Port authorities plan to spend SR 3.43 billion on development

Updated 17 June 2013

Port authorities plan to spend SR 3.43 billion on development

With traffic continuing to rise at all of the Kingdom's major seaports, the Saudi Ports Authority (SPA) and King Abdul Aziz Port plan to spend SR 3.43 billion ($ 914 million) on port development in the Saudi Arabia.
Among these developments is a SR 615 million ($ 164 million) plan that includes a SR 191.3 million ($ 51 million) power plant to be constructed at King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam to boost power generation capacity from 50 megawatts to 120 megawatts.
As well, a new container terminal at a cost of SR 172.5 million ($ 46 million) will be built in Dheba Port, with two others to be constructed at King Fahd Industrial Port in Jubail at a cost of SR 142.5 million ($ 38 million), with both due for completion by 2014.
In addition, more than SR 2812.5 million ($ 750 million) is to be invested into the expansion of Dammam’s King Abdul Aziz Port, with SR 2006.25 million ($ 535 million) set aside for container terminal capacity expansion and SR 798.75 million ($ 213 million) for other facilities, following a 10 percent increase in container handling in 2012 compared to 2011 figures.
Commenting on the increase in traffic and container volume across the Kingdom, Sahir Tahlawi, general manager at Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP), said: "Growth at the Red Sea Gateway Terminal in Jeddah accounted for the handling of one million TEU in 2011 and increased to over 1.5 million TEU last year, reflecting the Kingdom's massive growth of import and exports. Overall, the SPA's development plans for all domestic seaports are an indicator that more international companies are becoming interested and doing business with the Kingdom."
He added that in addition to expanding the seaport network and container capacity, the Kingdom has also realized leisure and tourism, as a valuable economic driver and has announced plans to build a SR 101.3 million ($ 27 million) cruise and leisure vessel terminal at Yanbu Commercial Port, also under its key development plan.
As one of the Kingdom’s primary container hubs, the JIP has witnessed increased volumes by more than 25 percent, recording a 5.15 percent in growth of imports and exports in the first half of the year, rising to 3.6 million tons and an average increase of 10.9 percent per annum forecast through 2016.
According to data from the SPA, the Kingdom's ports handled 16,264,525 tons of cargo last month, with the total for 2013 at 75,172,657 tons, excluding oil.


Google cuts some Android phone data for wireless carriers

Updated 2 sec ago

Google cuts some Android phone data for wireless carriers

  • Google’s move illustrates how concerned the company has become about drawing attention amid a heightened focus in much of the world on data privacy

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc.’s Google has shut down a service it provided to wireless carriers globally that showed them weak spots in their network coverage, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, because of Google’s concerns that sharing data from users of its Android phone system might attract the scrutiny of users and regulators.

The withdrawal of the service, which has not been previously reported, has disappointed wireless carriers that used the data as part of their decision-making process on where to extend or upgrade their coverage. Even though the data were anonymous and the sharing of it has become commonplace, Google’s move illustrates how concerned the company has become about drawing attention amid a heightened focus in much of the world on data privacy.

Google’s Mobile Network Insights service, which had launched in March 2017, was essentially a map showing carriers’ signal strengths and connection speeds they were delivering in each area.

The service was provided free to carriers and vendors that helped them manage operations. The data came from devices running Google’s Android operating system, which is on about 75% of the world’s smartphones, making it a valuable resource for the industry.

It used data only from users who had opted into sharing location history and usage and diagnostics with Google. The data were aggregated, meaning they did not explicitly link any information to any individual phone user. It included data relating to a carrier’s own service and that of competitors, which were not identified by name. 

Nevertheless, Google shut down the service in April due to concerns about data privacy, four people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Some of them said secondary reasons likely included challenges ensuring data quality and connectivity upgrades among carriers being slow to materialize.

Google spokeswoman Victoria Keough confirmed the move but declined to elaborate, saying only that changing “product priorities” were behind it. Google’s notice to carriers when it shut down the service did not specify a reason, two of the four people told Reuters.

“We worked on a program to help mobile partners improve their networks through aggregated and anonymized performance metrics,” Keough said. “We remain committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users.”

Closer scrutiny

The loss of Google’s service is the latest example of an internet company opting to end a data-sharing service rather than risk a breach or further scrutiny from lawmakers. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, introduced last year, prohibits companies sharing user data with third parties without users’ explicit consent or a legitimate business reason.

US and European lawmakers have stepped up their focus on how tech companies treat user data after a series of large-scale data security failures and the revelation that Facebook Inc. improperly shared data on 87 million of its users with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Walking tightrope

Internet companies now walk a tightrope in trying to generate revenue or improve their services by supplying user data to other companies because they risk compromising — or appearing to compromise — data privacy. And companies including Google and Facebook have curtailed access to data by outside companies over the past two years.

Google’s Mobile Network Insights service was not the only source of detailed customer data used by carriers to determine where cell tower upgrades are needed, but it was useful because of the sheer volume of Android phones in the market.

It was an “independent reference from the horse’s mouth, so you couldn’t get any better than this,” said Mushil Mustafa, a former employee at Dubai-based carrier du. “But the carriers have investment in other tools, obviously.”