Youth hold key to Saudi Arabia’s future cybersecurity: Industry experts

Youth hold key to Saudi Arabia’s future cybersecurity: Industry experts
Saudi Arabia ranks 13th in the world and first at the Arab level among 175 states in for its commitment to cybersecurity. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 August 2020

Youth hold key to Saudi Arabia’s future cybersecurity: Industry experts

Youth hold key to Saudi Arabia’s future cybersecurity: Industry experts
  • “The Saudi cybersecurity federation founded a platform which is the only one in the Middle East to serve companies and government agencies to discover software vulnerabilities and address them through the help of Saudi security researchers”

JEDDAH: Saudi youth hold the key to securing the Kingdom from future cyberattacks, industry experts claim.

And continued state investment in the digital security sector was vital in helping to achieve the social and economic goals of the Vision 2030 reform plan.

“Cybersecurity is a sensitive aspect of national security. Every country needs to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and protect its assets in the cyberworld, and this is as important as protecting countries in the physical world,” said Dalal Al-Harthi, a cloud security engineer with Farmers Insurance Co.

“In today’s world, our dependence on the internet in all aspects of life has necessitated protecting our assets in the cyberworld. Cybersecurity encompasses everything that pertains to protecting our sensitive data at a government and corporate level from cyber thefts and damage attempts,” added the 32-year-old University of California Ph.D. candidate in computer science.

Dr. Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University and founder of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, in Washington, D.C., told Arab News: “After the Saudi Aramco incident (Shamoon cyberattack) in 2012, the (Saudi) government embarked on a journey to bootstrap its resources toward building a resilient cybersecurity ecosystem to address the cyber risks from internal and external hostile adversaries.

“During the last few years, several local universities have commenced degree programs in cybersecurity to prepare skilled and professional experts to cater for the demand of the local public- and private-sector organizations,” he said.

The importance of the sector to Saudi Arabia has been reflected in its setting up of several dedicated organizations such as the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones (SAFCSP), and the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Advanced Technologies.

Al-Harthi said cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia was solid, reliable, and well-recognized, highlighting the Kingdom’s ranking of 13th globally, and first in the Arab world, among 175 states in the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) issued by the UN International Telecommunication Union for 2018.

“The Saudi government cares about cybersecurity and provides all facilities to ensure the security of organizations’ networks and systems. Of course, like all aspects of life, continuity in the development of the cybersecurity field is vital,” she said.

Bayader Al-Ghamdi, a 26-year-old Saudi cybersecurity researcher at US industrial service company Baker Hughes, said the Kingdom was making great strides toward developing the skills of future generations by providing training programs ending with employment, cybercamps, workshops, and competitions.

“The Kingdom has demonstrated its efforts in light of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis by offering remote competitions such as the Homathon contest and workshops such as Cyber Nights that were held in Ramadan, under the SAFCSP,” she told Arab News.

Al-Ghamdi pointed out that after the cyberattack targeting Saudi Aramco, and the launch of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to develop and benefit from its youth in protecting their country, the awareness of people had risen.

“The Saudi cybersecurity federation founded a platform which is the only one in the Middle East to serve companies and government agencies to discover software vulnerabilities and address them through the help of Saudi security researchers.”

Khan noted that the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC), established in 2016, and the NCA which followed a year later were built to boost the Kingdom’s cybersecurity and defend the national infrastructure.

“Many talented cybersecurity professionals have started off their companies locally, which are not only providing jobs to the talent but also fueling the national economy and providing cybersecurity products and services to the industry.”

He said that it was important to increase the number of cybersecurity experts in the Kingdom, adding that a study by Cybersecurity Ventures had shown there would be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021, up from 1 million positions in 2014.

“Saudi Arabia will also have a huge number of jobs in this profession so we need to work out from inception to meet this challenge and build highly skilled professionals and experts with hands-on training and experience to address the cybersecurity risks.”

 


Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
Updated 29 min 17 sec ago

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
  • Room is fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the machines to move about and take food to customers

MAKKAH: We’ve all been there … you order a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter arrives with a pasta salad instead of a chicken biryani.
There are no such issues at Restaurant Robot in Jazan. As the name suggests, the waiters are not fallible human beings, but robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Six robot assistants are operating in the city center restaurant to deliver trays of Asian dishes to patrons. The system was originally set up as a precaution to reduce human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has proved a hit with visitors.
In a system designed by young Saudi engineer Reham Omar, the restaurant interior has been fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the robots to move about and take food to customers.
“Thanks to the sensors, the robots can sense anything standing near them, allowing them to stop walking or change their routes accordingly,” she told Arab News
“Each robot has had a map of the restaurant interior and the location of each table programmed into their memory. When the robot gets to the targeted table, customers can pick up their food and order the robot to leave.”
Omar said the idea had been developed by drawing on the experiences of other countries, and with support from the Saudi government for the food industry.
“We are proud of our project, as small as it is,” she said. “Customers are loving the robots and are impressed with the idea.
“Cultures are changing, and people are now eager to discover new technologies that can improve their quality of life.”


Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
Updated 14 min ago

Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
  • OPCW oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention
  • The Kingdom has been a member of the council since 1997

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has been re-elected as a member of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the Asia section, until 2023.
It happened at The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday during the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties, which oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Ziyad Al-Attiyah, the Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands and the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the OPCW, thanked the nations that supported the re-election of his country, and said that it is a reflection of Saudi Arabia’s status under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
The Kingdom looks forward to working with the rest of the council’s members to enhance the implementation of the CWC, he added.
Al-Attiyah affirmed his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation as part of the efforts to prohibit weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation, and to ensure the Middle East becomes a region free of such weapons to enhance international peace and security.
He added that the Kingdom’s chemical industries sector is one of the largest in the region and growing steadily, which makes it one of the leading countries in this field among the membership of Executive Council.
Saudi Arabia has been a member of the council — the main body of the OPCW — since its inception in 1997. It’s membership is made up of 41 countries, representing five geographic areas, that are elected for terms of two years at a time.


Saudi Arabia to hold green initiative summit

Saudi Arabia to hold green initiative summit
The initiatives are set to apply a number of ambitious programs that will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region and plant 50 billion trees. (SPA)
Updated 8 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to hold green initiative summit

Saudi Arabia to hold green initiative summit
  • Xi expresses support for Saudi measures to fight climate change

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday said the Kingdom is working to organize an annual summit for the Middle East Green Initiative.

He said this during a phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During the call, the two leaders discussed the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, which were recently announced by the crown prince.
The initiatives called for partnerships with regional countries to face the environmental challenges in the region, improve the quality of life, and implement the largest afforestation project in the world.
The crown prince and the president discussed the contributions of these two initiatives toward achieving global targets to combat climate change, and their influential role in raising the quality of life in the region and the world at large.
The Chinese president said Beijing supported both initiatives, stressing the importance of their support by the international community.
Xi told the crown prince that China wanted to advance its strategic partnership with the Kingdom. The crown prince and the president also discussed cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and technology.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The crown prince and the president also discussed cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and technology.

• MBS said Saudi Arabia was ready to strengthen the interconnection between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Prince Mohammed said his country was ready to strengthen the interconnection between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
During the call, Xi said Beijing “is willing to work with Saudi Arabia and other members of the international community to build an equitable climate governance regime that is cooperative and beneficial to all,” Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese president also called for joint efforts to comprehensively and effectively implement “the Paris Agreement on climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.”
The initiatives are set to apply a number of ambitious programs that will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region and plant 50 billion trees.
The initiative will also work to increase the percentage of protected land to more than 30 percent, exceeding the global target at 17 percent per country. It will reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through renewable energy projects that will provide 50 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity production by 2030. The two initiatives come in support of the existing environmental efforts the Kingdom has supported in previous years as it continues to face its own challenges at home from desertification, low rainfall, and debilitating dust storms.

 


Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects. (SPA)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
  • The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) on Tuesday confirmed 34 cases of blood clots or thrombosis and low platelet count among people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The authority suggests the existence of seven possible cases of thrombosis that are related to the vaccine, due to the absence of other reasons for the appearance of clots in them,” the SFDA said in a statement.
However, the authority also said that thrombocytopenia and blood-clotting immune response associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be confirmed in these cases.
It said based on the local reports received, the rate of occurrence of these symptoms in conjunction with the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the Kingdom is “very rare.”
The SFDA said that all approved vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19) being used in the Kingdom are safe. It stressed that the desired benefits of the vaccine in question outweigh the potential risks.
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects along with the local and international scientific evidence and data available.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom reports a 55 percent increase in the number of cases among women.

• 1,070 new infections were reported on Tuesday.

The SFDA advised recipients of the vaccine to consult a doctor or go to the nearest health center if any of the following symptoms appear or continue for more than three days after receiving a vaccine: Dizziness, severe and persistent headache, nausea or vomiting, issues with vision, shortness of breath, severe pain in the chest or abdomen or coldness in the extremities, swelling of the legs, small blood spots under the skin other than the injection site.
Dr. Abdullah Asiri, an infectious diseases consultant at the Saudi Ministry of Health, allayed public fears following the reports.
“How can a wrong conclusion deduced from a generalization become the most circulated news?” he wrote on Twitter. “In short, not every blood clotting after vaccinations is due to vaccinations. Thanks to vaccines, lives are saved every day. We have not yet had confirmed cases of platelet deficiency and blood clotting immune responses associated ‘hypothetically’ with COVID-19 vaccines.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a Ministry of Health spokesman, said: “We are still monitoring an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, which is the highest since the beginning of this year. There has also been an increase in cases among females by 55 percent.”
The Ministry of Health reported 1,070 new confirmed cases in the Kingdom over the past 24 hours, meaning 407,010 people have now contracted the virus. Of the 9,626 active cases, 1,105 were in critical condition. There were 12 fatalities, which brought the national death toll to 6,846.
The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries.


Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign encouraging people to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2021

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness

Experts say Ramadan is the best time to shape up and gain fitness
  • The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched ‘Step Together’ campaign to help people stay active during the holy month

JEDDAH: While consuming excessive food during the month of Ramadan goes against the purpose of the holy month, for many Saudis and people of the region, it is a time to indulge in special foods, which often leads to overeating.

For years, Saudis have been facing problems with obesity, with unhealthy diets leading to a variety of poor health conditions. While numerous campaigns have been launched to combat this issue, including by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA), their advice seems to fall on deaf ears during Ramadan.
Arab News spoke to experts — nutritionists and fitness trainers — who discussed their tips to help curb hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
Saudi fitness trainer Nouf Hamadallah, 37, explained that there is no best time to exercise during Ramadan; rather, the time and intensity of the workout can vary from person to person.
“Exercising during Ramadan depends on the flexibility of one’s schedule. There’s no specific time to work out. Most people who believe this are misinformed by what they read,” she told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

• A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions of the Kingdom in June 2020 showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.

• It highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.

“One common bit of advice in popular articles says that if people work out before iftar, they will burn calories and lose weight. But this depends on their goals and calorie
intake. Some people cannot work out while fasting because they feel sick and nauseous, and their blood sugar drops. Then they become discouraged from exercising, not knowing that all they have to do is change the timing and nature of their workout. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”
She added that it is easy to lose muscle mass if people do not choose the right foods for iftar and sahoor, also stressing that it is essential to hydrate during breakfast. Should one choose to work out right before iftar, a protein shake and a nutrient-dense meal with few carbs are advised in breaking fast.

If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

Arwa Bajkhaif, Dietician

“What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day, too. It should be a meal with a good amount of protein and vegetables,” said Hamadallah. “When your body is depleted of energy, the first thing you look for is sugar, and that’s what we want to avoid.”
Digestive problems such as acid reflux also occur due to poor eating habits in Ramadan, she added, and people with such digestive issues need to take note of the specific foods that irritate their stomachs.
She recommended that they avoid these foods if they are planning to exercise and instead have a few dates, soup and maybe a cup of coffee before beginning their workout, saving a full meal for afterward.
Iftar and sahoor also need to be divided into portions to avoid digestive problems, she added.
Saudi clinical and sports dietitian Arwa Bajkhaif, 29, said Ramadan is a “golden opportunity” to fast and practice self-control. If anyone wants to adopt healthy habits or break bad ones, Ramadan is an excellent chance to do so.

What you eat for sahoor will determine your energy levels for the next day.

Nouf Hamadallah, Fitness trainer

“People should know their dietary requirements and follow a suitable diet for their particular health situation during the holy month of Ramadan,” Bajkaif told Arab News
“For individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend seeing an endocrinologist for insulin and medication adjustments and a clinical dietitian for follow-ups to adjust the amount and type of carbohydrates accordingly.”
As for changing one’s eating habits, she suggested that people should not adopt more than three easy and healthy habits. “Being realistic and specific is key to achieving health goals.”
Saudi dietitian Alaa Gotah advised people to drink plenty of water between iftar and sahoor, avoid sugary drinks especially during iftar to maintain insulin levels, and eat plenty of hydrating food such as salads while limiting the intake of carbohydrates and sweets.
She stressed that fasting cleanses the body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
“Sahoor should include a healthy amount of fiber, which stays for a long time in the intestines. To reduce the feeling of thirst and hunger, it’s recommended to eat fruits that contain dietary fiber and magnesium, such as bananas, dates and watermelon,” Gotah told Arab News.  
A nationwide cross-sectional survey conducted over phone interviews across 13 regions in June 2020 titled “Obesity in Saudi Arabia in 2020: Prevalence, Distribution, and its Current Association with Various Health Conditions” showed that the national weighted prevalence of obesity was 24.7 percent.
The study highlighted that obesity was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, among other diseases.
The Saudi Sports for All Federation launched a campaign to help people stay active during the holy month, presenting the Ramadan edition of “Step Together,” where people are encouraged to walk or run 20 kilometers for 20 days during Ramadan.