Incubating A Knowledge-Based Economy

By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Over the years Saudi Arabia has been trying to diversify the economy through the development of non-oil technology industries. In one such move, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) launched Badir Program for Technology Incubators, a program to stimulate innovation-based entrepreneurship through technology incubation and capacity building programs.

Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

In a quest to diversify its economy, Saudi Arabia has been working to shift the country’s main source of income away from oil.

One of the main focuses for the government is moving towards startups and incubation programs.

Over the years the authorities have been trying to diversify the economy through the development of non-oil technology industries, with the objective of building knowledge-based economy.

In one such move, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) launched Badir Program for Technology Incubators, a Saudi national programme, in 2007 to stimulate innovation-based entrepreneurship through technology incubation and capacity building programmes.

With the phenomenal success of social networking app Sarahah, which means ‘frankness’ or ‘honesty’ in Arabic, the efforts seem to be paying off.

Sarahah rocketed to the top of the charts to become the most popular free download from the US iOS App Store, and the second most popular free app on Google Play, according to App Annie.

Sarahah, with almost 95 million registered users, is one of the main projects that were incubated by Badir.

“Badir provided all kinds of support, whether logistical or consultative, as well as cooperation opportunities, distinguished services and necessary guidance to promote Sarahah’s growth and develop its business,” Zain Al Abidin Tawfiq, the app’s founder, said.

Badir has served more than 200 startups since its inception. The programme has also incubated 127 technical projects through its five incubators, generating a market value of SR331 million ($88.26 million) for 34 of these projects alone, creating 786 jobs for young Saudis.

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