LEAP23, the world’s most visionary technology event, concluded in Riyadh with the message that diversity and inclusion are the keys to success. Best-selling authors Steven Bartlett and Baroness Karren Brady both discussed the importance of creating a diverse team and the benefits of having women in positions of power. On the final day of the co-located event, in DeepFest, a conference focused on artificial intelligence, Luc Vincent revealed next-generation AR glasses and cognitive AI technology in a keynote session. The event aimed to explore potential applications of AI in areas such as clean tech, the Metaverse, women in tech, and robotics.
LEAP23, announced more than US$9 billion in investments to support future technologies, digital entrepreneurship, and tech startups, and enhance Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the MENA region.
The investments include Microsoft, Oracle, and Huawei investing in cloud infrastructure in the Kingdom, and the launch of a Zoom cloud area in partnership with Aramco. Other major announcements on the first day of the event included Meta launching the first Metaverse Academy in MENA, and the launch of new social media and instant messaging applications.
The second annual LEAP Rocket Fuel Startup Pitch Challenge was the grand finale of LEAP23, the world’s most visionary technology event. 90 startups from around the world were whittled down to 12 finalists to pitch before a panel of five distinguished judges from the fields of business and venture capital. The final day also saw the announcement of the US$532,000 Alibaba Cloud Saudi Hackathon winners, with 25 teams receiving cash prizes and the grand prize being won by JMM Innovations for their use of Alibaba’s Cloud technology.
LEAP23 has achieved incredible success, setting multiple new industry records and attracting 172,000 attendees in its 2022 debut. Next year, LEAP24 will be even larger, taking place in a 120,000 square meter capacity venue, enabling the event to double in size and welcome more digital entrepreneurs, tech startups, and VIP speakers.
LEAP23 was powered by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in conjunction with Tahaluf and has positioned Saudi Arabia as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa. An unprecedented 300,000 people registered from 200 countries and 1,000 global investors were welcomed, boasting assets under management of US$2 trillion. On-event deals exceeded US$10 billion, a 50% year-on-year increase from US$6.8 billion in 2022, injecting foreign direct investment into the Kingdom’s evolving digital ecosystems and startup economy.