Innovative projects at Saudi Arabia’s Absherthon finale win big

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Absherthon includes all the creatives from the ministry. Many activities are conducted to empower the technology that contributes in processing, improving and innovating the technological aspects of the ministry. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 October 2020

Innovative projects at Saudi Arabia’s Absherthon finale win big

  • The incubator empowers talents with ideas to contribute to innovating the technology of the ministry

JEDDAH: Twenty innovative projects have been successful at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior’s Absherthon. Absherthon is an incubator that includes all creatives from the ministry and community levels aimed at empowering talents with ideas to contribute to innovating the technology of the ministry.
In cooperation with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (strategic partner), National Information Center (technical partner), and Absher Oasis and Elm, the ministry has chosen winners from approximately 8,000 projects.
Inspired by an unfortunately common occurrence in the vast deserts of the Kingdom where many people lose their way and perish, “Shaheen for the Missing” is a project to help authorities in rescuing missing people using drones.
The team behind the project, made up of Mohammed Mahdi Ibrahim, Saleh Al-Ajlan and Abdullah and Mohammed Al-Mulla, explained that although they faced some challenges stabilizing the drone’s flight and pinpointing the locations of the missing, they upgraded their systems and drone functions to stabilize the drone’s speed while using thermal heat cameras to pin down the approximate location on a digital map for the handler of the drone.
Amal Al-Zamil, along with her team members Belal Yousef, Talal Al-Mutairi and Omar Al-Harbi won third place for their “Smart Driving School” project. She described the project as a fully automated program that evaluates the skills of a car driver.


“We presented the project in which the car itself gives a detailed report about its driver, so that there would be no need for a human instructor to assess the driver’s driving skills and behavior,” Al-Zamil said. She said that their fully automated driving test can be applied on all drivers nationwide.
“All drivers undergo the same test with the same strict testing criteria, and this makes it an objective assessment where personal interference disappears. Those who pass the minimum level can be given a driving license,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In cooperation with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, National Information Center, and Absher Oasis and Elm, the Interior Ministry has chosen the winners from approximately 8,000 projects.

• The 20 winning projects will be adopted and supported by Absher Oasis for further development using them to encourage innovation and provide better e-services to the Absher platform.

• More than 10,700 participants, 26 percent of whom are non-Saudis, have registered in the Absherthon’s three tracks, using artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things, drones, blockchain, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

• The Interior Ministry has allocated a cash prize of SR100,000 for the winner, SR50,000 for second place and SR20,000 for third place.

She added that drivers can get a report of their weak points so that they can work on them before applying for another driving test.
Al-Zamil and her team members are students of the Immersive Data Science program at Misk Academy. She said they had a shared goal to work on a product that could ease people’s lives and reduce traffic-related issues.
The 20 winning projects will be adopted and supported by Absher Oasis for further development using them to encourage innovation and provide better e-services to the Absher platform.
According to supervisor of Absherthon, Lt. Col. Dr. Saud Al-Otaibi, the ministry had started working on its infrastructure to establish an efficient digital transformation in its services.
Al-Otaibi said that the Interior Ministry believes that security begins at the level of the citizen, and gives them the chance to contribute with practical ideas to improve the e-services provided to them.
Absherthon consisted of three main tracks: The first track was for developing an existing e-service, whether that service is already included in the Absher platform services or not. The contestants in this track worked on improving or modifying the existing service, taking into consideration the user experience.
In the second track, participants sought to introduce new services to the Absher platform through developing creative solutions to optimize the services offered by the ministry.
The third track was about providing creative digital solutions that can be used remotely during emergency situations.
More than 10,700 participants, 26 percent of whom are non-Saudis, have registered in the Absherthon’s three tracks, using artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things, drones, blockchain, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to come up with innovative technological ideas that could help the ministry improve its services.
The Interior Ministry has allocated a cash prize of SR100,000 ($27,000) for the winner, SR50,000 ($13,000) for second place and SR20,000 ($5,000) for third place.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”