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RIYADH: Cyprus wants to join Digital Cooperation Organization and establish good relations in research and development with Saudi Arabia, said Cypriot Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Kyriacos Kokkinos .

Based in Riyadh, the DCO is a global multilateral organization established in 2020 by seven member states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman and Pakistan to foster increased collaboration and cooperation in the areas entrepreneurship, innovation, business growth and employment in a shared digital economy.

Κyriacos Kokkinos, Cypriot Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy at the Digital Government Authority. (Provided)

Kokkinos, in an exclusive interview with Arab News, said: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and our President Nicos Anastasiades met in Riyadh a few weeks ago, and this meeting brought the two countries closer.

“We agreed to explore collaboration in various sectors of the economy as well as society.

“I spent one day in Jeddah and three days in Riyadh. We had several very productive meetings,” he added.

“To be honest, I am very positively surprised by the gigantic steps that have taken place over the past six years in the Kingdom, in all sectors of the economy, in particular in research, innovation and digital” , said Kokkinos.

Κyriacos Kokkinos, Cypriot Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy (centre) with KACST officials. (Provided)

“It’s not just that, what I’ve realized is that reform is very evident in the social fabric, and in society, not just in the economy, and that’s a very positive message. for us that Saudi Arabia is highly aligned in terms of challenges, business opportunities, as well as social interaction between the two countries through specific programs that we have agreed with counterpart ministers and senior officials during meetings here” , he added.

Saudi ministers and officials who met Kokkinos during the visit include Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha, National Cybersecurity Authority Governor Majed bin Mohammed Al-Mazyed, Hassan Nasser of DCO, Governor of Digital Government Authority Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Suwaiyan and Chairman of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Dr. Munir Eldesouki.

Cypriot Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Κyriacos Kokkinos, speaking to Saudi officials. (Provided)

“We discussed and explored the possibility of Cyprus signing the DCO,” Kokkinos continued. “We are close to reaching an agreement to sign the DCO.”

However, he said that as Cyprus is a member of the EU, “we have to inform and get their agreement, which I hope (will happen) in the next few weeks.

“Throughout my meetings, I witnessed a very dynamic, very prosperous economic activity around new technologies, science and research. I visited KACST and witnessed the phenomenal work done on genetics labs, semiconductors, industrial robotics, 3D printing and space. The work there is phenomenal.

“It’s not just infrastructure — state-of-the-art equipment and labs — but also people and human capital. I am amazed by the quality of the scientists because I myself come from the science and technology sector,” said Kokkinos.

“We agreed to put our university in contact with the universities here, in particular KACST, and to exchange and collaborate on specific projects in the sectors and areas of mutual interest,” he added.

Kokkinos said that an agreement had been reached to assign joint working groups from the two countries to collaborate on a bottom-up approach and to develop a program on an ongoing basis, and also to facilitate the commercial bridge and the social bridge between Cyprus and Saudi Arabia. .

He added that Cyprus is a very dynamic economy and a gateway to Europe for the Middle East and North Africa.

“When I was told about this visit, I had high expectations, and the high expectations were not only met, they were far exceeded,” Kokkinos said. “The main reason I say this is the will and determination of business and government to work with Cyprus and build alliances.

“The warm hospitality, substantial reforms and very vibrant ecosystem that interacted with my visit, and their willingness to collaborate to build trade bridges is wonderful. Our two countries have a lot in common, such as culture, food and social interaction.I believe this is becoming a priority for us, and for the Kingdom as well as Cyprus, (this) can be the home for doing business in the region.