Ayman Abdullah Al Fallaj, CEO, THIQAH
Saudi Arabia digitalising health services and boosting local content
In an interview with Global Platform, Ayman Abdullah Al Fallaj, CEO of Saudi digital solutions firm THIQAH, discusses how digitalisation and the incorporation of local content is key to Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development plan. THIQAH created an e-health app called Saha that allows patients to speak directly to their doctor and is part of a wider initiative by the government to boost local content and empower the youth.
THIQAH was started in 2012. The purpose of THIQAH was to be a technical arm for the Ministry of Commerce and Investment. Digitalisation is playing an important role in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Digitalisation is a very important aspect of Vision 2030. We make sure every single person has access to doctors through their cell phone and through an application called Saha. We built Saha together with the private sector. Now you can see your doctor, talk to them, tell them what you feel and everything. It feels like you are visiting your doctor. When we talk about AIs in health, you need scientists, you need physicians. So we had two options here: either we invest in data or partner with a large company that has been doing this for a period of time. However, using only digital platforms does not help. If you look at Saudi before Vision 2030, governmental entities used to do services in a vertical aspect. When Vision 2030 came into play, those services were requested to speak to each other. Therefore, you see all those services horizontally. Local content is one of the major activities the government is focusing on for Vision 2030. If Saudi Arabia wants to enable local content, we need to make sure that we are empowering innovation within the country. Saudi youth play a very important role in local content as well as innovation. Vision 2030 leads us to a very simple conclusion: we need to produce in an innovative manner. We need capability, we need resources. We need education and Saudi Arabia has been investing in youth for a long time. Saudi has invested in youth by focusing on education. They have sent so many students all over the world to the best universities to make sure that they have great resources and infrastructure for local content. Now they are back. In 2018, for example, there were more newly established businesses than ever in Saudi Arabia. And that gives you an indication that they are coming back not only to have a job or to find a job but to actually create jobs, not only for themselves but for others as well. Saudi has been enabling private-sector small and medium enterprises to be part of their ambitious activities in making local content very important for Vision 2030.