Let technology empower our youth, Queen Rania tells Arab world

Queen Rania of Jordan delivers her address at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ahmed Fathi)
Updated 15 November 2017

Let technology empower our youth, Queen Rania tells Arab world

RIYADH: Queen Rania of Jordan urged the Arab world on Wednesday to create more opportunities for its youth, strengthen its education systems and harness technology to empower its societies.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision was one of “support for innovation and science, and opportunities to which young Saudis aspire,” the queen told the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh.

She called for the adoption of technologies that “add value to our lives,” expand educational and leadership opportunities for young people, and “provide them with opportunities to realize their potential and achieve their ambitions.”

“Let us inspire them to feel that the future is theirs, as we strive to create a fertile land for us and our children, a land where dreams are nurtured and can bear fruit,” the queen said.

In a powerful speech that drew cheers from an audience of mainly young Saudis, Queen Rania said the destructive impact of conflicts was felt by children across the region.

“How will we keep up with changing educational models and strengthen our education system, when 13 million Arab children are currently deprived of schooling, and the majority of the rest are offered an outdated education?” she said.

Queen Rania, who visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last month, said: “Their reality — and that of others combating illness, poverty, ignorance and exclusion within our Arab world — hasn’t been changed by advances in science and technology, neither has innovation alleviated their suffering.”

The queen called for the motives for acquiring technology to be re-evaluated. “Rather than a race to the top for the privileged few, our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies. What we need is technology with a heart — one that beats for us.”

A leading technology entrepreneur told the forum that women and young people would lead Saudi Arabia’s drive to embrace a digital future. “The excitement and embracing of change is so palpable here,” said Diane Greene, chief executive of Google Cloud. “I’m very optimistic about what’s possible here.”

In a session moderated by Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas, Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said: “There couldn’t be a much better time in terms of unprecedented change. The rate of change right now is giving us a unique and a big window to leapfrog into the future.”

The digitization of the Saudi economy will be fully powered by youth, said Alswaha, with 70 percent of the population under the age of 30. “This gives the Kingdom a unique and competitive advantage powered by knowledge, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Alswaha announced a new partnership between his ministry, Misk and the Mohammed bin Salman College for Business and Entrepreneurship to adopt 30 young local entrepreneurs and tech companies, such as Careem, the taxi app, and Telfaz, the internet TV app. “We will put them through a one-year program, get them exposure to the Silicon Valleys of the world, to the European successes in the world, introduce them to some venture capitalists and accelerators, and join hands with some big tech and knowledge powerhouses,” he said.

The Misk Global Forum brings young leaders, creators and thinkers together with established innovators to explore ways to meet the challenge of change. The Misk Foundation was established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011 to empower Saudi youth to take part in the knowledge economy.

As the forum took place, Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi issued 11 new licences to entrepreneurs in a new program to boost the growth of the small and medium-sized enterprise sector.

“Saudi Arabia offers extraordinary opportunities for foreign innovators and investors,” said Dr. Ghassan Al-Sulaiman, governor of Monsha’at, Saudi Arabia’s SME Authority. “ We know we have the talent — our job now is to match-make and provide the opportunities.”


Egypt abolishing jail terms for businessmen

The Egyptian parliament to abolish laws that imprison investors. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2020

Egypt abolishing jail terms for businessmen

  • “Harming public money or the health of citizens entails serving sentences. Any economic or administrative violations are punishable”

CAIRO: The Egyptian parliament has announced that laws that imprison investors have been scratched, stressing that imposing jail time on financial wrongdoers affects investment in Egypt.
Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said in a public parliamentary session that he and parliament will not allow investment to “escape” from Egypt, “so the idea of replacing imprisonment with deterrent fines must be preserved.”
“I will never allow the imprisonment of businessmen involved in financial violations,” Abdel-Aal said.
Egypt’s parliament takes its cue from countries which have abolished penalties to safeguard the freedom of investors in economic legislation, in support and encouragement of investment, said Economic Affairs Committee Chairman in Parliament Ahmed Samir. Samir said the principle of not imprisoning investors in financial crimes was approved by parliament at the beginning of the current legislative term but is not final.
He explained that investors do not enjoy absolute immunity against imprisonment and that there are crimes in which jail is necessary, including harming public money or the interest of the state or harming the health of citizens.
“Harming public money or the health of citizens entails serving sentences. Any economic or administrative violations are punishable,” Samir told Arab News.
Mohsen Adel, former head of the Investment Authority, stressed that Egypt has taken the view of international institutions which is believed may encourage investment incentives to attract direct foreign investment, and that preventing businessmen from going to jail guarantees the protection of the investor who works in good faith and is similar to international standards.

SPEEDREAD

Egypt’s parliament takes its cue from countries which have abolished penalties to safeguard the freedom of investors in economic legislation with the aim to support and encourage investment.

Ahmed El-Zayat, a member of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, said the abolition by parliament of imprisoning businessmen in economic legislation is aimed at encouraging investors to invest more and to provide all logistical support to help deal with global competition and attract foreign investment.
El-Zayat pointed to efforts such as solving the problems of troubled factories, refinancing, operating, reconciling with investors and providing a safe business environment that provides the factors needed to increase investments.
El-Zayat said doing away with incarceration of investors and replacing that with financial fines and providing new mechanisms to tighten control over economic business to prevent any excesses and achieve economic justice will raise the confidence of businessmen in the Egyptian economy, especially in industry. He said this will realize the state’s vision of increasing Egyptian exports $55 billion over the coming years.
Mohamed Waheed, chairman of Catalyst Company and founder of the first electronic market for trade in Egyptian products, said the state’s new initiative is a “legislative boom” which will add to the advantages and incentives guaranteed by the investment law, making Egypt the most prominent destination for investors as it enhances its competitiveness and increases demand for work and investment.

Waheed emphasized that the new investment law and its amendments, in addition to investment incentives and positive benefits for projects, organizes the file of penalties for the economic sector within the framework of a general approach from the state to develop the investment environment in a way that enhances its competitiveness and elements of its attraction to local and foreign investments.
He said this vision is a message from the state that supports serious investment and protects well-intentioned investors from the risks and fluctuations of local and global markets.
Al-Waheed added that this will guarantee the seriousness of work and strengthen the values of governance, transparency and serious competition on the basis of common interests and hard work to reap the fruits of development without measures that limit market capabilities and hinder opportunities for expansion and prosperity.