Homegrown talent and innovation shore up Saudi Arabia’s bright future
The nation’s scientific and technological future looks promising as the nation’s leaders have made commendable strides in charting a path of success in line with Vision 2030, which includes a focus on nurturing local talent and embracing digital technologies.
It is no surprise that a cohort of 35 Saudi students received 22 awards at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest global high school competition. These bright, young scientists successfully competed with 1,750 students from 63 countries, regions and international territories.
These students stand on the precipice of great careers. Their intelligent, impressive thinking is a testament to the level of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education across the Kingdom. It represents a qualitative leap in the talents, capabilities, culture and knowledge of Saudis.
For instance, a young Saudi student received one of the two Regeneron Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 for modifying a metal-organic material to extract hydrogen from water and safely store it for clean energy production. His groundbreaking work could significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen extraction and storage while contributing to Saudi’s sustainability ambitions.
This cohort of students not only fills us with great pride but also represents the unbridled ambition and talent of the young Saudis. These students received awards from their country’s leaders, including the minister of communications and information technology.
There’s a real need to develop a tech-savvy talent pool to continue delivering the digital era outlined by Vision 2030. The Kingdom already enjoys cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, with around 60 of the 136 governates now utilizing 5G services. In addition, the PWC Digital Economy Index puts the Kingdom among the ranks of global “digital adopters” that have met connectivity requirements, promoting higher demand for digital outputs.
But there is always more to do, and it’s a long journey, especially as giga-projects like NEOM, the Red Sea Project, AMAALA and Qiddiya are underway. Powered with cutting-edge ICT technologies, these giga-projects will not only transform the economy but help showcase the bright, modern and digital face of Saudi Arabia to the world.
While academia sets young minds on the right path and the government creates national policies and priorities, public-private partnerships form the backbone of a nation’s ICT talent ecosystem. Without a pragmatic approach to nurturing the right opportunities in the right places for the right people, our future ICT sector – and the needs of the people – could go awry.
Another critical pillar for Saudi Arabia’s future growth and economic success is nurturing innovation. We must inculcate a strong focus on research and development as the best way of ensuring innovations are created to bolster humanity’s sustainable future, driven by local talent and future leaders.
Public-private partnerships can help boost innovation in the Kingdom and help unlock multi-billion dollar opportunities.
Ultimately, developing digital skills among the young members of our society will enable technological advances, economic growth and industrial prosperity and promote sustainable social development across the Kingdom. The small steps we take today will snowball and unlock invaluable opportunities for future generations.
• Eric Yang is CEO of Huawei Saudi Arabia.