Role of technology in improving pilgrims’ experience discussed

A new electronic application is expected to be implemented in time for the next pilgrimage season. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2018
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Role of technology in improving pilgrims’ experience discussed

  • Abu Khalid said that more than 100,000 Saudi students are studying at American universities, whose expertise will benefit the Kingdom in the future

JEDDAH: The role of technology in improving Hajj and Umrah experiences for pilgrims was discussed on the sidelines of the Saudi National Security and Risk Prevention Expo in Riyadh, along with the importance of building a Saudi workforce capable of making the Kingdom more self-sufficient in the technology sector.
Ahmed Riad, managing director of Estmrarya Management Consulting, announced a new partnership with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to launch a new electronic application designed to assemble a huge database of information about pilgrims.
He explained that app will allow pilgrims to enter their personal information, such as age and health status, and the analysis of this data will help authorities to predict potential problems and deal with them more quickly and easily, before they get worse.
Iyad Ibrahim, director of sales and marketing with Thales Group, a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems, presented an integrated strategy on how to manage crowds during Hajj and Umrah seasons through the development of an integrated system that analyzes data to help authorities make the right decisions more quickly.
He said that the system proposed by his company, which will link all holy sites through an integrated system that analyzes video, photos and data, will make it easier to control and manage crowds, and discover and deal with any unusual behavior.
Waleed Abu Khalid, CEO of Northrop Grumman in the Middle East, said: “We are working on a strategy aligned with Vision 2030 and contracting with local companies to take the lead in our contracts within the Kingdom, with a view to transferring knowledge and technology to local companies.”
Abu Khalid said that more than 100,000 Saudi students are studying at American universities, whose expertise will benefit the Kingdom in the future.
He added: “We focused on dealing with US graduates through a special summer program. We have also tried to motivate Saudi boys and girls to enter the field of advanced technology and launched, in cooperation with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a successful special competition for Saudi youth, focusing on challenges facing the Kingdom in science, engineering and other disciplines related to the environment or advanced technology.”
He called on businesses and investors to enter this industry, saying that it offers promising opportunities. This is evident in Vision 2030, which calls for localization of the security industry to reach 50 percent, instead of relying on external suppliers.
Abu Khalid added that cooperation with international companies to enhance the advanced security industry in the Kingdom needs to include the establishment of research centers related to technology in the fields of security and safety, among others, in addition to the strengthening of academic cooperation between Saudi universities and government agencies.
“We want to get rid of the principle of ‘buying to use’ through providing the necessary human resources that enable us to manufacture,” he said. “Otherwise, we will continue to work within this principle for 20 years to come. Together with businessmen, universities and research centers, the Kingdom can develop technologies that it owns rather than just buying them.”


First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

Updated 38 min ago
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First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

  • The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah
  • Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetched SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction

JEDDAH: Art for Al Balad, the first charity auction of contemporary art in the Kingdom, achieved sales of SR 4.8 million ($1.3 million) on Wednesday.

The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, all of which sold, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Wednesday. It was organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with auction house Christie’s.

“It was much above our expectations; we are very happy,” said Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie's Middle East.

About 200 Saudi art collectors joined artists and other members of the Saudi and international cultural communities at the event. Bidding was highly competitive, with “Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetching SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Nassif House was built in 1872. Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was received at this house upon his entry to the city in 1925.

• The Saudi government is keen to restore and preserve buildings with historic and cultural significance, and carries out regular renovation work.

• Al-Balad, or Jeddah historic district, is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. It contains about 600 buildings that date back to the 19th century.

 

“Where to” by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen was the second-most expensive work, selling for SR 500,000, while “Witness in the Desert” by Abdullah Al-Sahikh attracted a winning bid of SR 380,000.

“It was extremely pleasing, very encouraging,” said Jeha. “The energy in the room was fantastic. The enthusiasm was very strong. I think for the very first auction, we can all be extremely pleased.”

Jeha described the growth of the art scene and culture in general in Saudi Arabia as very impressive, and said that the Ministry of Culture has developed a strong platform and program for the coming years, which will help to establish art and culture in the hearts and minds of people in the Kingdom.

The profits from the auction will help to establish a new heritage museum in Jeddah’s historic district and support The Help Center, a non-profit organization that provides customized support to children in the city with special educational needs.

The auction received donations and funding from galleries, cultural foundations, private collectors, and artists across the Arab World, the assistance of which was acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture.

“This would not be possible without the generous support of both the donors and the talented artists,” said Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, deputy minister of culture, in his opening speech.

The ministry aspires to create and develop a cultural environment in which artists and other creatives can access a platform that celebrates a shared identity and builds understanding between people.

Speaking of the Ministry’s three main objectives in its cultural vision for 2019, Fayez said that it aims to support the nation’s cultural transformation by promoting culture as a way of life, enable the sector to contribute to the economy, and encourage international cultural exchanges.

Before the auction, the works on sale were on display to the public in an exhibition on June 23 and 24.