Recognizing World IP Day Across the Middle East and North Africa
With an expanding labor force and burgeoning economic opportunities, it’s important for leaders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to embrace robust approaches to intellectual property (IP) that encourage investment in innovation. This World IP Day, we explore the theme “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity,” highlighting the essential role of IP and how women are leading advancements that strengthen the region.
Strong IP rights create an environment that promotes innovation. In the case of biopharmaceutical research, a new medicine or treatment that makes it to market can take over a decade of extensive research and development. IP rights play a vital role in supporting and protecting innovators’ significant time and capital investments, ensuring they are recognized and rewarded for their efforts. This includes patents, which create temporary property rights for new technologies, products, and processes.
The benefits of IP rights go beyond inventors and extend to the public at large. Effective IP protections facilitate greater access to new technological advancements and provide incentives for competition, which in turn accelerates the availability of new products and technologies. IP protections stimulate investment in future inventions, thereby ensuring a cycle of innovation.
Women innovators across MENA are utilizing the power of IP to spearhead advancements in dynamic fields such as science, technology, and art:
- Neeam Al Harrasi, a young inventor from Oman, invented a decomposable plastic that helps combat ocean pollution.
- Rana el Kaliouby, an Egyptian-American computer scientist, is leading significant advancements in artificial intelligence and expression recognition.
- Hadeel Ayoub of Saudi Arabia is the creator of BrightSign, a glove that verbalizes sign language.
They have all acknowledged the importance of IP protection and filed patents for their inventions. Dr. el Kaliouby’s company, Affectiva, is proud to have a female inventor on every single patent and has shared that their “collaborative patenting approach has spawned a lot of creativity and enthusiasm.”
World IP Day serves as a reminder of the critical role IP plays in advancing innovative ideas, technologies, and products. This year, we celebrate women innovators who are leading groundbreaking efforts and how robust IP protections can further enhance economic opportunities across MENA and the world.