July 12, 2018,   3:40 PM

How Blockchain Can Help Advance Saudi Arabia’s Vision

Takreem El Tohamy


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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is charting a new course for the Kingdom’s future. With aggressive steps being taken to stimulate the economy and diversify channels of revenue, the Gulf state is strongly positioned to become a global investment powerhouse in the next decade. One of their key objectives is the modernization of government services in an effort to reduce delays and improve citizen services.

Encompassed in this vision is Saudi Arabia’s ambition to deliver an improved e-government, drive digital transformation and attract foreign investment. With a focus to also improve the Kingdom’s ease of doing business ranking, achieving these ambitions will require challenges to conventional practices. Implementing modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and blockchain is core to enable this transformation. Furthermore, this path to digital transformation will play a fundamental role in shaping the way challenges such as competition, cost and budget pressures, changing citizen and resident demands, are undertaken. Blockchain, in particular, has the potential to transform government services while disrupting industries such as healthcare, education, banking, and real estate.

With massive national projects beginning to take shape, Riyadh Municipality today is embarking on a major government-based transformation led by blockchain. IBM will work with digital solutions provider Elm to define a blockchain roadmap for the city of Riyadh to digitize citizen, resident, and government experiences and support the transformational objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Blockchain has the potential to impact every aspect of our lives. With blockchain, international payment transaction processing and settlement can be reduced from days to near real-time, back office process costs can be reduced by up to 30%, and trade licenses for startups and permits can be issued in minutes rather than days. University degrees will be more credible with no room for forgery. Transactions can also be verified close to real time making fraud and cybercrime almost impossible and the introduction of smart contracts will make reneging of contracts a thing of the past.

With the potential to bring about a fundamental shift in global financial systems, blockchain is quickly shaping up to be the most revolutionary technology since the introduction of the internet. The technology uses a digital ledger to effectively share and track information pertaining to contracts and transactions. The records of these transactions are permanent, open, and secure. The execution of blockchain is transforming industries across the world, infusing trust and reducing third-party involvement in financial transactions, supply chains, and internal government processes. Moreover, the implementation of blockchain is expected to bring about smarter and more cost-efficient business operations while eliminating the element of fraud.

The Kingdom’s adoption of blockchain technology provides a significant development in this space as it supports their goals of becoming a digitized nation. This transformative technology naturally integrates with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 journey as it is set to bolster its transformative endeavors and redefine the delivery of services to its citizens, businesses and to the rest of the world.

Takreem El Tohamy is the General Manager, IBM MEA

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