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Dr. Fatmah Boathman: First Saudi Woman with a Phd in Artificial Intelligence

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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.

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Lifestyle

Saudi Students Can Now Study Abroad Without a Permit From their Guardians

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Saudi students can now travel abroad to study overseas without a need of a permit from their guardians, this includes students under the age of 21.

All the students need to travel is a proof of their scholarship from the Ministry of Education, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced on Monday

This clarification comes after a number of reforms have been announced in a royal decree last month, first giving the right for every Saudi citizen to obtain a passport, for Saudi women to travel without permission from a male guardian and now this.

The royal decree has been certainly welcomed and found to be a huge step towards attaining the 2030 vision, that ensures a better quality of life for citizens.

 

 

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Saudi Arabia’s First Female Crane Operators Get their permits

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State news agency SPA reported on Tuesday that King Abdul Aziz Port (KAP) has given female crane operators their operating permits, making them Saudi Arabia’s very first females to take on such a job.

The female operators will work on the remote controlled cranes which are used in light of KAP’s attempt of introducing new technologies at its container terminals in all departments, the terminal is also the first of its kind to be operated by the International Ports Services Ltd (IPS).

KAP, supervised by the Saudi Ports Authority (MAWANI), handled 23 million tons of cargo in July – marking an 11.15% increase in comparison to the same time last year.

 

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Lifestyle

Saudi Arabia Lifts Travel Restrictions on Women

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Saudi women no longer require a permission from a “male guardian” to travel or obtain a passport and can now travel independently, a royal decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz indicated,

The decree, which was issued three days ago, clearly states that women like any other individual have the right of obtaining a passport, and that a guardian’s approval will only be needed for minors.

The statement of the decree is written in a gender-neutral way and doesn’t in any way put restrictions to a specific segment.

Here’s how some of the prominent Saudi figures reacted to the change, and their thoughts about it that was shared on twitter.

Also hailing the changes is of course Saudi ambassador to the US Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

Ever since the Saudi Vision 2030 was launched and the Saudi authorities have been addressing the flaws in the system that stand against women living their lives freely and securely.

Such a step is considered to be yet another major change, that follows the issuing of driving licenses to women, and the inclusion of women in the consultative council.

 

 

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