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The next Thomas Edison

Time: February 21, 2019  

 

By Amrina Qaiser

The beginning:

Meshal Harasani, A young saudi inventor entered the world of innovation in 2000. His first innovation, at the young age of 13, served people with special needs. As of today his innovations and inventions exceed, in various human, scientific and social fields. He later joined King Abdulaziz university in 2005 . In the same year he got a full scholarship at UBT University to study marketing.

Internationally:

Harasani completed various courses in the field of innovation and technology; the most important studies were at Harvard University and MIT. He was honored by many local and international organizations; the most important one was the United Nations- when he passed the international leadership course organized by the US State Department.

Return to KAU University:

Currently Harasani works as an advisor at King Abdulaziz University and is pursuing a PhD in knowledge management at the same university to achieve his dream, which is to serve together with other creative young people.

Inventions within hours

The latest patent is for a serrated needle to serrate the cartilage. The product was made in France and was used in Germany for the first time with Dr. Abdulkareem Fida and Dr. Faisal Zagzoog. Recently, he received another patent to serve the new born babies at hospitals in emergency cases, and he’s working with his team to make a product. In the media, CNN also talked about Harasani and how can he invent thing within hours.

Edison patents

As a hobby, Harasani a collector of vintage patents, inventions, autographs and books about Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein. Till now he has collected more than 10 patents out of 1092 Thomas Edison patents when he visited Edison’s birth place and was inspired by old inventions to think about the future.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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Al-Ula Royal Commission launches second phase of university scholarship program

Time: February 20, 2019  

The program is intended to broaden the horizons of Saudi students. (SPA/File)
  • High-quality education will make students ‘valuable assets’ in transformation of the region

JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for Al-Ula has launched the second phase of its overseas scholarship program, giving students the chance to study at universities in the US, UK, France and Australia.

The program is intended to broaden the horizons of Saudi students, creating more rounded graduates with wider experiences of foreign cultures and practices.

The students will also learn the languages of their host countries, which will aid them in later life depending on what path they choose, and encouraging interaction and exchanges between the Al-Ula region and the rest of the world.

Rami Al-Sakran, capabilities development manager for the commission, said the Al-Ula scholarship program was one of four strands in a community development plan.

“We have four different units, sector planning and business licensing so that covers economic development, with community engagement and human capability under the social development plan,” he told Arab News.

The second phase of the scholarship program will run for five years following the positive response to the first phase, which was launched last year. The second phase has been expanded to accommodate 300 students and is open to all genders.

Last September, 165 students were sent to the US, UK and France with Australia to focus on fields such as hospitality, tourism, agriculture, archaeology and heritage.

Many residents from the area had migrated to larger cities because of the lack of job opportunities, he said, so it was important to engage and employ locals first.

“We’ll flood the equation. We’ll see people coming in and our priority is the local community and to provide them with jobs. We want these jobs that we’ll create to be filled by the locals first.

“We’ve currently provided jobs, whether directly or indirectly, some of them temporary and others permanent. At Winter in Tantora, we have volunteers, ushers, drivers as this is seasonal but we’ve established a database and some jobs are permanent, whether they’re directly employed by our CEO or some contract.”

Al-Sakran said locals were key to the success of turning Al-Ula into a major tourist destination.

“Locals, locals, locals. Without the locals, we can’t succeed. We have a very transparent relationship, it’s a two-way street with them. We cooperate with them and communicate with them on every basis. We have a strong relationship with the governor of Al-Ula and we listen to the locals.

“Whether it was our social or economical development, as you can see Winter in Tantora has a major socio-economic impact on the area and … the locals are working everywhere here and that’s what we want. It’s theirs. We’ll unveil it to the Kingdom … that’s the idea, to make it a strong and significant destination for all.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Youth alliance attracts around 500 students to first event of the year

Time: January 22, 2019  

All 4 Youth kicked off its activities in 2019 with an event at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

JEDDAH — All 4 Youth, an alliance of young Saudis launched Arabia last year, kicked off 2019 with Youth Day activities at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, attended by around 500 students.

The event featured presentations by alliance partners Al-Awal Bank, IKEA Saudi Arabia, Mayar (Muhaidib Foods), Nestlé Middle East, Nielsen, Savola, and Tamer Group.

Panel discussions and workshops focused on promoting self-awareness and self-management among the Kingdom’s youth, advising on required competencies to thrive in competitions, bridging the gap between education and the workplace, and highlighting how to get the most out of internships.

All 4 Youth brings together companies and other entities interested in helping young people enhance their skills and develop their careers. It is committed to impact 50,000 and employ 3,000 young Saudis by 2020.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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Program launched to empower young Saudis in nonprofit sector

Time: January 13, 2019

The program will change the perception of young generation about the nonprofit sector in line with Vision 2030. (AN photo)
  • “The partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change our view of the nonprofit sector in line with Vision 2030 project,” Princess Banderi bint Abdulrahman Al-Faisal said

JEDDAH: The second Saudi Philanthropic Fellowship program, organized in tandem with the King Khalid Foundation (KKF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was launched on Saturday at the KKF’s headquarters.
Called Shaghaf, meaning “passion,” the program will aim to attract young Saudis curious about careers in the nonprofit sector by providing information, improving its image, and organizing international training and experience.

Shaghaf will run for 16 months, and include intensive lessons in the management of nonprofit organizations at Columbia Business School, as well as visits to various non-profit organizations based in New York.
Monthly orientation and vocational guidance sessions will also take place, in addition to quarterly developmental workshops.
Princess Banderi bint Abdulrahman Al-Faisal, director general of the KKF, said. “The partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change our view of the nonprofit sector in line with Vision 2030 project,” she said.
Work is scheduled to start between participants and nine nonprofit organizations in January 2019, including the Society of Majid bin Abdul Aziz for Development and Social Services, Ghadan Consulting and Capacity Building, the Salem bin Mahfouz Foundation, and the Zahra Association.
The Wareef Charity, Tasamy for Social Entrepreneurship, Mawaddah Women’s Charity for Reduction of Divorce, Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women, and Al-Ahsa’s King Khalid Foundation for People with Disabilities will also take part.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi teenage climber conquers Mount Kilimanjaro

Time: January 06, 2019

Abdullah Al-Tuaimi completed the climb in eight days. (Photo/Supplied)
  • Al-Tuaimi’s climb was organized with the support of Riyadh Schools, and led by Saud Al-Eidi, who also supervised the student’s training

JEDDAH: A 14-year-old student has become the youngest Saudi to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in northeast Tanzania, the world’s fourth-highest peak.
Abdullah Al-Tuaimi completed the 5,895-meter climb in eight days, starting on Dec. 26 and walking for six hours a day.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, consists of three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira.
Al-Tuaimi’s climb was organized with the support of Riyadh Schools, and led by Saud Al-Eidi, who also supervised the student’s training.
Last year, a 36-year-old Saudi-based Green Leaves Playgroup principal went on an extreme adventure by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the first on her seven summits list.
Khulood Al-Fadhli said it’s not about the peak, it’s about the journey itself. “I was really amazed when I read the things that happen within the journey.”
She explained that the effects of high altitudes could strike at any moment during the climb and can be life-threatening in certain cases. “It’s not about being mentally or physically fit. There’s a chance of getting altitude sickness.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Misk forum connects global youth

Time: November 16, 2018   

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High-tech passes allow participants to connect and swap contact details at the touch of a button.
  • It was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most
  • More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world

Young leaders, entrepreneurs, students and inventors mingled in innovative ways at the Misk Global Forum, with name tags that sent delegates’ connections to an app at the press of a flashing button.

But at the end of the day it was the old-fashioned, face-to-face connections that many delegates said they valued the most.

IN PICTURES: View the Third annual Misk Global Forum in Riyadh photo gallery

“I’m seeing people from all over the world gathered here in Riyadh, which has become the center of opportunities,” said Jomana Khoj, a 26-year-old animator from Makkah, before the forum wrapped up on Thursday.

“Thanks, Misk, for helping us, the youth, gather here and connect with other youth from around the world.”

The forum included “Skills Garages,” workshop spaces with whiteboard tables that could be written on during group brainstorms, with sessions on “The Art of Persuasion” and “Landing Your Dream Tech Job.”

Top left: Paintings displayed in a 360-degree fashion. Bottom left: Participants had a chance to learn about every aspect of the Misk Foundation’s work. Right: Young people exploring their skills, potential and passions during workshops.

The workshop spaces served as a hub for visitors from North America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with many attendees commending the amount of innovation the forum provided.

“I feel this year’s content is well chosen,” said Faisal Al-Sudairy, a 24-year-old participant. “We really need to prepare ourselves for the future, especially in this fast-changing era, and to know more about what skills we should acquire.”

The workshops catered to developing youths’ skills for the future economy. More than 3,500 delegates received insights from more than 50 speakers from around the world.

It was the third annual forum organized by the Misk Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 2011 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In the main hall, called the “Skills Factory,” Thursday’s opening session included a speech by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, the UAE’s minister of state for higher education and advanced skills.

“Misk Majlis,” another designated area, provided a relaxed and informal setting that focused on helping delegates build their personal brands. Traditional floor cushions and couches represented traditional Arab social gatherings.

In the majlis, Misk Innovation held a talk to publicize its new brand and partnership with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups.

The accelerator program for tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa will last 16 weeks starting from Jan. 27, 2019. Applications close on Dec. 15.

The Misk Art area introduced visitors to works by many renowned Saudi artists, such as Taha Sabban and Safia bin Zager.

The vibrant hall displayed a large image of a sophisticated woman from Hijaz wearing the traditional Hijazi headdress and sitting on a beautiful ornamental wooden chair well known in the Saudi region. The image provided a transcendence between the past and present.

The Misk Art Institute had a unique section at the forum that was divided into two rooms. One was to showcase paintings and drawings of four pioneering Saudi artists.

The other room had huge LED screens that gave people a 360-degree experience. The screens displayed paintings in an interactive way and synchronized with tailored music.

The halls were lined with inspirational quotes and the faces of well-known figures. It should come as no surprise that the most popular one was of Misk’s founder, with delegates taking selfies alongside the crown prince’s smiling face.

 

This article was first published in Arab News

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Turning ideas into reality

Aug 29, 2018

Saudi women entrepreneurs grow their ventures at US incubator

Reem Dad, a 22-year-old from Saudi Arabia, is developing a platform for pilgrims and tourists to experience a virtual reality tour of Madinah.

Heba Zahid, 37, is working on GreenDesert, a venture that would be one of the first to help create a recycling culture in the Middle Eastern country.

Dad and Zahid were among 14 young women social entrepreneurs from the Kingdom who recently attended an intensive program at Halcyon, a Washington-based business incubator, to turn their ideas into reality.

“Everything is changing now… There is space for females everywhere,” said Dad, whose virtual reality program is called Taibah VR.

“If a man wants to establish a company or wants to start up something, there’s a process they go through — the same process we also go through. So I feel we are equal,” she told AFP.

Other projects include an Arabic-language app to help autistic children communicate, matching employers and workers to reduce unemployment and underemployment, as well as a video game to motivate youths to engage in community service.

The Saudi government’s Vision 2030 aims in part to promote local businesses, including those run by women, whose participation in the workforce is expected to grow from 22 percent to 30 percent by the end of the next decade.

Halcyon fellow Asmaa Alabdallah, 22, founded BitGo, a Pokemon Go-like augmented reality game that uses gamification techniques to encourage community service.

“Of course, we have a lot of challenges… but the most important thing is that you will never give up,” she said, insisting like Dad that her greatest obstacle lay not in being a woman entrepreneur in Saudi Arabia as much as in finding local programming talent.

The training was funded in part by Madinah-based Taibah University, which launched a competition with support from the Saudi consulate in New York.

During their two-week stay, the women fine-tuned their business pitches, built up their strategic networks and participated in workshops on negotiations, sales and vulnerability.

They got advice from large companies like Amazon Web Services, other startups and consultants such as Deloitte.

The program ended with the women presenting their fledgling ventures to some 150 investors, philanthropists, as well as international organization and embassy representatives.

“We expect these women to return to Saudi Arabia not just as future leaders for their country and their region, but to start successful ventures,” said Halcyon director of policy and international programs Josh Mandell.

The women got workspace and housing at one of Washington’s most illustrious addresses in the tony Georgetown neighborhood, Halcyon House, a sprawling red brick mansion with a sweeping view of the Potomac River. — AFP

Since its inception in 2014, Halcyon Incubator’s full-time fellowship has supported 61 ventures it says have raised more than $56 million and created some 500 jobs positively impacting 675,000 people.

Last year, Halcyon became an independent non-profit organization that also encompasses public policy and the arts.

It was launched by Kate Goodall and Japanese American biochemist Sachiko Kuno, a co-founder of Sucampo Pharmaceuticals and a driving force behind the Washington-based, female-led investment fund WE Capital. — AFP

 

This article was first published in  Saudi Gazette

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Silicon Valley sets out a path for Saudi women high-flyers

August 09, 2018

  • Invested is a women and business empowerment event to inspire and equip the next generation of female leaders
  • Invested set out to give Saudi students across California access to the tools, networks and resources that would help them succeed with their big ideasThey are driving economies, paving way for Saudi future

JEDDAH: At the Google Community Space in San Francisco, two companies joined forces on Tuesday to encourage women-led start-ups from Saudi Arabia to Silicon Valley.

Invested, a women and business empowerment event to inspire and equip the next generation of female leaders, was co-organized by Spark, the Bay Area’s largest community of young philanthropists working for gender equality, and Blossom, the first Jeddah-based accelerator to focus on women-led technology startups in Saudi Arabia

“Female founders received only 2 percent of venture capital (VC) dollars in 2017, and only 9 percent of US VCs are women” said Amanda Brock, Spark’s executive director.

Invested set out to give Saudi students across California access to the tools, networks and resources that would help them succeed with their big ideas.

“I remember one of the first and best ways I learned about entrepreneurship was through an event in California. It was the best event of my life. It changed everything for me.” said Emon Shakoor, CEO and founder of Blossom.

Students at Invested met and heard directly from women who have been changing entrepreneurship globally.

“Invested had dynamic, educational and confidence-boosting TED-style talks, mentorship from leaders in the field, and strategic networking activities with founders, funders, tech giants, leading accelerators and incubators from Silicon Valley and the Arab world,” Shakoor said.

Speakers included Caitlin Crosby, founder and CEO of the Giving Keys; Shannon Spanhake, founder and CEO of Cleo; Brittany Davis, director of Deal Flow at Backstage Capital; Abdulrahman Al-Turjuman, section head of marketing at Sedco Holding; and Tasneem Sabri, co-founder of Vela and senior program manager at TechWadi.

“What I wanted every Saudi student studying abroad to know is that working hard and studying in college is not enough,” Shakoor said. “Your network is your empire. Invest in your mind because no one can take that away from you.”

Blossom also launched a promotional campaign for the event with dozens of women interviewed across Saudi Arabia sharing their stories of success and encouraging other Saudi women to push for job creation in the Kingdom.

Sponsors for the event included Silicon Valley Bank, Nour Nouf, Sedco Holding’s Rowad Riyali, Beauti, Saudis in USA and Destination Jeddah.

“Today, 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is under the age of 34. There are more Saudi women graduating from college, more Saudi women starting businesses, and research shows that the most successful companies have at least one woman founder on the team,” Shakoor said.

“So this year Saudi women are not only driving cars, they are also driving economies and paving the way for Saudi Arabia’s future.

“As one of the youngest Saudi entrepreneurs in the Kingdom, my advice to the youth is to start now, start young.”

This article was first published in  ARAB NEWS

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Environment ministry launches fishing training program for young Saudis

Time: July 08, 2018

Young Saudis are being urged to go to sea under a new progam aimed at training a new generation of fishermen.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture will begin the project in September, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The ministry’s undersecretary, Ahmed bin Ali Al-Eyada, said the program is in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of labor and social development to increase the number of Saudis employed in the sector.

The program is among several projects the Kingdom is undertaking as part of the economic reforms under the National Transformation Program 2020.

The program will manage awareness campaigns, prepare ports, and provide attractive logistic services, as well as enhance fishing techniques.

Other local departments will provide training programs for Saudi fishermen.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Thomas Friedman: Young Saudis really want their country to succeed

Time: June 04, 2018

WASHINGTON: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is one of America’s most prominent journalists. The three-time Pulitzer Award winner reported from Beirut during much of the Lebanese civil war, and has been a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times since 1995.
He has interviewed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman twice in the past three years, having conducted similar interviews with nearly every Arab head of state from the past 20 years.
Friedman spoke recently about the recent changes he’s witnessed in Saudi Arabia, and how to counter the impact of “fake news.”

You’ve been to Saudi Arabia three times in the past two years. Tell us about your experiences there.
What always interests me when I go to Saudi Arabia is that it’s more interesting than I expect. The image (outsiders have of Saudi Arabia) is that it’s a very conservative place, but every time I go I meet young people who I find extremely interesting, extremely open, extremely curious to know about the world, and extremely patriotic. They really want their country to succeed and be a place where young people can realize their full potential.

What about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who you’ve interviewed twice?
I think what he has done to reclaim Islam for its truly open and pluralistic character is hugely important for Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Muslim world, and for the world. I think the second thing he’s doing that’s hugely important is trying to get the educational tools and the rules and regulations right in Saudi Arabia so every Saudi can realize his or her full potential. My motto about Mohammed bin Salman is simple: Only a fool would predict (the success of his reform plans), but only a fool in my view would root against him.

How do you view the current relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US?
I am not a Trump fan … but I am a fan of America (surely). I believe that having a good relationship between whoever’s the administration in America and Saudi Arabia is generally important and a valuable thing. What I worry about is that the Trump people are obsessed with Iran.
I know that Saudi Arabia and the crown prince are deeply concerned about the Iranian threat. I totally get it. But what I’m concerned about is that Saudi Arabia could spend so much time, energy, and money chasing the Iranians militarily that it can be a huge distraction, whereas what I’ve been advocating in my own conversations with the crown prince, is to beat them at soft power. Out-reform them.

Do you support the decision of President Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem?
I thought that was incredibly stupid. When the White House called me and told me (about the move), I had one question for them: “What did you get in return?” (Trump) could have been able to say, “I did something that not only overcame this long obstacle but I advanced the peace process” (if he’d got concessions from Israel). Instead of doing that, Trump just gave it to (Netanyahu) for free! That is incredibly stupid. I called it the “Art of the Giveaway,” not the “Art of the Deal.”

How do you see the competition between the traditional media and social media now?
If I write a column (on The New York Times website) it goes all over the world immediately to probably 20 million people from Riyadh to Tokyo to Hong Kong. If I write that in the dead tree edition, the paper edition of the New York Times, it goes to (maybe) a million people in New York city and around the country. So my thinking today is only really on the online edition, that’s where I’m really focused. On the other hand, I’m a bad person to ask about social media because I never look at Twitter and I don’t have a Facebook page.

There’s increasing talk from President Trump about “fake news,” which is a tactic that’s been used by Russian, Syrian and Turkish governments. What should the reaction of the mainstream media be?
Trump calls anything he doesn’t like “fake news.” When the US president does that, it’s very insidious, and very dangerous. The good news is that subscriptions to The New York Times have soared since Donald Trump (was elected) because it turns out a lot of people want news they can trust, news that’s edited. We don’t get everything right, we make mistakes, but when we do we correct them.

It turns out a lot of people want that kind of news and that’s why The New York Times and Washington Post have never been healthier as news organizations. We (at The New York Times) now today have more editors, reporters, photographers and videographers than we’ve ever had in the history of the paper.

This article was first published in Arab News

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