Women lead­ing Saudi Ara­bia’s tech rev­o­lu­tion

Saudi women are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in four tech ar­eas, in­clud­ing An­droid devel­op­ment, claims on­line ed­u­ca­tion plat­form Udac­ity.

Comms MEA - - Update Women In Tech -

Women in Saudi Ara­bia are be­com­ing more in­volved in the king­dom’s tech rev­o­lu­tion, ac­cord­ing to Hisham Elaraby, the re­gional di­rec­tor for MENA at on­line ed­u­ca­tion plat­form Udac­ity.

Speak­ing to Ara­bian Busi­ness in Oc­to­ber, Elaraby said Saudi women are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in four tech ar­eas, in­clud­ing An­droid devel­op­ment.

“Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is one of Saudi women’s pre­ferred top­ics. There is also front end web devel­op­ment, data in all its forms, and An­droid devel­op­ment. We see a lot of women learn­ing to be An­droid de­vel­op­ers,” he said.

AI to data science

Around 65% of the stu­dents tak­ing part in Udac­ity’s pro­gramme in Saudi Ara­bia, which runs in part­ner­ship with the MiSK foun­da­tion, hap­pen to be fe­male.

The Silicon Val­ley-based ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany of­fers de­grees that cover an ar­ray of sub­jects, rang­ing from self-driv­ing cars and AI to data science and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Its aim is to up­skilling stu­dents for jobs of the fu­ture, but also up­date cur­rent skills of older work­force.

Con­tent for their pro­grams are created in part­ner­ship with lead­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Google, Face­book, Amazon and IBM. In Saudi, Udac­ity also of­fers the MISK Pro­gram schol­ar­ship for nearly 3,000 Saudi stu­dents in­ter­ested in mo­bile and web devel­op­ment, ma­chine learn­ing, busi­ness anal­y­sis and pro­gram­ming.

Strong man­date

Elaraby said it is im­por­tant to in­te­grate the top­ics into the re­gion’s over­all cur­ricu­lums.

“It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant to in­clude AI and ma­chine learn­ing into the re­gion’s ed­u­ca­tional sys­tems. Is the re­gion ready for that? We may not have many large tech start-ups that are com­ing into the scene, with which you would typ­i­cally as­so­ciate AI and ma­chine learn­ing, but we have a few.”

He said more. “We have the Souqs and the Ca­reems of this world who are def­i­nitely us­ing ma­chine learn­ing to de­liver their ser­vices. But the de­mand is much wider than that,” he said, re­fer­ring to other tra­di­tional busi­nesses such as tele­com oper­a­tors or banks.

“As re­tail­ers, [they] are com­ing to grips with the idea that they are sit­ting on a lot of data and that the fu­ture will be about how they use this data to de­liver a bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. So peo­ple who are hir­ing ma­chine learn­ing ex­perts are not only the start-ups, but also the gov­ern­ment.

“In Dubai specif­i­cally, gov­ern­ment ser­vice providers such as DEWA or RTA have a strong man­date to digi­tise and adopt tech­nol­ogy. The de­mand is more far reach­ing than one would ex­pect,” he said.

While Udac­ity does not aim to com­pete with ex­ist­ing uni­ver­si­ties, it urges ed­u­ca­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to up­date their cur­ricu­lums with tech top­ics, ac­cord­ing to Elaraby.

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is one of Saudi women’s pre­ferred top­ics. There is also front end web devel­op­ment, data in all its forms, and An­droid devel­op­ment. We see a lot of women learn­ing to be An­droid de­vel­op­ers. Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is one of Saudi women’s pre­ferred top­ics. There is also front end web devel­op­ment, data in all its forms, and An­droid devel­op­ment. We see a lot of women learn­ing to be An­droid de­vel­op­ers.”

- Hisham Elaraby, re­gional di­rec­tor for MENA at Udac­ity

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