Knowledge Based Economy

That was the theme of the conference I attended from 12 January to 13 January named "Arabian Knowledge & Economy Association". It was the first of its type in the region and it was so advanced that I felt I was in Finland or Sweden or any one of those very developed countries.

The Conference hosted several world class speakers from all over the world. The agenda of the first day was about presentations explaining the theory behind "knowledge-based" economies and that it is the next big thing after Agricultural Era (19th Century), Industrial Era(Early 20th Century) and Information Technology Era (21st Century). It introduced new buzz words like "KIZ" (Key Innovation Zones), BenchLearning rather than Benchmarking, intellectual capital and its relation to structural capital and human capital, 7P Blueprint (P7), transforming competition to collaboration, and replace Business Planning with Innovation Strategy.

Alot of successful stories were shared such as Malaysia's Experience in building the World's Intelligence City of CyberJaya, Australia's Desert knowledge Experience, Microsoft's efforts in driving innovation through its own innovation centers & research labs spread all over the world, and SAP's experience in corporate innovation where they discuss their funnelling ideas and an example of how they are thinking of having decentralized electrical transmission system by installing smart grids in place of the existing ancient ones, and 2 more presentations that I can't recall coz I snoozed in them (HEY, I blame it on the lunch). So overall, my mind was blown with the rich density of information absorbed during those 2 days.

Other than the rich density of information that blew my mind over the 2 days, we had fun for a while in one of the workshops called "youth of the future". The point of this workshop is to assume you sit with 3 other individuals and try to come up with an innovative idea that could capitalize on the knowledge of the resources available at hand. Money is not an issue as they would provide you with at least $ 500,000. Unlike the rest of my colleagues, I decided to participate in a new group. It is a chance of meeting new people and a rare opportunity where I hoped to be proven wrong that the mentality of the new generation of Saudi youth is not as silly as I've always seen it.

Case 1: a group of young high school students demonstrated their creation of building a small robot hand whose sole task is to open and close a pipe valve. Sounds simple? Think again. The valve is at a depth of 1500 meters. Not a single human being can dive that deep because of the pressure. Diving in would take 8 hours and getting out is another 8 hours. Apparently, something malfunctioned and they needed to close that valve. ARAMCO's best solution was bringing a German Consulting company who'd do a feasibility study and had to import their machinery from Germany so they could do the simple process of closing the valve, for an amount around 60 000 dollars. The whole process would take around 7 to 8 months. So this group demonstrated a prototype of their creation and it showed us the process of how it hugs to the pipe and align itself with the valve and open it and close it. I was amazed. Its a greaaaaaaaaaat idea.


Case 2:

In an attempt to be a little friendly to those who were with me in the table (actually, I have some business cards that I wanna distribute :P), I introduce myself to and I ask him..."so, what encouraged you to come to this conference..?"

And what an answer I get: "7areem 7areeem 7areeem" (Women, women, Women).

My God, those Bedouin animals never cease to exist.


Case 3:

Part of our exercise was to deduce the capabilities & aspiration of your fellow colleagues where each one of them would discuss a unique project that each one of them participated in. I met this elegant, ambitious, extremely professional gentleman who is launching a new website, unique in its service of building local social networks all over Saudi Arabia through Event Management. It is like building facebook with the events application tailored to each individual's interests. E.g. you'd be notified about car or art-related events if your area of interest were in the following areas. I believe that this service would be cruicial since the country lacks in the service of promoting its events. You only know about events, or conferences through word of mouth or from fortunately being in one of those few random active communities. I was impressed by the idea and the presentation. His website is supposed to be launched in 2 weeks. It's called I'll definitely be the first one to use it.


Case 4:

So a coffee break. I wanted to know more about the identity of the other, shy member of our group. He was not very talkative. So I tried getting something out of him.

"so, where you from?"


"aha...mashalla, you travelled all the way from there to attend this conference. I really applaud you for your ambition"

"Actually, I just came coz my father SENT me. I am not really interested."

WHAT THE...? :S. COZ HIS FATHER SENT HIM? :S :S. What a shame. I hold my rage and try to move on...

"so where do you wanna study?"

"ah here in khobar. I don't wanna go outside KSA. I hate travelling. I feel homesick. In fact, I am feeling homesick right now"

:S :S...HOME SICK? ITS JUST 2 DAYS and Jeddah is only 600 kms away. Its not like he went to Canada or something.

I concluded that there is no point to further proceed in this silly discussion


Case 5

Part of our exercise is to pass by other tables and explore other teams' projects and attempt to contribute and add ways to develop their ideas. While there are some good ideas, you'd be astonished by the amount of ridiculous ideas out there such as this guy.

"well, unlike the rest of the businesses, our business would be unique in its service. It will help in serving the shareholders..."

A moment of silence as we were still anticipating more from him.

"yep, that's my idea"

"that's your idea? Fine... what's the name of the project?"

"no name"

*sighs* "so give me an example of one of the services you'll provide to the so-called 'shareholders' "

"well, we could use the money to fund our university education & use the rest for our wedding"

Good God. Is this what they call business these days..

I wish I was in Texas. At least guns are legal there


KJ said...


oh man!

Positive kudo point on YOU for maintaining your sanity!

Listen... pass them a copy of mega man LOOOOOOOOOOOOL

asoom said...

a) what was lunch?

b) in a couple of sentences please explain to me what a knowledge-based economy is?

c)Dude they're in high school, 3adi give them a break!!! I have a brother in high school and a sister just out of high school that would have answered similarly. They haven't really left the house or seen too much of the world, instead of judging them because of their lack of ambition and motivation you could have tried to apeal to them in a way that would peak their interest-ya3ni on their level.

d) This reminds of of a ASHG (american society in human genetics) conference I went to last year where I volunteered for the high school workshops one day so I don't have to pay the membership and conference fees. It was quite similar to what you were describing in terms of the more passive pessimistic attitudes but I kind of expected that. An amnitious kid at that age is the exception!

We (the volunteers) were each working with a group of 6 where we were basically trying to teach them to construct family pedigrees to indentify inheritance patterns of common diseases and assess risks. They found the scenarios given to them quite boring but I kept trying to change my method to get some reaction out of them so I just related it to them personally. At some point everyone couldn't stop talking about all the diseases in their family and what their mom has, what their grandpa, or what they're afraid of getting.

I felt like I accomplished something by peaking their interest in the subject and getting about half of them to construct some pretty elaborate pedigrees. So my point is: Chill!