Saudi, British tech innovators line up behind first dual-nation hackathon

Updated 04 November 2016
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Saudi, British tech innovators line up behind first dual-nation hackathon

LONDON/RIYADH: Leading international, UK and Saudi businesses, organizations and start-ups within tech, innovation, health and business investment have lined up to support the first ever MiSK Hackathon event taking place live and simultaneously in London and Riyadh on Nov. 25 to 27.
Representatives from Microsoft, STC, the Saudi-British Joint Business Council, the British Council, the British Embassy in Riyadh, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia, HealthTech Women, Tech London Advocates, Women Who Code, Stemettes, Code:First Girls and GrowthEnabler, among many more, have all pledged support, with many occupying mentoring roles at the event. The panel of judges will soon be unveiled.
Organized by the MiSK Foundation, the Hackathon is part of its ongoing work to cultivate learning and leadership among all Saudi youth through innovative programs in association with local and global organizations and partners across diverse and creative fields, under the patronage of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In what the deputy crown prince has called a “milestone initiative”, the event will be the first time that cross-cultural, mixed gender collaboration between the two nations has taken place, with up to 400 participants communicating through technology and a live satellite broadcast link to dream up a health tech innovation.
Prince Mohammed said: “Strong and collaborative cross-nation partnership through technology, innovation and youth enterprise hold the keys to a thriving, healthy, diverse and prosperous state, paving the way for our next generation and the future of our Kingdom.”
Welcoming the initiative, UK Executive Director Chris Innes-Hopkins of the Saudi-British Joint Business Council said: “The UK is a key strategic partner for Saudi Arabia's implementation of Vision 2030. In a global economy, collaboration between the two nations is an important driver of tech innovation, entrepreneurship and shared productivity. We hope this initiative inspires more Saudi-UK innovation ventures of this kind.”
The British Council has also applauded the initiative for increasing cross-cultural connectivity. Says British Council Country Director, Saudi Arabia, Amir Ramzan: “All our work in Saudi promotes cross-cultural collaboration and is driven by the belief that a people-to-people approach helps to build long term trust and understanding. We’re delighted to be working with MiSK Hackathon this year to connect young, ambitious entrepreneurs in Saudi and the UK and give them a space where they can experiment together and accelerate their thinking."
Deemah Alyahya, executive director of Microsoft, which is supporting the event, said: “The MiSK Hackathon is all about connecting people around the world through technology, helping them realize their full potential. That’s our aim too, and we’re proud to support anything that helps bring about such positive change.”
The initiative has also driven accolades from leading female-focused tech and health organizations and networks, which all champion the ambition to bring more women into a male-dominated technology sector.
Comments Maxine Mackintosh, UK chair of international network, HealthTech Women: “In the UK, about 20 percent of the Med Tech sector are female. It’s encouraging that the Middle East is breaking new ground with an increasing trend of entrepreneurial women entering this sector, and it’s great to see initiatives like this, which have a huge role to play in fostering diversity through shared experiences and learning.”
Adds Gen Ashley, director of global nonprofit organization Women Who Code: “Technology is an empowering force and can be a key emancipator for women no matter what their lifestyle or life stage. We need to see greater diversity and greater opportunity for women in this sector. It’s a vital path to progress and could open up doors to innovation we’d never dreamed of.”
The organizers said limited places are still available and candidates can register at www.miskhackathon.com.


Saudi Arabia’s new Formula E track hailed ‘beautiful’ as racing teams arrive

Updated 55 min 29 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s new Formula E track hailed ‘beautiful’ as racing teams arrive

Saudi Arabia’s new electric racing circuit, created in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah, has been hailed as one of “the best Formula E tracks.”

Amanda Stretton, a presenter of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy on worldwide television, called the track “incredibly beautiful.”

“It is amazing how history and cutting-edge technology are coming together here in Saudi. It is exemplified when you walk around the track as well. It is tremendous, it’s possibly one of the best Formula E tracks I think in my opinion,” Stretton said.

“It is very historic and very significant,” she added.

Amanda said: “We were very much looking forward to arriving here when we first heard this was on the calendar, everyone was very excited about coming as this is new for all of us, nobody had been here before.

“My first impressions are wonderful. We couldn’t have been more warmly welcomed when we landed yesterday and now seeing the city in daylight it is beautiful and far bigger than I expected. It looks an amazing place.”