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Saudi Arabia partners with Google Cloud to ‘elevate’ women’s participation in AI sector
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has partnered with American tech firm Google to launch a global program that will look to reduce the gender gap in the technological sector, especially artificial intelligence.
The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence announced the new initiative named ‘Elevate’, in association with Google Cloud, during the 2nd Global AI Summit in Riyadh on Sept. 15.
The program will provide accessible training to women in tech and science, empowering them and pursuing the growing number of job opportunities in the field of data and artificial intelligence.
“Elevate is a global program which aims to use AI to reduce the gender gap by empowering more than 25,000 women globally in the next five years,” said Rehab Alarfaj, Strategic Adviser of SDAIA.
Alarfaj noted that she is proud to live in a country like Saudi Arabia where women’s empowerment is a top priority.
“The economic contribution of Saudi women in the labor market has nearly doubled from less than 18 percent in 2016 to nearly 34 percent in the first quarter of this year. So, we are already exceeding the target outlined in Vision 2030,” she added.
Alarfaj further said that a strong society can be built only through the active participation of women.
Sarah Al-Husseini, Google’s head of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Saudi Arabia said that the ‘Elevate’ initiative is not just meant to address the gender gap, but also to allow women to pursue their dreams.
“Elevate offers a four-month program with cost-free access, designed to train these women in areas like cloud architecture, data engineering, and machine learning engineering,” said Al-Husseini.
She added: “The program has a social learning element. It includes mentoring by Saudi experts and live webinars by Google experts.”
Speaking at the event virtually, Princess Haifa Bint Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that women are underrepresented in the field of AI and technology.
“At the moment, when digital technologies are reshaping everyday life, we cannot deny that women are underrepresented in AI and STEM fields in general. Women only represent 3 percent of Nobel prize laureates in science and only 12 percent of artificial Intelligence researchers globally,” said Princess Al-Muqrin.
She said that this inequality is depriving the world of enormous untapped talent, insisting that women’s involvement and perspectives are needed in the technology sector to make it work for everyone.
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