Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ibtikar 2008, the first-ever Saudi innovation exhibition was held last week (9-13 March) in Riyadh at the Four Season’s Hotel Kingdom Tower under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and in partnership with Saudi Aramco.
Dedicated to discovering and encouraging creativity and promoting entrepreneurial spirit, the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for the Gifted organized the event under the theme ‘Empowering Innovation to Serve Development’.
Thirty participants, mostly Saudi nationals, including men and women, were shortlisted out of a total of 68 participants. The prizes, amounting to SAR 400,000 (approximately US $106,666), were sponsored by the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center (Scitech), Saudi Aramco, Salman Group, Al-Zamil, Al-Majd Satellite Channel, Al-Yaum, Pan Gulf Trading Co. Ltd., Tamimi Group and Arabian Services Group.
One of the most compelling inventions, which was not exhibited at Ibtikar 2008 is currently being developed by Saudi inventor Mohammed al Dihani who is the three-time winner of the Scientific Innovation Prize for three consecutive years.
Although he refused to disclose the details of his invention, as he is still in the process of developing it, al Dihani revealed that he hoped his project would help put an end to dengue fever [mosquito-borne disease], which had previously spread through various regions of the state.
However, the young Saudi inventor did disclose that he was working on creating a device that emits a particular frequency of vibrations that is identical to the hum emitted by male mosquitoes and which female mosquitoes are known to avoid when they are carrying eggs.
Al Dihani told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The vibrations emitted by the device, which comes in various different forms, will repel female mosquitoes away from people whose blood they drink for sustenance.”
He added that he hoped his new invention, which will be his graduation project at the College of Telecom and Electronics in Jeddah, will find its way to the concerned parties, especially since his contributing invention at Ibtikar 2008 was not adopted by any party. Al Dihani’s invention at the exhibition was a nicotine-reducing cigarette filter.
There were a few participating contestants from Egypt and Jordan alongside their Saudi counterparts. The event witnessed an unprecedented number of visitors who attended to view the exhibitions between 9am-9pm. The winners of the three prizes, 200,000 (approximately US $53,333) first place and 100,000 (approximately US $26,000) for second and third alike, will be announced shortly.
Practicing social responsibility, a number of private sector institutions used the opportunity to participate in Ibtikar 2008 with the aim of introducing the participants of the exhibition to the appropriate methods of backing and financing their inventions.
A group of Saudi financial institutions put its funding programs on offer to back small projects. For example, the National Commercial Bank will hold 15 specialized training programs in 10 different cities to teach the basics of sound planning, preparation and the effective launch of private businesses. The bank has announced that 327 citizens have benefited from this program, of which 14 percent of the trainees were women.