Syrian and serial entrepreneur Riad Taha explains how IT and AI drive his business projects.
On 16 October Syrian-born and refugees Riad Taha and his brother Tarek launched VR Park Luxembourg, the country’s first entertainment park based on virtual reality.
Located in front of Belval’s university, the 500-sqm site provides 18 machines including 360-degree rotating chairs, VR flight, sailing, driving and surfing animations, games and educational programs, as well as an augmented reality projection game for kids. A 7D Cinema with 12 seats will be launched soon.
Taha also runs Techno-Tik, a smartphone and computer repair shop he founded with his brother in Ettelbrück in 2016. He is as well the managing director of RCTLux, an ICT solution, consultancy and distribution business he founded in 2015, which specializes in services and products from Luxembourg and Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. He is also board member of LABA, the Luxembourg Arab Business Association.
Riad Taha, how did you come to this project of matching VR and entertainment?
I was always interested in new technologies, more specifically in artificial intelligence (AI), which was one of my main specializations during my university studies. I have been following the development of virtual reality (VR) for years, and I always wanted to match it with entertainment. Once I was visiting China, someone introduced me to the concept of VR dedicated to entertainment.
How do you connect AI with VR and entertainment?
Some of our machines are robots, which are working with computers and are interacting with human beings. Sometimes the machines control the players, sometimes the players control the machines.
Your park is located in the midst of the country’s most important academic and research campus: why did you choose to dedicate it to entertainment and leisure, instead of applying it to research, testing or pedagogic purposes?
Some of our movies have an educational purpose indeed. In the future, we will contact the Ministry of Education and see what educational movies or programs based on VR schools, universities and research centers could need, and how we could develop these together.
Once we would agree on a collaboration, I would contact my suppliers and ask them to develop specific programs that fulfill the Ministry’s expectations.
How long would it take then to implement these machines and programs?
Between 6 and 12 months, depending on how complex the concept and programs are. Some of our machines can include up to 100 games and programs.
Some movies are not just a series of moving images; they offer more value-added information such as extra explanations, texts, voice over and illustrations. Therefore, it takes time to design and develop these programs.
Where do you get your material, machines, games and movies?
All come from China. My suppliers provide me the whole infrastructure, as well as the content of the movies and of the games. They also design, develop, program and update these.
Do you think that Luxembourg could set-up a cluster of expertise in VR programing?
It could indeed. It is all depending on the country’s needs. VR is now increasingly growing in many fields. I am now focusing on entertainment, but I do not exclude to extend it to other industries and purposes.
As a serial entrepreneur, what would be your next entrepreneurial project?
Based on my IT background, I have other technology projects in mind that I am considering to implement in Luxembourg in the future. It is too early to talk about these today. I am now focusing on developing VR Park: We now employ 8 people and we hope to grow our team up to 12 persons. My objective is to create new jobs, to contribute to the growth of our economic system and to add educational value to the country.
Silicon Luxembourg, November 2020