RIYADH: Overcoming global challenges to generate new opportunities for economic growth and job creation on Thursday topped the agenda as Saudi Arabia held its first official event in the runup to hosting the G20 summit of world leaders.
Welcoming delegates to the Saudi G20 Finance Track symposium, in Riyadh, the Kingdom’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan highlighted the importance of improving access to opportunities to ensure that growth dividends were shared by all.
Around 300 representatives of G20 member states, invited guest countries, international organizations, academia, and the private sector, attended the seminar as the countdown to next year’s summit began under Saudi Arabia’s presidency.
Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) Gov. Ahmed Abdulkarim Al-Kholifey was among the delegates who took part in sessions which included exploring the links between access to opportunities and economic growth, with a particular focus on the obstacles faced by women, young people, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Participants also discussed the role of the public and private sectors in leveraging technology and innovation to create jobs, and ways to promote sustainable and inclusive growth.
In addition, the symposium offered attendees the chance to view displays from the Kingdom’s businesses, NGOs, and government entities that focused on technology, innovation, sustainable jobs, and the empowerment of both women and young people.
At a separate meeting, the G20 sherpas — the official representatives of the leaders of the G20 member states — gathered in the Saudi capital for the first time under the Kingdom’s presidency.
• Around 300 representatives of G20 member states, invited guest countries, international organizations, academia, and the private sector, attended the seminar in Riyadh.
• Saudi Arabia assumed the G20 presidency on Dec. 1, leading up to the Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020.
They were joined by invited guest countries as well as international and regional organizations to start discussions toward “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All.”
The pivotal role of the sherpas is to help pave the way for the G20 leaders’ summit – being staged next year in Riyadh from Nov. 21 to 22 – by progressing policy discussions in a series of meetings to be hosted by the Kingdom throughout the year. Saudi Arabia will facilitate the dialogue process to guide the overarching policy agenda.
Fahad Al-Mubarak, the Saudi sherpa who presided at the meeting, said: “The G20 has a responsibility to the world to overcome current and emerging issues, to tackle global challenges together, and to make the world a better place for all.”
During its presidency year, the Kingdom plans to build on previous G20 achievements and reflect the spirit of collaboration among its leaders, by developing consensus around solutions to address common challenges.
The sherpas also talked about ways to shape new frontiers, by adopting long-term and bold strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement with a strong focus on the digital economy.
The sherpa meeting focused on the aims of the 2020 G20 presidency year.
The first was to empower people – especially women and youth – by creating the right conditions in which they could live, work and thrive. The group’s discussions revolved around policies related to access to opportunities for all, sustainable development goals, trade and investment, financial inclusion, employment, health, education, tourism and the empowerment of women.
Safeguarding the planet by fostering collective efforts to protect the environment, involved debate on climate, water, food, and energy.
How Saudi Arabia is emerging as a MENA cloud-data hub
American information technology firm Oracle’s cloud data center is one of 20 global offices of its kind
Focus is on digital security technologies and innovations including virtual simulation of evolving threats
Updated 1 min 4 sec ago
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is one step closer to becoming a global cloud-data hub with the launch of a data center by Oracle, a leading computer technology corporation based in the US. The Kingdom has been designated as the company’s regional cloud-data hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The center in Jeddah will focus on digital security technologies and innovations, including virtual simulation of evolving threats. It is yet another step in Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation, in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s goal of upgrading the country’s information and communications technology infrastructure.
In emailed comments to Arab News, Dr. Muhammad Khurram Khan, CEO of the Washington-based Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research and cybersecurity professor at King Saud University, said: “Being one of the leading and fastest-growing digital powers in the region, Saudi Arabia is in great need of technological innovations, solutions and services to cater to its requirements for smart cities, industry 4.0, cloud computing, 5G, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.
“To meet this massive demand for digital transformation by public- and private-sector organizations, the cloud data center by Oracle in the Kingdom will play a pivotal role in accelerating innovation, generating new horizons of digital services, creating competition and providing customers with incredible experiences in the thriving market.”
He believes the move will also pave the way for job creation and spawn new business opportunities for local talent. “The presence of the cloud data center in the Kingdom will enable organizations to scale up their digital services faster than ever before,” Khan wrote in the email. “It may also provide them with cheaper in-country services, better data management, a more secure and resilient environment, data sovereignty controls, and on-demand customer service for more efficient business operations.”
Khan cited additional likely benefits from the center, including the empowerment of local start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators enabling new products and services to enter the market faster.
“The development could underpin the efforts of Saudi Arabia to be among the leading nations that are bracing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.
Khan pointed to skyrocketing demand for cybersecurity solutions and services in the Kingdom — which ranks in the top 10 countries most targeted by “significant” cyberattacks. “Cyber threats faced by public- and private-sector organizations are growing exponentially due to the Kingdom’s geopolitical importance in the region and its fast-paced digital transformation,” he said.
A recent report on the cybersecurity sector in the Middle East and Africa estimates that Saudi Arabia’s market may grow to $5.5 billion by 2023. “This huge cybersecurity demand could be efficiently met by the local deployment of cloud-based cybersecurity services,” Khan said. “The role of cloud computing is of paramount importance to predicting and defeating cyberattacks, which leverages AI, big data and instant analytics in real time to address threats and suppress vulnerabilities that seek to undermine security.”
In his comments, Khan further pointed to the interest shown by regional and local organizations in the cloud-based security operations center, and cost-effective solutions for security orchestration, automation and response, security information, and event management.
The move is timely too, as a new report revealed that 95 percent of businesses in the Kingdom have been hit by at least one cyberattack in the past year. According to “The Rise of the Business-Aligned Security Executive,” released by Tenable and conducted by Forrester Consulting, the majority of businesses in Saudi Arabia have witnessed a rise in cyberattacks over the past two years.
“More than ever, Saudi Arabia must make a specific tailor-made solution for its sovereign requirements to include digital security and virtual simulation,” said Matthew Cochran, CEO and co-founder of URS Laboratories in the UAE. “Post COVID-19, the region will look to the Kingdom for alignment and leadership on these issues.”
He described the developments as the culmination of decades of planning for scenarios that are becoming increasingly likely due to global circumstances.
“Pre COVID-19, the future of digital security and virtual simulation in the region was important,” he told Arab News. “Now, it is vitally important, if not life-saving, to have it in place — not tomorrow, today. The future is at stake and we must meet the challenges together.”
Commentators have said that the Saudi center will allow Oracle to facilitate in-country or in-jurisdiction disaster-recovery capabilities and allow their clients to meet their obligations on data security in the country.
“Oracle has a strong presence within the GCC region, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” said Dean Mikkelsen, an independent IT and cybersecurity consultant working with UAE-based Hannibal Global Insight. “Companies are moving more and more data to the cloud within the GCC. These nations also require that data be kept within their own country, as it relates to privacy and data-security issues.
In the Kingdom, provisions in the Cloud Computing Regulatory Framework state that cloud clients must ensure that no customer content — including sensitive content from public authorities — is transferred outside the Kingdom.
“The Essential Cybersecurity Controls issued by the National Cybersecurity Authority in the Kingdom — which are all applicable to Saudi government entities — require that information be hosted and stored in-country,” Mikkelsen told Arab News. “With Oracle developing this capability in-country, they are meeting the requirements necessary to protect data in the nation.”
As Saudi Arabia continues to move away from a petroleum-based economy, it has allowed its technology sectors more room for growth.
“With Oracle moving further into Saudi Arabia, it matches the Kingdom’s vision to become an international leader in science and technology,” said Mikkelsen. “There has been, over the past few years, a large-scale migration of data to the cloud and making sure that data is secure is very important.”
He said data breaches are becoming more widespread, be they from phishing attacks or malware, in a potentially costly development for businesses. UAE-based cybersecurity company DarkMatter recently stated that breaches are “widespread and frequently undetected” in the Middle East.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a spike in network spoofing and phishing attacks, as cyber attackers look to exploit the unfamiliar current climate for their own nefarious purposes,” Mikkelsen said.
“Through regulatory environments and legislation, such as those defined in Saudi Arabia or the UAE, companies and governments are working together to protect the digital assets of individuals, corporations, and their critical infrastructure. With the move made by Oracle in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom is saying it is open for business and that anyone’s data will be safe and secure.”