ArabNet opens in Riyadh — more than 1,400 delegates attend

ArabNet opens in Riyadh — more than 1,400 delegates attend
KACST President Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud Al-Saud, second right, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dr. Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel, right, with other officials at the inauguration of the ArabNet conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 14 December 2016

ArabNet opens in Riyadh — more than 1,400 delegates attend

ArabNet opens in Riyadh — more than 1,400 delegates attend

RIYADH: Young Saudis are showing interest in entrepreneurship, Dr. Ghassan Al-Sulaiman, governor of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (SMEA), told Arab News at the opening of the ArabNet conference on Tuesday, which drew more than 1,400 delegates from all parts of the Kingdom.
Such entrepreneurship ensures a bright future for entrepreneurs who are really involved in various projects in the Kingdom, Al-Sulaiman said.
Badir CEO Nawaf Al-Sahaf, told Arab News that 60 entrepreneurs displayed their products and services at the exhibition, which was inaugurated by Al-Sulaiman. He added that the King Abdul Aziz City For Science and Technology (KACST) is interested in sponsoring such projects because it promotes technology entrepreneurship in line with the National Transformation Program 2020.
In his earlier speech during the inauguration, Al-Sahaf spoke of Badir’s successful initiation over the years with various innovative companies. The program has accepted over 8,000 applications, embraced over 200 emerging Saudi companies, and provided 946 jobs. Graduated companies have initiated over SR241 million in projects as of mid-2016, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives, which include the support of entrepreneurship and small- and medium-sized enterprises, contributing to the Saudi GDP.
In order to achieve KACST’s goal in supporting 600 emerging technology companies, and generating 3,600 jobs by 2020, the city is seeking to promote incubators and accelerators, and expand activities into nine regions.
During the two-day period, the ArabNet Riyadh conference will discuss the latest in digital innovations and entrepreneurship, following the launch of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP).
The event is being held under the patronage of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEA), and hosted by KACST, and the Badir Program for Technology Incubators, and with the sponsorship of Digital Media Services (DMS); STC; InspireU; Riyad Bank; Thiqah; Al-Khaleejiah; Al Ahli NCB; Saudi Aramco; Al Arabia; Smaat; OMD; Nabd; Payfort; IBM; Dubai Internet City (DIC); Jathwa; Riyali; Saudi Marketers; Startup Bahrain; Jeeltech; and PayPal.
Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud Al Saud, president of KACST, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel, minister of communications and information technology were present during the opening session of the conference, which was preceded by Design+Code Day on Monday, a pre-conference set of workshops designed to train developers, designers, and entrepreneurs on building great webs and mobile products.
The opening ceremony featured an interactive speech between Al-Sahaf and ArabNet CEO Omar Christidis, both sharing their mission of helping grow the knowledge economy in Saudi Arabia.
Christidis spoke of ArabNet Riyadh’s importance over the past years in providing a platform for the effective launch of emerging Saudi projects, and securing a hub for networking and learning among young people, professionals, and businessmen and women in the digital sector. He pointed out that the conference highlights the latest trends and opportunities in the Saudi market, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020, that focus on digital innovation and entrepreneurship as a means to pave the way for development and transformation of the Kingdom’s economy into a knowledge-based economy, driven by innovation and creativity.
The opening ceremony was followed by a panel that delved into the impact of the NTP on the digital and entrepreneurship ecosystems in the Kingdom. The panel, part of the National Innovation Track, was moderated by Mansour Al-Obaid, CEO of Future Technologies Pioneers Consulting Office, and featured prominent public and private leaders such as Eng. Ali bin Saleh Al-Soma, adviser to the minister of communications and IT; Mazen Al-Dawood, deputy covernor of SMEA; Dr. Khaled Al-Ghoneim, founder and CEO of Hawaz, and former CEO of STC Group; and Ms. Maha Taibah, managing partner at Eradah.