Google and MiSK Foundation to equip 100,000 Saudi students with digital skills

Matt Brittin, Google’s president for EMEA, at the launch of the Maharat min Google program. Courtesy Google
Updated 18 April 2018
0

Google and MiSK Foundation to equip 100,000 Saudi students with digital skills

  • Google launches Maharat min Google Arabic language digital skills program
  • Saudi training program targets 50 percent female participation

Google will provide digital skills training to 100,000 university students across Saudi Arabia under an agreement with Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK) Foundation.
The tie-up coincides with search company’s launch of the Maharat min Google program, aimed at helping the region’s Arabic speakers start online businesses and gain an advantage in the region’s increasingly competitive job market.
“We want the region to develop digital skills because we think they are essential in the future, and Saudi is one of the key markets in the region, that’s why we have partnership with MiSK Foundation,” Lino Cattaruzzi, Google's managing director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), told Arab News.
MiSK Foundation’s implementation of the program targets a 50 percent female participation.
“When you look at what we are trying to achieve, it’s impossible for me not to (draw a connection) with Vision 2030,” he added.
Entrepreneurship, education and training and the empowerment of women are all core to Vision 2030, unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016, which seeks to diversify and grow the country’s economy.
The Maharat min Google platform — Maharat means “skills” in Arabic — aims to enhance digital literacy among Arabic speakers in a region that is among the most youthful in the world.
The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020, 21 percent of the core skills of required for jobs within the GCC will be different to the skills needed in 2015.
The platform offers a nine-hour long certified program that covers 100 lessons in Arabic across 26 core topics, including search engine marketing, social media, e-commerce and data analysis.
“We really believe in the world needing more entrepreneurs,” Matt Brittin, Google's president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told Arab News.
“The barrier to becoming an entrepreneur that can scale has never been lower. And the opportunity to learn and be inspired by others has never been higher.”
Google at present has around 200 million users in the MENA region, a figure it hopes to double in the next few years. The company notes with interest the rise in e-commerce in the region, which it sees as benefiting its advertising business.
“In terms of Google’s business, typically is quite aligned with the growth in e-commerce because if people can buy things online then advertising online can make more and more sense,” Brittin said.
At the present time, the company is content to work with regional partners via its MENA hub in Dubai — which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary — with an increased on-the-ground presence a distant prospect.
“We are better off working across the region through partners, through the hub that we have here (…) and that is one of the joys of having a digital model,” he said, noting that the partnership model enables the company to offer customized services to countries in the region.
“For the next 10 years ... I’d love to see more local talents at Google and I would love to see more on the ground locations…but for the moment, it’s all about working in partnership.”


US eases restrictions on China’s Huawei to keep networks, phones operating

Updated 21 May 2019
0

US eases restrictions on China’s Huawei to keep networks, phones operating

  • The company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals
  • Out of $70 billion Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to US firms
WASHINGTON: The US government on Monday temporarily eased some trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei, a move that sought to minimize disruption for the telecom company’s customers around the world.
The US Commerce Department will allow Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to purchase American-made goods in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.
The company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals that likely will be denied.
The US government said it imposed the restrictions because of Huawei’s involvement in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.
The new authorization is intended to give telecommunications operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
“In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks,” Ross added.
The license, which is in effect until Aug. 19, suggests changes to Huawei’s supply chain may have immediate, far-reaching and unintended consequences for its customers.
“The goal seems to be to prevent Internet, computer and cell phone systems from crashing,” said Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official. “This is not a capitulation. This is housekeeping.”
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, declined to comment.
The Commerce Department said it will evaluate whether to extend the exemptions beyond 90 days.
On Thursday, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 68 entities to an export blacklist that makes it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States.
The government tied Huawei’s addition to the “entity list” to a pending case accusing the company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed US goods and services in Iran and move money out of the country via the international banking system. Huawei has pleaded not guilty.
Reuters reported Friday that the department was considering a temporary easing, citing a government spokeswoman.
The temporary license also allows disclosures of security vulnerabilities and for Huawei to engage in the development of standards for future 5G networks.
Reuters reported Sunday that Alphabet Inc’s Google suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, citing a source familiar with the matter.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new authorization.
Out of $70 billion Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to US firms including Qualcomm Inc. , Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc.
“I think this is a reality check,” said Washington trade lawyer Douglas Jacobson. “It shows how pervasive Huawei goods and technology are around the globe and if the US imposes restrictions, that has impacts.”
Jacobson said the effort to keep existing networks operating appeared aimed at telecom providers in Europe and other countries where Huawei equipment is pervasive.
The move also could assist mobile service providers in thinly populated areas of the United States, such as Wyoming and eastern Oregon, that purchased network equipment from Huawei in recent years.
John Neuffer, the president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents US chipmakers and designers, said in a statement that the association wants the government would ease the restrictions further.
“We hope to work with the administration to broaden the scope of the license,” he said, so that it advances US security goals but does not undermine the industry’s ability to compete globally and remain technology leaders.
A report on Monday on the potential impact of stringent export controls on technologies found that US firms could lose up to $56.3 billion in export sales over five years.
The report, from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said the missed opportunities threatened as many as 74,000 jobs.
Wolf, the former Commerce official, said the Huawei reprieve was similar to action taken by the department in July to prevent systems from crashing after the US banned China’s ZTE Corp, a smaller Huawei rival, from buying American-made components in April.
The US trade ban on ZTE wreaked havoc at wireless carriers in Europe and South Asia, sources told Reuters at the time.
The ban on ZTE was lifted July 13 after the company struck an agreement with the Commerce Department that included a $1 billion fine plus $400 million in escrow and replacement of its board of directors and senior management. ZTE, which had ceased major operations as a result of the ban, then resumed business.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Angela Moon; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Cynthia Osterman)