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MENAFN - Arab News - 22/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The Kingdom is keen on encouraging the digital initiatives of the Saudi youth, Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saud, vice president of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) for Research Institutes, said Tuesday.

Al-Saud was inaugurating the Arabnet 2012 Forum in the presence of more than 500 delegates at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh.

The KACST vice president said the Kingdom is dedicated to developing entrepreneurial and innovative skills among its youth.

Such steps, he said will have a positive impact on the country in contributing to the Kingdom's productivity, providing more employment opportunities and ultimately boosting the national economy.

He pointed out that the Kingdom has adopted a comprehensive national plan for science, technology and innovation. "Our long-term vision aims to transform our nation into a knowledge-based economy, harnessing the talents and skills of our youth." The Badir incubation program is a KACST initiative to help innovators and entrepreneurs develop their research findings into technology businesses. Its mission is to stimulate economic growth, which in turn would help solve the Kingdom's unemployment problem. Al-Saud added that Badir helps people develop their ideas into profitably viable projects and builds bridges between innovators and international establishments.

The Kingdom has spent SR 350 million on research projects in the field of biotechnology in the last three years based on the national science, technology and innovation plan. Al-Saud added that KACST is currently involved with several local and international research bodies in the development of biotechnology.

Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim Al-Hargan, executive director of the Badir incubation program at the KACST, said their support for the first Arabnet forum stems out of their strong belief in the power of modern technology and the necessity to encourage Saudi youth to reap the benefits of technological advancement.

Omar Christidis, founder of ArabNet, told Arab News that due to the overwhelming response from the participants in the forum, Arabnet has decided to hold this event annually in the Kingdom.

He explained that the Kingdom is currently the largest digital market in the MENA region - with almost 40 percent of all Arabic tweets, half of Wikipedia's Arabic content and 35 percent of all Arabic content on the Web coming from Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, he said more than 70 percent of Internet users in Saudi Arabia conduct their search in Arabic, and almost 60 percent of the Kingdom's users access Facebook through Arabic accounts. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world.

Arabic is the 7th most popular language on the Web. "We are witnessing an increase in initiatives to create Arabic content on the Web from Saudi Arabia. Arabic online videos have the highest per capita daily consumption of YouTube in the world. Young Saudi production studios, like UTURN Entertainment and C3 Films are releasing shows on YouTube that are garnering more than 1 million views per episode."

Arabic digital content was one of the main themes addressed at the forum and the conference also highlighted the successful efforts of initiatives such as 'Taghreedat', which is partnering with Twitter and the Wikimedia Foundation.


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