SINDI, Hayat

Founder and CEO of i2 Institute for imagination and ingenuity

Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for science education in the Middle East

Member of the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia

Dr. Hayat Sindi is a Saudi Arabian medical scientist and one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. She is famous for making major contributions to point-of-care medical testing and biotechnology. Hayat Sindi was born in Mecca. In 1991, she convinced her family to allow her to travel alone to the United Kingdom in order to pursue her higher education. After a year spent learning English and studying for her A-levels, she was accepted to King's College London, where she graduated with a degree in pharmacology in 1995. Sindi went on to get a Ph.D. in biotechnology from the University of Cambridge in 2001; she was the first Saudi woman to be accepted at Cambridge University in the field of biotechnology, and the first woman from any of the Arab States of the Arabian Gulf to complete a doctoral degree in the field. Sindi was a visiting scholar at Harvard University; as such, she travels often between Jeddah, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sindi's laboratory work at Harvard earned her a spot with four other scientists in a documentary film supported by the Executive Office of the President of the United States in order to promote science education among young people. Along with her scientific activities, Sindi participated in numerous events aimed at raising the awareness of science amongst females, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World in general. In 2010, Sindi was the winner of the Mekkah Al Mukaramah prize for scientific innovation, given by HRH Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud. She was also named a 2011 Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society. On October 1, 2012, Sindi was appointed by UNESCO head Irina Bokova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for her efforts in promoting science education in the Middle East, especially for girls. She was also on Newsweek's list of 150 women who shook the world for that year. In January 2013, Sindi again broke new ground by becoming part of the first group of women to serve in Saudi Arabia's Consultative Council. In the annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative held on September 21-24, 2014, Dr. Sindi was awarded with 'Leadership in Civil Society' prize.


09:30-11:00 6 NOVEMBER
PLENARY SESSION IV. Science in the innovation ecosystem

A sustainable world by steering science to human values

Students are giving up on science careers. They study diligently, but remarkably do not pursue science anymore. In the Middle East up to 99% exit science at this point. So I believe some of the power of science is leaking in the direction of competitive values, rather than collaborative values, so our students are simply not resonating with competitive values. This includes the rockets, bombs, weapons, performance metrics, speed, power, bigger, better, that attract more of the combative values. This has raised the importance of bigger data, bigger screens, speed and data, which risks us overdosing on technology, but has brought health implications too. The best antidote is to bring on-board scientific leaders with collaborative values often enthused by women, to help make life more balanced and productive. This makes science more human, encouraging well-being, super health, psychological health, to help unite families, dissolve human problems and issues, and strengthen the output of communities. Currently we are far from this ideal, especially with women's voice in science not coming through. So I'm sad the power of science is not aligned squarely at human welfare. Based on my experiences, I want to tackle this problem by following through a 5 point action plan to get young entrepreneurs engaged with the huge power of the scientific engine: (1) Adding social innovation to science courses; (2) Building an ecosystem (eg i2); (3) Encouraging more female scientific role models; (4) Delivering images/videos of practical scientists delivering social impact and (5) Promoting policy to encourage more diverse scientific leaders. This way we stimulate more young men and women to lead practical science, to support human needs and sustainability. This will better steer the power of science, so science reflects family values, and can deliver on its promises to the people.