From STEM to STEAM: British Council seeks to broaden young Saudis’ horizons

British Council’s Chief Executive Sir Ciarán Devane during the interview with Arab News. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)
Updated 04 February 2019

From STEM to STEAM: British Council seeks to broaden young Saudis’ horizons

  • Promoting culture and entertainment is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan

RIYADH: The British Council wants to broaden the horizons of young Saudis by adding art to their education, the head of the organization told Arab News Sunday.
Sir Ciaran Devane, the council’s chief executive, said the body wants to give young people in the Kingdom different opportunities and turn STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM with the introduction of art.
He was speaking at the Creative Futures Forum in Riyadh, where delegates debated how best to support the creative sector, notably through arts and culture education and the development of soft and technical skills for the next generation.
The forum, which ends Monday, is also aimed at helping people to understand the challenges and opportunities related to developing a creative sector workforce in the region.
“What we would like to achieve is by bringing some of the experiences and expertise, the successes and the failures that we have had,” Sir Ciaran told Arab News. “It will help the Kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia with their own journey. That journey will be wherever the people of Saudi Arabia choose to take it. I don’t think anyone one of us from the outside should have a view of what that should be.”
Promoting culture and entertainment is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.
“We are well aware that the cultural and entertainment opportunities currently available do not reflect the rising aspirations of our citizens and residents, nor are they in harmony with our prosperous economy,” says the official Vision 2030 website. “It is why we will support the efforts of regions, governorates, nonprofit and private sectors to organize cultural events. Land suitable for cultural and entertainment projects will be provided and talented writers, authors, and directors will be carefully supported.”
Recent months have seen a boom in entertainment and cultural activities in Saudi Arabia, including pop concerts and sporting events.
Sir Ciaran praised Vision 2030, adding: “What is great about the approach is that it is focusing not only on the creative cultural side but also the technical and infrastructure side. For the creative sector to be sustainable you need both.”
He said the current conversation was about ensuring students had a variety of opportunities.
The Kingdom’s General Culture Authority, in collaboration with the council, would work on shifting students’ focus from STEM to STEAM.
Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of the General Cultural Authority, said the forum was a place for decision makers and industry players to exchange ideas and present their vision for the future of creative industries.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the British Council and look forward to witnessing how this forum will lead to some clear recommendations that can help shape and develop the visions and plans for the cultural sector in Saudi Arabia and in other Gulf countries,” he said in his opening remarks.

Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Zamil, chairman, Gulf International Bank (GIB) Saudi Arabia

Updated 12 min 33 sec ago

Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Zamil, chairman, Gulf International Bank (GIB) Saudi Arabia

Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Zamil is the new chairman of the board of directors of Gulf International Bank (GIB) Saudi Arabia. He was appointed on March 31, 2019.

Al-Zamil has extensive experience in the private sector. He served as the CEO and a board member of Al-Zamil Group, where he began his professional career in 1987, and was promoted to his latest position as CEO in 2009. 

He began as an industrial engineer at Zamil Air Conditioners and subsequently became vice president for sales and marketing and purchasing and materials management. He served as senior vice president and COO of Zamil Industrial Investment Co.

He was awarded his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, US in 1987. In 1992, he obtained his MBA in finance from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. 

Al-Zamil is a board member of several regional companies, including the General Authority of Civil Aviation, VIVA Bahrain, the Human Resources Development Fund, Gulf International Bank in the UK, and Zamil Steel Industries in Egypt, Vietnam and India. 

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of Saudi Global Ports, LLC (SGP). 

GIB announced on Sunday that it has successfully completed the conversion of its existing branches in Saudi Arabia to a locally incorporated bank.

This makes GIB the first foreign bank in the Kingdom to be locally incorporated. 

“The establishment of GIB Saudi Arabia is an important milestone in the implementation of the bank’s strategy, which remains focused on the expansion of its service offering and position as a leading digital bank and is expected to contribute positively to enhanced performance and profitability,” Al-Zamil said. 

He said that the public investment fund’s contribution and partnership with GIB will enable the bank to accelerate the growth of its operations and customer base in the Kingdom as well as in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.