RIYADH: A major Saudi-British initiative aimed at advancing clean energy and artificial intelligence technologies is now underway in the Kingdom.
Workshops taking place in the capital Riyadh and the city of Dhahran will mark the first step in the project toward developing a long-term energy program.
The UK Science and Innovation Network, in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Education’s Research and Development Office (RDO), will be running the workshops over three-days from Feb. 25-27 under the title “Clean Energy and Artificial Intelligence.”
The events follow Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the UK last year during which he signed several memorandums of understanding, including one between the Saudi-British Joint Business Council and investors to promote knowledge exchanges in the field of technological investment.
As part of the new plan to push clean energy, Saudi Arabia proposes to invest an estimated $50 billion in renewable energy development projects by 2023 as part of its Vision 2030 reform program. The country also aims to invest in artificial intelligence technologies for smart sustainable energy systems.
Under terms of the agreement, the two countries will have an annual Energy and Industry Dialogue to identify future areas of collaboration.
The keynote address at the opening of the workshops was delivered by Dr. Khalid Alhumaizi, dean of scientific research at King Saud University. Other speakers included Dr. Sahal Abduljawad, the acting rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Prof. Neil Robertson, chair of molecular materials at The University of Edinburgh, and Dr. Hussam Khunkar, one of the architects of the founding projects of Vision 2030’s renewable energy program.
RDO Director-General Dr. Hisham Alhadlaq thanked delegates for their attendance and said he hoped the workshops would be a success. He also thanked the UK Science and Innovation Network and the Saudi government for their support.
“We feel that this collaboration is going to prove highly beneficial to the advancement of scientific discoveries to both countries,” Alhadlaq told Arab News.
“Both clean energy and artificial intelligence are booming fields at the moment, and we believe that this partnership will work in everyone’s favor.”
He also encouraged science students in higher education to focus on the opportunities available in these fields in the future.
Prof. John Loughhead, chief scientific adviser at the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, representing the UK Science and Innovation Network, also expressed his thanks to the Saudi government, particularly the crown prince and the Ministry of Education.
Loughhead told Arab News that the workshop was “timely” as Saudi Arabia prepared to embark on “a historic transformation of the country’s energy sector.”
He added: “This workshop is another step toward the UK’s strategic partnership to support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and will strengthen ties between British and Saudi Arabian research institutions.”
Prof. Loughhead also announced the launch of the first UK-Saudi “Women in Science” network. “This network will enhance the links between women working in science, in the UK and in Saudi Arabia, and support the increasing entry of women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”