Saudi operator aims to invest in promising digital start-ups across the Middle East.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) on Thursday unveiled a $500 million (€445.6 million) venture capital fund, aimed at stimulating the Middle East’s digital ecosystem.

Called STV, it will be the largest technology-focused VC fund in the region, investing in promising digital companies. STC said it will help to meet the objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to overhaul and modernise the economy, diversifying away from oil.

"Global telecoms have two choices: to either change and evolve into digital companies, or to convert into a utility. We have elected to go down the first route," said Khaled Biyari, CEO of STC, in a statement.

"STC has the potential, resources and strategic assets to make a quantum leap in the technology and entrepreneurial sectors it is working on transforming," he said.

STV will have its own independent governance and operating structure, but will be able to leverage STC’s assets to enable the companies it invests in to grow and scale. STV will be managed by a combination of international and regional talent.

"We believe the region can create its own future and we will invest in the next generation growth engines that will make this happen," said Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO of STV. "The centres of gravity for growth and value across the world’s economies and industries will undergo profound transformations due to technology disruptions, and we believe STV will create value for STC and the region amidst these transformations."