Saudi Arabia is the biggest IT market in the MENA Region (Spending per year expected to reach 38 billion dollars by end of 2017). Internet penetration has increased rapidly from 54% in 2012 to 76% in 2017Q2 (Exp. 86% by 2020).
Datacenter, business continuity, and cloud computing are the most important areas of IT investment. Consumer data traffic expected to grow 4-fold over next 5 years (At 35% CAGR, Reaching 70% of smart connections, With 21.4 Mpbs avg speed).
Government commitment on upgrading IT infrastructure through developing relevant legislation with the support of global private sector players (e.g. CITC “Communication and Information Technology Commission” issues public consultation to draft regulatory framework on cloud computing). The government also Established the NDU (National Digitization Unit) which signed a partnership with a major foreign player to develop open data framework and architecture.
Another interesting component of this ecosystem is the establishment of strong local e-commerce business with in-country products and efficient logistics. In addition to that, Saudi Arabia is witnessing the establishment of integrated logistic bonded zone including warehousing and fulfilment center, Repair center, test and manufacturing & assembly centers creating one strong hub solution requiring various ICT services and solutions.
The digital media appetite for young Saudis is revolutionary; yet the industry has hardly started taking shape. Demand for Arabic media content is beginning to influence positive developments that include the opening of production facilities and distribution channels to support the commercialization of this sector. Several government initiatives seek to change the way Saudis approach digital content and media by encouraging localized content creation and creativity. Localizing the gaps in the value chain is the focus of the government as it grows local talent and boost the entertainment culture in KSA.
Despite all, limited content being developed both online and offline. The market suffers from significant gaps that prevent it from fulfilling its untapped potential. Several initiatives are beginning to take effect, including vocational courses aligned with market needs, grants being made available to local talent, the development of high speed and capacity internet facilities, the opening of high quality studios and equipment facilities as well as event spaces being reserved to create community and cohesion. The MiSK Foundation has established a series of initiatives to stimulate the media ecosystem, which include Tweeps, Shoof, Kammel, Awalmna, & TEDx kids.
Several initiatives have been commissioned to enhance the media experience of KSA residents. Hajj & Umrah productions have embarked on an exciting new project to use Virtual and Augmented reality technologies to showcase the Hajj & Umrah experience for over 1.8b Muslims globally.
[source: “Saudi General investment Authority” data]