‘Jordan Has What it Takes to Become Technology Hub’ — Microsoft Executive

April 6, 2017
Microsoft Philanthropies Corporate Vice President Mary Snapp speaks during the YouthSpark workshop in Amman on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Microsoft)

AMMAN – Inspired by a workshop and a speech delivered by a Microsoft representative, Samar Saad is now planning to major in computer and information science, a field she now believes can allow her to excel in Jordan. 
The ninth-grader was among one hundred public school students who took part in Jordan’s first YouthSpark Live event. 
“Before the event, I used to think that IT is a rigid field, especially when it comes to programming, but it helped me realise that it is actually fun and in high-demand,” Saad told The Jordan Times on Thursday on the sidelines of the Youth Spark event, hosted by Microsoft Philanthropies Corporate Vice President Mary Snapp. 
“Her story as a woman who entered a male-dominated field and excelled inspired me to follow suit,” Saad noted. 
“I am delighted to see that the youth in Jordan is quite familiar with current technological trends, as well as very eager for continual learning. We hope this event further sparks their passion for careers in technology and in so many other fields that require digital skills today,” Snapp highlighted. 
Students were given the chance to discuss pressing economic challenges, while introducing the latest technological trends that can help facilitate social change. 
The sessions included the Hour of Code, a tutorial event that has reached tens of millions of students worldwide, as well as training by Microsoft Student Partners on TouchDevelop and OfficeMix, according to organisers. 
Hussein Malhas, executive director of Microsoft Jordan, noted the company’s operations in the Kingdom include supporting knowledge stations at schools, in cooperation with particularly non-profit NGOs, to reach young people and students. 
“Through these organisations, we have strived to increase the beneficiaries of our programmes, which have successfully reached 40,000 trainees annually,” he said, adding that Microsoft is “committed to expanding its activities outside Amman,” he said while addressing the students.  
“Over the past five years, we have given $3.8 million worth of Microsoft’s software to non-profit organisations to benefit local communities. Today, I would like to stress that Microsoft’s doors are open to everyone, particularly the young generation that gives us hope in the form of innovative ideas,” Malhas added.
Moreover, he cited Microsoft’s 21st Century Learning initiative, an effort that provides students with the scientific approach to developing modern technological skills. The programme aims to build students’ knowledge, problem-solving abilities and innovative thinking, as well as ICT skills for improved communication.
“Another example of a success story is e-commerce portal souq.com which was acquired this week by Amazon for hundreds of millions of dollars. The website was co-founded in 2005 as part of Maktoob by Ronaldo Mushawar, Jordanians Samih Toukan and Hussein Khoury,” he said.
In 2006, Microsoft established the Microsoft Innovation Centre at the Royal Scientific Society — one of 100 centres around the world — to build entrepreneurs’, school and university students’ skills, create job opportunities and support innovation. 
“Furthermore, we have launched the Microsoft Academic Accelerator, where Microsoft’s specialists train qualified and talented programmers. The trainees end up developing Microsoft apps that address some of the most pressing development challenges in the Kingdom,” Malhas said. 
In January, Microsoft Jordan established the global Customer Support Hub, which provides the services of nearly a thousand professional Jordanian engineers to serve Microsoft’s clients worldwide, while over the previous years, several Jordanian students have managed to reach advanced levels in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition. 
“Seeing the motivation and brightness of Jordanian students at the YouthSpark, I believe that Jordan has what it takes to become a hub for technology,” said Snapp.

Jordan Times
April 1, 2017