Investment in the Next Generation fuels the Future of the Middle East

“The world is changing rapidly through technology, and we need to equip our future generations with the necessary capabilities and tools to make things faster, cheaper, and better” - Khaled Abdel Ghaffar


When Solar Impulse 2, a completely solar-powered airplane, took off from Abu Dhabi on its record-breaking around-the-world flight in 2015, it featured a wing design optimized using Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software.


Engineers building Solar Impulse 2 used the software to quickly determine how best to minimize the plane’s weight, while ensuring it could handle the rigors of this first-of-a-kind flight.

The same technology was used to send the Curiosity Mars rover into space, and now, Siemens is making this software available to more than 40,000 university students across four countries in the Middle East.


Through licensing grants valued at US$420 million, the software is now available for use by students at ten universities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and soon Iraq. The students are using the software as part of their studies to learn about, and train on, technology that represents the cutting edge of digitalization.

“The world is changing rapidly through technology, and we need to equip our future generations with the necessary capabilities and tools to make things faster, cheaper, and better,” said Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, at the time the grant was announced.


The PLM software allows state-of-the-art product design, simulation, analysis, manufacturing, and product data management and lifecycle support. The software makes it efficient and cost effective to manage this information throughout the entire lifecycle of a product – from ideation, design, and manufacturing to service and disposal.


By integrating data, processes, business systems, and ultimately people in an extended digital environment, PLM opens new opportunities for innovation and efficiency. For example, the software makes it possible to test new products and even new production lines through a virtual digital twin, eliminating or reducing the need for physical prototyping.


By giving university students access to this powerful and versatile tool, Siemens is helping them acquire advanced digital skills in preparation for a future we can hardly imagine, given that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist only 11 years from now, in 2030, haven’t been invented yet.

In a world where digitalization is bringing change at an unprecedented speed and scale, providing students in the region early access to these tools is critical. Industry 4.0 is changing the way things are done across industries, from power plant operations and maintenance to manufacturing production lines and supply chain management.


With new generations of Middle Eastern engineers and technicians fluent in Industry 4.0 software such as PLM, the region can more quickly and effectively diversify its economies.

Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, affirmed this when the grants were announced in the UAE: “As the UAE transitions to a competitive knowledge economy, building the skills of the future among UAE nationals is a top priority.”


“The software grant from Siemens is a significant contribution to enhancing local digital skills, as they become increasingly essential for the development of this country and the jobs of tomorrow,” he added.


By collaborating with universities and ministries, Siemens is working to bridge the gap between industry and academia, creating a dialog that can build a greater understanding among K-12 schools, vocational schools, and universities regarding the types of skills and qualifications that businesses and industries require.


Through these PLM grants, Siemens is not only sharing technology and fostering knowledge transfer, but also giving examples of the type of learning required to build the workforce of tomorrow that is ready to adopt and leverage digitalization in almost any sphere.


Students will come out of these programs with experience working on real-world software, making them more attractive hires, helping them make the transition to the workplace, and providing a boost to companies and the broader economy as their expertise drives greater productivity, efficiency, and operational excellence. 


The software grants are part of a larger US$560 million investment by Siemens in its digital presence in the region. Complementing the grants, Siemens is establishing MindSphere Application Centers in the region, including the first two in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These centers, which are among more than a dozen worldwide, provide a platform for Siemens and its regional partners to jointly solve customer problems with powerful new digital solutions.


The largest numbers of students impacted by the PLM licensing program are in Egypt, where grants were made to the engineering faculties at the country’s three largest public universities in Cairo, Ain Shams, and Alexandria. More than 35,000 students can access the software for courses and projects in computer-integrated manufacturing, robotics, industrial design, work design, ergonomics, materials science, and processing. 


As part of the grant in Egypt, Siemens refurbished and equipped the PLM labs at each university, where the software has become an integral component of the engineering programs. Siemens also is directly supporting the programs with train-the-trainer workshops and training sessions for students and professors.


In partnership with five universities in the UAE, PLM software is available to 3,850 students building solutions and training on use of the software. In Saudi Arabia, 1,700 students from Effat University in Jeddah, which is the first Saudi university to offer engineering courses to women, and King Saud University in Riyadh are benefitting from the software grants.


From regional classrooms to high in the skies, and as far away as the planet Mars, Siemens PLM software is supporting pioneers in their pursuit of new frontiers. Young people across the Middle East are ‘learning by doing’ on PLM software, as they use digitalization to design, manufacture, and create a new future for their countries and the region as a whole.

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