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How blockchain can accelerate Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation

Riyadh Skyline with blockchain networks overlay

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an ambitious plan for digital transformation, outlined in its ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ initiative, which includes investment in cutting-edge technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence, smart cities and blockchain. 

At the recent Blockchain for Saudi Vision 2030 Summit in Riyadh, blockchain industry leaders, academic experts and representatives from companies working with the Saudi Arabian government discussed the role of blockchain technology in advancing digital transformation in the country. This event was hosted by the BSV blockchain’s international association and ThinkTech, an initiative by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies. 

The BSV blockchain was the central topic of discussion at the event, as it offers a scalable and reliable platform on which to build government- and enterprise-scale applications thanks to its large block sizes, low transaction fees and stable underlying protocol. Speakers from within the BSV ecosystem impressed attendees with demonstrations of how the BSV blockchain can solve real-world problems across industries while retaining public auditability and preserving the privacy of personal data. 

Waleed Alasmary, Associate Professor at the College of Computing and Information Systems, Umm Al Qura University, and IT and Emerging Technology Advisor to the Governor at the Communications and Information Technology Commission, was one of those impressed by the underlying technology behind the BSV blockchain and the knowledge demonstrated by those working within the ecosystem. 

We spoke to Alasmary about his impression of the BSV blockchain and where he believes blockchain technology can be applied in Saudi Arabia to drive its vision for technological advancement. 

‘BSV has achieved a scalable blockchain’ 

Alasmary is a highly qualified academic who has researched the topic of blockchain extensively, as well as how the technology can be applied to a range of concepts. 

‘I have been working on blockchain for the past couple of years. I have had some research grants on multiple blockchain topics, ranging from smart grids, smart contracts and distributed systems,’ he says. 

‘I have published more than 50 research papers – they are peer-reviewed and published in prestigious conferences and journals, and some of them are on blockchain technology.’ 

He first encountered the BSV blockchain during the LEAP 2022 technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was the biggest tech expo debut in the world, and he was convinced of its value after watching discussions by the BSV blockchain association’s international delegates. 

‘The first time I saw BSV was in LEAP last week, I saw the talk and I saw that they have achieved a scalable blockchain,’ he says. 

‘My perception is that they have a very good foundation and understanding of the blockchain technology, and they’re aiming to make it an “everything blockchain” at some time.’ 

Blockchain applications in Saudi Arabia 

Alasmary notes that Saudi Arabia will need blockchain solutions tailored to solve specific challenges that it faces as part of its digital transformation initiative. In solving these challenges, blockchain-based services could help to accelerate digital transformation in the country and greatly improve the efficiency of government and enterprise operations. 

‘For Saudi Arabia, blockchain will have a role in digital transformation. The reason is that we need multiple distributed solutions in multiple scenarios. What’s important is to identify those scenarios.’ 

‘The way we need to look at it is by finding the current digital transformation solution that is not scalable, that is not trustworthy, and that has an issue in agreement between the different parties,’ he adds. 

‘So, if we look at multiple scenarios in Saudi Arabia, we can see several government entities. For those entities, we must look at the use cases and try to make them fit to these criteria that we made. We must match these criteria and match the scenario to these criteria.’ 

When asked which specific sectors blockchain technology could best be applied to in the country, Alasmary notes that auditable ownership and data provenance are key areas where operations could be improved. 

‘I look at the use cases where ownership is an issue and where operation is very high at the government agency. If the government agency is doing a lot of operations to verify a document or to prove the ownership of something, this is the use case that we need blockchain for, definitely,’ he says.

‘The other thing is that besides the obvious application of the financial solution, if you would like to give something value and would like to measure this value accurately, like in the supply chain, like in the market itself – for example, groceries – there could be some blockchain solution to find this to actually measure the supply and demand.’ 

To find out more about the potential applications of blockchain technology in Saudi Arabia and the power of the BSV blockchain to deliver these solutions, read our full recap of the Blockchain For Saudi Vision 2030 Summit.

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