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

Updated 04 November 2016

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.


Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

Updated 17 October 2019

Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

  • Intellectuals, diplomats discuss challenge of blending cultures, faiths and values

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The European envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for more tolerance and respect to help bring diverse societies closer together.

Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.

Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), the event gathered together top intellectuals, diplomats and scholars to debate the issues of tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance of others.

Opening the lecture at the King Faisal Foundation building in Riyadh, d’Urso spoke about tolerance and how it was core to the transformation of societies, especially in Europe which had become more diverse.

“Today’s European society is a mixture of cultures, faiths, values, ideas, and habits. The challenge is to make sure our society is more inclusive, enhance mutual understanding and promote tolerance and respect,” the envoy said.

He pointed to the UN’s blossoming partnership with the KFCRIS and the importance of the lecture as key building blocks in the process of bridging cultural and religious gaps between societies.

“I think there are few more teams that are exchanging on the Saudi and European perspectives of religious tolerance and diversity. All of us know that the KFCRIS builds from the legacy of the late King Faisal and has been a pillar in promoting Islam,” d’Urso added.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.
  • Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.
  • The director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

He noted that in Europe there were many people of faith that had respect for coexistence. 

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.

He said a state that respected others, human existence and brotherhood could not exist “unless there is respect for diversity and differences as a universal norm that no one can collide.”

According to Al-Issa, the Charter of Madinah (regarded as the first Islamic state constitution) was considered one of the best achievements of civil legislation in human history. “This document was held by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the Jews and represented binding legislation for Muslims toward religious minorities.”

The MWL chief noted that the document included the protection of civil and religious rights. “The document cannot be absorbed by extremism, it is clear. These rights and freedoms have been preserved by this legislation. And the Prophet Muhammad coexisted with everyone and understood these differences and diversity.”

In his speech, Al-Issa explained how the Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special name to celebrate their religious origins where they were called “people of the book,” in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The history of Christians and Jews was also never omitted.

Addressing the event, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

“We encounter such a diversity of ways of being Muslim from a theoretical, cultural, philosophical, ideological point of view. Any single Muslim group or community is represented somewhere in Europe and this situation puts European Muslims in a very unique environment which is different from any other Islamic majority society in the world,” said Privot.

He pointed out that for the first time in history Muslim groups from Uzbekistan and Senegal were living together and trying to become a community in European societies.

“Societies, which have completely liberalized the market of religions, believe all faiths are accepted,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, an MWL forum in Makkah recommended that Islamic discourse should adhere to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Muslims’ uppermost legislative sources, which are also known as the Two Divine Revelations.

The forum, titled “The Service of the Two Revelations,” called upon concerned authorities in the Muslim world to regulate Islamic fatwas in a way that prevented extremism and stopped producing any misguided explanations of the divinely revealed texts.

The participants also encouraged the use of modern technology, especially social media, to better serve the Qur’an and Sunnah to help link Muslim youths with the two revelations.

In addition, the gathering proposed establishing platforms for producing software and smart apps related to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the launch of an international service award under the umbrella of the MWL.

Al-Issa added that the MWL had staged a number of Qur’an memorization programs in 78 countries and said there were now 68 colleges and institutes where 7,500 students were studying the Qur’an.

“Some 61,275 Qur’an readers have graduated from these institutes, with 5,055 reciters having obtained authentic reading certificates. The IOQAS (International Organization of Qitab and Sunnah) has also carried out 193 training courses and provided nearly 3,000 scholarships,” he said.