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Arab News, Thursday, Nov 16, 2023 | 2 Jumada, 1445 AH

​​Careem to implement AI in secure manner in KSA

RIYADH: Careem is set to implement artificial intelligence technology in a secure manner to personalize user experience in Saudi Arabia, a top official told Arab News.

Due to the inherently sensitive nature of the data collected by the app, it is emphasizing the ethical use of the technology, ensuring that it is being used in the “right way,” Srijith Nair, chief information security officer at Careem, said on the sidelines of the Black Hat MEA 2023 forum.

“It (AI) will definitely be used in different parts of Careem. There will be lots and lots more features, which will use the data that you’re producing within our platform to give you better services i.e. food that you can order based on your preferences, where you want to get picked up. Those kinds of things will definitely come in,” he explained.

Nair added: “We work with customer data, captain data, partner data and so on. As we grow in this region and scale specifically, it’s very important for us to make sure that people trust the data that we have on you as a customer, like where you are getting dropped off, your credit card details, etc.”

He said the company’s main goal is for the customer to be able to utilize their services while never feeling that their transactions with the domain are being misused, namely in Saudi Arabia which he deems a “key market” for the company.

“Saudi Arabia is a key market for Careem. This is where I see the potential of being able to influence the socioeconomic aspects of Vision 2030. Each geography comes with unique challenges and Saudi Arabia is no different in that sense. So what we’re trying to make sure is that our products are always reliable, but more importantly from my perspective, secure,” he continued.

According to Nair, the company strongly emphasizes security initiatives, aiming to have the “upper hand” when it comes to technology, ensuring that “Careem’s technology has to be better than the attacker.”

In order to do so, the company is working closely with the Saudi authorities to facilitate the sharing of knowledge as a preventative means to any cyber incident. He views this symbiotic relationship as necessary to the protection of the larger cyber ecosystem.

“We work closely with the Saudi government entities to make sure that when there is a cyber incident, which kind of impacts not just Careem but the wider ecosystem, we share knowledge and information as needed,” he explained.

Nair noted that there is “a lot of potential” to beef up security within the Saudi society and ecosystem, catalyzed by a strong drive for fast-paced growth by both the population and the government.

“There is a lot of potential for security as a domain as the Saudi society and the ecosystem becomes more and more digital … There is always going to be a lot more technology needed within this region to kind of get to that next level. So if you look at what the government is doing and the society is asking for, it is the ability to go faster and faster, but doing that in a sustained and a secure manner. I think that’s where that balance needs to be struck out. I think Saudi Arabia is doing a great job at this point, making sure that you’re doing the right thing, and you’re doing it fast,” he noted.

In order to ensure this fast-paced growth is sustainable and protected, Careem is emphasizing the “build up” of the Saudi talent pools in order to defend interfaces like Careem against attackers in the Kingdom, Nair explained. According to the security officer, the company is partnering with engineering institutions to help find the “kind of people who can understand how to protect information ecosystems” and offer them internships and training at the company.

Nair added: “We are working with engineering institutions because it’s a very fast-moving market, and there is a lot of difference between what you understand from a theoretical point of view versus what is practically needed as well, and closing the gap.”


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