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

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.”


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 21 min 43 sec ago

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com