Marcopolis presents the Saudi Arabia Report focused on the investments, doing business, economy and other topics featuring interviews with key executives. The sectors under review in this issue are industry, real-estate, ICT, investments, banking sector, telecom sector and many more.
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Dr. Sami Alumaidi, Managing Director Prince Sultan Advanced Tech. Research Institute (PSATRI)
Sami Alhumaidi, Managing Director of PSATRI taks about innovation in Saudi Arabia.
What are the main challenges for research and development/innovation in Saudi Arabia?
There are many challenges. Many people like to blame the funding. The funding is not the principal issue, there is enough funding in the country, however the culture and the society is to blame. The society has got used to seeing innovation coming from abroad. From the beginning, in the 70s and 80s, we started seeing innovations coming in from Europe, America, and Japan.
It will take time to convince society that the same innovation could come from within and that the engineers and scientists of Saudi society that were educated in the best universities of the world are capable of creating such innovation. If we can make that social and cultural change, we can take Saudi Arabia into a different level of innovation cycles. I also believe that the universities must be given the chance to play a major role. The university role in innovation is critical across the world. Usually innovation starts in university labs.
Universities in Saudi Arabia are still more educational than research and innovative institutes. We need to try to transform our universities to become more innovative and to look into the innovation cycle and within that give the certificates and degrees that they are giving, but not to focus on the certificates and degrees and ignore the innovation and research and development.