Saudi Arabia is on the way to ‘becoming the digital hub of the region’

Updated 01 May 2019

Saudi Arabia is on the way to ‘becoming the digital hub of the region’

  • The summit is planned to be held annually in Saudi Arabia as a way to gather local and international experts in the field to discuss further developments in government digitization

RIYADH: The Saudi government must keep pace with technological advances if the Kingdom is to stay on course to become the digital hub of the region, a major international conference has been told.
More than 200 executive directors of information technology from government departments throughout Saudi Arabia, gathered in Riyadh to discuss digitization and how to adapt it to benefit society.
The Global Digital Government Summit, held at the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, was organized by the new Saudi e-Government program, Yesser, under the title “Putting Citizens First.”
The forum focused on the future of government services and explored how authorities around the world are leveraging digital technology to move toward a unified and citizen-friendly service delivery model.
Welcoming delegates to the opening of the summit on Monday, Ali Al-Asiri, CEO of Yesser, said the Saudi government needed to re-evaluate its role in society and to review the services it delivered.
Al-Asiri said the gathering was “very important to our country, the future of our country, and the future of all countries and societies. The world has changed in the past decade at a speed that has not been seen for centuries.
“We are witnessing technological changes that have far-reaching implications on society, and what has an impact on society has to have an impact on the government.”
The chief executive drew attention to the latest technological advances that have impacted society over the past decade, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, and highlighted how Saudi Arabia could utilize them to enhance government activities and improve quality of life in the country.
He added that the organization of health care and education in the country had seen little change since the industrial revolution and pointed to how digitization could help the Saudi government update its structure to better adapt to the modern era.
“These advancements come with important societal challenges, and governments must adapt, today, in order to maximize the social benefits to their citizens. And not enough has changed,” Al-Asiri told conference attendees.
Saudi Minister of Telecommunication and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said in a statement that the Kingdom was a prime location to stage the summit.
“The Kingdom is on the way to becoming the digital hub of the region, executing it in a visionary, agile, and remarkable fashion powered by its talent.”
The government forum kicked off on Monday evening with networking and a gala dinner, followed by an all-day event on Tuesday that featured panels of international digitization experts.
Speakers included Swedish journalist, author, and digital futurist Andreas Ekstrom, practice manager of governance global practice at the World Bank, Renaud Seligmann, and deputy director of the analytic center of the Russian government, Mikhail Pryadilnikov.
Ekstrom gave a presentation on the future of digital transformation and its impact on humanity, public service provision, and government policymaking.
The summit is planned to be held annually in Saudi Arabia as a way to gather local and international experts in the field to discuss further developments in government digitization.

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 15 September 2019

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

The Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said in a statement that investigations are ongoing to identify the perpetrators.

And Al-Maliki said Arab coalition forces would continue to implement necessary measures to deal with the terrorist threats.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.