By Polina Marinova
May 7, 2018

Saudi Arabia is getting friendly with U.S.-based blockchain-focused startups.

The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology recently partnered with ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based production studio focused on building enterprise software products powered by Ethereum. The ministry co-hosted a “blockchain bootcamp” with ConsenSys as part of its efforts to support technological development.

The three-day bootcamp provided in-depth training on how to create a development environment and build decentralized applications. You might have noticed that this isn’t the first time Saudi Arabia has gotten cozy with a blockchain startup. It recently also partnered with Ripple, the San Francisco-based fintech startup known for the XRP coin.

The kingdom’s defacto central bank teamed up with Ripple to pilot instant cross-border payments between banks in the region using the blockchain. Ripple said this would allow for faster, cheaper, and more transparent transactions.

The Saudi central bank is also working with the United Arab Emirates central bank to issue a digital currency that would be accepted in cross-border transactions between the two countries. As the Saudi government continues to experiment with digital currencies, it signifies a transfer of focus from oil to emerging technologies, such as blockchain and digital tokens.

Ahmed Al-Thenayyan, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for the technology industry and digital capacities, said that AI, Internet of Things, and the blockchain “serve as major contributor[s] to the Industry 4.0 and the development of GDP.”

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