On February 6-9, 2023, the second edition of the LEAP Tech Conference was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in what was the world’s largest event for technological and digitalization advances to date. The event’s keynote speaker, H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) announced that Saudi Arabia had welcomed $6.4 billion in new investments to support future technologies, digital entrepreneurship, and tech startups and reaffirmed the country’s commitment to position itself as a hub for the Middle East’s digital economic sector. Among the new investments announced by U.S. companies were $2.1 billion by Microsoft for hyperscale cloud infrastructure, $1.5 billion by Oracle to launch a new cloud region in Saudi Arabia, and $1.1 billion by Zoom in collaboration with Aramco to open a local cloud region. The conference also hosted the opening of Meta’s first “Metaverse Academy” in the Middle East.
The conference’s lineup of more than 500 featured speakers and 700 exhibitors were made up of experts, researchers, IT engineers, and executives from innovative companies around the world. Speakers and exhibitions covered topics in virtual reality, artificial intelligence/machine learning, e-commerce, the future of energy, smart cities, edutech (education technology), fintech (financial technology), and healthtech (healthcare technology), and much more.
LEAP 2023 attracted over 100,000 visitors from 129 countries, representing a range of companies including international tech industry leaders and more than 400 startups. The success of the event signifies Saudi Arabia’s position as the Middle East’s largest digital market, with more than $42 billion in active investments and more than 340,000 people employed in the digital, telecommunications, and IT sectors. The next annual LEAP will be held from March 4-7, 2024.