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RIYADH: Energy firm Aramco’s technology arm was one of several companies to sign deals at the LEAP conference, along with global brands Nokia, IBM, and Mobily.

On the third day of the Riyadh tech event, Aramco Digital took the spotlight by unveiling plans for a potential partnership with Groq, a global leader in the artficial intelligence chip market. This collaboration aims to establish the world’s largest AI computer center in the Kingdom, fostering growth of the industry in the region. 

Announcing the potential partnership, the CEO of Aramco Digital, Tareq Amin, said: “In my opinion, Groq is really building the world’s fastest and most scalable AI personal chipset platform. The dream was that we can do this in Saudi Arabia, that we build the world’s largest AI Infrastructure as a service in this country. We have this opportunity here, written by a great Vision 2030.”   

Additionally, Aramco’s tech arm announced a joint venture with LTIMindtree, an Indian technology consulting and digital solutions company, to establish a new digital and information technology services company in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East and North Africa region.  

As part of its third announcement, the company unveiled a strategic collaboration with Intel to establish Saudi Arabia’s first Open Radio Access Network, also known as ORAN, development center.  

The initiative’s key highlights will emphasize its role as an innovation hub, local talent development, economic impact, and fostering global collaboration.  

Following Aramco’s lead, Advanced Communications & Electronic Systems Co. known as ACES, also took the LEAP stage to unveil several new initiatives.  

Among them, the company plans a significant investment of $618 million in fixed and mobile infrastructure across various sectors and technologies in the Kingdom, as well as a $250 million outlay in India. 

ACES highlighted its development of the Kingdom’s first shareable 5G small-cells using ORAN technology. The company said this collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the National Technology Development Program aims to reduce costs and time by up to 80 percent. 

The firm also revealed its plans to deploy Fibre-to-the-Home to more than 300,000 households in the Kingdom. Additionally, in collaboration with Nokia, the company aims to introduce the first 25G passive optical network in Saudi Arabia, providing a “super-fast” FTTH service at 25Gbps, allowing all access seekers to elevate their downlink and uplink limits. 

Nokia, the global communications giant, leveraged the LEAP platform to announce the launch of their regional headquarter in Riyadh’s Laysen Valley. The company also revealed plans for an upcoming 5G repair center in Saudi Arabia, aimed at enhancing workforce competency development, sustainability, and carbon footprint reduction. 

In alignment with the theme of localization, Nokia revealed its plan to launch a Nokia Saudi Logistics hub, aiming to enhance efficiency to better serve the Kingdom and the broader region.  

Additionally, in a significant move for the telecommunications sector, Ericsson and Etihad Etisalat, known as Mobily, signed a memorandum of understanding at LEAP 2024, intending to showcase Mobily’s network capabilities to enterprises and developers in Saudi Arabia. 

Mobily will be able to easily activate new capabilities and expose them through Application Programmable Interfaces, or APIs, boosting the programmability and adaptability of connectivity services to fit different needs. 

Alaa Malki, chief technology officer at Mobily, said: “The Memorandum of Understanding with Ericsson to expose Mobily’s network signifies a giant leap forward in redefined mobile network experience for our customers. Additionally, it is a reinforcement of our commitment to our stakeholders and the great partnership with Ericsson.”  

He believes that the MoU would open new connectivity experiences and possibilities for developer communities and enterprises in the Kingdom. 

Global tech giant IBM and the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, or SDAIA, also signed an MoU on the sidelines of LEAP. The intent is to integrate SDAIA’s Arabic Large Language Model, or ALLaM, into IBM’s WatsonX enterprise AI and data platform, tapping into its generative AI and governance capabilities. 

Developed by SDAIA, ALLaM is the first-of-its-kind development. Trained on millions of Arabic and English articles, the model provides interactive summaries and suggestions on various topics such as Saudi history, sports, health, and education. Additionally, it can assist in restoring and colorizing old photos and summarizing documents. 

The integration of ALLaM into the WatsonX enterprise AI and data platform is expected to expand the reach and usage of the model to a broad range of enterprises and government entities in the Kingdom and beyond. It will also come built-in with the necessary AI governance, empowering clients seeking to deploy generative AI through ALLaM, powered by WatsonX. 

The collaboration further builds on IBM and SDAIA’s deep partnership over the years. Presently, SDAIA is using a wide range of IBM’s solutions in AI, business automation, and data, as well as in cybersecurity, sustainability, and hybrid cloud computing to provide e-government services to citizens and residents. 

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