Saudi Arabia among top 10 countries in digital literacy: WEF report

Saudi Arabia among top 10 countries in digital literacy: WEF report
The report recognized the importance of digital transformation in the recovery of countries. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 December 2020

Saudi Arabia among top 10 countries in digital literacy: WEF report

Saudi Arabia among top 10 countries in digital literacy: WEF report
  • The Global Competitiveness Report this year focused on how countries are adapting to the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia ranked among the top ten countries in digital literacy in a report by the World Economic Forum, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.
The Kingdom joins other developed nations in the list of countries whose “active population possess sufficient digital skills,” including Singapore, Denmark, and Finland leading the pack.
The Global Competitiveness Report this year focused on how countries are adapting to the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report recognized the importance of digital transformation in the recovery of countries, particularly noting four factors including digital legal framework and the flexibility of work arrangements.
“The impact of the pandemic crisis should serve as a wake-up call for countries that need to embrace the digitalization process, incentivize companies to move towards digital business models, and invest in ICT development and digital skills,” the report said.


Saudi defenses intercept drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia

Saudi defenses intercept drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia
Updated 15 sec ago

Saudi defenses intercept drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia

Saudi defenses intercept drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s defenses intercepted an explosive-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward the Kingdom’s southern region, state TV reported on Tuesday.
The Arab coalition said the drone was targeting the city of Khamis Mushait.
The Iran backed Houthis have been targeting civilian and civilian objects in the Kingdom almost on a daily basis since the beginning of the year, sparking widespread condemnation.


Adrien Lacroix relives his grandfather’s mission to Saudi Arabia by following his footsteps

Adrien Lacroix relives his grandfather’s mission to Saudi Arabia by following his footsteps
Updated 28 September 2021

Adrien Lacroix relives his grandfather’s mission to Saudi Arabia by following his footsteps

Adrien Lacroix relives his grandfather’s mission to Saudi Arabia by following his footsteps
  • Trade and investment counsellor for Wallonia’s grandfather Roger Lacroix worked for same mission from 1950 to1957
  • Adrien looked up some of his grandfather’s documents and found his original passport in his grandmother’s archives

RIYADH: What are the odds of a grandson working in a foreign country for the same mission as his grandfather 70 years ago? This is the story of Adrien Lacroix, trade and investment counsellor for Wallonia, Belgium, and his grandfather Roger Lacroix, who worked for the same mission from 1950—1957, as a counsellor in the Office Belge du Commerce Extérieur, in charge of foreign trade.

Roger was sent regularly on missions abroad to assist with international trade fairs, conduct market studies, and help with delegation visits, and Adrien is following in his footsteps at the embassy in Saudi Arabia.

“I work for the Wallonia Trade and Investment Agency. My missions in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen are twofold: I’m here to help Belgian companies, more importantly, Walloon companies (the French-speaking part of Belgium) to develop in Saudi Arabia, find partners, and help them with missions or delegations on the one hand, and attract the attention of local investors to the potential of the Walloon economy on the other hand. In other words, my job is about improving and strengthening trade relations between both countries,” Adrien told Arab News.

He did not know about his grandfather’s trip to Saudi Arabia until last year when he moved to Riyadh as his first posting. One of his relatives mentioned that Roger lived in the Middle East for a while.

Roger died quite a long time ago, at the age of 49, when Adrien’s father was only nine years old, so Adrien never met him in person.

“I was never told anything about his previous job except vague information that he was traveling, that he was involved in business and that he was working with the state as a public servant,” said Adrien.

Adrien looked up some of his grandfather’s documents and found his original passport in his grandmother’s archives.

This summer, Adrien went to the diplomatic archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgium and found that Roger was sent to conduct market studies in nine Middle East countries.

One of the documents that Adrien Found was a study that Roger did on Saudi Arabia, called “The West’s View: Saudi Arabia in the 1950s.” He said: “The study done in Saudi Arabia was quite prominent because the country was very little known at the time.”

The text offers a dive into old Saudi Arabia. It reports on the country’s geographical, economic and social situation from the point of view of a Belgian government envoy who wished to improve business activities with the Kingdom. The country was in full development during the reign of King Abdulaziz, nearly fifteen years after the discovery of oil.

The paper describes the major projects underway in the Kingdom back then, mainly financed by royalties from oil exploitation. The construction of a pipeline leading to the Mediterranean, jetties at the ports of Jeddah and Dammam, and the planning of a major road network connecting Saudi Arabia to all the centers of the Arabian Peninsula are all examples of the tremendous progress these new revenues made possible at the time.

In a way, the study uncovers the tale of a technological revolution similar to that of Japan’s Meiji era, back in the 19th century. Saudi Arabia, which derived most of its profits from the pilgrims’ visits (back then, around 150,000 pilgrims visited Makkah each year) before discovering its oil reservoirs, has become a highly coveted trading partner and investment ground for the West.

At the time of Roger’s publication, Riyadh had a population of 50,000, and the Bedouin population dominated the country. The Saudis became very interested in popular food products such as butter or canned fruits and vegetables. As a symbol of the country’s new openness, Jeddah had barely torn down its walls to make way for new hangars, warehouses, and private residences.

Roger aptly concludes in his study: “Saudi Arabia, which has long been shut before Western civilization, is giving us our chance. It is up to us to seize it.”

Adrien said: “You have to imagine in what kind of environment Roger was living, the travel conditions in 1950, the road connections as we see the main street or the road from Jeddah to Mecca, the only asphalted road at the time. This to me was quite impressive ... the work that he has done, gathering all this information, taking pictures, and traveling at that time to all of these countries.”

According to Adrien, Belgium had no embassy in Saudi Arabia during his grandfather’s posting; as the Kingdom rapidly grew, an embassy was needed.

“The first Embassy of Belgium opened in 1955 in Jeddah. Thanks to Roger’s contribution, the Belgian state decided that it was crucial to have a physical presence inside Saudi Arabia, especially to help our companies to bid on projects, to maintain stronger ties with business partners, and to advertise the Belgium talents and economy and products that could be a good fit for the Saudi Arabian economy,” he added.

Adrien pointed out how his grandfather’s study in 1950 had some remarks that still apply today. 

Roger mentioned that products from Belgium were a perfect fit for the development of the Saudi economy at the time. 

“Most of what we were exporting at the time was cement, iron, and steel products used in the construction sector and railway equipment. Saudi Arabia was developing quickly thanks to the growth of the oil and gas industry and needed these construction products and transport equipment.” 

Today, Belgium is exporting chemicals and pharmaceuticals, such as vaccines, to the Kingdom. 

Roger highlighted in his study that Belgian entrepreneurs had to have a strong presence in the Kingdom and come physically as Saudis and businessmen needed to see them in person.

“You could not just send an offer by mail, and that is still very true today. Saudi business partners need to see you, talk to you, maintain the link with their Belgian counterpart because culturally, interpersonal relations are crucial in Saudi Arabia,” said Adrien. 

Adrien wished his grandfather was alive so that he could chat about what he did, and on his impressions of Saudi Arabia. “I would love to tell him how much the country has changed. I think that’s something that you would not have expected at that time. It is quite incredible and so thrilling to be part of that change now. I would also like him to assess my work because I think highly of him.”

On a note to the Saudi business community, Adrien advises Saudi investors that if they are looking for innovative solutions from abroad, they should consider other suppliers. 

“Although mostly unknown to the lay audience, Belgium is a world-class champion in sectors in line with Vision 2030 such as healthcare, hydrogen, entertainment, mechanical engineering, food and beverages or logistics.”

He said that the business community is welcome to reach out to the embassy. “I will gladly put you in contact with the right people so that together we achieve wonders. (It is) not a coincidence that (the) famous Arabic proverb ‘unity is power’ resembles the Belgian motto ‘unity makes strength’.”

 

 **Note: Plase wate for the video from the Video Team before publishing the story. Thank you!


Saudi Arabia confirms 5 COVID-19 deaths, 50 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 5 COVID-19 deaths, 50 new infections
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 5 COVID-19 deaths, 50 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 5 COVID-19 deaths, 50 new infections
  • The Kingdom says 53 patients had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours
  • Municipalities in the Eastern Province and Jeddah close 26 businesses for violating preventative measures

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed five new COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,709.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 50 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 547,035 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 227 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Jeddah with eight cases, followed by the capital Riyadh with six, and Buraidah, Khaybar and Taif confirmed two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 53 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 536,079.
Over 41.8 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date through 587 centers.


The ministry renewed its call on the public to register with the Sehhaty app to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Municipalities in the Kingdom have shut down multiple commercial outlets as part of their efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Eastern Province Municipality closed five facilities during 1,390 inspection tours carried out on Monday. Authorities also issued fines to 74 other businesses.
Jeddah Municipality closed 21 businesses and fined 25 others for violating measures during 3,327 monitoring rounds on Monday.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 233 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.77 million.


Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub

The crown prince’s strategy aims to turn Asir region into an international tourism hub, attracting 10 million visitors by 2030. (SPA)
The crown prince’s strategy aims to turn Asir region into an international tourism hub, attracting 10 million visitors by 2030. (SPA)
Updated 21 min 42 sec ago

Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub

The crown prince’s strategy aims to turn Asir region into an international tourism hub, attracting 10 million visitors by 2030. (SPA)
  • The strategy for Saudi Arabia's “The Arabian Highlands" will seek foreign and domestic investment
  • Aims to make the region a year-round destination

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a 50 billion riyal ($13 billion) tourism strategy for Asir that aims to attract more than 10 million visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom by 2030.

The plan for the region, under the theme “The Arabian Highland,” aims to be a “comprehensive and unprecedented development renaissance for the region, by pumping 50 billion riyals through various investments,” Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The investments include financing projects and developing tourist attractions on the peaks of Asir’s mountains to turn the province into a year-round destination.

The projects will rely on the area’s cultural and natural strengths that combine “authenticity and modernity,” and help advance social and economic growth in the region.

The crown prince, who is also chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said the strategy aims to exploit the huge tourism potential in the region including the geographical and natural diversity, and rich culture and heritage.

The strategy seeks to attract local and foreign investments and help make tourism and culture major drivers of Asir’s economic development.

It will help provide new job opportunities, raise the quality of life, and upgrade basic services and infrastructure in the region.

Asir’s governor Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz thanked the crown prince for his “continuous support and generous care for the Asir region and its people.”

The strategy was launched through joint work between the Development Authorities Support Office and the Asir Development Authority, in cooperation with the US-based Boston Consulting Group.
Discussions took place between local residents, experts and private sector companies to develop the general plans.
The region is located in the Kingdom’s southwest and extends 125 kilometers along the Red Sea coast.
It has an area of around 80,000 square kilometers and its highest mountain, Mount Sawda, is 3,015 meters above sea level. Asir shares a border with five other regions in the Kingdom and has an estimated population of more than 2.3 million people.
The region has two airports, including Abha International Airport, and two universities — King Khalid University and Bisha University.
King Khalid University is involved in the strategy due to its developmental and human importance.
The plans would see Abha airport expanded to handle 10 million passengers a year.


Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque
Updated 28 September 2021

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: President General for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais inaugurated the Field and Digital Saudi Expansions at the Grand Mosque Exhibition.

Al-Sudais said that the exhibition showcases the most prominent Saudi projects and expansions at the Grand Mosque. The exhibition also aims to enrich visitors’ experience and highlight the efforts of the Saudi leadership in this regard.