Saudi Arabia's largest telecommunications firm has announced that it will set up a $500-million venture capital fund to invest in start-up companies.
As part of a wideranging economic diversification plan launched last year, Saudi Arabia is trying to promote small and medium enterprises, and to expand its investment and industrial base as well as develop the digital infrastructure to support such growth.
"The fund will invest globally in promising technologies and digital sectors, especially in areas where the company can tap into its assets and infrastructure and help it enable its investments to grow," Saudi Telecom Co (STC) chief executive officer Khaled al- Biyari said in a statement.
The fund will be managed independently of STC.
"This historic step will be a pivotal turning point for the technology system in the region," Biyari said.
In a notice to the Saudi Stock Exchange, STC said the fund will be self-financed "from the company's sources for the purpose of investing in promising and fast-growing digital and technology sectors".
Last December, STC said it would buy a 10-percent stake worth $100 million in car booking firm Careem, a competitor of US-based Uber.
STC is the largest Arab telecommunications firm in terms of capitalisation. It has more than 100 million customers in nine countries including Turkey, South Africa, India and Malaysia.