Saudi initiative: DCO to boost economies of 5 founding countries

Saudi initiative: DCO to boost economies of 5 founding countries
Founded by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan, the DCO is driven by the vision of a digital future for all by empowering women, youth and entrepreneurs, expanding the digital economy and leapfrogging with innovation. (Photo/Twitter)
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Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi initiative: DCO to boost economies of 5 founding countries

Saudi initiative: DCO to boost economies of 5 founding countries
  • Founded by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan, the DCO is driven by the vision of a digital future for all by empowering women, youth and entrepreneurs, expanding the digital economy and leapfrogging with innovation

RIYADH: Digital experts are singing the praises of the newly formed multinational Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO).
Founded by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan, the DCO is driven by the vision of a digital future for all by empowering women, young people and entrepreneurs, expanding the digital economy and leapfrogging with innovation.
Senior government officials from the five nations came together on Thursday to launch the DCO, motivated by their shared interests in the digital economy that can only be realized through collaboration.
Speaking to Arab News on inception of the DCO, Pakistan’s Ambassador Raja Ali Ejaz said: “For Pakistan, with a talented and well-trained pool of human resources, the DCO presents a unique opportunity for rapid progress in all spheres of life,” Ejaz said.
“Pakistan has joined the Digital Cooperation Organisation as a founding member and acknowledges the initiative of Saudi Arabia. Pakistan considers it an important step in post COVID-19 economic recovery of the founding countries,” said the envoy.
The DCO provides a platform to harness the strengths of participating countries such as skilled manpower and infrastructure resources to create a flourishing digital economy, he said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi has expressed his appreciation of the efforts of the Saudi minister of communication and information technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha, in making the DCO a reality and has extended full cooperation, said the ambassador.
Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University and founder CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research in  Washington, DC, said: “The launch of the DCO in this unprecedented time is a great strategic decision of five nations.
“With the mission of achieving prosperity, socioeconomic development, and implementing digital transformation, the countries setting up the DCO aspire to become leading digital economies in the world which is commendable.”
He added: “It is estimated that by 2025 the global digital economy will be worth $23 trillion with a GDP share of 24.3 percent. This provides the DCO with a great opportunity to build a platform for their tech-savvy youth, women, entrepreneurs, and indigenous industry to flourish and compete with their global contemporaries and boost their digital competitiveness.”
He said the DCO hopes to work with intergovernmental agencies, think tanks, public and private sectors, global tech companies, civil society, and academic institutions.
Through this initiative, the member states could establish solid cooperation in the emerging fields of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, IoT, big data, 5G, cloud computing, and blockchain, Khan said. He explained that the aspirations, opportunities, and vulnerabilities of digital economies are deeply interconnected, which would require the DCO to map out innovative strategies and initiatives that directly affect their populations in a positive way.
In addition, member states can harness their expertise and share experience to strengthen efforts for preparing for global crises such as COVID-19, he said.
Lastly, he said, it is very important to extend the membership of the DCO and include more active members from different regions who share the same interests and the mission for a prosperous digital future.


Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
Updated 16 January 2021

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
  • It will go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority

RIYADH: Preclinical studies on the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 have been completed.

Professor of epidemiology Dr. Iman Almansour, who heads the team of researchers working on the vaccine at the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC), affiliated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), confirmed to Arab News on Friday that the studies were complete, and said clinical trials would begin as soon as “the proper approvals” had been given.

She did not specify when that is expected to happen.

The Ministry of Education is financing the team’s project. The team’s research paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals.

The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen.

Dr. Iman Almansour, professor of epidemiology

According to the published paper, the vaccine has so far proven effective, when used on animals, in eliciting antibodies that will target the virus. “The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen,” Dr. Almansour explained.

Dr. Turki Almugaiteeb, director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RPD Innovations, which runs the National Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center, told Arab News: “There is a great focus on the results of medical research because of the pandemic. Research can play a great role in developing a vaccine that can be adopted and further developed in the future. We can say that the Kingdom has a strong infrastructure, which can help produce and manufacture a national vaccine.”

Both Almugaiteeb and Almansour stressed that the experimental vaccine will need to go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, the deputy minister of education for research and innovation, said the ministry supported programs at the Kingdom’s universities with more than SR500 million ($133.3 million) in 2020.