Saudi inventor working to create digital Qur’an for visually impaired

Al-Harasani explained how the digital mus’haf would ease the process of reading the Qur’an for the visually impaired compared with their normal version of the Qur’an in braille. (Supplied)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Saudi inventor working to create digital Qur’an for visually impaired

  • Al-Harasani is responsible for more than 50 inventions in various humanitarian and social fields

JEDDAH: The visually impaired face many challenges in their lives, even when it comes to religious practices such as reading the Holy Qur’an. 

With the help of technology, Saudi inventor Meshal Al-Harasani is working on creating a digital mus’haf for the visually impaired to facilitate reading the Holy Qur’an.

For the 30-year-old inventor, who is also an adviser at King Abdul Aziz University, this is the latest in a series of ingenious creations he has been making since he was 13 — he is responsible for more than 50 inventions in various humanitarian and social fields.

“It is an electronic board with 28 characters and each character has six braille letters, and the board page contains 28 rows,” Al-Harasani told Arab News.

“The visually impaired can read the Qur’an easily and navigate through the pages easily as the entire Qur’an is registered on the board,” he said.

Al-Harasani explained how the digital mus’haf would ease the process of reading the Qur’an for the visually impaired compared with their normal version of the Qur’an in braille.

Meshal Al-Harasani

“The visually impaired read the Qur’an in braille in six large volumes that make it difficult for them to reach the page, passage or Surah. Carrying them and storing them is difficult too because of the size.”

Al-Harasani was inspired to create the digital mus’haf when he visited the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah to participate in a Qur’an teaching seminar for those with special needs.

“I researched on Qur’an reading for those with special needs, especially for the visually impaired. And from there, the idea of creating a digital mus’haf for the visually impaired came to be.”

His invention is still being developed and is expected to be launched in a year.

“So far, the electronic board contains 28 characters and 28 rows to absorb the same number of characters as the pages of the paper Qur’an in braille. The idea is now in the development stage. My team and I are working on pursuing the work step by step and as soon as possible.”

Al-Harasani said that part of the team he is working with are visually impaired individuals.

“I work with a distinguished group of people, including visually impaired people, and this is what drives me to work harder, when I see the sense of amazement and happiness on their faces when pursuing this honorable work,” he told Arab News.

His previous inventions have included a mobile phone for the visually impaired, a currency for the visually impaired and a passenger seat to accommodate those with special needs onboard an airplane.


South Korea, Saudi ties ‘at a turning point’

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago
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South Korea, Saudi ties ‘at a turning point’

  • ‘Made with Saudi’ strategy is part of major joint initiative, Korean ambassador tells Arab News
RIYADH: The ties of friendship and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and South Korea have expanded to unprecedented levels during King Salman’s reign, South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook told Arab News.
“In particular, after the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, economic and social reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have provided new opportunities for expanding the bilateral cooperation,” Jo said.
With shared interests and cooperation between the two countries around Vision 2030, the South Korean government has closely consulted with the Kingdom to help realize the wide-ranging reform program, the envoy said.
“The Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 Committee, launched in October 2017, will be the umbrella under which the joint efforts of our two countries will produce more fruitful outcomes,” he said.
The committee serves as an institutional platform to review projects and explore partnership opportunities under Vision 2030. The second Saudi-Korean committee meeting was held in Seoul in April, and the two countries have agreed to carry out 43 projects across five major sectors.
However, it is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to South Korea June 26-27 that is most eagerly awaited.
It will be the highest-level visit from Saudi Arabia to South Korea since the then-Crown Prince Abdullah led a delegation to Seoul in 1998.
Jo described the forthcoming visit “as one of the most notable and historic events, which shows an even closer friendship and bilateral relations.”
The visit will serve as “a turning point for further strides in bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The crown prince will take part in the first official bilateral summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“The summit is expected to establish future-oriented and mutually beneficial bilateral relations on a basis of the longstanding friendship and partnership between the two countries nurtured for more than half a century,” the South Korean envoy said.
Both countries stand to benefit from the joint opportunities resulting from a growing partnership, Jo said.
“Saudi Arabia has allocated a large amount of resources in order to transform the country into a leading industrial powerhouse and reduce excessive oil-dependency in its economy. This strategy will provide a unique environment for South Korean companies to work with their Saudi counterparts,” he said.
“Until now, Korean companies have focused on exporting ‘Made in Korea’ products, such as cars, electronics and machinery, to the Kingdom. However, the time has come for Korean companies to move beyond simple trade transactions and pursue a ‘Made with Saudi’ strategy.
“Korean companies can work together with Saudi companies in areas such as idea development, design, engineering, manufacturing and even maintenance. In this process, strengths that both countries possess — technology and expertise from Korea, and finance and plentiful young labor from Saudi Arabia, for instance — will create synergies for greater achievements,” the envoy said.
Recently launched collaborations between South Korea and the Kingdom include the International Maritime Industries (IMI) Co., Saudi Aramco joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to build the Gulf’s biggest shipyard in Ras Al-Khair.
HHI, the world’s third-largest shipbuilding company, will be responsible for design and engineering work at the shipyard. When complete, the SR19.5 billion ($5.2 billion) project will be the centerpiece of the Saudi shipbuilding industry, creating up to 80,000 jobs for the local workforce.
In addition, HHI and Saudi Aramco have been developing another joint project at Ras Al-Khair to produce up to 200 ship engines a year.
Cooperation in the nuclear sector is another “exemplary instance” of strengthening ties between the two countries, Jo said.
“In accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed between the Korean government and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in 2015, the two countries have further designed the SMART reactor, which is an integral-type small reactor originally developed and designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute especially for small or remote cities,” he said.
“This collaboration also includes human capacity-building projects with the participation of Saudi nuclear engineers and experts. Through this joint process, I expect that Korea will be able to share with Saudi Arabia its experience and lessons learned that have been accumulated from designing, building and operating nuclear reactors over a long period of time.”
In addition to the SMART reactor, a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is bidding for a project to build the Kingdom’s first two large-size nuclear power plants.
KEPCO, which oversaw construction of the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE, is the world’s only contractor with experience of building a nuclear reactor in a desert environment.
“Korea has a proven track record of operating multiple nuclear reactors both safely and economically, and has earned a reputation for building world-class nuclear reactors on time and within budget,” Jo said. “I am confident that Korea will be an optimal partner for Saudi Arabia as it seeks to develop its own nuclear energy industry.”
Jo said: “The two countries have been developing other joint projects which will be new symbols of the close and strong partnership in the future. The crown prince’s visit to Korea will facilitate and accelerate the realization of 43 and possibly even more projects under Vision 2030.”