Gulf 'innovation' reform needed - top Saudi scientist

Eminent doctor Hayat Sindi says region needs to encourage creativity and entrepreneurship.
Saudi Arabia, Innovation, UAE, United Arab Emirates, Creativity, Business, Tech, Technology, Future, Society, Hayat Sindi

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Dr Hayat Sindi, who is one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, said that regional governments must inject more ‘creativity’ into school curricula.

The region is in need of a major ‘innovation’ shake up, according to one of Saudi Arabia’s top medical scientists.

Dr Hayat Sindi, who is one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, said that regional governments must inject more ‘creativity’ into school curricula.

Saudi national Sindi told Arabian Business: “The education system needs to be more hands-on and more creative. We have to encourage more imagination and creativity. Parents also must encourage children to be creative with their minds. People must be taught that it’s okay to fail.”

The medical scientist, ranked ninth most powerful Arab woman in the world by Arabian Business, said nurturing ‘creative minds’ would encourage people to develop essential solutions for the region’s sustainability, health and education challenges.

The Transform fund

In an effort to boost global innovation, Sindi recently worked with the Islamic Development Bank’s (IDB) to launch its $500 million ‘Transform’ fund for inventors and entrepreneurs.

Sindi, who is advisor to the president of IDB on science and technology, said the new fund would help encourage inventors to address major development challenges in education, health, climate change and social infrastructure in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 11.

She said: “The goals of the Transform fund focus on greater food security, healthier lives, inclusive and equitable education, sustainable management of water and sanitation, access to affordable and clean energy, and sustainable industrialisation across the developing world.”

The doctor added that irrespective of region, religion or geographical location, any scientist interested in supporting the developing world is welcome to benefit from Transform or share their ideas on the online platform, Engage, also powered by IDB.

The Transform fund, which opened for annual applications in April this year, received over 4,000 entries which have now been whittled down to 32 winners. The businesses selected for ‘Transform’ mentorship and funding in 2018 include several Middle Eastern contenders, hailing from Turkey, Egypt, Palestine and the UAE.

Sindi said: “The best ideas for the region often come from the region itself and local communities. We need to create a regional and global innovation ecosystem, where we tap into creativity. We want to empower innovation across the board.”

Sindi said Transform would ensure IDB members have access to a ‘vital flow of facilities’ to help finance innovative ideas linked to real development solutions.

“This will result in exciting new technologies and solutions, contributing to the development of IDB member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries, “ she said.

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