JEDDAH: The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on Tuesday launched its first online entrepreneurship program targeting Arabic-speaking youth in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
The official launch ceremony took place virtually and gathered together participants to share their entrepreneurial experiences. The keynote speakers included President and CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin Nasser; Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company (OFC); KAUST President Tony Chan; Vice President of edX Kathy Pugh; and Andrew Liveris, former CEO and chairman of the Dow Chemical Company of Midland, Michigan.
With guidance by mentors from the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, the course, “Entrepreneurship Adventures,” aims to enhance a startup and innovative culture among Arab youth and equip them with the right tools to contribute to their economies.
The eight-week course, starting in July this year, will be the first Arabic course on American online course provider edX, and KAUST is the first Saudi university to join the platform.
“There’s a lot of demand for entrepreneurship education in the Middle East and we are excited to make our expertise and methodology available in Arabic,” KAUST President Tony Chan said. “The impact the startups and SMEs can have in the Kingdom is enormous (and) there has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur then right now in Saudi Arabia.”
“The skills learned through entrepreneurship — that is leadership, product development and decision making — are critical to developing a mindset that is useful for every student’s future, regardless of their career choice,” Chan said.
“This initiative comes at the right time,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said. “Innovation and entrepreneurship is the foundation of our future.”
“This unique course will allow ambitious young people in Saudi Arabia and beyond to access a world-class education focused on entrepreneurship,” Lubna Olayan said. “KAUST is especially well-positioned to arm you with the right skills.”
Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey last month found that Saudi entrepreneurs are among the most optimistic in the world. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2020/2021 report, which surveyed adults aged between 18 and 64, found that 90.5 percent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia believed that there were good opportunities to start a business in their area, ranking it first in the world among 43 countries surveyed.