Saudi Arabia’s development program delivers change in Yemen

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The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
5 / 6
The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Saudi Arabia’s development program delivers change in Yemen

  • The program is designed to help Yemeni communities gain economic self-sufficiency and combine short-term assistance with long-term projects promoting economic growth
  • Other initiatives led by SDRPY in agriculture and fisheries include the cultivation of more than 435,000 square meters of wheat

RIYADH: The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched more than 100 development projects and initiatives throughout Yemen since 2018.
This continues a legacy of Saudi support that includes $14 billion provided for development in Yemen between 2009-2019.
SDRPY focuses on seven key sectors: agriculture and fisheries, health, water, education, energy, transportation, and government and public-sector infrastructure.
“The program reflects the passion and determination that the Saudi people have always had for helping their Yemeni brothers and sisters,” said Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jabir, Saudi ambassador to Yemen and SDRPY’s general supervisor.
“SDRPY projects have real value in terms of sustainability and capacity-building, as reflected in the three sustainable development pillars: community, economy and environment,” he said.
The program, Al-Jabir said, is designed to help Yemeni communities gain economic self-sufficiency and combine short-term assistance with long-term projects promoting economic growth.
“The program has answered short-term needs repeatedly, including emergency-response operations during cyclones and floods and deliveries of tankers to provide clean water,” he said, adding that the program is also building schools and hospitals and upgrading ports and airports.
Other initiatives led by SDRPY in agriculture and fisheries include the cultivation of more than 435,000 square meters of wheat to increase the productivity of both farming and fishing.
The program also supplied 220 fishing boats equipped with outboard motors, and built boat repair and maintenance facilities. 
In the field of health, the program has supplied Yemeni hospitals with state-of-the-art medical equipment, including Al-Jawf Hospital, serving 18,000 patients a month. It has also built a cardiology center, constructed a full-service dialysis center with 20-patient capacity, and expanded and improved seven general hospitals and health care clinics in Yemen. 
The Saudi Hospital in Hajjah province and the Al-Salam Hospital in Saada — built by the Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s and now located in areas controlled by the Houthi militias — continue to receive $10 million each annually from Saudi Arabia to cover operating and maintenance expenses.
SDRPY has provided 120 water tankers, improved water distribution networks, including through construction of a 20-km water-supply line with pumping station to expand access to clean water for the metropolitan area of Al-Ghaydah district, and drilled 40 wells equipped with solar-powered pumps.
The program has provided cost-effective systems that ensure people in Yemen have the access to improved water sources that they need to maintain higher health standards and achieve greater efficiency and productivity in their country’s agricultural sector.
Under the program, weapons removed from the hands of children freed from the grip of the militias are replaced with schoolbooks. Children are now armed with books instead of weapons.
SDRPY has built more than 20 schools in Yemen to serve more than 23,400 students each year, delivered more than 500,000 textbooks to 150 schools and more than 6,000 tables and double bench-desks, and supplied enough school buses for students to make more than 280,000 safe journeys between home and school every year.
In higher education, a 300-bed teaching hospital and adjoining university with four colleges of sciences are under construction.
The program has delivered roughly $180 million worth of fuel to 64 power plants across 10 governorates, keeping schools, hospitals, shops, homes and other vital institutions functioning around the clock.
Oil derivatives tripled electricity-generation rates; enhanced safety by lighting major roads; allowed Yemenis to pump drinking water, enhanced hygiene and maintained agriculture and eased strains on the state budget by helping the government to pay the salaries of public-sector employees. 
The SDRPY is developing and increasing the operational capacity of ports in Aden, Mocha, Mukalla, Nishtun and Socotra and has provided cranes for them, facilitating the imports of more than 220,000 tons of oil derivatives. 
The program is constructing an airport in Marib, and developing, expanding and improving airports in Aden and Al-Ghaydah, helping the movement of humanitarian and development aid as well as travel in Yemen.
At the beginning of 2020, SDRPY launched the first phase of the Aden International Airport rehabilitation project, bringing it into compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards and expanding its capacity to receive international flights.
The program has built more than 600 km of road throughout Al-Mahra province, and installed solar-powered street and road lighting in districts around Yemen to improve safety and efficiency across the country’s transportation landscape.
The program has constructed a national security and anti-terrorism complex consisting of a command center, training facilities, officers’ quarters, a guesthouse and more than 50 housing units.
SDRPY is closely involved in projects to develop and maintain key government infrastructure, laying the cornerstones for both self-sufficiency and security in Yemen.


How Saudi Arabia is emerging as a MENA cloud-data hub

Updated 30 min 6 sec ago

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

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is one step closer to becoming a global cloud-data hub with the launch of a regional 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.

Participants attend a hackathon in Jeddah on August 1, 2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP/File Photo)

“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.

A person works at a computer during the 10th International Cybersecurity Forum in Lille on January 23, 2018. (AFP/File Photo)

“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 market in the Middle East and Africa estimates that Saudi Arabia’s sector 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.”

People work on computers on January 22, 2019 in Lille, during the 11th International Cybersecurity Forum. (AFP/File Photo)

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 move 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.”

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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.”

Saudi Arabia is one step closer to becoming a global cloud-data hub with the launch of a regional data center by Oracle, a leading computer technology corporation based in the US. (AFP/File Photo)

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.”

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Twitter: @CalineMalek