Tell us about yourself and your educational background
My name is Ameen Altajer and I’m the managing director of INFINITEWARE, I got a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from University of Bahrain in 2006, I teach artificial intelligence, blockchain and ethical hacking in Bahrain’s very own BIBF, I give a lot of business and technical talks on these aspects, especially off Bahrain, my website has the details of the activities I’m currently involved in: http://www.AmeenAltajer.com.
I graduated from the program in 2010. At that time, I had a passion for software, especially the engineering aspect behind it. The idea of creating things that people can benefit from was exciting for me.
Why did you choose Computer Science at that time?
15 years back when I was younger – I thought there was no need for business, silly me. Didn’t give it importance at all. To me being a technical person is what mattered at the end of the day. However fast forward, now I believe and see that they are equally important. You can say that I have mutual respect for both spectrums now, both the technical and business side.
I learned that the hard way – it’s a common issue with technical people when they start their career. Most don’t know how to market themselves, specifically market what they had built, it’s like having a great kitchen but not knowing how to serve food to hungry customers, things are way different for me now, thank god!
Tell us more on how you got into the gaming business which is more than 7 years now
I started developing games in 3D back in 2008, but I couldn’t find a market to cater to. Later, I started I was approached by Saudi Aramco and worked on a couple of 3D simulation projects in EXPEC Advanced Research Center, which was one of Saudi Aramco’s R&D homes. The purpose of the job was to show unprecedented level of detail in interacting with 3D simulators using multiple gestural interfaces and mechanism, we’ve actually used the technology shown in the popular movie: “Minority Report”, it’s been beautiful to apply my game development skills in the oil simulation space.
In 2012, I worked in the US for some time to work on various 3D and gestural technologies prior to joining Saudi Aramco, I’ve later worked in BNP Paribas, we’re I’ve been involved in building middleware system and integration, I currently do security contract work for BNP Paribas, ethical hacking is one my main strengths, cybersecurity is also a part of it which is a big topic nowadays for all financial institutions.
Spotlight Definition – Ethical Hacking - Ethical hacking refers to the act of locating weaknesses and vulnerabilities of computer and information systems by duplicating the intent and actions of malicious hackers. Ethical hacking is also known as penetration testing, intrusion testing, or red teaming.
You said you started your own business and that’s called ‘INFINITEWARE, tell us about that.
INFINITEWARE is an artificial intelligence company, Bahrain’s first. I started to help organizations tap into the power of AI to understand their data better to do smart decisions, for me, it’s with more information you can make better decision, this applies in business, too. When getting all this data, the magic is when you make sense out of it, it’s just beautiful and very handy when you see insights you haven’t thought of! Another element is automation, which is the second and most interesting part for me, it’s all about putting these AI-generated insights into real action.
Some of my biggest clients are Saudi Aramco, VIVA, and other industries including financial institutions, consulting firms, manufacturing houses and government entities.
You mentioned focusing on artificial intelligence more than game development lately, why?
I have a lot of love to game development, the discipline opened my eyes of a variety of fields and technical choices, but I’ve been focusing my efforts on artificial intelligence lately as – for me – it has more direct impact on our practical lives, the truth is, game development has always catered to the humane side of me while AI is more about direct tangible impact, I love both of these fields as I invest a huge time keeping myself updated.
You have a blog where you write on Artificial Intelligence and technology, tell me about that.
Yes! I run a blog on Artificial Intelligence and technology. My recent post is titled “A Feud to Settle: Automation against Jobs” which talks about the assumption that by endorsing automation we’re encouraging unemployment. I recommend you guys to read it – it is a practical approach about the point of view of the employer and employee.
I’m passionate about this topic and technology in general but the power of AI is so vast. This is the future, in fact, it’s now. Beyond that, I like sharing my thoughts and opinions about different topics including game development, events I’ve participated it and my experience, and community updates. This is another way of giving back to the community. You can follow my blog via this link: http://www.ameen.ai.
You’re also a speaker and you’ll be speaking at the “Block On” event under the Bahrain Fintech Bay. Tell us about that:
I like being very sincere with my thoughts and experience on stage, I’m well-known to be notorious when speaking up my mind on technology and the startup scene, in fact you guys must read my recent article here: “Speaking of AI: Investment Hygiene in Technology”. As an expert in the technology domain; I’m comfortable and I love speaking about topics such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, cyber security and blockchain, I do this as a profession, I’ve been doing this off Bahrain for a while now. I also do training and have a variety of well-tailored courses for your organization so you can easily understand these buzz words and modern technologies like the blockchain and machine learning, I cater to both business excutives and the technical kind, you book me for your conferences and business here: http://www.AmeenAltajer.com.You can know more from my business website! Come see me speak in Block On which is on the Fintech Bay Website!
“I had a passion for software, especially the engineering aspect behind it. The idea of creating things that people can benefit from was exciting for me”
The gaming sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, do you think the startup ecosystem in Bahrain understands that?
I think the market and investors in Bahrain are slowly catching up, understanding the difference between gaming and game development is pretty important if intend to invest in these areas. There’s a lot of creativity and analytical skills that go into game development. The engineering and the programming aspects are just huge investments within the game development process. The idea of you playing a 6 hour game, where it takes months to create is mind blowing! A lot of people underestimate the hard work that goes under the craft! Its impressive really – the amount of genius about it.
Bahrain is catching up, and I really like where things are going, it used to be different back in 2012 when I kickstarted the game development scene in Bahrain, the government, educational institutes and my community friends have been so great in supporting my vision for the industry in Bahrain, even though I’ve been more focus on the business, I’m really happy that the community is really driven to carry the torch and carry the flag, I couldn’t be more proud.
The practical aspects of programming - you spoke about that. What is the problem you mentioned related to education?
Universities in Bahrain have different views when it comes to education, and I have my views too, for example University of Bahrain focused more on the theory and the principles but the Polytechnic Bahrain has more of a hands on experience, for me it’s a mixture of both, you can never lean into a single side only, theory is important to understand principles, but hands-on is priceless.
You have described the game field in Bahrain as “Non-existent” last year and that investors are difficult to find locally or that there are no investors willing to take that risk?
As of now, Bahrain has no game industry, a lot of things go under the umbrella of a game industry, we’re talking game development education and business, jobs, solid communities and such, many elements are there but we still need more time and effort to flesh things out.
From a government aspect, we are doing slightly better in terms of awareness. In terms of investors, I feel like there is major room for improvement in this area whether it is for gaming or other sectors. An investor needs to understand the process not in technical terms but need to be educated more on the business side.
A good example of how profitable this business is is for example Fortnite, the game makes around $317 Million dollars in a single month! But how do you educate potential investors in Bahrain? That’s the million dollar question. It will take a long time to educate investors here on the gaming sector and the potential it presents.
What are the 3 pillars to spawn the game industry:
Proper education – We need a better education system in terms of engineering and the business of game development, STEM fields are really important.
Jobs available – We need have jobs ready for these people. Hard to apply but we should move towards that direction, at least start, this is heavily tied to education and subsidization.
Culture and mindset – Education the culture to appreciate this method of creation and make them understand that this is one way to introduce additional income to the country, the economy here needs other ways to make wealth.
What are immediate ways in your opinion that flourish game development?
As a developer, always engage with the media, for example, we have Bahrain’s very own game development conference: GCC Game Conference (GCCGC) – the conference didn’t cater to gaming; it focused solely on game development, both the business and the technical side.
You need marketing power for almost everything, the government now supports us in many occasions.
What 3 tips can you share with us from your experience?
Hands on experience is so important. Please get your hands dirty! Theory is one thing but putting theory into use and practice is what matters, less talk and more hands-on.
This might be cheesy but being humble land you great business opportunities most of the time. It’s not a common tip but it goes a long way.
Help others in need. If you have the experience and time to mentor or guide someone along the same path, do it. The ecosystem thrives on support and collaboration, community is very crucial to survival of the craft.
TWO QUESTIONS I FORGOT TO ASK YOU!
Are you scared of failure? Would you be open to sharing a moment of failure with us?
Sure, everyone is, but to be realistic, failure is inevitable, there is no way around it to find true success.
In this 10 year journey of business, I’ve been very privileged to have made many pitfalls along the way, the good news though, I’ve becoming really better at things, iteration is the key to mastery.
One moment, is delivering a product that wasn’t really spot on in terms of the target region, this has been an expensive lesson.
What are your next 3 mini goals?
Provide really value to both societies and communities, whether it was products or services.
Build a better economy for Bahrain and educate the tech startup scene here for now, which has been super obsessed with quick wins over long term gains.
Try to find to fix the educational system in here, this is super important for generations to value real endeavors over finding jobs for the sole sake of income.
How can we contact you?
I’m available on my website http://www.AmeenAltajer.com, and through all social media networks on @ameenaltajer.
Thank you Ameen for having coffee with us and we will make sure to follow your journey. We are sure it will be epic - KEEP GOING