First Middle East Woman PhD in Artificial Intelligence
Jeddah – born Dr. Fatmah Baothman is the first woman in the Middle East with a Ph.D. in modern artificial intelligence (AI). Her AI journey started when she was a student at the University of Arizona studying English. She was introduced to computer systems that help non-native English speakers. The level of machine communication and interaction fascinated her. In 2003, she graduated from the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Huddersfield in the UK, where she obtained a Ph.D. in phonology-based automatic speech recognition for Arabic. Her work primarily focused on AI, and she was exposed to forecasting, pattern recognition, phonology and phonetics, acoustics, machine learning and mathematics. She is the first Middle Eastern woman to have won two international awards in AI from the US and the UK. Baothman has also translated a book on modern AI to help Arabic speakers gain a better understanding of the subject. Baothman has held several positions, among them Apple center manager, director of the education sector at King Abdullah Economic City, director of the E-learning Researcher Program in Dubai, deputy director of the information technology (IT) center at King Abdul Aziz University (KAU), and president of the Women Engineers Committee at the Saudi Council of Engineering. She has worked at KAU for more than 25 years as an assistant professor in computing and IT.