Digital museum brings historic Saudi images back to life

Digital museum brings historic Saudi images back to life
A colored version of a picture of King Abdul Aziz taken during his historic trip to Egypt in 1946. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Digital museum brings historic Saudi images back to life

Digital museum brings historic Saudi images back to life
  • Using artificial intelligence to preserve old photographs and rare film footage for posterity

RIYADH: A digital museum curator has turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help bring the history of Saudi Arabia back to the future.

Omar Murshid, who set up Al-Masmak Digital Museum a decade ago, has been painstakingly transforming old black-and-white photographs and rare film footage into color images.

And his preservation project has seen faded images of historic events and landmarks brought back to life.

 

 Murshid established his digital museum in 2011 to be a cultural and recreational platform documenting royal occasions and major events in the Kingdom and has worked on a number of initiatives to revive Saudi heritage with the use of the latest technology.

“I chose a pocket watch that was made in the 1940s, one of the gifts of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Saudi foreign minister back then, and used a 3-D scanner to scan it,” he told Arab News.

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It aims to be a platform documenting royal occasions and major events in the Kingdom.

“Given that this technology is new and still being developed, the results were not perfect, and some gaps appeared on the watch’s structure. Therefore, I had to adjust it manually, which required a lot of time and effort.”

 

 And his latest initiative has involved restoring and enhancing black-and-white pictures and videos.

“I used Adobe Photoshop to colorize the photographs and had to add the colors and adjust the layers manually. It is a long process that requires hours of work.”

Special apps can also automatically identify the color shades seen on black-and-white or sepia photos. But coloring old film footage is a far more complicated process.

 

 “That is why I had to use the latest AI software. This technology conducts several experiences before showing the result. The software works on decompressing the video into images and frames and coloring each one separately,” he said.

Film featuring the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah during the Hajj season in 1954, and King Abdul Aziz’s historic visit to Egypt in 1946 have been among the images picked for color restoration.

Murshid’s work can be viewed on Al-Masmak account on Instagram.

 

 


Saudi Arabia advances in global COVID-19 research ranking

Saudi Arabia advances in global COVID-19 research ranking
Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh. (SPA)
Updated 25 January 2021

Saudi Arabia advances in global COVID-19 research ranking

Saudi Arabia advances in global COVID-19 research ranking
  • Saudi Arabia continues to be ranked first in the Arab World and 12th among the G20 member states

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been ranked 14th internationally for its COVID-19 university research, rising from its previous 17th ranking, according to the database of the Web of Science.

The Kingdom continues to be ranked first in the Arab World and 12th among the G20 member states.

Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support for education, for attaching great importance to research and innovation, and for supporting scientists and researchers in Saudi universities to become globally competitive.

He said that this achievement was a continuation of the efforts of the Kingdom in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. This reflected the Kingdom’s capabilities when it came to managing crises.

Al-Sheikh said that Saudi universities had published 84 percent of the Kingdom’s COVID-19 research, and that the Kingdom had published 915 scientific papers by local scientists since the outbreak of the pandemic.

He thanked Saudi universities that contributed to publishing the research papers as well as the faculty members and researchers who were serving their community.

Al-Sheikh said that this achievement reflected the Ministry of Education’s keenness to organize events that enhanced the participation of Saudi universities, research centers, researchers and academics in supporting scientific research during the pandemic.

This was in addition to coordinating the efforts of universities through specialized workshops to improve the efficiency of research and its contribution to fighting COVID-19, discussing ways to prevent and treat the disease, and investing in the research capabilities of the staff of universities and research centers by finding scientific solutions that contributed to addressing the pandemic.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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