Global CEOs back Saudi tech and innovation agenda

Young Saudi leaders share their success stories at MiSK Forum

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The opening session of the two-day MiSK Global Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday saw powerful presentations of successful experiments and innovations of four young Saudi business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The young leaders shared with the audience their future visions that are encouraging young Saudis to have an active participation in the nation-building process in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program.

A video address by Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates was another highlight of the high profile event, which is being held under the aegis of Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense.

Business leaders from technology, industry and energy gave their backing to Saudi Arabia’s skills, innovation and entrepreneurship drive at the MiSK Global Forum. At the youth-focused event, they encouraged young Saudi Arabians to embrace the new opportunities afforded to them by the country’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The inaugural event, which carries the mission to empower, nurture and inspire young Saudi men and women by bringing them in front of a range of global thought leaders, businessmen and sportsmen from over 65 countries, saw sessions featuring John Chambers from Cisco, Siemen’s President and CEO Joe Kaeser, and BP’s Chief Executive, Bob Dudley.

New partnerships

Alongside the event, the MiSK Foundation announced new partnerships aimed at skills development with Bloomberg, Cisco, Siemens, and Udacity, the specialist technology skills provider.

Touching on the scope and challenge of Vision 2030 and welcoming its ambition, John Chambers said: “I believe in KSA. I see a talented youth, a changing nation and leadership willing to take the necessary risks other countries aren’t.”

Following up, Chambers gave a simple message to the Saudi youth in the audience to rise to the challenge. “Have no fear and dare to dream,” he said.

“The future of any country is about its young people, in Saudi Arabia that is even more true because you’re the majority and you’re more educated and inquisitive than any generation that’s come before,” said Bill Gates.

Gates also praised Vision 2030 which, he said, “would be the motive, developer and server for these young people, especially since they make up the educated majority on whom the application of vision is depended as they have also the potential and capabilities to be effective and influential.”

The Forum, which is aimed at connecting the Saudi youth to the global economy, brings young Saudi men and women in front of a range of global thought and business leaders.

The young Saudi business leaders who addressed the inaugural session were Muneerah Jamjoom, executive director of Imkan Co., Muhannid Abu Diyah, founder and president of Asterlab Center, Al-Baraa Al-Auhali and Latifa Al-Waalan.

In his keynote speech, Jo Kaeser, president and chief executive officer of Siemens, said that the prevailing environment in the Kingdom enables young Saudis to go ahead with their innovative ideas.

He lauded the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in spurring the innovations of its strong younger generation.

On the sidelines of the forum, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Foundation (MiSK) signed a memorandum of understanding with Siemens company in the area of preparation of national young talents in the field of modern technologies and the expansion of the technical society circle in the Kingdom. The memorandum aims to develop the next generations of business leaders and digital experts in line with Kingdom’s Vision 2030, enhance the contribution of young people in the society and develop their talents and capabilities.

Another agreement was signed with Bloomberg, the global business and financial information leader, to explore a number of joint initiatives. The collaboration would see Bloomberg develop and deliver cross-disciplinary education and training programs focused on business, economics, finance and journalism to enhance the skills and knowledge of young finance and media professionals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This report was published in Saudi Gazette on Nov 16, 2016

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