Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to lead the world in artificial intelligence

Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to lead the world in artificial intelligence
Several major partnerships and initiatives are expected to be announced during the course of the two-day summit. (Screenshot)
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Updated 22 October 2020

Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to lead the world in artificial intelligence

Saudi Arabia’s $20bn bid to lead the world in artificial intelligence
  • Aim is to train 20,000 data specialists and launch 300 startup companies by 2030

RIYADH, DUBAI: Saudi Arabia launched an audacious multibillion-dollar strategy on Wednesday to become a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and data by 2030.
The aim is to train 20,000 specialists and experts, have 300 active startups and attract $20 billion in national and foreign investment in data and AI.
“Saudi Arabia wants to set the best example globally in using AI for the development of a nation,” Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, president of the Saudi Data and AI Authority, told the Global AI Summit in Riyadh.
“The strategy aims to make Saudi Arabia the place where the best of data and artificial intelligence is made reality … it sets the foundation and direction upon which we will unlock the potential of data and AI to fulfill our national transformation priorities and establish Saudi Arabia as a global hub for data and AI.”
Alghamdi said Saudi Arabia viewed the summit as an annual platform that would look at AI in a fresh and positive way that “elevates international collaboration over competition.”
 “AI’s potential has led to fierce competition between nations to claim global leadership … there has been an overly negative debate on the risks and dangers,” he said.

 

The inaugural summit aims to explore artificial intelligence’s role in the new global era and how its transformational potential can be deployed “to create a better future for all.”
Among the aims is accelerating AI for sustainable development in less wealthy countries, Al-Ghamdi said, so that “no one is left is behind.” Saudi Arabia and the World Bank have launched an initiative to enhance the digital economy in developing countries and empower them to expedite AI technology.  
Esam Al-Wagait, director of Saudi Arabia’s National Information Center, said the agreement would forge partnerships to speed up AI development in less fortunate African countries. Makhtar Diop, vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank, said the partnerships would help the governments of those countries build AI capabilities and set relevant development policies.
He said there was a focus on the African continent based on the common intentions of the strategic partnership. This also aims to aid developing countries and help them create innovative solutions to their economic and social challenges, and contribute to enhancing the efficiency of all vital sectors in these countries through AI.
Before the summit concludes on Thursday, global AI agreements and partnerships will be signed, and the winners of the AI Artathon competition and NEOM Challenge will be announced.
 


Saudi Arabia announces 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 27.3m vaccines given to date

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 31 min 38 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 27.3m vaccines given to date

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
  • A total of 8,259 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 10 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,063 new infections on Monday.

Of the new cases, 244 were recorded in Makkah, 217 in Riyadh, 152 in the Eastern Province, 108 in Asir, 88 in Jazan, 70  in Madinah, 45 in Najran, 44 in Hail, 20 in the Northern Borders region, 18 in Tabuk, 17 in Al-Baha, and five in Al-Jouf.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,259 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 27.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches
  • Similar penalties would also apply to operators or owners of the means of transportation

RIYADH: The Saudi Public Prosecution office has warned it will impose fines of up to SR500,000 ($133,323) on passengers breaching travel ban restrictions by boarding flights to countries hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Similar penalties would also apply to operators or owners of the means of transportation.

In a tweet on Sunday, officials added that severe punitive measures would be taken against travelers who failed to disclose they had visited any countries listed on the Kingdom’s COVID-19 travel ban list.


Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
  • Authorities instruct all institutions to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees

JEDDAH: Unvaccinated employees within the Saudi public, private, and nonprofit sectors will have their leave days deducted until they receive a COVID-19 jab, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has warned.

The ministry issued a statement on Sunday clarifying procedures to deal with unvaccinated employees following the Ministry of Interior’s instruction for institutions to limit entry to vaccinated people after Aug 1.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia has increased ahead of the deadline, with about 350,000 doses being administered per day, with a total vaccination rate of about 78 doses per 100 people in the Kingdom.
As a result, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development instructed all institutions in the Kingdom to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees and workers, as approved by the Ministry of Health on the Tawakkalna mobile app.
The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

HIGHLIGHT

The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

As for the public sector, employees will consume their eligible leave days according to their legally approved conditions and requirements. However, if those requirements are not met or the employee has exhausted their leave balance, then absence days must be deducted from the balance of regular leaves or will be considered as an unpaid excused absence.
In the private and nonprofit sectors, employers will allow unvaccinated employees to go on official leave that will be calculated from their annual leave.
In case the annual leave balance is exhausted, employees will be granted unpaid leave, and their work contract will be considered suspended during the period once it exceeds 20 days, unless the two parties agree otherwise.
In case of disagreement with a worker, the employer shall deal with the consequences according to the procedures approved by law. The employee must be informed about decisions issued in this regard.
However, the ministry said that the new regulations do not apply to people who are excluded from taking the vaccine according to the Tawakkalna app.


Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
Updated 02 August 2021

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
  • Primary, kindergarten pupils will return to classrooms once 70% of population has been double-jabbed or October 30

JEDDAH: Only students who have been fully jabbed against COVID-19 can go back to school once the academic year begins on Aug. 29, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education said on Sunday.
High school and middle school students who have completed their vaccination program in Saudi Arabia are set to return to the classroom by the end of the month.
Elementary and preschool students will be exempt from returning until 70 percent herd immunity has been achieved through double dosage.
Saudi Arabia has so far administered more than 27.2 million vaccine doses and 8.25 million people have received both shots, making up 23.7 percent of the country’s 34.8 million population.
The ministry said appointments would be provided for staff and eligible students to get vaccinated in time for the start of the school year.
At Sunday’s press conference, Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged pregnant women to get jabbed. He reaffirmed the vaccines’ safety and efficacy and said a large number of unvaccinated pregnant women around the world had been hospitalized with COVID-19.

FASTFACT

The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 526,814.

He also called on doctors to do their part in communicating the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant women. “You aren’t just protecting one life, you’re protecting two,” he added.
Exemptions, including cases of medically proven hypersensitivity to the vaccines or one of their components, are determined through reports issued by the ministry.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Husain said that more than 1 million commercial establishments had followed health precautions to only admit immune customers on the first day that all residents in the Kingdom were required to have had at least one dose or have recovered from COVID-19 in order to enter commercial, government, private and public establishments.
On Sunday there were 1,084 new cases recorded in the Kingdom, bringing the total to 526,814.
There were 1,285 new recoveries, taking this total to 507,374, while 12 new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 8,249. More than 25.12 million PCR tests have been conducted so far.


Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili received Chief of Staff of Bahrain Defense Force Lt. Gen. Dhiyab bin Saqr Al-Nuaimi, and his accompanying delegation, at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh on Sunday.

During the meeting, they exchanged military views and discussed issues of common interest, stressing the strength of relations and ways to achieve the shared goals of the armed forces of the two countries.

Saudi Deputy Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima, who is also the acting commander of the joint forces, then accompanied Al-Nuaimi on a visit to the Joint Forces Command and briefed him on the progress of the operations led by the Arab coalition forces to support legitimacy in Yemen.

They also discussed ways to support and enhance these to ensure regional security and stability.

Maj. Gen. Turki bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, commander of the Royal Saudi Air Forces, also received Al-Nuaimi in the Air Force Command. During the meeting, they discussed many issues of common interest.