Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha and the Governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais attend the Communications and Information Technology Indicators Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

  • 5G will be used in 30% of big cities in Saudi Arabia by 2020
  • 90% of KSA has 4G technology coverage, including remote centers and villages

RIYADH: Information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the main drivers of development in today’s world, a Riyadh forum on “Digital Transformation for an Ambitious Country” has been told.

In his opening speech to the annual Communications and Information Technology Indicators Forum, Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais, governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, said the ICT sector stimulated productivity, enhanced competitiveness and encouraged innovation.

On Wednesday, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha, joined regional and global leaders in the ICT sector, telecom executives and government officials at the forum.

Al-Ruwais said that ICT has been used to “develop strategies and regulatory policies that can guarantee the availability of infrastructure, basic apparatus and services in all regions of the Kingdom.”

“In order to facilitate the mission of researchers, experts and those interested in telecommunication services indicators, the Communications and Information Technology Commission established an electronic platform that allows the user to have access to indicators and statistics related to the sector. This platform enables the user to view the indicators in the form of tables and detailed graphs,” he said.

Al-Ruwais said the commission has achieved 90 percent coverage of 4G technologies in the Kingdom, including remote centers and villages.

He said the authority has issued temporary licenses for fifth-generation networks, equipping 153 sites with 5G in nine cities. So far, 680 trials were conducted for 5G.

He said that ICT services achieved high indicators during the 2017 Hajj season, with local and international calls totaling 439 million through 16,000 base stations.

Mufarreh Nahari, director of Market Studies at CITC, said: “It is expected that by 2020 the experimental uses of 5G will be fully completed and they will be ready to launch the official 5G sim by then. By the end of 2020 we expect that 5G will be used in 30 percent of the big cities in Saudi Arabia.”

The past three years have seen an increase in internet usage. In 2018, two-thirds of Internet users in the Kingdom used the internet for more than four hours a day, said Nahari.

Ammar Al-Ansari, department head of Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco, said: “The agreements signed by the crown prince during his overseas visits led to the introduction of a number of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, including virtual schools and smart classrooms.” 

Seven schools in Saudi have a live stream for teachers to connect with their students. They may be 250 km to 300 km apart, but an active learning session takes place between students and educators.

Al-Ansari displayed a video from a teacher in Jeddah giving lessons to students in the northern region via a smart board. AI was used to monitor and analyze students’ attention spans. 

The analysis will help educators update traditional teaching methods.


Abdul-Mahdi: Relations between Iraq and GCC ‘must progress’

Updated 18 April 2019
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Abdul-Mahdi: Relations between Iraq and GCC ‘must progress’

  • Abdul-Mahdi and Al-Zayani discussed the development of relations between Iraq and GCC countries and issues of mutual interest
  • Abdul-Mahdi also attended the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum, which included representatives from large Saudi companies

RIYADH: Relations between Iraq and the Gulf Cooperation Council are important and “must progress, ” Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said on Thursday.
On the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Mahdi met with the secretary general of the GCC, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani in Riyadh.
Abdul-Mahdi and Al-Zayani discussed the development of relations between Iraq and GCC countries and issues of mutual interest.
“Cooperation and economic relations must progress for the better,” Abdul-Mahdi said.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have agreed to cooperate in security and intelligence matters, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim told Al Arabiya television. 
Meanwhile, Abdul-Mahdi also attended the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum, which included representatives from large Saudi companies.
He also inaugurated an exhibition on Wednesday called “Cities Destroyed by Terrorism” that is showing at the National Museum in Riyadh. The exhibition was organised by the Minister of Culture and the Arab World Institute in Paris.
The Iraqi prime minister arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for a two-day visit to the Kingdom. He held talks with King Salman on relations between the two countries, and later met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


His visit to the Kingdom “symbolizes the Iraqi government's vision in aiming to bolster ties with the Kingdom in all fields,” the Iraqi prime minister said on Facebook.
The two countries signed 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding between their various ministries. The deals covered many areas including energy, education, culture and political consultation.