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Umar Saif
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Ph.D. University of Cambridge

Post-doc MIT

Founder and CEO,

Chief Digital Officer, Jang/Geo Media Group

Chief Investment Officer, Khudi Ventures


I live three intertwined lives:


I occasionally dabble in Media 


  • I did a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Cambridge in 2001 (at a fairly young age of 22). My thesis work focused on building early versions of  mobile operating systems and what became known as Internet of Things (IoT). 

  • I was part of the core team for the $50 Million Oxygen project at MIT (2002 - 2006) , which became a precursor to many innovations in mobile systems and devices, Internet of Things, Pervasive Computing.   

  • Since 2005, I have focused on technology for the developing world, often called ICT for Development (ICTD). My research on ICTD has won several  awards. I was awarded the UNESCO Chair for ICTD in 2018.

  • Selected academic publications

    • In the past many years, I have held myself to an unusual standard: I do not publish unless my system/technology/intervention has had "real" impact. A good benchmark is that the work must have impacted at least 10,000 people.  

Public Service

  • I served as Pakistan's Federal Minister for IT & Telecom (MoITT), and Science and Technology (MoST), from 2023-2024. We got a lot done in a short time, growing the IT export revenue of Pakistan by over 32%. 

  • I led a radical digital transformation of Government of Punjab in Pakistan as Chairman PITB. We developed over 300 systems, including digitisation of land records, automation of police, local government services, tax collection systems, vaccination coverage, schools monitoring, court automation, hospital management systems etc. Summary of our projects and their impact.     

  • I established Pakistan's first research university (ITU) as its founding Vice Chancellor. This university has grown to over 12 academic programs, close to 80 faculty members and over 1,000 students. At the age of 34, I was the youngest Vice Chancellor of any university in Pakistan. 

  • I established Pakistan's first large startup incubator, Plan9, which helped bootstrap Pakistan's startup ecosystem. It has graduated over 200 startups, with a collective valuation of over $100 Million.



  • I am currently focused on (formerly, an AI analytics platform for FMCGs. 

  • As its Chief Digital Officer, I am digitally transforming Pakistan's largest media conglomerate, Jang/Geo Media Group. 

  • I head Khudi Ventures, where we are replicating successful consumer Internet products in Pakistan market, including niche social networks, online advertising platforms, digital payments, e-commerce etc. 

  • I have founded several startups, including (Pakistan's largest SMS social network, grew to 13 Million users), See'n'report (Pakistan's first citizen journalism platform) and BumpIn (link exchange).


  • I host a TV show on Pakistan largest TV channel, Geo News. My show, called "Geo tu Aisay", invites inspiring Pakistanis to share their story in a TED-style talk. When it's running, it's one of the most watched TV shows in Pakistan.   

  • I was part of "Idea Croron Ka" on Neo TV, which became Pakistan's equivalent of Shark Tank.

  • I brought MIT Technology Review to Pakistan and served as its founding Editor-in-Chief (2014-2018) to promote high-quality science and tech journalism in Pakistan. 

Awards and Honours

  • ITU Digital Innovation Board (2024)

  • UNESCO ICTD Chair (2018)

  • British Council Outstanding Alumni Award (2017)

  • 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (2015 - 2023)

  • Sitara-i-Imtiaz by Government of Pakistan (one of the highest civil awards of Pakistan) (2014) 

  • ACM CHI Best Paper Award (2013)

  • Google Faculty Research Award (2011)

  • MIT Top 35 Young Innovators in the World (TR 35) (2011)

  • Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum (2010)

  • MIT Technovator Award (2008)

  • Mark Weiser Best Paper Award (2008)

  • IDG CIO Technology Pioneer Award (2008)

  • ACM/IEEE ICTD Best Paper Paper (2007)

  • Microsoft Research (MSR) Digital Inclusion Award (2006)

  • National Commonwealth Scholar, University of Cambridge (1998)

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