Intel Education and WiMAX Initiatives Show Progress in Saudi Arabia
Intel Chairman Cites Government-Industry Partnership as Successful Model, Advancing Education, Technology Innovation and Economic Development in Arab World
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 7, 2008 – Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett kicked off his fourth visit to the Gulf region by pledging technical support for building a high-speed wireless network in the country using a long-range wireless technology known as WiMAX. He also dedicated a pilot project for e-learning at a Saudi Arabian school, which is becoming a top priority in many educational systems throughout the world.
"Our joint commitment to technological innovation shows that much can be accomplished when private industry and government work in tandem to achieve a common vision," said Barrett, whose visit to the Kingdom is the first leg of his trip. "Investments in education are important to the future, in the Arab world and around the globe."
Barrett is traveling throughout the Middle East in his role as chairman of a United Nations panel on technology, and on behalf of the Intel World Ahead Program. Intel's global initiative strives to improve education, healthcare, entrepreneurship and government services by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content.
Later this week, Barrett will make a return visit to the United Arab Emirates and a first-time visit to Kuwait to further promote better, faster access to information and communications technology (ICT).
Advancing Internet Connectivity
While in Riyadh, Barrett was on hand for the signing of an agreement between STC, Saudi Arabia's telecom operator, and Knowledge Economic City (KEC) of Medina, to deploy a WiMAX network, estimated to be up and running by 2011. Intel, which is providing technical support and expertise, views WiMAX wireless networking technology as a cost-effective and efficient way to deliver broadband Internet access over large metropolitan areas or rugged terrain.
Driving Economic Development Through Education
Joined by Saudi Minister of Education, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Bin Salah Bin Obaid, Barrett saw the e-learning pilot project demonstrated today at Riyadh's Bishr Ibn Elbaraa School, a public school for boys in grades seven through nine. The school pilot will run in two classrooms, and outfitted with notebook computers and the specially designed Intel-powered Classmate PCs. The smaller, student-sized netbooks are designed to be low-cost, wireless-capable, water- and shock-resistant and fully functional computers that are pre-loaded with standard software and locally relevant educational programs. All computers used in the pilot project feature Intel's skoool™ Learning and Teaching Technology, an interactive Web-based resource for learning math and science that has been Arabized and tailored to local Saudi needs.
Teachers involved in the e-learning pilot are graduates of the Intel Teach program, which trains teachers on effective ways to integrate ICT in the curriculum. Intel Teach and the Intel-powered Classmate PC are key components of a 1:1 learning proof-of-concept that Intel has carried out in numerous countries.
Intel worked closely with a set of local businesses, including KETAB, a manufacturer of pen-based collaborative whiteboards; Binary Works, an education service provider that implemented the hardware and provided the School Management System and the Learning Management System; Semanoor, a software vendor that provided Semanoor e-content; and MGD, a software vendor that provided Crocodile Clips virtual labs.
Barrett will conclude his visit to Saudi Arabia at an event later today in Riyadh. Hosted by the International Speaker event and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Barrett will address Saudi government officials, researchers and educators on the subject of "Empowering Competitiveness Through Technology."