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)
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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.”

 


Riyadh Oasis opens its doors for winter leisure festival

Riyadh Oasis opens its doors for winter leisure festival
Located between Al-Ammariyah and Diriyah, the stunning desert area just outside of Riyadh city will combine modern luxury with oasis scenery. (Supplied)
Updated 17 January 2021

Riyadh Oasis opens its doors for winter leisure festival

Riyadh Oasis opens its doors for winter leisure festival
  • Saudi capital’s latest desert attraction features live entertainment, shopping and international fine dining

RIYADH: The highly anticipated Riyadh Oasis will begin serving customers from Sunday until April 12.
The event, sponsored by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the International Company for Organizing Events and Activities, in cooperation with Seven Experience and Rotana audio and video company, is a luxury entertainment project in the Kingdom’s desert interior.


Saudi Royal Court Adviser and Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority Turki Alalshikh took to Twitter to announce the date of inauguration, telling followers that “our rendezvous will be on Sunday, God willing, out of your wildest imagination!”

Described as “a tailor-made 5-star winter sanctuary at the heart of Riyadh’s beautiful golden desert landscapes,” Riyadh Oasis will offer an entertainment experience where visitors will be able to explore, eat, play, celebrate and camp out with friends and family.

Located between Al-Ammariyah and Diriyah, the stunning desert area just outside of Riyadh city will combine modern luxury with oasis scenery.
The oasis will provide Saudis with the chance to experience the country’s rich culture, live entertainment and fine dining, along with multinational cultural music and live performances.

Also featured is a shopping area with brands such as perfumery Tolat Etr, luxury jewelers Cardial, and local home and retail store Papillon.
The oasis also offers accommodation in the form of “glamps” — “glamorous camps.” Able to hold up to eight people, these strikingly decorated, tastefully modern areas include living rooms, dining areas and luxury bathrooms. While overnight stays are not possible at the glamps, the oasis is open between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekdays, and 1 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends.
A selection of award-winning international cuisines will be on offer, with pop-ups of famous international outifts such as Japanese restaurant Zuma, Latin American fusion restaurant Amazonico, Emirati Arabic restaurant Ninive, and Greek seafood restaurant Nammos.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The oasis offers accommodation in the form of ‘glamps’ — ‘glamorous camps.’ Able to hold up to eight people, these strikingly decorated, tastefully modern areas include living rooms, dining areas and luxury bathrooms. While overnight stays are not possible at the glamps, the oasis is open between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekdays, and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends.

• People can book tickets for the restaurants and the glamps using The Chefz app. Restaurant reservations cost between SR500 ($130) and SR860, while a reservation for one of the Glamps will be about SR13,000.

People can book tickets for the restaurants and the glamps using The Chefz app. Restaurant reservations cost between SR500 ($130) and SR860, while a reservation for one of the Glamps will be about SR13,000.
Maha Abdulmajeed, a Riyadh resident, told Arab News that she had booked a reservation for Zuma “almost immediately” when news broke of its opening.
“I’m a big fan of Zuma; I’ve been to both their Dubai and New York locations. I’m very excited to visit the pop-up, especially with COVID-19 affecting my ability to travel,” she said.
“I’ve been to several other pop-ups that came to Saudi during Riyadh Season and Jeddah Season, such as Nusr-Et and Coya, so I have no doubt that the Riyadh Oasis pop-ups will be just as well-done and enjoyable,” she said.
Sarah Alghamdi, who plans to travel to Riyadh from her hometown of Alkhobar, told Arab News that she would be making a reservation for at least one of the restaurants.
“I haven’t had the chance to visit any of the permanent locations yet, so I’m not sure which one to try, but I would love to be able to visit at least one of them,” she said.
Alghamdi said that she appreciated the efforts that the Kingdom was making to keep citizens entertained and happy while international travel was not possible.
“My family is in the habit of traveling abroad every year around this time, and since we were unable to do so this year, it kind of bummed us all out. It’s great that we still have the opportunity to travel and experience new things even if we can’t go abroad. It’s also really made me appreciative of domestic travel. It’s very easy to assume that there’s nothing to do at home and that international destinations are the only ones that can hold any appeal,” she said.