‘Technology has allowed easier access to our culture’ UAE minister says

UAE Minister of Culture Noura Al-Kaabi said technology and art are becoming complementary. (AN News/Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 04 November 2019

‘Technology has allowed easier access to our culture’ UAE minister says

  • ‘The digital world has become the new ordinary’ conference told
  • Dubai described as “one of the most technologically dynamic places in the world”

DUBAI: The second edition of EmTech MENA, a conference dedicated to exploring emerging and future trends in technology, has kicked off at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai.

Over 500 professionals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are attending the tech event, organized by "MIT Technology Review Arabia" in cooperation with Dubai Future Foundation and Haykal Media.

Delivering the keynote speech on Monday, Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said: “Technology and art are becoming complementary. The digital world has become the new ordinary. Technology has become a new medium of artistic impression. Technology has allowed easier access to our culture (through online means)"

Earlier,in his opening statements, Abdul Aziz Al-Jazairi, Deputy CEO and Chief Operations Officer of Dubai Future Foundation, outlined the emirate’s innovation strategies while Gideon Lichfield, Editor-in-Chief of "MIT Technology Review," described Dubai as “one of the most technologically dynamic places in the world.”

The Nov.4-5 conference features a list of 31 prominent regional and international speakers including government officials, researchers and entrepreneurs.With the aim of understanding technological developments that will drive the new global economy, the event will focus on five key themes:artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of work; computer created reality; the future of digital health, future cities; and the future of energy and sustainability.

Speakers from the region include Dr. Thani AhmedAl-Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE; Abdulla BinTouq, Secretary-General of the UAE Cabinet; and Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Founder and CEO of Alliances for Global Sustainability.

Among the other speakers are Solomon Assefa, Vice President, IBMResearch - Africa & Emerging Market Solutions; Emmanuel Fombu, Director,Digital Medicine & Innovation, Johnson & Johnson; Vishal Chatrath CEO& Co-Founder, Prowler.io; Kevin Hu, Co-Founder and CEO, Quantifai; and Ramzi Jaber, Partner, eConstruct.

The conference also features a number of speakers from MIT including David Rose, Spatial Computing Expert, MIT School of Architecture; Howard Herzog, Senior Research Engineer, MIT Energy Initiative; Carlo Ratti,Director, MIT Senseable City Lab; and Donald Sadoway, John F. Elliott, Professor of Materials Chemistry, MIT.

For its second edition of “Innovators Under 35” MENA, EmTech has selected 20 innovators from the region, who will present a three-minute elevator pitch during the conference.

The innovators – technologists and scientists – will put forward their work in a wide range of fields, notably biomedicine, computing,communications, energy, materials, software, transportation and the internet. The winners will be announced at the end of the conference.

Organized by “MIT Technology Review” since 1999, the “InnovatorsUnder 35” competition has honored such brilliant minds as Google’s Larry Pageand Sergey Brin; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Tesla’s JB Straubel; Spotify’sDaniel Ek; and Broad Institute’s Feng Zhang.

The competition’s first edition in 2018 picked 10 winners fromUAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Syria.


Saudi women researchers win major science award

Altalhi’s research in donor-less organ transplants is designed to counter end-stage organ failure, a leading cause of death worldwide. (supplied)
Updated 12 November 2019

Saudi women researchers win major science award

  • Each of the researchers was awarded a grant in recognition of their outstanding achievements
  • According to the Saudi Cancer Registry, leukaemia is the fifth most common cancer among both men and women

DUBAI: A passion for science and years of hard work has put two Saudi women researchers in the spotlight following their groundbreaking studies on organ transplant alternatives and stem cell treatments. 

Wafa Audeh Altalhi and Asma Al-Amoodi were among the six female scientists honored at the sixth edition of the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Middle East Fellowship awards in Dubai.

Each of the researchers was awarded a grant in recognition of their outstanding achievements. Altalhi received €20,000 ($22,000) in the postdoctorate researchers category, while Al-Amoodi received €8,000 in the PhD students category.

The 21-year-old initiative empowers women in science and highlight the value of their achievements, while promoting gender equality. So far the program has supported more than 3,100 women and rewarded 107 laureates, granting doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships in 117 countries.

Altalhi’s research in donor-less organ transplants is designed to counter end-stage organ failure, a leading cause of death worldwide.  

“The transplant waiting list has been increasing in recent years, putting immense pressure on patients in terms of hospital expenses. My research uses a patient’s own stem cells to build replacing organs as an alternative to allogenic organ transplants,” she said.

Altalhi’s focus is on bioengineering patient-specific and donor-less organs by making specialized tissue and organs ready for transplant when needed.

“Awards like this provide a platform where candidates and their contributions are examined by experts. I believe that this is important to promote healthy competence in the scientific field and push innovation forward,” Altalhi said.

Before becoming a science laureate, Altalhi attended Umm Al-Qura University, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in laboratory medicine.

She went on to complete a master’s degree in cellular and molecular medicine, followed by a PhD in laboratory medicine and pathobiology at the University of Ottawa and Toronto in Canada.

“I am now doing my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University and the Center for Organ Bioengineering at Massachusetts general hospital,” she said.

Meanwhile, furthering research in stem cell treatments for cancer patients is Al-Amoodi’s top priority.

She is convinced that more can be done to treat hematological diseases through stem cell research.

According to the Saudi Cancer Registry, leukaemia is the fifth most common cancer among both men and women.

With limited therapy options and a high number of patients in the Kingdom, Al-Amoodi is determined to improve the efficiency of bone marrow transplants through her research.

“This award is about overcoming all limitations and challenges I have faced. The award has turned my dream to do something for our society into reality,” she said.

Al-Amoodi has a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology and a master’s degree in biology. She plans to pursue her PhD studies in stem cell adhesion mechanism.