Transforming air travel: Inside Cognizant’s partnership with Riyadh Airports
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Transforming air travel: Inside Cognizant’s partnership with Riyadh Airports

Transforming air travel: Inside Cognizant’s partnership with Riyadh Airports

Cognizant’s GM in Saudi Arabia, Tarek Zarg El Aioun, discusses the company’s strategic partnerships and digital innovations transforming the aviation sector and beyond

Marisha Singh

Cognizant and Riyadh Airports Company, the operator of King Khalid International Airport (RUH), announced the launch of ‘Riyadh Airports Innovation Council,’ earlier this year.  

This initiative is designed to foster “collaborative innovation and enhance the passenger experience” in line with Saudi Vision 2030, read the official release. 

Cognizant will lead the development of creative solutions to elevate customer experiences, utilising its extensive market experience. The council will also involve specialised companies to provide external insights, ensuring comprehensive use of available technologies.

Tarek Zarg El Aioun, Cognizant Saudi Arabia’s general manager, emphasised the company’s commitment to redefining the travel experience and supporting the council in meeting the technological needs of the industry.

A joint team of business and technology experts from Riyadh Airports and Cognizant has been formed to spearhead the initiative, ensuring alignment with the strategic goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

The deal with Riyadh Airports Company is another feather in the cap of the global tech company which has also partnered with the likes of British automaker Aston Martin’s Formula 1 team. Saudi’s Public Investment Fund owns a 20.5 per cent stake in the car company.

Gulf Business spoke to the Cognizant GM about the tech giant’s powerful partnerships in the region.

Tarek Zarg El Aioun, GM, Cognizant Saudi Arabia. Image credit: Supplied

Q. What does digital transformation mean in the aviation sector, and how is Cognizant impacting the industry?

I would describe digital transformation in the aviation sector as the strategic integration of digital technologies to revolutionise operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive innovation throughout the industry.

At Cognizant, we are making an impact in the aviation industry by partnering with airlines, airports, and aviation authorities to deliver innovative and tailored digital solutions.

Through our expertise in digital technologies and deep industry knowledge, we collaborate closely with our clients to help them embrace digitalisation, stay competitive, and unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. By supporting these aviation stakeholders with digital capabilities, we are reshaping the future of air travel, making it safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable for passengers and industry professionals, alike.

Q. Tell us about your strategic partnership with Riyadh Airports.

Our strategic partnership with Riyadh Airports is a significant milestone for us in Saudi Arabia. Together, we have established the Riyadh Airports Innovation Council, which aims to leverage digital technologies to enhance the passenger experience at King Khalid International Airport. This demonstrates our commitment to driving innovation and digital transformation in the kingdom’s aviation sector and aligns with our vision to redefine the travel experience through technology.

One of the key initiatives under this partnership is the implementation of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance efficiency, safety, and convenience for passengers and airport staff. For example, we are exploring the use of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants to provide real-time flight information, assist passengers with way-finding, and facilitate seamless communication between travellers and airport personnel.

Our collaboration with Riyadh Airports aligns with the Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy, drive global engagement, and enhance the quality of life in the kingdom.

By utilising the power of technology, we aim to redefine the travel experience and set new standards for excellence in airport operations and passenger services.

Q. Another global brand that Cognizant has partnered with is Aston Martin in Formula 1 racing. How have you contributed to the motorsport?

Our partnership with Aston Martin in Formula 1 represents a strategic collaboration aimed at leveraging our expertise in data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital experience to enhance Aston Martin’s performance both on and off the track.

Specifically, we have worked closely with Aston Martin’s engineering team to develop advanced data analytics solutions that optimise vehicle performance and inform strategic decision-making during races.

Additionally, our cloud computing capabilities have enabled Aston Martin to securely store and analyse vast amounts of telemetry data in real-time, providing valuable insights into vehicle dynamics and driver performance.

Our AI technologies have been instrumental in developing predictive models for race strategy optimisation and performance forecasting. Furthermore, our digital experience solutions have enhanced fan engagement through immersive digital experiences and interactive content delivery platforms.

Overall, our contributions to motorsport through our partnership with Aston Martin reflect our commitment to driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of technology in the world of Formula 1.

Q. How are you viewing artificial intelligence (AI) and its positioning today? Which sectors will see the most impact?

AI is a transformative technology with the potential to revolutionise various industries.

Today, AI is positioned as a strategic enabler for driving innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness in economies worldwide, including Saudi Arabia. Across sectors such as healthcare, finance, government services, and FMCG, AI is making massive changes. Companies within these sectors are leveraging AI to enhance customer experiences and increase their growth.

For example, we have developped a virtual AI clinician that can diagnose symptoms with 98 per cent accuracy. This ‘virtual clinician’ would be capable of listening to patients describe their symptoms and asking the same kinds of clarification questions that a human doctor would ask.

We are helping global payments organisations radically boost efficiency and accuracy by improving their user experience. We helped leading global and regional restaurant chains optimise their operations and streamline the ordering and supply chain processes allowing them to stay very competitive and offer enhanced customer experience at every step of the client interaction.

Q. Cognizant has been working with home-grown talent for over a decade now in Saudi Arabia. What are the results of your programme?

Our investment in developing home-grown talent in Saudi Arabia has shown us tangible results over the years. Through various initiatives, including training programmes, internships, and collaborations with local universities, we have helped drive a skilled generation equipped with the latest digital skills and expertise.

We are proud of our impact and remain committed to nurturing Saudi talent for years to come, positioning  as a hub for tech innovation and talent development.

Read: Riyadh Air, Sabre ink strategic deal, here’s what it involves

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