Saudi food authority uses artificial intelligence to facilitate medical attention

Saudi food authority uses artificial intelligence to facilitate medical attention
Tameni is a mobile application and apps are popular among the youth. (SPA)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Saudi food authority uses artificial intelligence to facilitate medical attention

Saudi food authority uses artificial intelligence to facilitate medical attention
  • The mobile app Tameni aims to provide accurate and easy information about all the products supervised by the authority

JEDDAH: The ideal way to receive medical advice during the current health crisis is through digital means, a recommendation emphasized by Saudi authorities while a nationwide lockdown is in force due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) has launched electronic services that contribute to promoting health awareness and interactive communication, while also tightening control and facilitating the performance of businesses.
The services include a WhatsApp chatbot called Sarah and an app called Tameni, in cooperation with the National Digital Transformation Unit, which use AI, business intelligence, and an electronic inspection system.
Sarah works around the clock and communicates directly with users through WhatsApp and Telegram. It allows users to inquire about drugs, send a complaint, and contributes to increasing health awareness as well.

We want to reassure people about our food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices.

Abdullah Al-Dokhail, SFDA’s director of systems development

The mobile app Tameni aims to provide accurate and easy information about all the products supervised by the authority. It allows users to search for drugs, their prices, and their alternatives, through the name of the product or the barcode.
Last November, the SFDA’s director of systems development, Abdullah Al-Dokhail, said the authority chose the name Sarah because it was the most common female name in the Kingdom. It is also his mother’s name.
“I don’t think there is a household in the Kingdom without the name Sarah,” he said. “It is definitely someone’s daughter, mother or sister. It is a very common name, it is present in every region in the Kingdom, it is even popular globally. The name Sarah is derived from the Arabic word suroor, which means joy and that is what we want to bring to everyone.”
He explained that the same idea lay behind tammni, which means reassure me.

FASTFACT

• The services include a WhatsApp chatbot called Sarah and an app called Tameni. Sarah works around the clock and communicates directly with users through WhatsApp and Telegram.

• The mobile app Tameni aims to provide accurate and easy information about all the products supervised by the SFDA.

“We want to reassure people about our food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices,” he added. A common question the authority received was why the two services were not rolled into one app. Al-Dokhail said the SFDA wanted the services to reach everyone inside the Kingdom and outside.
“That is why we diversified the platforms. We chose WhatsApp because there is a statistic that said 25 million people in the Kingdom use WhatsApp. Tameni is a mobile application and apps are popular among the youth.”
The electronic inspection system contributes to reducing violations and maintaining the safety of citizens and residents in the Kingdom through direct follow-ups from the inspection operations room, updating facilities’ data, archiving their files directly, and electronic scheduling of periodic inspections.
As of Sunday Saudi Arabia had confirmed 206 new coronavirus cases and five deaths, bringing the totals to 2,385 infections, 34 deaths and 488 recoveries.


Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details. (shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2021

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers

JEDDAH: Fraudsters have developed a new scam, contacting residents in Saudi Arabia and pretending to be bank staffers requesting customer details.
A number of Arab News staff have received such calls in recent weeks. One caller spoke Urdu while two other callers posing as senior officials from the headquarters of the bank spoke in English and Arabic with a local accent.
They used phone numbers that appeared to be local numbers but upon calling back, the lines failed to connect.
The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.
Speaking to Arab News, Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee of Saudi banks, said: “Saudi banks represented by the Media and Banking Awareness Committee have repeatedly warned bank customers not to react to stray phone calls of any kind coming from unknown sources that ask to update their banking record or personal information.” He further confirmed that banks do not request such information through phone calls or SMS messages.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Phishing, an online scam which targets users through emails where individuals are encouraged to click on a link that takes them to fraudulent sites, was troubling people. Now it’s a different kind of scam known as ‘vishing,’ over-the-phone phishing, where scammers persuade users to share their banking information by impersonating a bank official.”

HIGHLIGHT

The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.

Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details.
Sharing his experience Zafar Hasan, an e-learning consultant in Riyadh, said: “I received a call from someone on an unknown mobile number who introduced himself as a bank employee and told me that my ATM card was going to be blocked. It required an immediate update so I should give my Iqama number (residence permit number) and sixteen-digit ATM card number. I felt something was fishy, so I told him that I would go personally to the bank to update the card.”
The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers.
SAMA called on bank customers to take information only from the official channels of the bodies regulating the Kingdom’s financial and investment sectors and inform the competent security authorities about such fraudulent attempts.