Two media centers and 618 journalists to cover Arab Summit in Dhahran

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The Minister of Culture and Information visits the Media Center in Ithra and Mercure to check on media coverage. (SPA)
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The Minister of Culture and Information visits the Media Center in Ithra and Mercure to check on media coverage. (SPA)
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The media center at Ithra. (SPA)
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Inside the media center at Hotel Mercure. (SPA)
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Inside the media center at Ithra. (SPA)
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Inside the media center at Ithra. (SPA)
Updated 14 April 2018

Two media centers and 618 journalists to cover Arab Summit in Dhahran

  • 423 reporters from international news agencies accredited to cover 29th Arab Summit
  • 25 young Saudis at 2 media centers to assist more than 600 journalists

DHAHRAN: The Ministry of Culture and Information has set up two media centers to cover the 29th Arab Summit, which opens on Sunday in the city of Dhahran.
One of the centers is in the Hotel Mercure in Alkhobar, while the second is in the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran.
Culture and Information Minister Awwad Al-Awwad on Saturday visited the media center in the Hotel Mercure in Dhahran to check preparations set by the ministry for the coverage of the summit.
The center is managed by 25 young Saudis, and provides support and assistance to more than 600 journalists.
The journalists include 423 reporters from outside the Kingdom, representing the most significant Arab, Islamic and international news agencies and channels.
Khaled Mataen, the ministry’s director of media and public relations with foreign media, said: “The ministry has equipped the centers with the latest equipment. They include computers, and a complete Internet network that allows journalists to send their news and reports faster. They also include fax machines, international phone lines and studios for live coverage using satellites for all local and international channels.”
He said: “A group of young Saudis are managing the centers. They will be ready to offer any assistance the journalists may need from data, statistics and information. This would make their jobs easier either in the centers or on the field with tasks related to the summit coverage.”
Mataen said “their job also consists on keeping up with all news related to the summit on different news channels and on social media platforms and displaying them on a live screen for the journalists in the media centers.”
He said that “the number of registered journalists to cover the Arab summit has reached 618. Among those are journalists from international news agencies in addition to satellite channels reached through the Ministry’s Government Communication Center and International Communication Center.”
Algerian journalist Kareem Ali Loch said he was happy to be covering the summit.
He commended the ministry’s efforts to help journalists covering the event.
Turkish state television journalist Talib Abdullah Oglo praised the media service and equipment provided in the media centers.
He also thanked the organizers for the facilities and their welcoming reception.
Al-Awwad inspected the summit’s interactive statistics charts that show the number of journalists taking part in its coverage.

US media questions Bezos hacking claims

Updated 25 January 2020

US media questions Bezos hacking claims

  • Experts said while hack “likely” occurred, investigation leaves too many “unanswered questions”
  • Specialists on Thursday said evidence was not strong enough to confirm

LONDON: An investigation into claims that the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was hacked has been called into question by cybersecurity experts and several major US media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Associated Press (AP).

Specialists on Thursday said evidence from the privately commissioned probe by FTI Consulting is not strong enough for a definitive conclusion, nor does it confirm with certainty that his phone was actually compromised.

The Wall Street Journal reported, late on Friday: “Manhattan federal prosecutors have evidence indicating Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend provided text messages to her brother that he then sold to the National Enquirer for its article about the Inc. founder’s affair, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Experts said while a hack “likely” occurred, the investigation leaves too many “unanswered questions,” including how a hack happened or which spyware program was used, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Steve Morgan, founder and editor-in-chief of New York-based Cybersecurity Ventures, said the probe makes “reasonable assumptions and speculations,” but does not claim 100 percent certainty or proof.

UK-based cybersecurity consultant Robert Pritchard said: “In some ways, the investigation is very incomplete … The conclusions they’ve drawn, I don’t think, are supported by the evidence. They veered off into conjecture.”

Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook, wrote that the FTI probe is filled with “circumstantial evidence but no smoking gun.”

Matt Suiche, a Dubai-based French entrepreneur and founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, told AP that the malicious file is presumably still on the hacked phone because the investigation shows a screenshot of it.

If the file had been deleted, he said the probe should have stated this or explained why it was not possible to retrieve it. “They’re not doing that. It shows poor quality of the investigation,” Suiche added.

Reports on Wednesday suggested that Saudi Arabia was involved in the phone of Bezos being hacked after he received a WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi Embassy in the US denied the allegations, describing them as “absurd.” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan called the accusations “purely conjecture” and “absolutely silly,” saying if there was real evidence the Kingdom looked forward to seeing it.

A Wall Street Journal report quoted forensics specialists as saying the FTI investigation’s claims that Saudi Arabia was behind any possible hacking of the phone “appeared to forgo investigatory steps.”

CNN reported that critics of the probe highlighted a “lack of sophistication” in it, quoting Sarah Edwards, an instructor at the SANS Institute, as saying: “It does seem like (FTI) gave it a good try, but it seems they’re just not as knowledgeable in the mobile forensics realm as they could have been.”

The New York Times said the probe tried to find links between the possible hacking of the phone and an article in the National Enquirer about the Amazon CEO’s extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, but any link remains “elusive.”

National Enquirer owner American Media said in a statement regarding the source of the leak on Sanchez’s involvement with Bezos: “The single source of our reporting has been well documented, in September 2018 Michael Sanchez began providing all materials and information to our reporters. Any suggestion that a third party was involved in or in any way influenced our reporting is false.”