Tariq Fazal, Program Director - Red Hat Academy, Red Hat

Tariq Fazal has 19 years of experience in the IT industry deploying, delivering and managing enterprise training solutions for global enterprises. As the Global Program Manager for the Red Hat Academy, he works with senior leaders within academic institutions to create centres for enterprise-ready talent by outfitting them with Red Hat Training, including hands-on instruction, curriculum, labs, performance-based testing, and instructor support. Tariq is passionate about talent development and makes the time to mentor and coach individual contributors and managers in their personal and professional development. He is always interested in hearing from his former colleagues, managers, old friends and other innovative people to share ideas and experiences.


Today, digital transformation is revolutionizing the world in ways likely thought impossible at the turn of the millennium. As the digital, biological, and physical worlds become more and more acquainted and the impact and influence of new technologies grows, businesses, governments, and societies have been accelerated on a path towards a limitless future. Artificial intelligence (AI, machine learning (ML), cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), robotics, and advanced wireless technologies are all evolving at an unprecedented rate, propelling us further along the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) journey. 

This applies to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are leading the way in integrating these technologies into all areas of business and government. MENA organizations were projected to spend USD 30 billion this year alone, illustrating the growing importance of capturing digital transformation benefits sooner rather than later. As such, the region is well-position to become the number one talent hub worldwide and supply the workforces of tomorrow on a global scale. The talent pool is extensive, boasting a third of the planet’s population, of which 40 per cent are below the age of 30. 

However, a sizeable progression barrier that continues to linger is the digital skills gap, which must be addressed to unlock social value and fully capitalize on the opportunities that await. The evolution of digital technologies has driven fundamental change across the employment landscape  – and with it, a lack of qualified personnel equipped with the required competencies.

According to the World Economic Forum, no fewer than 133 million new positions may be available by 2022 due to people, machines, and algorithms co-existing. Therefore, equipping people with the relevant knowledge and skillsets to succeed in such inclusive environments is an urgent necessity. Seamless connectivity, constant access to ICT development platforms, and substantial digital upskilling investment are essential, as are soft, technical, and digital skills. 

Knowledge sharing will enable nations across the region to meet their mutual aspirations, and an open-source culture can empower all concerned parties. As the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, Red Hat technologies integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize operating systems, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. Crucially, more than 90 per cent of Fortune Global 500 Red Hat’s portfolio, including Linux, JBoss Middleware, and Virtualization, illustrating their extensive capabilities to drive digital transformation. 

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a prime example, delivering a consistent experience across certified architecture and hardware configuration. It provides reliable interfaces and drives high-performance computing (HPC) into new and existing markets, such as AI and enterprise, cloud, quantum cloud computing. Red Hat technologies promise solid foundations for success, along with security, support, stability, flexibility, and an ecosystem of partners.

Of course, using such technologies and their capabilities requires experts in these fields from the moment they enter professional environments – and the importance of up-skilling through academia must not be overlooked. Should tomorrow’s employees excel in technology the same way organizations do, enhanced productivity is a certainty. Moreover, digital up-skilling through academia will engage talent from the outset, ensuring they are not only capable of applying their skills to every area of their future roles, but are equally motivated to do so. 

Without question, learning opportunities enhance youth training and development. This is why closing the digital skills gap and fostering enterprise-ready talent at institutions in the Middle East is a priority for the Red Hat Academy. For years, the Academy has collaborated with researchers and students at universities across the UAE and beyond and offering courses that improve digital skills and competencies. More specifically, the program has partnered with nearly 2000 educational institutions globally and more than 360 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). 

Academic institutions are transformed into centres for enterprise-ready talent and outfitted with training and certification. Each course offering is designed to enhance the skills required to embrace the challenges that come with any positional and professional environment, providing several benefits so students can realize their academic and career potential. These include flexible, hands-on experience in lab environments, performance-based examinations, and diverse content as part of Linux, OpenShift, cloud, and development technologies curriculums, as well as resources through globally standardized materials and training with the support of experienced instructors. Thousands of students participate every year, with 95 per cent insisting they are better prepared following training and 94 per cent of instructors and administrators pointing out that graduates with such certifications have brighter employment prospects. 

Increased agility, improved productivity, greater profits, better customer experiences, enhanced data collection, and invaluable data-driven insights await organizations in the new digital era. Yet capitalizing on these benefits requires talented personnel with the capabilities to thrive and succeed in the digital landscape.

Therefore, the time is now to ensure talent is given even more platforms to become skilled technicians and realize their full potential. Delivering new meaning to customers, business operations, and society can only be achieved through continuous learning – and education is the gateway to success for the digital workforces of the future. An array of advanced curriculums are freely accessible for talent across the region to learn and improve. They should make use of the opportunity and position themselves to flourish professionally. 

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