Over the past few years, the world has been abuzz with talk of China's enormously ambitious $1tr Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (also known as the New Silk Road) that seeks to expand its transportation and energy infrastructure around the world to improve connectivity with the rest of the globe - and perhaps extend both its soft and hard power capabilities.
One of the most important aspects of the strategy, however, has nothing to do with highways, ports or energy. It’s digital – and the Middle East plays an important role in this plan.
While the New Silk Road refers to a tangible, physical infrastructure network on land and sea across the Eurasian landmass, the Digital Silk Road deals with a largely unseen and in some ways much more abstract infrastructure.
“We should pursue innovation-driven development and intensify cooperation in frontier areas such as digital economy, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and quantum computing, and advance the development of big data, cloud computing and smart cities so as to turn them into the digital Silk Road of the 21st century,” Chinese president Xi Jinping said in a 2017 speech.
But what exactly does that mean for the Middle East. Is this a threat or historic opportunity? And what do businesses need to know about these new digital inroads into the region?
In this edition of Inside AB, Jeremy Lawrence and Bernd Debusmann explore the inner works of China’s ambitious plan to reshape our digital landscape.
(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)