Saudi Arabia has embarked on a pioneering endeavor by introducing the National Olympiad for Programming and Artificial Intelligence aimed at middle and high school students. This visionary initiative seeks to promote healthy competition in the field of computer science while nurturing the next generation of innovators and coders, particularly as the world increasingly embraces the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).
With an ambitious goal in mind, the program aims to select approximately 300,000 pupils from a pool of three million participants across Saudi Arabia. These chosen students will receive specialized training in programming and AI. The initiative, a collaboration between the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), the Ministry of Education, and the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), is open to all school students in the kingdom.
The SDAIA has articulated the competition’s objectives, highlighting its role in identifying exceptional pupils who can effectively analyze and solve algorithmic programming problems. Moreover, it seeks to inspire students to cultivate computational thinking and AI-based algorithm design, recognizing these skills as crucial for 21st-century learning.
Notably, AI is projected to contribute significantly, up to 12.4 percent, to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by the year 2030. The organizers of the initiative aspire to foster a knowledgeable and AI-enriched economy. Their broader vision encompasses instilling a culture of competitive programming and nurturing a creative generation capable of excelling in international scientific competitions.
The pinnacle of the project will be the Scientific Creativity Olympiad, where 35 students will be selected to represent Saudi Arabia on the global stage at the International Science and Engineering Fair.
Prospective participants can register via the official Mawhiba website, with the registration period concluding on November 28. The competition comprises two rounds of tests, the first scheduled for January 26 and 27, and the second from April 23 to 27.
Dr. Amal Al Hazzaa, the Secretary General of Mawhiba, expressed that Saudi students have demonstrated a strong eagerness to participate in Olympiads over the years. She emphasized that the competition will help harness the capabilities of the next generation in advanced technology fields, empowering them with knowledge and opportunities in the realm of AI.
Saudi Arabia’s substantial investments in AI were further underscored when Deloitte’s AI Institute was officially inaugurated at the Experience Analytics conference in Riyadh in May.
The institute represents a significant milestone in advancing businesses and public sector organizations in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East through emerging technology applications, as highlighted by Yousef Barkawie, Deloitte’s Middle East AI and Data Leader.