Dr. Najwa Aaraj

Chief Executive Officer

Technology Innovation Institute

Dr. Najwa Aaraj is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Technology Innovation Institute (TII), the applied research pillar of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), the overarching advanced technology body in Abu Dhabi responsible for driving research and development for transformative technology outcomes. Previously to her role as CEO, Dr. Aaraj was the Chief Researcher at the Cryptography Research Center (CRC) and the Autonomous Robotics Research Center (ARRC) TII.

Dr. Aaraj earned a PhD with Highest Distinction in Applied Cryptography and Embedded Systems Security from Princeton University (USA). She has extensive expertise in applied cryptography, trusted platforms, security architecture for embedded systems, software exploit detection and prevention systems, and biometrics. She also specializes in shaping the robotics and self-organized autonomous vehicles ecosystem in the UAE and beyond - exploring their application across air, land, on-sea and underwater. She has over 18 years of experience with global firms, working in multiple geographies from Australia to the United States.

Before joining TII, Dr. Aaraj was Senior Vice President of Products & Cryptography Development at DarkMatter, a cyber-security leader based in the UAE. She was formerly at Booz & Company, where she led consulting engagements in the communication and technology industry for clients globally. She also held a Research Fellow position with the Embedded Systems Security Group at IBM T.J. Watson Security Research in New York State, and with the Intel Security Research Group in Portland, Oregon, where she worked on Trusted Platform Modules and contributed to an early prototype of a TPM 2.0 based firmware. She also was a Research Staff Member at NEC Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey.

Dr. Aaraj has written multiple conference papers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) journal papers and book chapters, and received patents on applied cryptography, embedded system security, and machine learning-based protection of Internet of Things (IoT) systems.

Dr. Aaraj is on the advisory board of New York-based Neutigers, a leading-edge startup revolutionising the next generation of energy/latency-efficient artificial intelligence (AI). She is also Adviser within the Strategic Advisory Group at Paladin Capital Group (Cyber Venture Capital) and Adjunct Professor at the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning Research Group). In addition, she is an Adviser to multiple security and Machine Learning startups including Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University. She is also a board member of Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB).

She received a Special Recognition award at the Arab Woman Awards 2021, held in partnership with the United Nations to recognise the notable achievements of the region’s women. Additionally, Dr. Aaraj received the Wu Prize of Research Excellence from Princeton University.