Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization
The DCO was announced in a digital launch event on Thursday evening. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization

Saudi Arabia joins forces with four nations to launch Digital Cooperation Organization
  • The Kingdom, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan will be part of the initiative

RIYADH, JEDDAH: Senior government officials from five countries have banded together to launch a new global organization with the aim to strengthen cooperation across all innovation-driven areas and accelerate the growth of the digital economy.
Dubbed the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), the participating nations in the initiative are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan.
The DCO aims to strengthen collaboration among member nations as they adapt to a global economy increasingly defined by technological innovation.
Abdullah Al-Swaha, Saudi minister of communications and information technology, spoke about the importance of the event and the necessity of banding together to fortify the digital economy.
“We are joining hands together toward a commitment to drive consensus on digital cooperation to make sure that we seize an opportunity for our youth, our women and our entrepreneurs with the ambition to grow our combined digital economy to $1 trillion in the next three to five years,” he said.
He added: “Our future prosperity will depend on the digital economy, but it can only reach its full potential if we are able to make governments work together collectively with businesses and entrepreneurs so they can survive and thrive, expand their depth into current markets and open doors for everyone into new ones.”
One of the things the world had learned in 2020, the minister said, is that economies are as strong as their digital economies.
The DCO was announced in a digital launch event on Thursday evening, which was attended by several big names in the field, such as International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, and President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende.
Brende stressed the government role in fueling the digital economy, “I think the GCC countries and governments have been extremely successful in doing so; they set up a lot of funds. They injected a lot of funds into startups and helped them really grow and led to the different success stories that we hear about today.”
Zhao insisted that government institutions must no longer work separately, and that the world needed to have a holistic approach to facilitate and encourage ICT developments to better serve the digital economy.
“We encourage regulators to work with the other sectors to try to create a good environment to facilitate that ICT development,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

• The event also featured a group of leading private-sector startup founders from the region who discussed their role in driving digital transformation.

• They shared opinions on potential opportunities in crowdsourcing ideas, and innovations between governments and the public — as well as challenges regarding regulations, workforce skills, global competition, infrastructure and funding.

Zhao also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts during its presidency of the G20. However, without action based on all the good statements and declarations announced, there would not be much change, he said.
The event also featured a group of leading private sector startup founders from the region who discussed their role in driving digital transformation. They shared opinions on potential opportunities in crowdsourcing ideas, and innovations between governments and the public — as well as challenges regarding regulations, workforce skills, global competition, infrastructure and funding.
Panelists also highlighted the necessity of working together, whether between the different institutions within each country or between governments on the global level, to overcome hurdles and begin to envision a more resilient shared future.
“I think everyone now is aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy in general. But what we’ve seen this year was actually a very positive gear toward accelerating the digital economy,” said Abdulhameed Shararah, the founder and CEO of RiseUp. “Because I think what governments and investors and corporations had wished to happen in 10 years or 15 years from now has actually kick-started super fast.”
It had also had a massive impact on the culture of acceptance of technology on both people and at the government level, he added.
The Saudi vice minister of communication and information technology, Haytham Al-Ohali, announced that Saudi Arabia will be building on this year’s digital economy roundtable efforts to establish and lead an annual digital economy forum to discuss key opportunities and challenges facing the sector.
This will convince governments and stakeholders to work together to make sure that policymakers are driving the global digital economy through sustained growth while ensuring prosperous societies.
The event also featured CEOs, entrepreneurs and other experts contributing their opinions in a multi-national, digital roundtable during which they discussed the future of the digital economy.


First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched

First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched
Updated 53 sec ago

First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched

First phase Saudi Arabia’s ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project launched
  • The project will help define the region’s culture and enhance its position as a tourist destination

RIYADH: The first phase of the “Pulse of Alkhobar” project has been launched as part of plans to develop an integrated cultural center in the heart of the city and transform the Eastern Province’s arts scene.
The project follows calls by architecture experts, social media activists and artists for a collaboration across multiple sectors to strengthen the province’s cultural impact.
According to Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abudllah bin Farhan, the project, centered on the site of the city’s old market, is the fruit of a partnership between the ministry and its municipal and rural affairs counterpart.
Acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Majid Al-Hogail said that the project will build an artistic and heritage destination that will improve the lives of residents of Alkhobar governorate as well as visitors to the Eastern Province.
The project will help define the region’s culture and enhance its position as a tourist destination, he added.
Abdulhadi Al-Shammari, the province’s municipal chairman, told Arab News that the new project will also improve services at municipal facilities, while preserving Saudi heritage and culture.
The project introduces tourists and visitors to the culture of the province, and highlights Al-Olaya district as the center of the city’s culture and arts activities.
Al-Shammari said that the project will boost the city’s finances, driving sustainable development and growth as well an improvement in quality of life.
“It will create new investment opportunities for the private sector, and encourage small and medium-scale enterprises, which have an excellent and effective social impact,” he said.
Al-Shammari added: “The Saudi government supports all sectors to help them deliver lucrative investment opportunities and build a conducive environment for local and foreign investment, where new job opportunities are created for young men and women.”
Faisal Al-Fadl, secretary-general of the Saudi Green Building Forum, told Arab News that creating a cultural and arts destination that is open to a range of activities will add to the city’s tourist appeal.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ‘Pulse of Alkhobar’ project follows calls by architecture experts, social media activists and artists for a collaboration across multiple sectors to strengthen the province’s cultural impact.

• According to Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abudllah bin Farhan, the project, centered on the site of the city’s old market, is the fruit of a partnership between the ministry and its municipal and rural affairs counterpart.

“Cooperation between the public sector and international organizations, as well as professional organizations, archaeologists and the public, is instrumental in preserving the cultural and architectural heritage of neighborhoods and cities,” he said.
Al-Fadl added that the collaboration between the two ministries reflects “the importance of architectural and cultural heritage, and the tangible and unique archaeological importance of the buildings as a key element in the history of peoples and relationships inside and outside the Arabian Peninsula.”
He thanked both ministries for their efforts.
Arafat Al-Majed, a Qatif Muncipal Council member, said the partnership is a step forward that falls in line with agreements concluded as part of Vision 2030.
“The agreement will increase interest in cultural heritage and the buildings and towns whose profound and ancient history should be brought out to the world to see and enjoy,” she told Arab News. “The agreement will also improve the urban landscape.”
She said that the joint committee should have branches in municipalities around the Kingdom in order to shed light on heritage sites that can be included in UNESCO. “The Kingdom is rich in such heritage sites.”
Al-Majed said that the project will introduce today’s generation to the ancient heritage of the province in a way that encourages investment opportunities.
“Nobody can deny the fact that some municipalities are still hesitant about what to do with heritage buildings and towns since some of these are abandoned or about to collapse. These municipalities want to tear them down. But these are historical treasures that should be preserved and invested in to become an important economic driver, and a source of arts and culture,” she added.
Maysoon Abu Baker, a Saudi poet and columnist, said the Saudi government attaches great importance to culture and heritage.
“Vision 2030 emphasized the significance of the culture existent in old cities,” she told Arab News.
“Arts, culture and heritage are at the top of the agenda for developing cities and preserving their culture. The cultural impact is important for the future of the Kingdom and is related to its history.”
Yousef Al-Harbi, director of Culture and Arts Society in Dammam, said that the partnership will lead to “new visual perceptions highlighting the Saudi, Arabian and Islamic identity.”
He highlighted the importance of nurturing Saudi art and architectural talent, and facilitating cooperation in order to “bring out the beauty of Saudi heritage and cities.”