Italian delegation looks for cyber security partnerships with Saudi universities

From left: Enzo Benigni, president and CEO of Elettronica; Domitilla Benigni, chief operating officer of Elettronica; Prof. Paola Severino, vice president of Luiss University, and Italian Ambassador Luca Ferrari. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 04 October 2018
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Italian delegation looks for cyber security partnerships with Saudi universities

  • The Italian delegation met representatives of Prince Sultan University, Alfaisal University and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, along with other education groups and officials

RIYADH: Former Italian Minister of Justice Prof. Paola Severino highlighted the similarities between her country and Saudi Arabia while visiting the Kingdom as part of a technology delegation seeking ways to contribute to the realization of Vision 2030. Now the vice president of Luiss University, she was also exploring opportunities to develop joint academic programs.

“There were a lot of important points in the 2030 Vision,” said Severino. “It starts with the idea that culture is a very important bridge between countries. I have the same idea. We (Saudi Arabia and Italy) have a similar history, the historical framework, and the link between Arab culture and Roman culture and Italy is very strong.

“When I looked more deeply into Vision 2030, I found more common ideas. In the vision there were goals such as to foster academic and professional skills to create a network between academies and also to foster information-technology programs, not only for anti-corruption but also the idea of constructing new professional skills, starting from legality and jurisdiction — a good justice system that could help the development of a country as well as the economic development.

“IT and digital could be a very important development of culture, but we have to be able to govern digital development. There are a lot of problems with piracy and the possibility of someone using data and hacking, which is dangerous.”

Severino is heading an Italian delegation exploring opportunities for collaboration and the development of a joint master’s degree program with Luiss University.

“Discussions have been very positive so far,” she said. “We have some concrete proposals on the table which will be developed further in the coming weeks.”

In the ever-evolving digital era, she said, technology must be governed by rules, laws and a new economic system that must be developed in a way that “respects rules and traditions.”

“The idea was to start with a joint program, with a lot of cultural and academic exchange,” she added.

To this end, the Italian delegation met representatives of Prince Sultan University, Alfaisal University and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, along with other education groups and officials.

Enzo Benigni, the president and CEO of technology business Elettronica, is also part of the Italian delegation.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to explain how cooperation between a university a company can be, but the digital world is starting to become generic, and we live in a world that is digitalized. There is a gap in universities between reality and university modules. What we want to do is fill this gap and to be a modern university with modern students because it’s a modern world. Young people are very open and are connected to that.

“Our aim is to prevent today’s universities becoming disconnected from today’s technology. This is the concept and our contribution. The best example is if we have a cyberattack then it is important that we have an exchange of ideas,” Benigni said.

In addition to her meetings with educational institutions, Severino met Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa. They discussed the importance of education and cultural and academic exchanges in developing a healthy, vibrant society. Severino in particular praised a scholarship program for study abroad sponsored by the Saudi government.

She also visited the Misk Foundation and Prince Sultan University, where she delivered a keynote speech on the importance of the law and the fight against corruption to sustain businesses and economic growth.


KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019
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KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.