Saudi nurse develops virtual reality game to help improve medical skills

Ithra initiative says eight in 10 submissions were from young women in the kingdom

Stills from the Syringe and Pandemic game. Photo: Abdullah Alosaimi
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A nurse in Jeddah has developed an interactive game to help peers in the healthcare sector hone their skills.

Abdullah Alosaimi said his “Syringe and Pandemic” game requires players to find a syringe to administer medicine to save the life of a patient in an operating room.

Mr Alosaimi said many healthcare organisations around the world were struggling to deal with a shortage of medical staff.

“The idea of the immersive VR [virtual reality] game came to me after seeing the shortage of nursing staff in the healthcare sector, which is not only a national issue but a global issue,” he said.

He presented his game at the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, better known as Ithra.

Mr Alosaimi began to develop the prototype with the help of an Ithra Creative Solutions team last year.

“By employing this immersive technology, we can address this global challenge in this healthcare sector and attract teens to join the … industry,” he said.

“I’m looking to take this project forward and grow it by developing it with other studios experts.”

Ithra participants received a grant from the Host Unity Centre of Excellence.

The shortlist of 10 participants was selected by Emmy-winning creative director Kim-Leigh Pontin and Anne McKinnon, co-founder and chief executive of metaverse platform Ristband.

Miznah AlZamil, head of creativity and innovation at Ithra, said the aim was to create meaningful cultural content that represents the kingdom internationally.

“The projects truly are a global showcase of Saudi innovation,” she said.

Women leading in projects

Eight in 10 submissions came from young Saudi women. Ms AlZamil said she was proud of the young women leading the projects.

“We empower talent and a lot of people — men and women — worked together to get the projects done and we highlighted the lead in the projects,” she told The National.

“I think the creativity and commitment shown by all is amazing.”

Miznah AlZamil speaks during the launch of Ithra's Creative Solutions initiative.

The projects were led by innovators in education, health care, art, tourism and technology, all of whom came up a diverse and interactive gaming experience.

Apart from interactive games featuring puzzles, some of the projects are accompanied by storytelling while others help users to trace art techniques and explore recently opened tourist destinations in the kingdom.

Speaking during the event, Nick Rosa, author of Understanding the Metaverse, said the metaverse would change the concept of reality, and “Saudi Arabia is at the front and centre [of initiatives] to change the world.”

Creative Solutions is a year-round programme open to citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia over the age of 18. Participants can pitch for projects for the 2023 programme, which runs until April 13, at www.ithra.com

Updated: February 06, 2023, 8:33 AM
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