Saudi Arabia seeks new UK R&D partnerships in line with Vision 2030

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Dr. Hisham Alhadlaq, Director General of the Research & Development Office (RDO) in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education. Dr. Hadlaq will be in the UK for the week as part of the high level Saudi Arabian delegation which is exploring research and development partnership opportunities. (AN Photo / James Hanna)
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Dr. Hisham Alhadlaq, Director General of the Research & Development Office (RDO) in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education. Dr. Hadlaq will be in the UK for the week as part of the high level Saudi Arabian delegation which is exploring research and development partnership opportunities. (Photo supplied)
Updated 27 June 2018

Saudi Arabia seeks new UK R&D partnerships in line with Vision 2030

  • Research and development is one of the essential pillars for achieving the goals of the Vision 2030
  • The initiative is the result of an MOU signed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his recent visit to the UK

LONDON: Saudi Arabia plans to forge new links with UK academic and research institutions as part of a $1.6 billion initiative to enhance the Kingdom’s domestic research & development capabilities.
A high-level Saudi delegation, representing the country’s Ministry of Education and leading public universities, is visiting the UK this week to explore R&D partnership opportunities, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“The initiative is the result of an MOU signed by His Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his recent visit to the UK, committing to enhancing bilateral cooperation in science and technology, higher education, engineering and investment,” Dr. Hisham Alhadlaq, the director general of the Ministry of Education’s newly-created Research and Development Office (RDO), told Arab News.
The RDO’s international collaboration program allows for $75 million to be spent with international R&D partners. In the coming months and years, the office will launch further capacity- and capability-building programs, which will also rely on international support.
“International collaboration and world interaction are very important to us and we have met several bodies in the UK during our visit so far and they have expressed the same priority,” said Alhadlaq.
“Through this, our main goal is to benefit our society, first and foremost, but the international community as well.”
The Saudi government has committed to invest 6 billion riyals ($1.6 billion) between now and 2020 to enhance the capacity and capability of Saudi publicly-funded universities to conduct high quality and high impact R&D.
The area underpins underpins large parts of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 transformation program, as the country seeks to improve its international competitiveness and diversify its economy.
“We believe in human capital and human resource investment as essential whether at a Masters degree or a PhD level, and we aim to improve and develop university infrastructure,” said Alhadlaq.
The Saudi delegation’s visit to the UK is aimed at fact-finding and building relationship that will enhance the research and development of higher education in the Kingdom and further the country’s Vision 2030.
Alhadlaq acknowledged Britain as a leading force in the educational field and praised their policy of “a return on investment”, stressing that Saudi Arabia wanted to benefit from the UK’s experience in R&D.
He said that several meetings have been held on ways to develop bilateral cooperation in the educational sector, as well as promoting innovation, since the RDO’s creation in March.
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice chancellor of the UK’s University of Buckingham, visited the Kingdom recently as part of efforts to further research collaboration.
Seldon accepted an unpaid role as a special representative for education for a UK-Saudi education program, which will see him identify priorities for the Kingdom’s education program from primary level to higher education.
The program “includes providing intellectual leadership and a strategic steer to the UK / Saudi education partnership, working closely with both governments to develop a coherent program for change and forging links between the UK and Saudi education systems,” according to the University of Buckingham’s website.
Alhadlaq told Arab News that the RDO and the Ministry of Education were focussing particularly on the role of virtual learning schemes.
Both bodies are in discussions with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US to set up virtual classrooms for students, in an effort to cost cut costs and improve efficiency, while at the same time exchanging valuable expertise.


Inaugural Global AI Summit opens virtually

Updated 21 October 2020

Inaugural Global AI Summit opens virtually

  • World’s leading CEOs, innovators and policymakers to attend virtual event

DUBAI: The inaugural Global AI Summit, which bills itself as the premier platform for dialogue on artificial intelligence, opens virtually on Wednesday and brings together stakeholders from the world of academia, government and the private sector during the two-day event.

The Global AI Summit, organized by the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA) and G20 Saudi Secretariat honoring Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the international forum, will explore artificial intelligence’s role in the new global era and how its transformational potential can be deployed “to create a better future for all.”

The two-day virtual event will particularly tackle what artificial intelligence “means for policy and decision makers interested in leveraging the potential, for the good of humanity.”

Among the world’s leading CEOs, innovators and policymakers who will be at the event are: Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi Arabia’s minister of communications and information technology; Omar Sultan Al-Olama, the UAE minister of state for artificial intelligence; Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp; and Houlin Zhao, the secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union.