Web3 in Saudi Arabia: Faisal Al Monai's Insights on the Next Digital Frontierby@ishanpandey
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Web3 in Saudi Arabia: Faisal Al Monai's Insights on the Next Digital Frontier

by Ishan PandeyApril 11th, 2024
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Faisal Al Monai, with decades of tech experience and as a co-founder of droppGroup, shares insights into the intersection of AI, blockchain, and Web3 technologies. Highlighting droppGroup's innovative solutions like droppPhygital and droppLink, he discusses their impact on integrity and efficiency in technology. Al Monai also delves into Saudi Arabia's rapid adoption of Web3, driven by its young, tech-savvy population and supportive government initiatives aligned with Vision 2030. The conversation explores the potential of blockchain in public sector transformation and the critical role of ethical AI development amid growing legal scrutiny.
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Ishan Pandey: Hi Faisal, Welcome to our "Behind the Startup" series! We're excited to have you join us. Could you share a bit about your background? Also, we'd love to hear your thoughts on Web3 adoption in Saudi Arabia?

Faisal Al Monai: Thank you very much - it’s a pleasure to share our story. I have spent the last three decades in technology, first with multinationals such as Microsoft, HP, and Oracle. Further, I also had the honor of helping launch SSSIT, a system integrator in Saudi, that enabled over 50 government authorities to become completely paperless and connected to SADAD, Saudi Arabia’s official payment platform.

Then, seven years ago, along with my Co-Founders, I launched Drop Groupp. Since then, we have been pioneers in the AI, blockchain, and Web3 space - helping major global companies, SMEs, and creators transform and protect their businesses.

Ishan Pandey: Could you tell us more about the droppGroup and how is it impacting innovation within the Web3 space?

Faisal Al Monai: At droppGroup, we sit at the nexus of the physical and digital as a market leader in 'phygital' innovation, harmonizing the latest in AI and blockchain technology.

Our flagship technology DroppPhygital, a Gen AI platform powered by our proprietary, cutting-edge Generative Media Intelligence (GMI) AI model. GMI is a multimodal AI agent system trained on a large dataset of media rather than large text-based data like LLMs. This innovative approach has developed what we and our clients, such as the Saudi Government, consider the most efficient generative AI system in the market.

While training our GMI model we made a conscious effort to ensure whatever we build is based on integrity and trust. This commitment drove us to build our AI system on the foundation of blockchain technology.

We automatically tokenize every bit of training data so we can prove the provenance of all of the data used to create our GMI system. This practice led us to create our newest breakthrough, droppLink, which is an Intelligent Service Platform (ISP) supporting the AI boom.

droppLink revolutionizes the lifecycle of any AI model by automatically tokenizing every action. It ensures data integrity using the robustness of blockchain technology powered by droppCoin. The droppLink platform is currently the only way to ensure the integrity of not only training data but also end-user outputs in the market.

I am very proud that this innovation has come from Saudi Arabia. This further demonstrates our commitment to the Kingdom’s Vision2030 and our belief that this critical initiative is not only about growth but also integrity and cutting-edge technology.

Ishan Pandey: How do you perceive the convergence of Web3 and AI technologies, and what potential opportunities or challenges do you foresee in this convergence?

Faisal Al Monai: Today, the term Web3 has garnered considerable attention, often synonymous with blockchain technology and its various elements. However, the current definition of Web3 falls short of its true potential. Our core thesis is that saying Web3 is only blockchain technology is like saying Web 1.0 was only static HTML pages.

For us, Web3 isn't just Blockchain. It represents a convergence of transformative technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and extended reality (XR). The convergence of these is creating the powerful force that is revolutionizing the tech landscape and will, through innovative technology companies, have a direct impact on the industry over the coming years.

With AI, there is an even bigger problem - the lack of data integrity - which we are leading the industry in addressing. Right now, Generative AI faces legal scrutiny with nine separate class-action lawsuits filed in the US, tech firms like OpenAI, Meta, and Google are challenged over using copyrighted material for AI training.

The lawsuit between Getty Images and Stability AI, which also extends to the High Court in London, exemplifies the growing legal battles over AI's reliance on copyrighted content for development and operation.

We have created droppLink so any AI company large or small can benefit from having a decentralized safety net of data integrity which will lead to the further growth and widespread adoption of AI globally.

droppLink champions blockchain-powered ethical AI with secure, traceable data practices and IP compensation. Responsible AI development is imperative, as recent IP-related lawsuits in the AI space highlight the substantial financial risks and the necessity for ethical innovation. We are proud to be at the forefront of this critical innovation.

Ishan Pandey: Can you share any insights into the current state of Web3 adoption in Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA region?

Faisal Al Monai: First, it is important to highlight that we are a Saudi company with deep roots in the Kingdom, from our clients to the people and investors. Saudi Arabia is the world’s most exciting and eager market for advanced technology. In addition to the overall growth of the country, 63% of Saudis are GenZ and 67% identify as Gamers, making it the optimal place to invest in transformative technology.

We have embraced this mission and launched cutting-edge AI technology projects with major clients in the Kingdom, including Saudi Aramco, Saudi Telecom Company, Cisco, Oracle, and the Saudi Government. Most recently, we launched the country’s first metaverse for the national Founding Day.

We see transformative technology in the region at an inflection point from which visionary leadership and capital, particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will emerge as global leaders in Web3. Technology goals have been set that place KSA, and by extension the broader region, on a pathway to Web3 adoption that will exceed that of major Western countries.

You can see this today with some of the deals that have been widely reported, such as the Animoca Brands and US$50m NEOM deal, as well as the US$40 billion AI fund PIF has set up. And this is only the beginning of what will be an ongoing growth in investment and innovation.

At dropp, we believe that technology adoption arrives fastest when the population has an elevated understanding of and participation in technology itself. This is why we prioritize on-shoring innovation technology jobs to KSA and focus primarily on enabling the vast educated human resources available in the Kingdom.

Ishan Pandey: Considering your background in facilitating the transition to paperless systems in government authorities, how do you see blockchain and decentralized technologies contributing to similar digital transformation initiatives in the public sector?

Faisal Al Monai: Blockchain and decentralized technologies will profoundly impact digital transformation initiatives within the public sector, as exemplified by the Saudi Arabian government's National Transformation Program (NTP). By leveraging blockchain for document management and identity verification, Saudi Arabia can ensure the authenticity and integrity of official records, streamline public service delivery, and enhance the security of its e-government platform, 'Yesser'. This transformation is poised to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies, curtail document forgery, and offer citizens transparent access to services, aligning with the country's Vision 2030 objectives to foster a digitally enabled public sector.

Ishan Pandey: As a speaker at Outer Edge Riyadh, what key messages or insights do you plan to convey to your audience regarding the future of Web3 and its implications for businesses and society?

Faisal Al Monai: At Outer Edge Riyadh, my key message will be that Web3 represents the next evolution of the internet, where the convergence of blockchain, AI/ML, and XR is forging a new digital frontier. This synergy is redefining our tech landscape, leading to innovative breakthroughs and a direct impact on industries and societies alike.

In the context of Saudi Arabia, a nation with a young, tech-savvy population that is overwhelmingly engaged in gaming and digital media, we are uniquely positioned to lead this Web3 transformation, especially while aligning with Vision 2030. Our collaborations with prominent Saudi entities exemplify our commitment to leveraging these technologies to propel the Kingdom to the forefront of the global Web3 movement. Visionary leadership and strategic investments signal that the region is on a fast track to outpacing major Western markets in Web3 adoption.

I want Saudi companies to understand Web3 technologies which I believe is the precursor to its widespread adoption. This is why dropp is dedicated to cultivating local talent and driving job creation within the Kingdom, fully harnessing the educated workforce to meet the future of technology head-on. My message at Outer Edge Riyadh will encapsulate this vision, emphasizing the significance of Web3 and its potential to catalyze a new era of technological leadership and innovation in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Ishan Pandey: What collaborative efforts do you think are essential for driving the mainstream adoption of Web3 technologies, particularly in the Saudi Arabian market?

Faisal Al Monai: For mainstream adoption of Web3 technologies in Saudi Arabia, strategic public-private partnerships are key to building infrastructure, incorporating blockchain and AI into the country's digitization plans, and launching educational programs to enhance tech proficiency.

In line with Vision2030, capitalizing on the nation's youthful and tech-savvy population, particularly within the gaming sector, can accelerate adoption. Investments in local tech ventures and government-backed incentives are crucial for nurturing innovation. Crafting regulatory policies that support innovation while protecting users will also be essential. Embedding Web3 functionalities into current digital government services will drive widespread user adoption and serve as a benchmark for other nations.

Ishan Pandey: Looking ahead, what emerging trends or advancements do you anticipate will have the most significant impact on the trajectory of Web3 technologies, and how is droppGroup positioning itself to leverage these developments for continued innovation and growth?

Faisal Al Monai: The explosive growth in Web3 technologies is increasingly driven by the automation capabilities of AI and droppGroup is set to play a pivotal role in this expansion with the integration of droppLink and the launch of droppCoin. droppCoin is an integral element of the droppLink ecosystem, designed to facilitate and automate transactions within the Web3 framework. This acts as the currency that powers the tokenization process on droppLink, where AI models' training data and outputs are converted into blockchain-based assets, providing transparency and data integrity.

The synergy between droppCoin and droppLink lies in their combined ability to offer a decentralized safety net for data integrity. As AI continues to automate complex systems in Web3, droppCoin will be essential for providing the economic layer that rewards creators and validators within the ecosystem. This relationship enhances the trust in AI-generated data and outputs, ensuring that all participants in the AI lifecycle, from creation to consumption, are fairly compensated, creating a sustainable Web3 environment.

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Vested Interest Disclosure: This author is an independent contributor publishing via our business blogging program. HackerNoon has reviewed the report for quality, but the claims herein belong to the author. #DYOR.