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PwC Middle East in Saudi Arabia and Microsoft have announced the launch of an artificial intelligence center of excellence in Riyadh that will upskill and scale the AI capabilities of Saudi engineers and researchers. The launch of the AI Center of Excellence, announced during LEAP 2024, supports the Kingdom’s community development and nationalization agenda by nurturing next-generation talent in alignment with Vision 2030.

Running every two months, each cohort of the program will recruit top talent through partnerships with leading universities in the Kingdom. These young Saudi professionals will be trained in cutting-edge AI skills and technologies including Azure OpenAI and open source models and frameworks. The center will serve as a unique platform for knowledge exchange and collaborative learning, engaging both local and global partners from public and private sectors to expand expertise and perspectives.

Ali Hosseini, chief technology officer, PwC Middle East, said: “Our commitment to Saudi Vision 2030 and our future in technology is unwavering. We’re focused on building unparalleled AI engineering capabilities within Saudi Arabia. By investing in local talent, PwC is set to pioneer a new era of technological excellence that will not only serve the Kingdom but also the wider region. In partnership with Microsoft, we are proud to launch a platform that nurtures and develops next-generation AI talent, carefully selected from the Kingdom’s premier universities. This effort to enhance the skills of our talent pool underscores our dedication to maximizing the benefits of AI technologies for Saudi Arabia. Such initiatives are designed to drive economic growth in key sectors and position the nation as a leader in knowledge and technological innovation.”

As part of the collaboration, Microsoft will provide expertise, training resources, and access to cutting-edge AI technology platforms. PwC will spearhead the strategic approach, program management, operational framework, and curriculum development for the center of excellence.

Turki Badhris, president, Microsoft Arabia, added: “Skilling the workforce to take advantage of cloud and AI technologies is crucial to unlocking the full potential of these transformative technologies, and we are proud to play a role in this important endeavor. Through our partnership with PwC Middle East and the launch of the AI Center of Excellence in Riyadh, we aim to provide young Saudi engineers with the skills and tools they need to help drive innovation and economic growth in the Kingdom.”

The Kingdom holds a clear vision for the development and implementation of AI-based technologies, embarking on large-scale national programs to digitally transform the country. PwC and Microsoft have a long-standing alliance across a variety of different areas. In 2023, PwC US announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next three years to expand and scale its AI offerings, which includes an industry-leading relationship with Microsoft, creating scalable offerings using OpenAI’s GPT-4/ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service.

By leveraging their best technology and resources worldwide, PwC Middle East and Microsoft are firmly focused on championing the next phase of digitally-focused talent development in the Kingdom. Ultimately, the AI Center of Excellence will help enable more innovative and sustained outcomes for clients across the region, supporting the digital transformation ambitions of governments and businesses alike.

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