Press Releases

Technology Innovation Institute Appoints New CEO to Lead Next Phase of Dynamic Growth

  • ATRC

Dr. Najwa Aaraj succeeds Dr. Ray O. Johnson as Chief Executive Officer

Abu Dhabi, UAE - 21 May 2024: Technology Innovation Institute (TII), a leading global scientific research center and the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), today announced the appointment of Dr. Najwa Aaraj as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Najwa will spearhead TII's next phase of strategic growth, succeeding Dr. Ray O. Johnson, who established the research institute’s solid foundations as its first CEO.

Dr. Najwa Aaraj, a highly accomplished researcher and leader, brings nearly 20 years of experience in critical applied research areas to her new role as Chief Executive Officer. She has been instrumental in the success of TII, serving as the Chief Researcher at the Cryptography Research Center (CRC) and the Autonomous Robotics Research Center (ARRC). Her extensive international experience and proven ability to drive innovative research excellence are poised to shape TII's future direction and cement Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE's position as a critical global R&D innovation hub.

H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC and Adviser to the UAE President for Strategic Research and Advanced Technology Affairs, said: “TII’s future is bright under the leadership of Dr. Najwa Aaraj. Her dedication, innovative leadership, and expertise make her ideal to push the boundaries of knowledge. As TII sets new benchmarks in pioneering innovation, we needed a leader with a distinguished track record of research excellence, which Dr. Najwa embodies. I look forward to working with her as she sets TII's long-term priorities, reinforcing Abu Dhabi's position as a world-class R&D hub. We extend our gratitude to Dr. Ray O. Johnson for his invaluable contributions to TII.”

Dr. Najwa Aaraj, Chief Executive Officer of TII, commented: "After serving as a Chief Researcher at TII, I am honored and excited to take on this new role as we aim to make a substantive impact on the global R&D and scientific community. We have an exceptional, diverse team of over 1,100 scientists and researchers and a culture of innovation that has propelled our rapid growth since our inception. I look forward to working alongside ATRC’s leadership, our talented people, and our partners to lead TII in our exciting next growth phase."

TII is a pioneering global R&D center at the forefront of applied research across groundbreaking advanced technologies. With 10 dedicated research centers specializing in cutting-edge fields,including advanced materials, autonomous robotics, cryptography, AI and digital science, directed energy, quantum technology, secure systems, propulsion and space, biotechnology, and renewable and sustainable energy, TII is driving impactful research to address specific real-world challenges. From its world-renowned Falcon LLM series to the recent world first ‘man vs machine’ race where TII’s autonomous AI raced former F1 driver Daniil Kyvat around Yas Marina Circuit, TII is pioneering research breakthroughs. Elsewhere at the Institute, the directed energy team were awarded a grant of $1.5 million by the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science to advance global water security through developing innovative, sustainable, and chemical-free approaches to rain enhancement. Additionally, its autonomous robotics team has just made a significant breakthrough in underwater wireless communications. Common radio frequencies do not work well in water, so this research has huge potential to advance the use of robots across fields from oceanography to aquaculture. Its research outcomes are shaping an intellectual ecosystem that strengthens Abu Dhabi and the UAE's position as an international knowledge hub anchored on innovation.