Nokia Bell Labs signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi oil company Aramco to explore Industry 4.0 use cases, as part of a wider goal to advance digitalisation in the MENA region.

The partners noted in a joint statement the R&D project will initially target automation in priority industries covering utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing and logistics, and the pair claim they will combine research expertise and technologies to develop proof-of-concepts. 

Aramco explained the agreement with Nokia also built on the launch of a new digital unit earlier this year, which is headed up ex-Rakuten Symphony boss Tareq Amin. Dubbed Aramco Digital Company, the unit aims to diversify the oil giant’s business and help it tap into new areas.

Other parts of the agreement with Nokia will include work to make manufacturing safer and more productive, as well as focus on “fostering a comprehensive ecosystem” for 5G and emerging technologies.

SVP of Aramco Digital and Information Technology Nabil Nuaim said the partnership was an opportunity for the company to boost “national talent capabilities”, while Thierry Klein, president of Nokia Bell Labs solutions research said it showcased the vendor’s commitment to unlocking new opportunities for industrial operations”.