TheFace: Nada Kadasa, Saudi architect

Nada Kadasa. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 14 December 2018
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TheFace: Nada Kadasa, Saudi architect

  • Kadasa teaches art to beginners on Instagram, to hopefully help them become better artists

Nada Kadasa is an architect. Her father established a new real estate company by the name of Al-Ard Al-Salbah and asked her to head and manage it.
“I knew this was the place for me. In less than a year, we were finishing construction on four villas and renovating two multi-story buildings. It became one of the first few companies to be licensed by the Ministry of Housing in the country,” she said.
She said she would use the work ethic given to her by her family to achieve the company’s vision.
Kadasa said she tries to balance work and her personal life. She is a member of a charity called Kayan that is specifically for children of unknown parenthood. She also volunteers with animal shelters. She has fostered more than 40 cats, dogs, birds and even rabbits — taking care of them until they find a family to adopt them or sponsoring their medical care. Currently, she owns three dogs and eight cats. Most were rescued from the street and have different medical issues.
But her most loved animals are her four parrots. She helps raise awareness for bird care within the animal-loving community, since most people do not know how sensitive and intelligent birds are.
Kadasa also teaches art to beginners on Instagram, to hopefully help them become better artists. She had staged two art shows so far and is setting up her third event next month. “Even in my hobbies I like to set goals. Nothing feels more amazing that when you aim for something and reach it,” Kadasa said.
Kadasa said she grew up in a very intelligence-focused household. Her father established one of the first and strongest intellectual property firms in Saudi Arabia, representing brands such as Apple and Versace. Her mother was a social activistand is still a member of many charities
She already has a driver’s license because driving was one of the biggest issues that “upset me since I tried to drive a golf cart when I was eight without my family knowing. (I was caught right away).”
Kadasa said she loved art and analytical thinking so when it was time to get into college she chose a major that reflected that, and studied architecture. Initially, Kadasa’s family tried to pressure her to study law like the rest of her family. She refused and went with her heart.
While in college she also drove her professors crazy, asking “why” for every single design decision. That affected her grades during the year, “but I truly didn’t care and believed in myself, so at the end of each of those classes I would present a project so good it proved to my professors that I was not being ‘disruptive or disrespectful’ with my questions. I was truly wanting to grow and that got me the respect of most of the faculty by the time I graduated.”
Her final project was the largest in square meters in the university’s history at the time. If built it would break the largest dome-size world record and be the second largest indoor theme park in the world.
She received a lot of pushback for this project from her professors, but her stubborn nature helped her keep going and in the end they loved it! After her graduation, Kadasa worked in different companies from design to IP and designed a cafe in Riyadh called Symphony Lounge.


Majority of Saudi companies gearing up for future with AI technology: Business report

Updated 15 min 52 sec ago
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Majority of Saudi companies gearing up for future with AI technology: Business report

  • 89 percent of Saudi businesses indicated AI to be an important consideration of executive management — study
  • Kingdom well-positioned to “leapfrog” other countries in the race toward digital transformation

RIYADH: Companies in Saudi Arabia are gearing up to take advantage of the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI), according to an in-depth regional business report.

Although firms in the Kingdom remain wary of committing major investment to the emerging technology, many are already implementing data improvement initiatives to prepare for an AI-enabled future.

New research revealed on Tuesday that 89 percent of Saudi businesses indicated AI to be an important consideration of executive management, with predictive technology seen as the most relevant application by 79 percent of companies who took part in the survey.

And experts believe the Kingdom is well-positioned to “leapfrog” other countries in the race toward achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.

According to the AI maturity report covering the Middle East and Africa, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Ernst & Young (EY), the Saudi business community is keeping up to speed on developments.

Releasing the report to the media, Thamer Al-Harbi, president of Microsoft Arabia, said: “Saudi Arabian businesses are taking a keen interest in AI from a strategic viewpoint. This bodes well for the future of the technology within the Kingdom as AI maturity begins with executives identifying business problems that need to be solved.

“Saudi companies are gearing up to take their AI agenda to the next level and moving forward by leveraging AI technology in alignment with the National Transformation Program 2020 toward achieving Vision 2030.

“Although they are still near the beginning of the maturity curve, they are well-positioned to leverage global experience in AI, which could ultimately enable them to leapfrog other countries in the next few years,” added Al-Harbi.

Despite AI activity having been relatively quiet in Saudi Arabia over the past 10 years, with a total investment of around $585 million, the Kingdom emerged strongly again in 2018, said the report.

Across industries, there was a significant buzz around the topic of AI, with 42 percent of companies reporting that conversations on the subject were already taking place at non-managerial levels, the highest percentage recorded by any country in the Middle East and Africa, Al-Harbi said.

AI development, though in its earliest stages, is underway. At least 26 percent of businesses reported that they were planning AI activity, while at the same time actively investing in relevant skills.

Pockets of excellence were also shown to be emerging, with 16 percent of companies saying AI was already contributing significantly to their business processes.

While Saudi executives intuitively sense the value of AI, they are conscious that getting too caught up in the hype might blind them to the dangers of investing in technology that is only just starting to demonstrate its commercial value.

As it stands, the main concern for businesses in implementing AI is the diffusion of their resources.

The report found that at least 32 percent of firms in the Kingdom were cautious of spreading their budgetary and human resources too thin, and that the primary focus for most was digitization. Although 37 percent of respondents viewed AI as an important priority, it was not at the top of their list.

Instead, they were actively building the infrastructure needed for digital transformation, starting with good-quality data.

Steve Plimsoll, MENA data and intelligence advisory leader for EY, said: “The biggest problem to date with AI is that it is not always right. AI has given us the ability to make data-driven predictions, decisions and actions faster than ever before, but it is only as effective as the data and algorithms it relies on.

“So, while it’s great to see local companies investing in adoption of AI, the focus must be on building trust that the underlying data and algorithms are reliable, the models ethical and the predictions are measurable and as accurate as they can be. Without trust, AI will never fully move from fiction into reality.”

The report also revealed that in general, Saudi businesses were upbeat about the future impact of AI on their businesses and 37 percent expected it to impact their core business to a very high degree.

Those quizzed were particularly positive about the potential of AI to assist employees in executing their daily functions more effectively.

Currently, prediction was seen as the most relevant application of AI for 79 percent of Saudi companies, with organizations using AI to predict risk and fraud or combining it with intelligent automation to assign workloads to individuals, ultimately optimizing business processes, the report said.

The study added that 68 percent of respondents indicated that automation was one of the most relevant applications of AI in their pursuit of operational efficiency.