Riyadh, Beijing launch ‘digital silk road’ initiative

Updated 15 December 2017
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Riyadh, Beijing launch ‘digital silk road’ initiative

RIYADH: The Kingdom and China have launched the “Digital Silk Road” initiative.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Mishaigeh, undersecretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology for Saudi Planning and Development, made the announcement during a Saudi delegation’s participation in the World Internet Conference, which concluded recently in Wuzhen City in China.
The name “Silk Road” comes from a historical network of trade routes started during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) between Europe, India, China and other countries on the Afro-Eurasian landmass.
The Saudi delegation also held a meeting with the National Development and Reform Commission to activate the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in January 2016.
The MoU was intended to promote and develop the “Digital Silk Road” as well as review the Chinese experience in building smart cities.
Al-Mishaigeh called on the Chinese to boost partnerships and benefit from Saudi investment and geographical capabilities to transfer knowledge and achieve progress in the field of technology, which the Kingdom is betting on as a knowledge economic resource.
Speaking at the conference, Al-Mishaigeh said that Saudi Arabia has started implementing the desired social and economic transformation in accordance with the Vision 2030 plan.
He said that the city of Neom will be the focus of artificial intelligence, automation, manufacturing and renewable energy in the world.
Neom is a $500 billion mega city on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, which is part of the national push to diversify the economy.
The 26,500 square meters zone will focus on industries including energy, water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said.
“Neom will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships. The zone will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, local as well as international investors,” he said.
The Saudi delegation also visited the Huawei Research Center in Shanghai to learn about the latest technologies in infrastructure, smart cities and the Chinese experience in enabling the digital economy.
The conference was organized by the Chinese Electronic Space Administration and Zheijiang Province’s government with the participation of leading figures from governments, international organizations, companies, technical sector departments as well as non-government agencies.
 


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”