Saudi Arabia develops secure alternative to WhatsApp

Saudi Arabia develops secure alternative to WhatsApp
In this file photo taken on February 20, 2014 logo of WhatsApp is seen on a smartphone in New York. (AFP)
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Updated 05 September 2020

Saudi Arabia develops secure alternative to WhatsApp

Saudi Arabia develops secure alternative to WhatsApp
  • Saudi Vision 2030 underpins the importance of digitalization and cybersecurity and that this endeavor is in the pursuit of that program

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is developing a secure alternative to the short messaging service WhatsApp that will help ensure protection of confidential data.
The local messaging service will limit the Kingdom’s reliance on foreign companies and ensure that any confidential or sensitive data is safe on local servers.
A dedicated team of Saudi engineers and researchers at the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) is working on this project.
The instant message platform is expected to be ready in a year and will allow users to communicate in a secure environment as an alternative to Facebook’s WhatsApp and Tencent’s WeChat.
“This platform is being built on locally developed encrypted software and algorithms that will protect it from potential security vulnerabilities and help achieve the highest degree of security and privacy,” said Basil Al-Omair, director at the National Information Security Center at the KACST.
In a statement issued to the media, Al-Omair further said that the homegrown platform will also guarantee a safe exchange of both text and voice communications.
“The advantage of the app, designed by the all-Saudi workforce, is that it is free from external servers controlled by foreign agencies and will hence ensure confidentiality,” he added.
They are currently targeting government agencies, institutions and companies, and not the average user, he said.

The advantage of the app, designed by the all-Saudi workforce, is that it is free from external servers controlled by foreign agencies and will hence ensure confidentiality.

Basil Al-Omair, Director at the National Information Security Centre at the KACST

Speaking to Arab News, Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the King Saud University in Riyadh, said: “It is indeed a great initiative taken by the KACST to develop an indigenous platform for secured file transfer and multimedia communication, which would have a multitude of benefits.”
He added: “It may create new job opportunities for local talent, develop intellectual property, provide homegrown secure application to public and private sector organizations, and offer bilingual communication interfaces for native users.”
In addition, its local development will ensure that it is free from any security backdoors and loopholes that allow hackers to perform cyberattacks, added Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of Global Foundation for Cyber Studies & Research in Washington, DC.
“This application will harness military-grade security for the confidentiality and integrity of communication and will provide end-to-end encryption for the private exchange of data,” he said.
He added that Saudi Vision 2030 underpins the importance of digitalization and cybersecurity and that this endeavor is in the pursuit of that program.
“Once this platform is successfully implemented and tested, it could be exported to generate revenue and boost the national economy,” said Khan.
The platform, he added, could be made scalable and may integrate with other services to provide additional functionalities, such as securing payment of bills, tickets and money transfer.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 22 min 56 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition has destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia, news channel Al-Arabiya has reported.

The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthi’s “systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians.”

It said the drone was fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom.  

The bloc said it was taking all necessary operational measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. 


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.


Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 11 April 2021

Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
  • The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan

JEDDAH: Reconstruction and renovation projects are underway in six Islamic historical sites and museums in Makkah.
The Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites hosted a field visit from the Executive Committee for the Path of the Islamic Historical Sites and Museums.
The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan.
They also visited Bir Tuwa (the Well of Tuwa), Jabal Thawr, the 1,200-year-old water well and canal Ayn Zubaydah, the Mina site where the Al-Aqaba Pledge took place and Jabal Al-Nour, the Cave of Hira.
One of the most important projects is the Jabal Al-Nour Cultural Center.
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims because it is where the prophet is said to have had his first revelation and received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
  • These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world

MARIB: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched in Marib a project to distribute 9,880 Ramadan food baskets, benefiting thousands of needy and displaced families in six Yemeni governorates.
The director of the executive unit of the management of displaced people camps in Marib governorate, Saif Muthanna, said that he valued the humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief.
The center has also distributed 662 Ramadan food baskets in villages in Chad.
KSrelief, in cooperation with Mauritanian Red Crescent, launched the Ramadan food baskets distribution project.
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families.
The center also delivered Saudi Arabia’s gift to Mali, included 50 tons of dates.
On behalf of KSrelief, the aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Mali, Khaled bin Mabrouk Al-Khaled. These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world.