Her Majesty Queen Rania delivers keynote address at Misk Global Forum 2017
“Our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies”
Other speakers include science and technology entrepreneurs from across the world, and political, business, and innovation leaders from Saudi Arabia.
The Misk Global Forum 2017 was launched today in Riyadh with a keynote address by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan who discussed using technology to empower young people.
This was followed by further speeches and panel discussions by global leaders from across the spheres of science and technology, art and creativity, and politics and business, including announcements of a number of ground breaking enterprise and entrepreneurship initiatives. These included Diane Greene, Board Member of Alphabet and Vice President of Google Cloud, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah.
In her keynote address, Her Majesty Queen Rania spoke of the vital importance of expanding the hope found at the Misk Global Forum to the world at large. Reflecting on her recent work with Rohingya refugees, Her Majesty noted that innovation was not alleviating their suffering – nor was it for many people around the world. She stated: “I believe we need to re-evaluate our motives behind acquiring technology… our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies.” On this theme, Her Majesty concluded by calling on those present to strive to empower young people, calling them “our source of pride,” and to “provide them with opportunities to realize their potential and achieve their ambitions. Let us inspire them to feel that the future is theirs.”
Her Majesty’s speech was preceded by a speech by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), His Excellency Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah, who opened the first day of the Forum. He stated: “The only constant is change.” During his address, the minister highlighted the importance of international, regional, and domestic partnerships and collaboration to driving innovation, announcing in this context a collaborative project between MCIT, the Misk Foundation, and Mohammed bin Salman Colleges called ‘Digital Transformation Leaders’’. The Minister said: “Combining the ecosystem that the MCIT can bring through partnerships with google and other leading technology players… can accelerate and advance the entrepreneurial journey of the 30 innovative young Saudis.”
In a subsequent panel discussion with Diane Greene, Vice President of Google Cloud and board member of Alphabet, the Minister and the audience heard of the importance of introducing more digital tools to accelerate people’s understanding – not only of the world around them but also of what is possible. Greene also highlighted the importance of following the lead of young people, saying: “When you open things up for young people they get very creative and start to dream.”
Across the rest of the first day, forum guests and delegates, in addition to those viewing online, have seen and participated in a range of speeches, panel discussions, and workshops. Among these were such leaders as Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn. who looked at new ways of working and creating. He encouraged young entrepreneurs to be unafraid of challenges, stating: ““it is OK to fail a few times on your way to being successful.”
Speaking on one of the key areas of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ David Kenny of IBM commented on changes to intelligence both human and artificial, noting: “every two decades or so, there’s a major shift which changes the way we think,” and that we are currently living through one of those shifts.
The Forum’s pre-event ceremony on 14th November was opened by Bill Gates who announced ‘Misk Grand Challenges’, a new partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Misk Foundation. In a panel discussion following Mr Gates’s speech, members of Saudi Arabia’s political, business, and academic communities discussed new innovations in the Kingdom. His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, noted to his compatriots and the world that, “Vision 2030 is your passport to opportunity.”
The Misk Global Forum will continue tomorrow, 16 November, for its second day and see further keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops by its speakers, guests, and delegates.