Riyadh urges Tehran to stop fanning violence in region

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir
Updated 18 June 2017

Riyadh urges Tehran to stop fanning violence in region

LONDON: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are lodging a complaint to Qatar containing all the issues that caused the current crisis, in the hope that Doha will address those issues, said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
The four countries are sending a message that Qatar has gone too far and cannot continue its current policies, which include financing terrorism, he said at a press conference at the Saudi Embassy in London.
Al-Jubeir, in the presence of Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, said they do not seek to harm the people of Qatar, which is an ally in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt had been left with no choice but to take measures against Qatar because it had not honored commitments it made in 2013 and 2014 to stop supporting extremism and terrorism, and to stop interfering and fueling conflicts in other countries, Al-Jubeir said.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to ignite violence by intervening in the affairs of countries in the region such as Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Iraq, in clear violation of international laws and norms, he added.
Although he called on Tehran to stop its aggressions, interference and support for militias, Al-Jubeir expressed skepticism that it can change its behavior.
He said the Kingdom hosted the recent historic Arab-Islamic-US Summit with the aim of fostering dialogue between Arab and Islamic countries and their Western counterparts.
The Global Center for Combating Terrorism, recently launched by the Kingdom, can within six seconds pick up Internet messages and deal with them immediately, Al-Jubeir said, adding that Riyadh seeks to expand the Center’s capabilities.
GCC countries signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to combat terrorism financing, he said, adding that the aim is to expand the number of participating countries in the agreement.
Al-Jubeir expressed Saudi concern over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and over the siege imposed by Houthi militias that is causing famine and hindering the arrival of medical and food aid.
Riyadh has allocated $800 million to alleviate suffering in Yemen via the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, which distributes aid through 81 humanitarian organizations, he said.
A conference hosted by the Kingdom in cooperation with the World Bank allocated more than $10 billion to reconstruction in Yemen, he added.
The Saudi-led Arab military coalition will continue its operations against rebels in Yemen, and work to lift the siege and reach the needy as soon as possible, Al-Jubeir added.
He reiterated the need for a political solution to the Syrian conflict in accordance with the Geneva Declaration and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
The Kingdom, as part of the International Syria Support Group, is working toward such a solution, he added.
Al-Jubeir reiterated the Saudi commitment to fighting Daesh in Syria and throughout the world, whose defeat requires strong global efforts.
The Kingdom is at the forefront of the anti-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria, he said, reiterating Saudi support for steps being taken by Baghdad against the terrorist group.
Al-Jubeir welcomed the visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi to the Kingdom on Monday to discuss bilateral relations and ways to develop them.
Riyadh is coordinating with its international partners to restore stability in Libya and to stop the spread of terrorism in that country and in Africa.

Saudi ‘smart glove’ inventor thrives in the age of innovation

Updated 1 min 52 sec ago

Saudi ‘smart glove’ inventor thrives in the age of innovation

  • Hadeel Ayoub is the founder of BrightSign, a London-based company specializing in assistive technology
  • BrightSign's signature product is a smart glove that can facilitate communication by individuals with speech disability

LONDON: Saudi inventor and tech innovator Hadeel Ayoub is giving people who can’t speak new hope — and a new voice.

The founder of London-based tech company BrightSign is the driving force behind a smart glove that allows individuals who are unable to speak to communicate by translating sign language into text and speech.

After more than four years’ work, Ayoub, a designer, programmer and researcher in human computer interaction, plans to launch the device later this year.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries will be families with children who have speech disabilities and want to be better connected through technology. The BrightSign glove will enable these children to become better signers and communicators, but can also be hooked up with a web app to provide instant translation in most languages.

The architecture of a BrightSign glove is relatively straightforward: Multiple sensors, embedded under an outer glove, track finger positions, hand orientation and dynamic movements. The hardware is contained inside a slender wristband.

Hand gestures are translated into text that appears on a screen embedded in the glove, and speech is made audible via a mini-speaker. The user can select the voice and speech language.


• Founder and chieftechnology officer, BrightSign

• Experienced lecturer, researcher and entrepreneur with experience in the higher education industry

• Skilled in innovation, creative coding, programming and design research

• Ph.D. in human-computer interaction and gesture recognition from Goldsmiths, University of London

Ayoub has been featured in Forbes magazine, tech programs on the BBC and Discovery channels, and has spoken at discussions organized by Britain’s Financial Times and Guardian newspapers. She has also taken part in a number of exhibitions with innovation and assistive technology as their themes.

Recalling the inspiration for the smart glove, the Saudi inventor said she was originally designing a device for an air-draw program — the air was the canvas, and the hands and fingers were the drawing tools. Her aim was to replace the mouse and keyboard with trackable wearable technology.

On the basis of her design, Ayoub was selected to represent her university at an IBM global hackathon in artificial intelligence for social care. She reprogrammed the glove to translate sign language and won the competition.

When news of the smart glove was circulated in the media, Ayoub’s inbox was flooded with inquiriesttt from parents wanting the glove for their children, from speech therapists for their patients, and from teachers for their students.

The tech innovator quickly realized there was a need for this kind of technology and decided to make it the focus of her Ph.D. research.

Hadeel Ayoub’s BrightSign smart glove allows people with speech disabilities to translate sign language into text and voice. (Reuters)

“I want to break the current barriers facing those who wish to broaden their experience with sign language beyond the current traditional method,” Ayoub said.

She believes that at least three improvements are urgently needed: Integrating children with disabilities into mainstream classrooms; equipping adults who have disabilities with technologies that will help them perform tasks as well as their peers manage; and making smart-glove devices available in public locations such as airports, shopping malls, government offices and hospitals to offer a smoother service to visitors with disabilities.

A global award winner for her technological innovation, Ayoub regularly tests and improves the BrightSign glove, which she describes as a work in progress.

“The glove has gone through multiple rounds of prototyping and testing. I have implanted the users’ feedback to develop hardware, software and design,” she said.

“It is now being used in six schools to help non-verbal children overcome their communication challenges in the classroom.”

Ayoub said that further studies would help her develop the final product. “I am now taking glove pre-orders on the BrightSign website,” she said.

The Saudi inventor said that she has always been “a progressive thinker and a dreamer of possibilities,” and described a childhood spent immersed in books rather than playing with dolls.

She remembers her family library with fondness and reminisces on quiet evenings spend reading.

As well as being an innovator, Ayoub is a mother who talks lovingly about her children.

“They are very much involved in the development phases of BrightSign,” she said. “I consider their opinions on the products designed for children. I always encourage them to do what they love since that would mean that they will excel in it.

“They get excited every time they see someone using BrightSign and they can see how it helps people live better.

“They also understand the concept of tech for good and aspire to work one day on technologies with a social impact.”

Ayoub sees herself as problem solver with an eye for technical detail, a kind of instinctive trouble-shooter. “When I attempt to solve a problem, I go through cycles of trial and error until I achieve a breakthrough,” she said.

“I encountered a number of problems that were unprecedented, so I wasn’t able to turn to a source or a reference. I guess this is what prompted me to get creative and think outside the box, which eventually put me on the innovation route.

“I find dead ends challenging. When someone tells me that something has never been done, it does not mean that it is not doable. On the contrary, it motivates me to keep going until I find a solution.”

As for the current model of innovation, Ayoub admires the global interconnectedness.

“The mindset now is collaborative rather than competitive,” Ayoub said.

“I am part of inventors’ groups in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and the Middle East. Most of us got business training at some point in order to secure investment and go into production.”

I find dead ends challenging. It motivates me to keep going to find a solution.

Hadeel Ayoub

Being a innovator has been far from a walk in the park for Ayoub. She believes what really pushed her in her chosen field was her desire to learn something new in every degree she pursued, starting with design, then programming and, finally, technology.

“More often than not I find myself the only woman speaking at a tech conference or giving a tech talk at an event,” she said. “I am proud to represent my country in global exhibitions and am even prouder when I walk away with awards at competitions.

“I hope that I can inspire young girls to experiment with technology and use it to enhance their respective practices.

“I have created a ‘women in tech’ group where we have regular meetings to share our challenges and extend our support each other.”

Based on her experiences, Ayoub has a message for young Saudis: “This is the age of innovation and entrepreneurship. If what you are passionate about doesn’t exist as a field of knowledge, create it.

“Learn how to code. It will be useful in any career you pursue and will enable you to integrate technology into your practice.”