Queen Rania of Jordan urged the Arab world on Wednesday to create more opportunities for its youth, strengthen its education systems and harness technology to empower its societies.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision was one of “support for innovation and science, and opportunities to which young Saudis aspire,” the queen told the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh.
She called for the adoption of technologies that “add value to our lives,” expand educational and leadership opportunities for young people, and “provide them with opportunities to realize their potential and achieve their ambitions.”
“Let us inspire them to feel that the future is theirs, as we strive to create a fertile land for us and our children, a land where dreams are nurtured and can bear fruit,” the queen said.
In a powerful speech that drew cheers from an audience of mainly young Saudis, Queen Rania said the destructive impact of conflicts was felt by children across the region.
“How will we keep up with changing educational models and strengthen our education system, when 13 million Arab children are currently deprived of schooling, and the majority of the rest are offered an outdated education?” she said.
Queen Rania, who visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last month, said: “Their reality — and that of others combating illness, poverty, ignorance and exclusion within our Arab world — hasn’t been changed by advances in science and technology, neither has innovation alleviated their suffering.”
The queen called for the motives for acquiring technology to be re-evaluated. “Rather than a race to the top for the privileged few, our priority should be employing technology to empower entire societies. What we need is technology with a heart — one that beats for us.”
A leading technology entrepreneur told the forum that women and young people would lead Saudi Arabia’s drive to embrace a digital future.—Agencies