Top Movers And Shakers Driving Tech-Centric Change In The GCC


Here are the key government officials and decision-makers impacting the future of the region, leveraging technology at speed and enabling innovation at scale

Technology forms the backbone of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economy and is a propeller to the region’s vision of becoming an innovation and knowledge hub. The countries are making a massive effort to diversify their economies, investing in digital technologies across government and private sectors, including oil and gas, fintech, retail, and eLearning.

While there is a big push to leverage big data analytics and cloud technology, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar have made huge investments in 5G mobile networks in recent years. One of the biggest technology trends in GCC countries is the adoption of AI and machine learning, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has invested over $135 billion in AI.

Government officials have an important role in coming together to collaborate and implement policies and programmes that drive change. Here are the key government officials and decision-makers impacting the future of the region, spurring technology-enabled innovation and productivity growth.

Aisha A. Alshamsi

Aisha A. AlshamsiWith over 21 years of experience in various senior positions leading different functions, Aisha A. Alshamsi is now the Chief Data Officer, Statistics and Analysis Director at Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA). In her current role, she is responsible for leading, developing, and governing ADAFSA data programs to drive business decisions and growth. She also manages advanced analytics and artificial intelligence initiatives to serve the strategic priorities of the authority. She is the recipient of many awards, such as the Rashid bin Saeed Award for Scientific Excellence. She holds a master’s in science, specialising in surface chemistry.

Ali Al-Zayani

Ali Al-ZayaniAli Al-Zayani is the Director of Information Security Services at the Information and eGovernment Authority, Bahrain. Self-motivated, Al-Zayani seeks to create a professional IT environment in the government that contributes to speeding up and facilitating transactions between the various government sectors. He contributed to several national projects and has certifications in IT & Management.

Ali Al-Asiri

Ali Al-AsiriAli-Al-Asiri is the board member of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Saudi Arabia (C4IR KSA), a platform that maximises the social benefits of 4IR technologies in Saudi Arabia. He is also a board member of Tamkeen Technologies. Earlier, Al-Asiri served as CEO of the Saudi eGovernment program Yesser. He has long experience working with local and international organisations in programme management and organisational leadership. He has been a vocal advocate for achieving a fully citizen-centred digital government and the critical role of digital transformation in attaining the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030. He received his Bachelor of Computer Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Abdullah AlQahtani

Abdullah AlQahtaniA digital transformation and business development expert helping technology companies and government agencies drive growth, Abdullah AlQahtani is an advisor of Digital Investment, Digital Government Authority, Saudi Arabia. Earlier, he helmed digital transformation at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Saudi  Arabia for about 12 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from King Saud University.

Abdulrahman Habib

Abdulrahman HabibAbdulrahman Habib is the Deputy Research Director, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at Saudi Data and AI Authority. He has led projects in Smart City, eGovernment, eCommerce, and ERP implementation for small and medium businesses. His current focus is on research on analytics and Smart City. He has received his master’s degree in Engineering/Industrial Management from the University of North Texas University.

Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Soyyan

Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Ali Al SoyyanAhmed bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Soyyan, Governor of the Digital Government Authority, Saudi Arabia, leads public agencies to collaborate effectively to provide efficient digital government services. Previously, Al Soyyan was the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance for Technology and Development Affairs and was responsible for strategic planning and information technology in the Saudi Industrial Development Fund. He also held several positions in Etihad Etisalat Mobily, most notably the Vice President for Application Development and Planning. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Prince Sultan University.

Budoor Al-Amoudi

Budoor Al-Amoudi Budoor-Al-Amoudiis the Chief of Data Management, Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA). She is responsible for the data warehousing and analytics strategy and implementation in her current role. She is also the founder of DataFirst Solutions, an analytics software provider. Previously, she was the Director of IT – Data & Analytics at Jumeirah Group, Dubai. Al-Amoudi holds a bachelor of science degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA from the American University of Sharjah.

Eng Mohamed Alali

Eng Mohamed AlaliAn expert in IT, data analysis, strategic planning, and ITIL, Eng Mohamed Alali is the Director of Information Technology, Ministry of Education, UAE. A member of the UAE Smart Initiatives Committee, he proposed initiatives for Mohamed Bin Rashid Smart initiatives and is involved in SMART government projects and coordination. Before working with the Dubai Government, he worked with Etisalat, now rebranded as e&. He is a Ph.D. from the University of Dubai.

Hamad Al Mansoori

Hamad Al MansooriHamad Al Mansoori, Director General, Digital Dubai, has supported several re-engineering initiatives and guided several national IT and ICT projects to success.

Apart from leading Digital Dubai, Al Mansoori is also Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Agency, and a member of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Previously, he was the Director-General of UAE mGovernment and Deputy Director-General for the Information & eGovernment sector. Al Mansoori has held advisory positions with several government entities, such as the technical advisor and information systems advisor for the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation.

Hanan Ahli

Hanan-AhliHanan Ahli is the Acting Director of Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Authority (FCSA), UAE. Under her leadership, the centre works on developing and enhancing the UAE’s performance in the sectors of global competitiveness, statistics, national data, and sustainable development goals (SDGs). She oversees a range of policies outlined in the UAE’s national agenda, with a strong emphasis on embracing the strength of statistics and competitiveness for policymaking and strategic planning. She holds an MBA from the American University of Sharjah and has credentials from the London Business School, Institute of Management Development (IMD), and Harvard Kennedy School.

Majid Altuwaijri

Majid AltuwaijriAn expert in driving transformation programs across the large public sector and health organisations, Majid Altuwaijri, is CEO National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) at Saudi Data and AI Authority. He is the joint founder of the Saudi Association for Health Informatics and previously was the CIO of the National Guard Health Affairs. Al-Tuwaijri is an active researcher in health information technology and established a programme in Health Informatics at King Saud Health University. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from King Saud University, and is a certified professional in leadership and management from Harvard Business School.

Meera AlShaikh

Meera AlShaikhOn a mission to improve mobility in the city, Meera AlShaikh, Director of Smart Services, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), has led many initiatives, including the launch of  AI-powered cameras in cycling tracks to ensure safer roads for cyclists and the digital Nol card on Huawei Watch to support the country’s transition to a cashless society. Under her leadership, RTA plans to unify booking and ticketing for all modes of transport in Dubai in the coming couple of years. She has received a master of science in Project Management from the British University in Dubai.

Mohamed Abdelhameed Al Askar

Mohamed Abdelhameed Al AskarLeading the digital future of Abu Dhabi is Mohamed Abdelhameed Al Askar, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA). Al Askar is tasked with driving the digital transformation in government services, data and applied intelligence, cybersecurity, and governance. He is also the chairman of the UAE National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy Committee, a member of the UAE Artificial Intelligent Council and UAE Digital Government Council, and the Abu Dhabi Higher Committee for Digital Government. Al Askar managed several high-impact programmes and projects such as the Abu Dhabi Government Services Program (TAMM) and Data Management Program and Smart Services Program. Al Askar holds a master’s degree in IT Management from the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

Mohamed AlShishani

Mohamed AlShishaniMohamed AlShishani is the Chief of Government System Development at Bahrain’s Information and eGovernment Authority (IGA). He works with the IGA senior management to facilitate short and long-term strategic plans, efficiently manage the operations development functions and activities. He makes sure IGA’s initiatives align with the strategies, plans, and programs set by the Supreme Council for Information Communication Technology (SCICT).

Rashed Iqbal

Rashed IqbalAs Chief Data and Technology Officer, Investment and Development Office (IDO), Ras Al Khaimah, Rashed Iqbal leads the data and technology division that helps IDO portfolio companies organise, secure, and utilise their data assets through the use of data governance, analytics, and data science. He is also co-founder of Narrative Economics, a research group focusing on developing artificial intelligence-based solutions. He has a PhD in Systems Engineering – Predictive Systems and Stochastic Control from Sheffield University.

Sara Al Zarooni

Sara Al ZarooniA leader in digital transformation and data initiative, Sara Al Zarooni is the Director of Data Management and Compliance Affairs, Smart Dubai. Since 2017, she has led over 350 data champions from government and semi-government entities, overseeing Dubai Pulse, the integrated platform that hosts public and private sector data, and is considered the backbone of smart digital transformation.

Sarah Al Amiri

Sarah Al Amiri Sarah Al Amiriled the UAE’s maiden interplanetary mission to Mars in 2020. The mission’s successes have not only made contributions to science, but helped put the UAE’s space program in the cosmic big leagues. Al Amiri is the Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairperson, UAE Space Agency. Setting a standard for other women to follow, Al Amiri has helped put together a team that has focused exclusively on women in sciences. She studied computer programming from the American University of Sharjah, and was recently named among Time’s 2022 list of most influential people in the world.

Tariq Al Bassam

Tariq Al BassamAn IT and security leader with over 18 years of experience, Tariq Al Bassam is CEO of Ambition Initiatives in Data & AI at Saudi Data and AI Authority. He is a cybersecurity expert with board experience in security and transformation management. He also has extensive experience in instituting enterprise-level security operations centres and cybersecurity governance and risk management across multiple international locations. Earlier, he was the technical lead at Dell Technologies and head of information security at Aramco Americas in the US. He received his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals.

Thuraya Al Hashimi

Thuraya Al HashimiAn entrepreneur and change-maker, Thuraya Al Hashimi is the Executive Director – Digital Data Enabling Sector, Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Centre, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, UAE. She has a strong background in management, strategy development, and data security. She started her career as a senior research analyst at the Office of the Minister of State in 2012, where she managed and monitored UAE performance in various international reports. She became the Support Services Executive Director as part of the inauguration taskforce spearheading the HR and talent acquisition team, finance and IT from 2016 until 2020. Al Hashimi holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science in Business and Management from Dubai Women’s College.

Zakareya Ahmed AlKhajah

Zakareya Ahmed AlKhajah Zakareya Ahmed AlKhajahis Deputy CEO, Electronic Transformation of the Information & eGovernment Authority, Bahrain, building well-defined business and strategic models for eGovernment projects. He has managed and implemented specialised strategic IT projects at public and private establishments. He was behind developing and implementing the BeAware app, which has been an indispensable tool in supporting Bahrain’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts. He has a PhD in Strategic Planning in Information Systems from Brunel University London and a master’s degree in Computer Science from George Washington University.

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