On April 16 2016, we had a tech meetup in IBM Riyadh to foster collaboration between educational institutions, to deliberate on new technologies particularly in the context of KSA, and to share the activities and achievements of professional institutions for women in the region. This was the second such meetup in IBM Riyadh – the previous one was in November 2015 just after the Bluemix hackathon conducted by KSU teaching assistants and staff – the winning teams were Talky and Emjoy-It.

April 2016 Meetup Publicity

At the tech meetup, we had wonderful participants from King Saud University (KSU), King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Princess Nourah University (PNU), Prince Sultan University (PSU), and IBM. We brainstormed and shared ideas. Some of the participants agreed to a follow-on call in a few days time to explore kicking-off a joint activity around cloud and/or IBM Watson hosted at KACST over the summer. Although we had attendees from PNU Business Studies, we missed our friends and colleagues in the computing school as they were busy over the weekend on a Bluemix Cognitive hackathon (you can follow the tweets #PNU_IBMBluemix).

Some of the Marketing of High Tech Products & Innovations (MG114P) 2nd year business studies taking the MINT (Marketing Innovation & Technology) Bachelors at PNU attended the meetup with their lecturers. They presented infographics for projects inspired by IBM Watson and focused on Saudi Arabia. Artemisa Jaramillo introduced the students:

  • Chaperon : Nadiyah Khlalid AlMutairi, Maram Abdulmohsin AlDawood – an application that reduces passenger anxiety when navigating through airports
  • Shopido : Alaa Mohammed Aljarad, Nouf Mohammed Alkhaldi – a Retail and Consumer product, the more you use it, the better it knows you
  • Unibus : Hawraa Abdulelah AlNakhli – an app to help universities control and manage the bus services for students
  • Zakat : Waad Mohammed AlSultan – a financial app that tracks and manages the zakat tax that corporations pay

The interest in these projects was considerable with a lot of exploratory Q&A. I will write a separate blog entry soon about the collaboration between DCU, PNU (Business Studies and Computer Science) with IBM that will include all the projects.


Roohy Jan told us about the ACM women’s chapter in Saudi Arabia. Roohy also explored ideas around encouraging K1-12 in computing and how we can all help increase focus there. Amany Alshawy described IEEE activities in KSA and introduced us to the summer program at KACST – which is intended to engage multiple institutions and be multi-disciplinary. Areej Al-Wabil gave a lovely presentation about ArabWIC (Arab Women in Computing group). In response to questions Areej also explained about the Grace Hopper conference and the Anita Borg Institute. We explored ideas with Abir Benabid, Heba Kurdi, and Manar Husny on IBM Academic initiative, and collaboration across universities.

The presenters From IBM were:

  • Dima Kandalaft talked to us about Cognitive Computing. As a result of her talk and explanation of her job role in the govertnment sector, the attendees asked if IBM would deliver a session on IBM Watson in September for university students
  • Abeer AlRaee also from IBM and who was instrumental in setting up the meetup. covered the IBM Academic Initiative. Out of Abeer’s conversation with some of the participants, we agreed to explore running one of the academic initiative tracks in such a way that multiple universities can attend.
  • I talked about the popular topic blockchain. I introduced the idea of a shared unified immutable ledger – and the hyperledger open source project on github. We also discussed use cases.

At the end of the formal proceedings, we discussed the thorny issue whether it is OK to have a Facebook birthday that is different from one’s real birthday. We put our discussion into practice and celebrated a Facebook birthday with chocolate molten cake and gorgeous refreshments.

Shortlink https://wp.me/p6tTze-1nr

Celebrating in Riyadh

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