The move was made in accordance with an authoritative decision of the Government of Saudi Arabia to work on improving the quality of municipal services for customers and integrate leading technologies into services as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program.
The Saudi Vision 2030 program is an agenda for economic development and the diversification of the Saudi economy away from oil, which comprises between 30-40 of the country’s GDP. First introduced in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the agenda also aims to develop infrastructure, healthcare, tourism, education, as well as military spending and manufacturing.
Backed by main government departments, Riyadh Municipality, IBM, and Saudi tech firm Elm Company will arrange workshops to determine which services can be upgraded using blockchain.
IBM will subsequently develop the first blockchain solution at the municipal level, while Elm will implement the technology into services provided by the government. Tarek Zarg El Aioun, Country General Manager at IBM Saudi Arabia, told ITP that IBM “believes” that blockchain technology “has the ability to change the world in the same way [as] the Internet while redefining how business and transactions happen.” He added:
"Through the collaboration between Riyadh Municipality, Elm and IBM, we will be able to help the Saudi government reimagine and transform the way in which services are provided to citizens, residents, businesses, and visitors. It is a strategic step towards supporting the objectives of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030."
In May, the government of Saudi Arabia conducted a “blockchain bootcamp” session focused on building Ethereum smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). Authorities described the event as part of its plan to create a “digital environment” under its 2020 “action plan and objectives.”
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) partnered with Ripple in February this year to provide support for Ripple’s international payments technology to banks in the country. The pilot program will allow participating KSA banks to use Ripple’s enterprise software solution xCurrent for cross-border payments.