Fourth Industrial Revolution

Towards a Saudi blueprint for a robust quantum economy

The Forum’s Quantum Economy Blueprint provides a roadmap to building and enabling quantum ecosystems equitably.

The Forum’s Quantum Economy Blueprint provides a roadmap to building and enabling quantum ecosystems equitably. Image: REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour

Jeremy Jurgens
Managing Director, World Economic Forum
Basma AlBuhairan
Managing Director, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Saudi Arabia
Arunima Sarkar
Thematic Lead — Quantum Technology, Centre for Fourth industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum
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  • The Forum’s Quantum Economy Blueprint provides a roadmap to building and enabling quantum ecosystems equitably to prevent a widening gap in quantum capabilities and access to quantum hardware and infrastructure, enabling the transition to the Quantum Economy.
  • By leveraging the World Economic Forum's Quantum Economy Network and blueprint framework, nations can align the building blocks of the blueprint to their national context, aligning and integrating existing national-level initiatives into a unified, region-specific roadmap that can guide the nation's journey in quantum technology.
  • C4IR Saudi Arabia’s Quantum Blueprint project represents a unique opportunity for participating Saudi Arabia as a piloting nation of the blueprint, to encourage national collaboration, spearhead regional advancements and ensure future sovereignty by developing critical quantum technologies, software, hardware and supply chain components.

The growing global quantum divide between countries with established quantum technology programmes and those without will lead to significant imbalances in core areas such as cybersecurity, defence, healthcare, finance, manufacturing and more.

Unequal access to quantum technology has a negative impact on multiple levels, including on the ability of the country to raise awareness and build a quantum-literate workforce, participate in research and development and reap the benefits of quantum technologies.

The World Economic Forum’s Quantum Economy Blueprint provides a roadmap across academia, industry and governments to support regions and countries in the development and commercialization of their quantum technology initiatives and to support and commercialize their quantum technology initiatives. The Quantum Economy Blueprint supports policymakers and government institutions, industry and academia with a framework for developing and growing a national quantum ecosystem. The World Economic Forum further facilitates the piloting of frameworks by leveraging its vast quantum network of policy and application experts. This process involves testing these frameworks in regional or national contexts by local and regional entities.

The blueprint is organized across nine themes, stemming from the Quantum Computing Governance Principles, each with a set of building blocks for consideration.
The blueprint is organized across nine themes, stemming from the Quantum Computing Governance Principles, each with a set of building blocks for consideration.
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Vision 2030 meets the quantum economy

In Saudi Arabia, the blueprint is being implemented — and it offers a case study that others can follow.

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is a national strategic plan that aims to diversify the country’s economy beyond oil and transform its society into a vibrant, ambitious society. While still in its early stages, the field of quantum technologies holds immense potential to contribute significantly to these ambitious goals.

Quantum technologies and applications hold tremendous potential to revolutionize various sectors, such as finance and logistics, healthcare and Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and energy. All of which are key to the large-scale development Saudi Arabia is pushing for. By harnessing the power of quantum technologies and applications, Saudi Arabia can achieve breakthroughs in these areas central to Vision 2030.

Imagine optimizing logistics networks for unmatched efficiency, designing new materials with extraordinary properties or accelerating drug discovery with unprecedented precision. These are just a few examples of how quantum technologies can empower various industries crucial for a thriving digital economy, a central pillar of Vision 2030.

Investing in quantum research and development presents a strategic opportunity for Saudi Arabia to leapfrog ahead in the technological race. The convergence of Vision 2030's ambitious goals with the immense potential of quantum technologies presents an exciting prospect for the future of Saudi Arabia.

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Towards a Saudi “Quantum Economy” blueprint

Current work in the Saudi Arabian quantum economy includes research, education, monitoring and use cases. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology conduct research projects on quantum computing and applications, some of them in collaboration with companies such as Aramco and Sabic. Additionally, the country’s Ministry of Education runs educational programmes and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies monitors the latest developments in the field of quantum computing. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority — the Kingdom’s central bank — is developing some use cases regarding risk analysis.

Industry applications in manufacturing, particularly focusing on leveraging quantum computing for sustainability, can drive Saudi Arabia's quantum economy. Additionally, strategic alignment of financial activities with quantum technology's strengths in optimization and risk analysis will prove to add further value. Quantum technologies promise breakthroughs in machine learning, disease detection, optimization, material separation and new product development across various sectors within the country’s advanced industrial sector.

Quantum technologies also raise several risks, including cybersecurity threats, such as the decryption of secure data, a globalized value chain and reliance on a few vendors. This necessitates the development of local talent and domestic quantum encryption schemes to mitigate national risks and maintain technological security.

C4IR Saudi Arabia’s Quantum Blueprint project will help Saudi Arabia’s government, industry and academia to better understand the potential of quantum technologies — and to prepare for their introduction into the country’s already vibrant economy.

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