seen.