Published on Arab Voices

Profiles of the Diaspora: Riad Hartani

There are approximately 20 million citizens of the Middle East and North Africa region living abroad. For their countries of origin and the region as a whole, they represent a potential goldmine of knowledge, skills and business networks that remain largely untapped. A new World Bank report Mobilizing the Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Economic Integration and Entrepreneurship makes the case for regional governments to partner with their diaspora as they can be a source of much more than remittances alone. This blog series aims to introduce readers to individual members of the diaspora, to put a human face on the vast potential they represent. 

Riad Hartani
“Technology without borders - the ultimate bridge.”

Riad Hartani was born and raised in Algiers. He graduated as an engineer from Ecole Polytechnique with highest honors and went on to obtain Engineering and Master degrees in France, both with highest distinctions. At the age of 25, he was awarded a Doctorate in Artificial Intelligence with highest honors and best thesis distinction, from the University of Paris. Subsequently he pursued his work as a post-Doctoral fellow in Machine Learning and Computational Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley. His thesis research work was done in labs in France, the United States and Japan. He later completed an Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. His research has pioneered a new field in Artificial Intelligence, combining Numerical and Symbolic Neuro-fuzzy modeling techniques applied to real world complex systems design.
On the basis of this work, Hartani was invited as a distinguished expert engineer to the prestigious Hitachi, Advanced Research Labs in Tokyo, where he contributed to various inventions in the area of intelligent automated Integrated Circuits design. He subsequently joined the Canadian Research Council, and Nortel, Canada, as a lead Research and Development engineer, designing advanced Internet networking systems. From there, he moved to the United States, to the San Francisco Bay area to be part of various leadership teams of technology start-ups working on Internet routing, intelligent analytics, 4th generation wireless and Internet of Things systems design. Riad Hartani has held founding and leadership roles in a string of startups in the Silicon Valley, including Wichorus, Inc. (as head of Systems Engineering, acquired by Tellabs) Anagran, Inc. (as head of Technology, acquired by Saisei Networks), Caspian, Inc. (as Chief Architect, acquired by Sable Networks), N42, Inc. (as head of Business Development) and RTBFast, Inc. (as Chief Technologist).
After a relatively long absence from Algeria, Hartani has been in regular contact over the past few years with the emergent technology eco-system in his home country. He has visited frequently and participated in technology conferences, offering collaboration with local teams. More specifically, Hartani has been working with local startups and technology agencies to promote the local incubator eco-system and applied research labs. His areas of interest are centered on Internet, mobile and data sciences, technology development and the fostering of bridges with the global innovation ecosystem.
Hartani sees rapid advances in information technology and the emergence of innovative business models as a golden opportunity for Algeria to leapfrog legacy systems and infrastructures to rapidly cultivate a comprehensive technology eco-system. He believes that evolving Internet business models, Open Source-centric solutions and cross border technology collaborations along with a new generation of technology savvy entrepreneurs, provide an opportunity to rethink technology development strategies. From his perspective, a 15 to 20 year strategic vision combined with context specific tactical execution, if done well, could yield significant progress and results on various fronts. This is particularly the case for the information technology sector which is the backbone of any development strategy and cuts across the whole spectrum of industrial sectors. Each opportunity raises the question and challenge of execution and associated risks. Hartani insists that Information technology forms the cornerstone of any development strategy and is, in fact, the strategy.

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