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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


Dr. Umar Saif is the founder and CEO of (formerly He is the CEO of Khudi Ventures, Pakistan's largest venture studio. He worked as the Chief Digital Officer of the Jang/Geo group. He is also an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan.


Previously, Dr. Umar Saif served as the Federal Minister of IT & Telecom (MoITT), as well as Science & Technology (MoST), from 2023-2024, laying the foundation for landmark reforms in the technology sector in Pakistan. During his tenure, IT export revenue grew by over 32%; government allocated 300 MHz spectrum to double the capacity of the telecom infrastructure in Pakistan, including  introduction of 5G in Pakistan; started the program to establish 10,000 e-rozgaar centers for online freelancers; made arrangements to introduce PayPal in Pakistan; established the Pakistan Startup Fund to attract foreign venture capital for Pakistani startups; made Pakistan’s first Space Policy to prepare for services like Starlink to be introduced in Pakistan; made Pakistan’s first national fiberisation policy to lay 200,000 KM fiber in Pakistan; started a program to train 200,00 software developers; established Pakistan's first National CERT to combat cyber attacks on Pakistan; established a Telecom Tribunal to expedite dispute resolution for the telecom industry; made policies to incentivise manufacturing and exports of smart phones from Pakistan and converted Pakistan’s fiber network into a digital corridor to connect China with Africa and Europe.

Earlier, Dr. Saif also worked as a cabinet member in Government of Punjab and served as the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) from 2011-2018. His work led to a radical digital transformation of the government in Punjab and several of his initiatives were replicated throughout the country. He was the founding Vice Chancellor of ITU and established it as one of premier technology universities in Pakistan. Dr. Saif founded Plan9, Pakistan’s first government-backed startup incubator, as well as Punjab’s e-rozgaar program. He is often cited as one of the main forces behind Pakistan's startup ecosystem.


Dr. Saif received his PhD in Computer Science in 2001 at University of Cambridge and worked at MIT for several years before returning to Pakistan. He was the first Pakistani to be named as one of the top 35 young innovators in the world by the MIT Technology Review (TR35) and the first Pakistani to receive a Google faculty research award in 2011. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010. He has received the MIT Technovator Award, Mark Weiser Award, IDG Technology Pioneer Award and the British Council Outstanding Alumni Award. Dr. Saif was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2014, one of the highest civil awards by government of Pakistan. He was named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world consecutively between 2015-2023. In 2018, he was awarded the UNESCO Chair for using ICT for Development. In 2024, Dr. Saif was appointed on the International Telecom Union (ITU) Digital Innovation Board. Dr. Saif has founded several technology companies and serves on the board of various private, public and financial institutions. 

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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