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RIYADH: Cisco Networking Academy, a global information technology and cybersecurity education program run by Cisco Systems, has trained 300,000 young people in Saudi Arabia to learn digital, networking and cybersecurity skills, said a senior official.

Guy Diedrich, senior vice president and head of global innovation at Cisco, told Arab News that the academy provides free training, education and skills development, in addition to empowering women in the field of information technology.

“Of the 65,000 currently registered in Saudi Arabia, 30% are women, which is above the global average,” Diedrich said.

Salman Faqeeh, Cisco’s managing director in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News at the Global AI Summit in Riyadh that the company is strongly committed to Saudi education by being an integral part of several national, business and educational academies. .

Cisco has been in the Saudi market for over 25 years.

“Cisco has been investing in Saudi youth for some time. We are very proud of the great examples that have led Cisco in the past. Today they are in leadership positions, whether in the public or private sector,” Faqeeh said.

Efforts are underway to join the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority Academy itself, Faqeeh said.

“We are very proud of our commitments with SDAIA, both globally and nationally,” he said.

As digital transformation progresses around the world, Diedrich said Cisco aims to digitally connect 1 billion people by 2025. They have currently connected 700 million people, he said. Faqeeh said Cisco is currently working with government authorities to establish a local cloud node in Saudi Arabia.

He said the Kingdom is recognized as one of the best working environments for young people. Cisco ranked first as the best place to work in Saudi Arabia in the 2021 Great Place to Work Middle East ranking.

“We focus on our work culture, developing our talents and making sure they would be ready to lead our business as well as lead our industry over the years,” Faqeeh said.

On Saudiization, Faqeeh said the company is in the green zone. “The level of Saudiization is well represented in literally every part of the organization,” he said.

He added that the Saudis work in Cisco’s engineering group, in pre-sales, post-sales, business, management and support functions.

Diedrich said the company’s Country Digital Acceleration program matches the pace of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Globally, CDA operates in 44 countries and supports national priorities including energy, healthcare, education, smart cities and sustainable cities through an ecosystem of partners.

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