Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization
The DCO was announced in a digital launch event on Thursday evening. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization
  • The Kingdom, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan will be part of the initiative

RIYADH, JEDDAH: Senior government officials from five countries have banded together to launch a new global organization with the aim to strengthen cooperation across all innovation-driven areas and accelerate the growth of the digital economy.
Dubbed the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), the participating nations in the initiative are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan.
The DCO aims to strengthen collaboration among member nations as they adapt to a global economy increasingly defined by technological innovation.
Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi minister of communications and information technology, spoke about the importance of the event and the necessity of banding together to fortify the digital economy.
“We are joining hands together toward a commitment to drive consensus on digital cooperation to make sure that we seize an opportunity for our youth, our women and our entrepreneurs with the ambition to grow our combined digital economy to $1 trillion in the next three to five years,” he said.
He added: “Our future prosperity will depend on the digital economy, but it can only reach its full potential if we are able to make governments work together collectively with businesses and entrepreneurs so they can survive and thrive, expand their depth into current markets and open doors for everyone into new ones.”
One of the things the world had learned in 2020, the minister said, is that economies are as strong as their digital economies.
The DCO was announced in a digital launch event on Thursday evening, which was attended by several big names in the field, such as International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, and President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende.
Brende stressed the government role in fueling the digital economy, “I think the GCC countries and governments have been extremely successful in doing so; they set up a lot of funds. They injected a lot of funds into startups and helped them really grow and led to the different success stories that we hear about today.”
Zhao insisted that government institutions must no longer work separately, and that the world needed to have a holistic approach to facilitate and encourage ICT developments to better serve the digital economy.
“We encourage regulators to work with the other sectors to try to create a good environment to facilitate that ICT development,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

• The event also featured a group of leading private-sector startup founders from the region who discussed their role in driving digital transformation.

• They shared opinions on potential opportunities in crowdsourcing ideas, and innovations between governments and the public — as well as challenges regarding regulations, workforce skills, global competition, infrastructure and funding.

Zhao also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts during its presidency of the G20. However, without action based on all the good statements and declarations announced, there would not be much change, he said.
The event also featured a group of leading private sector startup founders from the region who discussed their role in driving digital transformation. They shared opinions on potential opportunities in crowdsourcing ideas, and innovations between governments and the public — as well as challenges regarding regulations, workforce skills, global competition, infrastructure and funding.
Panelists also highlighted the necessity of working together, whether between the different institutions within each country or between governments on the global level, to overcome hurdles and begin to envision a more resilient shared future.
“I think everyone now is aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy in general. But what we’ve seen this year was actually a very positive gear toward accelerating the digital economy,” said Abdulhameed Shararah, the founder and CEO of RiseUp. “Because I think what governments and investors and corporations had wished to happen in 10 years or 15 years from now has actually kick-started super fast.”
It had also had a massive impact on the culture of acceptance of technology on both people and at the government level, he added.
The Saudi vice minister of communication and information technology, Haytham Al-Ohali, announced that Saudi Arabia will be building on this year’s digital economy roundtable efforts to establish and lead an annual digital economy forum to discuss key opportunities and challenges facing the sector.
This will convince governments and stakeholders to work together to make sure that policymakers are driving the global digital economy through sustained growth while ensuring prosperous societies.
The event also featured CEOs, entrepreneurs and other experts contributing their opinions in a multi-national, digital roundtable during which they discussed the future of the digital economy.


Saudi women making their mark in science

Saudi women making their mark in science
Updated 19 January 2021

Saudi women making their mark in science

Saudi women making their mark in science

JEDDAH: Just 30 percent of women worldwide work in science, but Saudis are challenging this long-standing trend.
Women represent 58 percent of university students in Saudi Arabia, with many studying in science, technology and engineering and furthering their careers with studies overseas.
In a report by the Saudi Education Ministry, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
Universities and research centers have adopted measures to support the inclusion of female scientists.
Ambitious, driven and facing challenges along the way to their success, here are the Saudi women scientists who have made a mark in the field for their extraordinary work.
Suha Kayum
Research engineer

With a career spanning 10 years, Kayum — a research engineer with Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center — was tasked with accelerating the evolution of software algorithms to enhance Aramco’s reservoir simulator, which helped the company cut costs.
Kayum was a developer for the company’s in-house basin and seismic simulators. In 2016, she designed and received a patent for an algorithm that enabled the first 1-billion cell basin simulation run.

Dr. Elaf Ahmed
Lab scientist

With a keen research interest in nano-organisms, Ahmed’s main focus while conducting postdoctoral work at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology was synthesis of environmental nano materials using electrochemically active biofilms.
She later joined the company’s Oil and Gas Treatment Division at Aramco’s Research and Development Center.
Her main focus at the division is to conduct research projects for water treatment technologies and find new ways to treat water found in oil and gas reservoirs.

Dr. Ilham Abuljadayel
Immunologist

In what could be one of the most profound achievements by a Saudi scientist, Dr. Ilham discovered the process of retrodifferentiation, a method also known as retrograde differentiation that treats blood diseases.
A common process for the maintenance of cell integrity against damaging agents, Dr. Ilham applied her findings in the first preclinical study in 2000 in collaboration with George Washington Medical Center, US, in two animal models of human diseases to study the utility of retrodifferentiated stem cells.
Her research has helped treat 390 patients with diseases ranging from sickle cell anaemia, multiple sclerosis, thalassaemia, and hepatitis C among others.
Dr. Abeer Al-Olayan
Petroleum scientist

With an academic and industrial background in various fields of chemistry spanning over 20 years, Dr. Abeer is a research scientist at Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center and is responsible for leading its chemicals development initiative.
As a fellow at MIT, she submitted a fellowship research abstract that focuses on reducing dependency on food-based chemicals to tackle drilling and subsurface challenges. She has 10 registered patents with the US Patent Office for the development of methods, materials and compositions in drilling and fluid transfer.

Dr. Malak Abed Althagafi
Physician-scientist

Diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at a young age, Althagafi got a first glimpse of what her future could be during her treatment. Her educational path started with the study of genetic diseases in children and led to molecular pathology before she focused on surgical oncology, molecular genetics and neuropathology.
Dr. Malak is one of the few American board-certified molecular neuropathologists in the world and has conducted research that focuses on decoding genetic mutations in tumors, specifically brain tumors in children.
She became part of the Saudi Human Genome Program in 2014. Her clinical and research interests are mainly in surgical oncology, pathology, molecular genetics pathology and neuropathology, especially its application for treating brain cancers.

Dr. Hind Al-Johani
Scientist of physical chemistry

Her research interest is in nano-catalysis. In 2017, this Saudi scientist discovered that by using the simple molecule of citrate ions (from citric acid) you could stabilize and control the structure of gold nanoparticles.
Using this new discovery, the findings showed that gold can carry drugs through the body without chemical side effects. Attaching antibodies can guide the nanoparticles to specific cells that need treatment. Her findings have had an impact on environmental chemistry where it may also be used for water purification or methods for capturing CO2 emissions.

Dr. Nouf Al-Numair
Molecular bioinformatics scientist
Dubbed the DNA decoder, her research focuses on predicting the early emergence of diseases through genetic mutations.
She has achieved this by merging molecular genetics and computer programming to predict the effects of mutations and provide patients with a personalized medical approach to treatment.
Using more than seven programming languages to analyze human genes, she has successfully published a number of papers with the findings.
Dr. Nouf pursued her career in STEM and is the first Saudi scientist to major in molecular genetics and programming biological information.