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.


Saudi air defenses destroy three Houthi drones headed towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defenses destroy three Houthi drones headed towards Khamis Mushait
Updated 13 min 51 sec ago

Saudi air defenses destroy three Houthi drones headed towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defenses destroy three Houthi drones headed towards Khamis Mushait

RIYADH: The Arab Coalition announced on Tuesday the successful interception and destruction of three bomb-laden drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen that were headed for Khamis Mushait in Saudi Arabia.  

The Coalition stated that it is taking measures to protect citizens and civilians in the area in accordance with international humanitarian law.


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.