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Riyadh: PwC Middle East in Saudi Arabia and Microsoft have announced the launch of an artificial intelligence (AI) Centre of Excellence in Riyadh at LEAP 2024. The centre aims to upskill and scale the AI capabilities of Saudi engineers and researchers.

Each programme cohort, running every two months, will recruit top talent through partnerships with leading universities in the Kingdom. Young Saudi professionals will be trained in cutting-edge AI skills and technologies, including Azure OpenAI and open-source models and frameworks.

Commenting on the announcement, Ali Hosseini, Chief Technology Officer, PwC Middle East, said: "Our commitment to Saudi Vision 2030 and our future in technology is unwavering. We're focused on building unparalleled AI engineering capabilities within Saudi Arabia. This effort to enhance the skills of our talent pool underscores our dedication to maximising the benefits of AI technologies for Saudi Arabia."

Microsoft will provide expertise, training resources, and access to cutting-edge AI technology platforms as part of the collaboration. PwC's role within the framework will spearhead the strategic approach, programme management, operational framework, and curriculum development for the Centre of Excellence.

Turki Badhris, President of Microsoft Arabia, added: "Skilling the workforce to take advantage of cloud and AI technologies is crucial to unlocking the full potential of these transformative technologies, and we are proud to play a role in this important endeavour. Through our partnership with PwC Middle East and the launch of the AI Centre of Excellence in Riyadh, we aim to provide young Saudi engineers with the skills and tools they need to help drive innovation and economic growth in the Kingdom."

PwC and Microsoft have a long-standing alliance across various areas. In 2023, PwC US announced plans to invest US$1 billion over the next three years to expand and scale its AI offerings. This includes an industry-leading relationship with Microsoft, creating scalable offerings using OpenAI's GPT-4/ChatGPT and Microsoft's Azure OpenAI Service.