World’s largest biometric center planned

Updated 21 March 2014

World’s largest biometric center planned

Saudi Arabia plans to build one of the biggest biometric centers in the world, which will contain the eye, facial and finger imprints of almost 30 million people, a biometric expert told local media.
Adil Al-Aid, an expert on biometric identification systems, said the Kingdom is embarking on this initiative ahead of most countries, notably Arab and Islamic countries.
“The Ministry of Interior is seeking to build a world-class and highly efficient database containing the biometric features of both citizens and residents through representation by the National Information Center (NIC),” Al-Aid told a local daily.
The system, which will be able to curb malicious intent for committing crime or terrorist acts, will keep the Kingdom at the forefront in security-related matters, he said.
The expert called on GCC countries to link their biometric centers in order to eradicate crime and easily identify potential criminals in order to enhance regional security.
The biometric system has succeeded in many civilian and security issues and is gaining popularity among users, he said.
In this regard, he cited the fingerprint system, which was used in the issuance of ID cards for citizens and residents. Though the system was initially rejected, it was later accepted by all users after people realized the benefit of the system, he said.
Al-Aid said security developments in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 forced certain countries to introduce security and regularity programs to identify people and expand their use. Since then, security programs have been widely used between regional groupings, such as the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the intent to exchange information and track down suspicious individuals, the expert said
Last year, the Kingdom announced its plans to create the first Saudi biometric center in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to carry out biometric identification procedures before issuing visas to visitors and pilgrims.
Prince Khaled bin Saud bin Khaled, assistant minister of foreign affairs, said at the time that the centers would be initially opened on an experimental basis in the UAE, South Korea and Germany.
He said the centers were aimed at preventing criminals and individuals banned from entering the Kingdom from obtaining visas.


Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”