Finalists announced in contest that combines artificial intelligence and art

Finalists announced in contest that combines artificial intelligence and art
More than 2,000 people from more than 50 countries — including artists, graphic designers, experts in artificial intelligence, and programmers — applied for the AI Artathon competition. (AI Artathon)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Finalists announced in contest that combines artificial intelligence and art

Finalists announced in contest that combines artificial intelligence and art
  • More than 2,000 people from 50 countries entered the AI Artathon, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority

RIYADH: The finalists have been announced for the AI Artathon, a first-of-its kind international event designed to highlight the creative potential for humans and machines to work together to create art.

More than 2,000 people from more than 50 countries — including artists, graphic designers, experts in artificial intelligence, and programmers — applied for the competition, which was organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) as part of the Global AI Summit.

After a qualifying round in Riyadh in January during which the participants competed to create initial AI-based artworks, 300 of them were selected to progress to the next stage. They formed 20 teams that took part in a boot camp, during which they were taught by experts to use in their work machine-learning algorithms and generative adversarial networks (a framework for machine learning in which two neural networks compete against each other).

The 10 teams that have reached the final were announced on Tuesday during a live-streamed online event that showcased the artworks created by the teams using AI tools and techniques. The top three, who will share a $133,000 prize fund, will be announced on Oct. 22, the second and final day of the Global AI Summit.

The online event will bring together key decision-makers from government, academia, business and technology to discuss global issues and challenges, and the ways in which AI can benefit humanity and shape the new normal.

“SDAIA is proud of these high-quality artworks created by the finalists of the AI Artathon,” said Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, president of SDAIA and chairman of the organizing committee of the Global AI Summit. “I am very pleased to see artists and AI developers collaborating to utilize the capabilities of advanced AI to create these innovative artworks, despite the novel coronavirus pandemic. I look forward to announcing the final winners during the Global AI Summit.”

The final 10 teams competing for the top prizes are:

Saudi Picasso

The idea for their artwork came from the question ‘what if Picasso had been Saudi?’ The team created a database of works by Picasso and Saudi artists that the AI technology used to create an artwork highlighting the depth, richness and diversity of Saudi art.

Emergent Typographies

In an effort to reflect the beauty of the nature in the Kingdom, the artists used geographic and topographic images, along with existing lines and shapes, to train the AI to combine them and create a digital artwork based on new patterns and inspirations.

Maruem — The Chimera Ant Queen

Inspired by popular manga and anime series “Hunter x Hunter,” and in particular characters called Chimera Ants, this project combines digital graffiti with other artworks and concepts to create a unique new piece that traces the development of a Chimera Ant from single cell to birth.

AI Authentic Clay

The development of personality is usually the result of accumulation of knowledge, including, for example, awareness of culture, religion and civilization. The members of this team decided to express their deep feelings about the authenticity of their culture, presenting an experience that combines and reorganizes shapes and patterns through the use of AI.

Esoteric & Energetic “Heya”

Words can have a number of meanings, energies and inspirations. For example, “heya,” which translates as “she” in English, can have many meanings: “she” might be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a hard worker, or many other things. This artwork is inspired by the energy, feelings and strength conveyed by “heya.” The team collected selfies of diverse women and drawings reflecting the word “she,” and AI technology was used to analyze and link them to create a new digital work of art.

The Beauty of Belonging

Architecture is a fundamental characteristic of any cultural production that enhances the sense of belonging, so this artwork aims to shed light on the richness and variety of architecture in Saudi culture. Different architectural styles and patterns are combined and integrated using AI algorithms to produce an artwork with a new color and style, creating an abstract visual experience.

Museum of GANs

What if we could depict the emotional states and impressions of a character based on portraits? And what if we could create new artworks based on differing emotional states? This work tries to answer these questions by collecting and classifying a large number of well-known portraits according to their emotional states and impressions, which the machine used to create the artwork.

Machine Mythology

As humans, when we read a text there are always intertextualities and associations to perceptions, figures and so on in our minds. To create this artwork, the team developed a model that enables the machine to read these associations using AI. A random text generator was used to create stories that are used to transform the textual into the visual.

Ultimate Pattern

Different architectural shapes and styles have developed over time in the Arab world that are used in buildings, mosques and other landmarks to create characteristics unique to Arab art. The team combined many different patterns to develop a single aesthetic pattern that offers the best comprehensive picture. Patterns were processed using deep convolutional generative adversarial networks, which classified, connected, developed and redrew shapes the machine used to create a new work of art.

Novel2Art

What distinguishes digital art created using AI is its limitless capabilities to recognize and translate human creativity. Taking the novel as a crucial element of literary creativity, this work is the result of an attempt to inspire the computer to create art by reading a novel using linguistic programming, extracting its concepts, and then transforming those concepts into photos and shapes.


How Saudi Arabia is initiating action on greenhouse gas emissions reduction

How Saudi Arabia is initiating action on greenhouse gas emissions reduction
Updated 21 September 2021

How Saudi Arabia is initiating action on greenhouse gas emissions reduction

How Saudi Arabia is initiating action on greenhouse gas emissions reduction
  • At UNGA, Saudi Arabia will show it is a leader in the global campaign for energy sustainability
  • The Kingdom has a big environmental responsibility as a major player in global energy markets

DUBAI: Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, set out the Kingdom’s position on climate change loud and clear at the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh earlier this year.

“We are long believers in the Paris Agreement and are doing everything in our power to achieve it,” he said, before issuing a challenge to other countries to match the Kingdom’s ambition in the campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby mitigate global warming.

“Whatever we will do in the Kingdom will support emissions reduction, and we are doing it willingly because the economic benefits (from new energy technologies) are clear. We will enjoy being looked at as a reasonable and responsible international citizen because we will be doing more than most European countries by 2030 to combat climate change,” he said.

That message — Saudi Arabia will be a leader in the global campaign for energy sustainability — will be hammered home at the continuing 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where climate change and sustainability are bound to be key issues.

The UNGA meetings are an opportunity each year to monitor progress on the UN’s sustainable development goals, the set of 17 policy objectives put in place in 2015 as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all,” and intended for full implementation by 2030.

That time frame coincides with Saudi Arabia’s own Vision 2030 strategy, itself designed to transform the Kingdom and diversify its economy away from oil dependency. Sustainability is a vital part of the Vision 2030 plan.

The message will be driven home in New York, and next month in Glasgow when the COP26 summit takes crucial decisions on the next phase of implementation of the Paris Agreements.

Saudi Arabia’s position on climate change is long-standing and clear: The Kingdom shares the concern of the rest of the world that global warming presents a risk to humanity if allowed to go unchecked. Moreover, as a major player in global energy markets, Saudi Arabia has a big responsibility for protecting the planet.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman set out the Kingdom’s position on climate change loud and clear at the Future Investment Initiative forum earlier this year

But, precisely because of its role as a leading energy producer, the Saudi position is far more nuanced than some in Europe and North America who have turned against hydrocarbon fuels in any form.

One Saudi policy adviser told Arab News: “We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment. We view the rising global demand for energy products as an opportunity to re-imagine the future of energy globally, and through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, we aim to pioneer this future.”

That thinking is behind many of the energy policy initiatives that have emerged from Riyadh over the past couple of years. Prince Abdulaziz has long been an enthusiast of sustainability and energy efficiency, and the drive toward a comprehensive policy on climate change has been given new impetus since he was appointed energy minister two years ago.

Central to the Kingdom’s strategy on climate change is the concept of the circular carbon economy (CCE) — a framework for tackling climate change while continuing to enjoy the benefits of economic growth driven by oil and gas, the most efficient and powerful energy sources mankind has ever developed.

CCE is based on the principles of the 4Rs — to reduce, reuse, recycle and ultimately remove harmful CO2 and other emissions from industrial processes and the atmosphere.

The Kingdom has a longstanding policy of aiming to reduce greenhouse gases through energy-efficiency programs that target travel, industry and construction. Saudi oil is already one of the “cleanest” crudes in the world, as measured by independent scientists.

Saudi Aramco also has a big R&D program in place to develop more energy-efficient motor engines. Hydrocarbon products are reused and recycled across the Kingdom’s industrial sector.

Saudi Arabia long ago ceased the practice of gas flaring, which is still common practice in many oil-producing countries.

One of the persistent features of the Kingdom’s energy policy has been to use hydrocarbons and their byproducts as non-fuel ingredients in the chemical and other manufacturing industry, and this trend has accelerated since the merger between Saudi Aramco and SABIC, the petrochemicals giant.

Most climate experts agree that it is the fourth R — remove — that is the most challenging, but also potentially the most effective in lowering greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change to the 1.5C global temperature increase the Paris Agreement requires by 2050.

Saudi Arabia has a headstart in technologies linked to carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), which aims to prevent CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere, either by reusing it in industrial processes such as building materials or storing it in secure “sinks” such as old oil reservoirs and other natural locations.

The Kingdom’s reliance on oil could soon become a thing of the past, with megaprojects such as NEOM being built on zero-carbon models. (AFP)

The Kingdom has also been funding R&D into direct air capture (DAC), which some climate scientists see as the long-term “silver bullet” in combating climate change. If CO2 can be successfully removed from the air on a global scale, that would go a long way to solving the problem of global warming.

However, until the technology is proven and widely available, there are other techniques that can be implemented to ameliorate airborne carbon. Again Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront with its Saudi Green Initiative, which envisions the planting of 10 billion trees in the Kingdom over the next two decades as part of a wider Middle East Green Initiative that will eventually see a total of 50 billion trees planted in the region.

When he launched the initiative earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “As a leading global oil producer, we are fully aware of our responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis, and that just as we played a leading role in stabilizing energy markets during the oil and gas era, we will work to lead the coming green era.”

The other major plank of the Saudi Green Initiatives is a commitment to lift the proportion of renewables in the Kingdom’s domestic energy mix to 50 percent by 2030, replacing oil as an energy-generating fuel, with the balance to come from natural gas.

The Kingdom has already begun this program, with big wind and solar projects announced earlier this year to generate electricity from renewable sources.

The jewel in the crown of the Saudi sustainability strategy is the NEOM megacity under construction in the Kingdom’s northwest, which will have a zero-carbon footprint, with all its power and water needs satisfied by non-hydrocarbon sources, notably “green” hydrogen.

All the Saudi mega-projects of Vision 2030 also have sustainability at the heart of their plans.

Saudi Arabia is already a pioneer in developing hydrogen fuels, and last year exported the first shipment of “blue” ammonia — a much cleaner fuel that is a byproduct of the oil and gas industrial process — to Japan for use in that country’s electricity generation industry.

Saudi Aramco’s Shaybah oilfield. The company is one of the most profitable in the world. (Reuters)

An alliance with Germany was announced this year to study and develop hydrogen fuels, combining Saudi energy expertise with German engineering and technological prowess.

Nobody in New York — or Glasgow next month — is underestimating the scale of the climate challenge ahead, but Saudi Arabia has shown, and will continue to show, that a responsible approach to the problem can be adopted without totally abandoning the power and efficiency of hydrocarbons.

The Kingdom is winning allies in this challenge. At last year’s G20 summit of world leaders, the CCE framework promoted by Saudi Arabia was adopted unanimously as the preferred global methodology for combating global warming.


Saudi Digital Library offers week of free database access

 The digital library has a wide range of periodicals, tools and information bases. Twitter: (@SDL_sa)
The digital library has a wide range of periodicals, tools and information bases. Twitter: (@SDL_sa)
Updated 21 September 2021

Saudi Digital Library offers week of free database access

 The digital library has a wide range of periodicals, tools and information bases. Twitter: (@SDL_sa)
  • The Library won the best provider of information services and resources for higher and post-secondary education at the Global Exhibition for Education Supplies and Solutions GESS 2019

JEDDAH: The Saudi Digital Library at the Ministry of Education announced the launch of a week-long free access initiative at the Kingdom level for 16 databases that provide digital information sources.
The step is to mark the Kingdom’s 91st National Day on Sept. 23, and is in cooperation with a number of Arab and foreign publishing houses.
The databases will be available for free for a week from Sept. 19.
All beneficiaries of library’s services are invited to access the link through the Saudi Digital Library portal.
The digital library has helped reduce the burden on the budgets of universities and government and private sectors, and this amount of digital information sources has assisted Saudis and expats residing in the Kingdom.
Among the library’s most important initiatives are the scientific theses project, the scientific journals project, a digital library project for Arabic books and a knowledge library project for students of general education.
During the COVID-19 pandemic period, the Saudi Digital Library succeeded in launching a comprehensive and free access initiative to a number of digital databases, in cooperation with a number of Arab and foreign publishing houses.
The digital library has a wide range of periodicals, tools and information bases.
According to the latest statistics, the library contains 169 international and Arab databases covering various academic disciplines, including 450,000 digital books, 60,000 scientific journals, and 9 million papers of research and conference papers.
The Library also contains 5,224,410 university theses, 3,061,669 scientific reports, 7 million multimedia materials that include scientific images and films in various disciplines, and more than 12 million scientific materials in the information assets owned by the library.

The number of beneficiaries from this Informatics gathering exceeded 65 entities and more than 300 global publishers, accessing its services through the portal on the internet in both Arabic and English.

More than 1.6 million students and postgraduate researchers have benefited from the digital library services, as have 71,000 faculty members in 55 public and private universities and colleges, more than 180,000 on scholarships, as well as 20 government agencies and institutions.

The digital library has won several awards, including the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information “I know” award for outstanding projects in the Arab world in 2010, and the Knowledge Summit Award in its fifth session from the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Knowledge Foundation 2018 for its contribution to the transfer and dissemination of knowledge.

The Library also won the best provider of information services and resources for higher and post-secondary education at the Global Exhibition for Education Supplies and Solutions GESS 2019.

The free access initiative includes the Taylor & Francis database for millions of press articles, the Science Book Gateway database that provides reliable scholarly references in several fields and the Al-Manhal Database that provides access to thousands of digital publications from leading Arab universities, research centers and scientific communities.

Other databases in the library include ProQuest, Wiley, EBSCO, ACM, Springer Nature, Science Direct, IGI, Encyclopedia Britannica, OECD, the integrated Arabic database “Marefa,” CABI, AskZad and JOVE.

The Saudi Digital Library expressed its thanks and appreciation to the publishers who made the free service available in the Kingdom.


Acting governor of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan receives commander of region’s security forces

Jazan Acting Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz receives the commander of the region’s Facilities Security Forces, Brig. Gen. Khalid Al-Dossari. (SPA)
Jazan Acting Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz receives the commander of the region’s Facilities Security Forces, Brig. Gen. Khalid Al-Dossari. (SPA)
Updated 21 September 2021

Acting governor of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan receives commander of region’s security forces

Jazan Acting Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz receives the commander of the region’s Facilities Security Forces, Brig. Gen. Khalid Al-Dossari. (SPA)
  • The governor ordered the bodies under the responsibility of the forces to continue to abide by the security and safety requirements, and he wished the forces’ members every success in their work

JAZAN: Jazan Acting Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz received the commander of the region’s Facilities Security Forces, Brig. Gen. Khalid Al-Dossari, in his office on Monday. Prince Mohammed received a report on the missions and achievements of the forces, highlighting the support they receive from the Saudi leadership.

This includes the human cadres and military equipment they need to carry out the role they were entrusted with in terms of maintaining the security of the Kingdom’s key facilities. The governor ordered the bodies under the responsibility of the forces to continue to abide by the security and safety requirements, and he wished the forces’ members every success in their work. The meeting was also attended by the undersecretary of the region’s principality, Dr. Abdullah Al-Saqr.


Saudi Space Commission launches Space Hackathon

The Saudi Space Commission. (SPA)
The Saudi Space Commission. (SPA)
Updated 21 September 2021

Saudi Space Commission launches Space Hackathon

The Saudi Space Commission. (SPA)
  • The initiative was part of its efforts to prepare future astronauts and engineers and attract talent through quality training programs

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Commission has announced the opening of registration for the Space Hackathon.
The event aims to attract innovators and developers to qualify for the NASA International Space Apps Challenge next month and to participate in providing developmental and innovative solutions to the challenges facing Earth and space.
The hackathon will be held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and will offer financial prizes of SR200,000 ($53,000).
The Saudi Space Commission demonstrates the aligned vision of creating better, secure environments for its citizens.
In August, the commission launched a training camp to introduce high school students to space sciences and technologies.  

The initiative was part of its efforts to prepare future astronauts and engineers and attract talent through quality training programs.

The camp linked school maths and physics curricula to space sciences. It provided participants with an applied learning experience for three hours every day for a total of 30 hours.  


Saudi Arabia participates in G20 space economy leaders meeting in Italy

Saudi Arabia participates in G20 space economy leaders meeting in Italy
Updated 21 September 2021

Saudi Arabia participates in G20 space economy leaders meeting in Italy

Saudi Arabia participates in G20 space economy leaders meeting in Italy
  • Head of Saudi Space Commission says Saudi Arabia aspires to be one of the leading countries in the field of space by 2030
  • The Kingdom initiated the meeting during its presidency of the G20 last year

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has included the space economy as one its main targeted sectors in its Vision 2030, an official said.
“As the Kingdom attaches great importance to the field of space and its economy, as an extension of what it started with the first space flight in 1985, it aspires to be one of the leading countries in the field of space by 2030,” Dr. Mohammed Al-Tamimi, acting CEO of the Saudi Space Commission said.
He was speaking during the second edition of the G20 Space Economy Leaders Meeting, held in the Italian capital, Rome, on Monday.
He said that the slogan of this year’s meeting “Space for People, Planet and Prosperity,” embodied the fact that space exploration is not only a scientific achievement, but is also an important economic resource, and a factor in the prosperity of mankind.
Al-Tamimi added that the Kingdom hoped the meeting, which it initiated during its presidency of the G20 last year, would continue to succeed, and looked forward to continuing efforts toward supporting countries toward diversifying their economies and preserving limited natural resources to enhance the space economy.
He thanked Italy’s government, represented by the President of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Sacuccia, and the agency’s officials for their efforts in convening the second edition of “this important meeting.”
The meeting discussed strengthening the role of the space economy globally and its concrete contributions to facing global challenges and achieving sustainable development goals, with the participation of space agencies and bodies from the G20 member states, a number of representatives of invited countries and heads of international and regional organizations.
The Kingdom received widespread praise for its efforts and initiative to organize the first meeting of space leaders, which it included for the first time among the topics of the group’s agenda last year, with the aim of enhancing space cooperation between countries to maximize the benefits of the space economy and using space data to support sustainable development, food security and global health.