Saudi Arabia has been seeing the emergence of young female leaders, and with this month being dedicated to international women and mothers, it gives us the opportunity to highlight women with impressive achievements in the Kingdom.
Dr. Fatmah Boathman is the first Saudi woman in the Middle East with a PhD in Modern Artificial Intelligence (AI), thus embodying women’s empowerment in the Kingdom and proving the capabilities of women in any field.
She developed her fascination in AI back when she was still a student at the University of Arizona studying the English language, when she was greeted with several computer systems that assisted and helped non-native English speakers.
“I was fascinated by the level of machine communication and interaction,” Dr Baothman explained. “Once I started studying programing and understanding more about the Turing Test, which is a test that’s been designed to test the intelligence of machines, I became fascinated.”
Boathman graduated in 2003 from the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Huddesfield in the UK, where she received her Phd in “Phonology-Based Automatic Speech Recognition for Arabic.” Her work mainly focused on AI and she was introduced to pattern recognition, forecasting, phonology, phonetics, acoustics, machine learning and mathematics.
This sort of work is what can be used in order to enable humans to connect via speech to machines, as well as machines to machines, thus raising the level of intelligence in robotics.
“We worked with a robot and we were able to increase its intelligence from four to seven years,” she exclaimed. “Speech is a very important tool in different applications that could be used in smart cities, smart cars and smartphones — it’s about connecting machines and people, and machines to machines, even if they don’t speak our language, they find a way of communicating in which they can interact with each other.”
“I spent hours trying to figure out how it worked,” she said. “Once I started studying it, I started realizing and building an emotional interest towards the topic. I always had a wish to be a part of the AI community and contribute to such an important discipline.” She added; explaining her interest in machine communication.
Boatham aims at tackling several and different fields through AI, taking economy for instance, she hopes to bring develop solutions for fluctuation issues such as poverty. “I believe that, very soon, AI will play an important role in that,” she noted. “I’m interested in it and I’ve already started forming a group to work on it.”
Boatham started off his career as an advisor for MMG ‘MedLab Media Group’, a startup that focuses on improving clinical practice. And she has also worked as an assistant teacher at the King Abdulaziz University for more than 25 years, in the faculty of computing and IT. Which made also marked her as the first woman to be appointed TA in the university’s computer science department for women.
“It makes me feel very excited to be the first woman with a PhD in Modern AI. We are planning to establish an AI lab in Jeddah very soon to work in blockchain technology, AI projects and other areas, directed towards healthcare.” She added.
Saudi Arabia Ends Gender Segregation in Restaurants
Restaurants in Saudi Arabia no longer requires one entrance for single men and another for women and families, as the Kingdom scraps its rules on separating between men and women at restaurants.
It is yet another attempt at easing the social restrictions and it’s a huge step indeed, seeing how sex segregation had been enforced for decades in public spaces.
In a tweet announcing the news on Sunday, the ministry of municipalities and rural affairs stated that it was eliminating several requirements for restaurants, including the need for ‘an entrance for bachelors and a separate entrance for families’.
However, It remains unclear whether a restriction on seating inside the restaurants will also be removed.
Women of Saudi Arabia Can Now Join the Military
The foreign ministry has announced that Saudi women can now join the military and serve as private first class, corporal or sergeant. I mean talk about gender equality!
Just when we though easing regulations on Saudi women can’t get any better, the ministry surprises us all with such shocking yet incredible news.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) October 9, 2019
According to Sky News, roles have been opened in Saudi’s land forces, royal navy, royal air forces, royal Saudi air defense forces and medical services for armed forces.
The ministry stated a number of conditions for applicants who are willing to join the army, these conditions are in regard to age, nationality, in addition to the physical and professional competence.
Heba Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took it to Twitter to congratulate the Kingdom on such a brave decision.
“Great news. I look forward to watching Saudi Arabia’s women, lead across many industries, including serving in the country’s military.” The tweet read.
Saudi Arabia Launches A Contest For Aspiring Filmmakers With Prizes Up to SR40 million
The Ministry of Culture just announced the launch of a new competition on Sunday entitled ‘Daw‘ which aims to support Saudi films, and also empower aspiring and rising filmmakers.
The competition will be divided into four tracks that include supporting and developing screenwriting and supporting film production and films of Saudi students majoring in film-making at international institutes and universities.
Entries will be evaluated by specialized juries who have experience in choosing winning films projects, and winners will be announced next year in February.
Prizes are up to SR40 million as it is all part of the ministry’s plan of showing tremendous support to Saudi talents majoring in filmmaking by providing such a huge funding platform.
The competition will support young filmmakers in every possible way by providing the needed assistance in producing the films and also creating a production infrastructure and making their career path clear for those interested in different fields of cinema.
Whether you are a filmmaker or a producer, you can participate in the competition online through this link. It just opened yesterday and will remain open till December 29th to give the chance to more people to apply.