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$100bn plan aims to make Saudi Arabia a leader in automation

21 February, 2024

Saudi Arabia has embarked on an ambitious programme to make it a global leader in robotics and industrial automation. It has set up a company called Alat which has formed a strategic partnership with the Japanese investment group SoftBank to develop “groundbreaking” industrial robots and to create a next-generation industrial automation infrastructure with the aim of establishing 32,000 “leading edge” factories in the Kingdom by 2025. An investment budget of $100bn has been allocated to Alat (which will also be promoting other high-tech activities). The robotics project is predicted to be contributing $1bn to Saudi GDP as soon as 2025.

The first step in the programme is the creation of a joint venture between Alat and SoftBank to manufacture industrial robots for a wide range of industrial manufacturing and assembly processes “that will radically transform manufacturing”. The partners will invest up to $150m to establish an automated manufacturing and engineering hub in Riyadh that will serve local and global demand. The first factory is due to open in December 2024.

Riyadh-headquartered Alat – which means “machines” in Arabic – has been established to create a global champion in electronics and advanced industrial segments, and mandated to create world-class manufacturing, enabled by global innovation and technology leadership. With an investment budget of $100bn, Alat will partner with global technology leaders to transform a variety of industries, and to establish world-class businesses in Saudi, powered by clean energy.

“We want this to be the start of a game-changer for manufacturing around the world,” says Alat CEO, Amit Midha. “Together with SoftBank Group, we see an immense market opportunity for robotics, both in the Kingdom, the Gulf, and globally. With this initial set-up, we predict a contribution of $1bn to Saudi Arabia GDP by 2025. Our ambition is to fundamentally transform industrial manufacturing by robots, manufactured in the Kingdom.”

SoftBank’s chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, adds: “The combination of Saudi Arabia’s vision, economic growth, and leading logistics location, coupled with abundant access to green energy and Alat’s mandate to manufacture sustainably, made this strategic partnership between us very compelling. Today’s announcement marks a historic milestone for how future manufacturing will take place.”

The new JV will build industrial robots using intellectual property developed by SoftBank and its affiliates. The robots will be able to perform tasks with minimal programming. They will be aimed at industrial assembly and other manufacturing and production applications. The robot factory that the JV is setting up will use the latest technologies to manufacture “unprecedented” next-generation robots, capable of performing a wide variety of tasks.

Saudi Arabia’s extensive infrastructure investments will be the foundation to accelerate the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution applications in the Kingdom, enhancing supply chains and logistics. By 2035, it expects to be operating around 32,000 factories powered by clean energy and using leading-edge technologies.

Alat CEO Amit Midha: a game-changer for manufacturing around the world

Alat, backed by Saudi’s PIF (Public Investment Fund) sovereign wealth fund, aims to create a global sustainable technology manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia focused on advanced industrials and electronics. It will focus on seven strategic areas: advanced industrials; semiconductors; smart health; smart appliances; smart devices; smart buildings; and next-generation infrastructure, and will create products both for Saudi Arabia and the world. Alat will help Saudi to achieve its Vision 2030 goals of economic diversification, industrial development, innovation and job creation.

By 2030, Alat aims to create 39,000 direct jobs and a sustainable technology manufacturing hub focused on advanced industrials and electronics that, it hopes, will be contributing $9.3bn of non-oil revenues to the Kingdom’s GDP by the end of this decade.

Another of Alat’s goals is to achieve zero-carbon manufacturing, powered by renewables. It will take advantage of the fact that Saudi Arabia receives around 105 trillion kWh of solar energy every day – equivalent to 10 billion barrels of oil.

Alat CEO Amit Midha has joined the company from Dell Technologies, where he was responsible for the computer company’s growth in Asia-Pacific and Japan, overseeing a multi-billion-dollar business spanning more than 40 countries. The industrial automation and robotics activities will fall under Alat’s next-generation infrastructure business, whose president, Dr Matthias Heilmann, was previously president of ABB’s installation products division.

Alat: X  LinkedIn  Facebook

SoftBankX  LinkedIn

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