Microsoft CEO says Saudi Arabia using AI in unique ways to accelerate productivity 

RIYADH: Saudi companies’ push toward artificial intelligence has increased their productivity, driven innovation and created new economic opportunities, believes Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella. 

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the “Microsoft AI, a New Era” event in Riyadh, Nadella said his customers in the Kingdom were using AI to create cutting-edge technology for the world. 

“I had a chance to meet customers like ACWA Power, Saudi Airlines, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. They’re all using technology in unique ways to accelerate productivity,” he told Arab News.   

He added: “Especially with the age of AI coming, this is a fantastic time for us to bring world-class technology to Saudi Arabia so that it can create world-class technology for the world.” 

Nadella was in the city to meet local business leaders, government officials and developers and convey the role of AI in unlocking new opportunities that can accelerate the Kingdom’s digital economy. 

Using AI, Nadella said small businesses in the Kingdom could become more productive, large multinationals could become globally competitive, and startups could become unicorns. 

“Our goal is to be able to really bring the usage of cloud, data, and AI … to Saudi,” he said, adding that this would enable companies to create better technology for themselves and other markets. 

Nadella also highlighted some of the critical innovations Saudi companies have spearheaded using AI, including King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, one of the top medical facilities in the Middle East. 

“The hospital is trialing AI clinical documentation features in Nuance DAX. The speech-to-text solution is three times faster than typing and is helping clinicians at King Faisal Hospital to increase their productivity, reduce documentation errors, and spend more time with patients,” said Nadella while speaking at the customer event. 

Also at the gathering, Communications and Information Technology Minister Abdullah Al-Swaha lauded the strategic partnership with Microsoft as a pillar of the Kingdom’s innovative future. 

He highlightedthe partnership between the Saudi Basic Industry Corp. and Microsoft as an example of how technology can support sustainability. The two companies are recycling plastic found in the ocean and then using it to produce electronic devices. 

Commenting on Microsoft’s initiatives in fostering digital skills in the Kingdom, Nadella said they are doing a lot in the transformational program to empower women in the workplace. 

“When it comes to women and their skills, I had a chance to meet even with women at Microsoft. I had a chance to see some developers and professionals working in various organizations using our tools to advance their careers,” Nadella told Arab News. 

He was also excited about the developer community and encouraged them and upcoming startup companies to use the latest tools, such as GitHub Copilot, which drives more than 50 percent productivity.  

“Everybody uses Copilot, just like the PC or the mobile phone. I think two or three years from now, we will be seeing people using Copilot to get whatever it is, their task or job, done faster and more productively,” he said.  

Nadella was also upbeat about Microsoft’s investments in the gaming industry and said the company has a long history in this domain and expanding its horizons. 

“Flight Simulator was built even before Microsoft Office. And we have a long history here. And now, with obviously Activision Blizzard closing, we are doubling down on being the best game publisher there,” he said.   

He added that with Xbox as its platform, the company intends to have over 13 big franchise games on all platforms.

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