Singapore’s BIGO to launch AI scholarship for Egypt, Saudi, Jordan youth in 2020

Singaporean internet technology company, BIGO says it plans to launch a scholarship competition in artificial intelligence (AI) for talented youth in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in 2020.

The winners will gain hands-on-experience at one of BIGO’s offices in Singapore, Cairo, or Silicon Valley as part of a 90-day global tour and will have the opportunity to network with some of the world’s leading technology professionals, said regional general manager Jackson Liu.

The technology sector is continuing to grow rapidly whereas AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Blockchain are poised to offer some of the most exciting and challenging career opportunities for today’s youth in the Middle East.

In a closed press meeting in New Cairo last week, Jackson Liu talked about BIGO’s apps, number of users, and anticipated plans for the Middle East region in 2020 aiming to attract and employ talented youth.

Liu described Egypt as his more ‘comfort zone’ compared with France and Germany. He said Egypt could be BIGO’s regional headquarters for Africa, Middle East, and Europe operations, due to the abundance of well-educated young people, attractive business environment, cheaper employment, and the government’s ‘very supportive’ approach towards foreign investors, he said.

Established in 2014, BIGO operates products and services in more than 150 countries in the world. Its products include BIGO LIVE – a global livestreaming platform, Likee – a global short video creation platform, and imo – a global video communication app.

BIGO’s headquarters and regional centres are focused on building Artificial Intelligence capabilities and enhancements specifically for localisation and country-specific requirements.

At present, BIGO has five R&D centres, in Singapore, U.S., Middle East, India, and China, and over 20 offices around the globe. It has three offices in the Middle East region; Cairo, Dubai, and most recently Jordan in addition to another in Turkey. It has also 30 offices in Europe.

Liu said BIGO’s imo is the most famous app in the Middle East, notably in the GGC market.

“One-third of the population (in the GCC) use the app for communication.” Liu told reporters.

imo is more comprehensive than Skype for it enables users to share content, photos, videos, etc, acting as a social media platform.

‘There are 10 million daily active users of imo in Saudi Arabia,” Liu said.

As for the two other applications, Likee and BIGO LIVE, he said they are more used for younger population in the region.

Likee is more like Tiktok and is not a big market for the Middle East. India and Russia are Likee’s main markets, he added.

BIGO’s Cairo office has managed to double the number of its highly-talented employees from 110 to 242 in 2019, Liu said, adding his company plans to reach 300 or 350 employees at the end of 2020.

The company is committed to keep providing jobs for promising youth in Egypt, Liu said, emphasizing that “Egypt will be main target focus (for) next years.”

Asked about plans to move to Egypt’s anticipated new capital, Liu said the company is studying plans to relocate there. He hailed the new infrastructure being adopted for the new administrative capital.

BIGO invests in people by identifying talented and motivated individuals that have the strong potential to take their company to new heights of success, he added.

Jackson Liu with Egyptian journalists at BIGO’s AI-backed office in New Cairo.