Seeds of hope as Saudi hackathon harnesses artificial intelligence

The Qassim International Hackathon for Agricultural Technology is aimed at developing a new generation of agriculture entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied photo)
Updated 26 September 2019

Seeds of hope as Saudi hackathon harnesses artificial intelligence

  • The hackathon’s first edition is part of efforts to develop a new generation of innovative entrepreneurs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to develop a new generation of agriculture entrepreneurs will take another step forward with the launch of a hackathon promoting innovation in the sector.

The Qassim International Hackathon for Agricultural Technology will be launched on Thursday. It is organized by the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), represented by the Badir Program for Technology Incubators and Accelerators, and in partnership with the Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud bin Abdul Aziz Community Foundation “Mojtamae.”

The hackathon’s first edition is part of efforts to develop a new generation of innovative entrepreneurs and improve efficiency in the Kingdom’s agricultural sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

It aims to find technical solutions for the challenges facing the sector in pest control through the use of data and artificial techniques to combat pests.

The first edition will also focus on the role of artificial intelligence in promoting production efficiency, using techniques that aim to improve crops, increase profits, manage water consumption and overcome environmental challenges.

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The three winners will receive financial rewards. First prize will receive SR50,000 ($13,300), second SR30,000 and the third SR10,000.

The agricultural sector delivers SR53 billion ($14 billion) to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product.

Technical solutions will also be presented to boost expansion, increase sales, discover new markets and reduce waste in natural resource consumption.

More than 150 people from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the Middle East who have registered for the hackathon will build their ideas before presenting them to a jury. Winning projects will then be chosen for each of the hackathon’s three tracks.

The three winners will receive financial rewards. First prize will receive SR50,000 ($13,300), second SR30,000 and the third SR10,000. 

The three winners will be supported through a number of consulting services and intensive programs to help them take the first steps in transforming their solutions from ideas to projects and innovations. These services include training, follow-up, counselling and workshops.

Prominent experts and entrepreneurs, agricultural technology specialists, designers and those interested in the agricultural sector from the Kingdom and abroad will take part in the hackathon.

The agricultural sector is considered one of the main sectors supporting Saudi Vision 2030. It currently contributes to providing 25 percent of the country’s food and 450,000 jobs throughout the Kingdom. The sector also delivers SR53 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, or 4 percent of non-oil GDP.


‘Absolutely silly’: Saudi FM refutes Amazon’s Bezos phone hacking claims

Updated 22 January 2020

‘Absolutely silly’: Saudi FM refutes Amazon’s Bezos phone hacking claims

DUBAI: The Saudi Arabian embassy in the USA has denied claims the Kingdom was behind the hacking of Amazon.com founder, Jeff Bezos’ phone, describing the accusation as “absurd.”

And speaking at Davos the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said: “The idea that the Crown Prince would hack Jeff Bezos’ phone is absolutely silly.”

Bezo’s phone was hacked after receiving a WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Describing the claims as “absurd” the tweet also called for an investigation into the claims “so that we can have all the facts out.”