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KPMG launches Saudi metaverse investment fund

Reuters
Co-workers familiarise themselves with virtual reality headsets and the metaverse
  • Kingdom projected to spend $34.6bn on technology in 2023

KPMG has launched a co-investment fund for metaverse use-cases in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom ramps up its commercialisation of the new technology. 

The consultancy firm will work with Saudi public and private partners on expediting metaverse-based technology for practical use.

“We’re optimistic about the future of metaverse and Web3 technologies in the kingdom,” said Maz Hussain, head of Digital Lighthouse at KPMG, the firm’s centre of excellence for data, analytics and AI.

“Guided by an advisory board of global ecosystem partners and with a dedicated team of specialists from academia and industry, we’ll be focused on use case development in Saudi Arabia.”

The new fund was announced on the sidelines of Leap 2023, the four-day annual tech conference held in Riyadh last week.

KPMG also announced the launch of its new centre of excellence, aimed at expediting the application of both the metaverse and digital twin application in Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

“Digital twin” is defined as the digital counterpart of real-world physical products, systems or processes which can be used in the metaverse. A key part of Digital Lighthouse’s objectives is to help organisations build digital twin infrastructure. 

KPMG is bringing together a broad collective, with Microsoft leveraging its infrastructure and gaming platform, Ericsson bringing their 5G technology and network; and Metakey acting as the technical partner to develop 3D objects. 

“We have seen an immense commitment from the Saudi government to invest in the metaverse and to explore the public utility of the technology,” said Hussain.

“[Digital Lighthouse] will provide an incubation function to several technology capabilities that will be required to deliver a differentiated offering to the market.”

Technology ranks as one of the key pillars of Saudi’s Vision 2030 strategy, which seeks to diversify its economy away from oil.

According to the International Data Corporation, the kingdom is projected to spend $34.6 billion on information and communications technology in 2023 – more than any other country in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco, last week announced a $300 million increase in its funding aimed at boosting the growth of tech startups in the kingdom. 

The size of the fund will grow to $500 million and will be directed towards local investments in mid and growth-stage startups, especially underserved areas such as the metaverse and quantum computing.

Tonomus, a subsidiary of the $500 billion signature Neom mega-project invested $1 billion in 2022 in artificial intelligence, including a metaverse platform.

According to a recent report by PwC’s Strategy&, the metaverse will contribute $15 billion annually to GCC economies by 2030, led by Saudi Arabia with an estimated value of $7.6 billion and followed by UAE at $4 billion.

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