Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details. (shutterstock)
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Updated 18 January 2021

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi Central Bank has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers

JEDDAH: Fraudsters have developed a new scam, contacting residents in Saudi Arabia and pretending to be bank staffers requesting customer details.
A number of Arab News staff have received such calls in recent weeks. One caller spoke Urdu while two other callers posing as senior officials from the headquarters of the bank spoke in English and Arabic with a local accent.
They used phone numbers that appeared to be local numbers but upon calling back, the lines failed to connect.
The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.
Speaking to Arab News, Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee of Saudi banks, said: “Saudi banks represented by the Media and Banking Awareness Committee have repeatedly warned bank customers not to react to stray phone calls of any kind coming from unknown sources that ask to update their banking record or personal information.” He further confirmed that banks do not request such information through phone calls or SMS messages.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Phishing, an online scam which targets users through emails where individuals are encouraged to click on a link that takes them to fraudulent sites, was troubling people. Now it’s a different kind of scam known as ‘vishing,’ over-the-phone phishing, where scammers persuade users to share their banking information by impersonating a bank official.”

HIGHLIGHT

The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.

Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details.
Sharing his experience Zafar Hasan, an e-learning consultant in Riyadh, said: “I received a call from someone on an unknown mobile number who introduced himself as a bank employee and told me that my ATM card was going to be blocked. It required an immediate update so I should give my Iqama number (residence permit number) and sixteen-digit ATM card number. I felt something was fishy, so I told him that I would go personally to the bank to update the card.”
The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers.
SAMA called on bank customers to take information only from the official channels of the bodies regulating the Kingdom’s financial and investment sectors and inform the competent security authorities about such fraudulent attempts.

 


Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
  • The Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation ‘to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally’ in the sector

JEDDAH: In a move that experts said will help to further advance the space sector in the Kingdom, the Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation.

The federation, a leading space organization founded in 1951 to promote discussions between scientists worldwide and encourage cooperation in space, announced the Saudi membership on Monday.

Mohammed Al-Tamimi, CEO of the commission, said that the space industry is one of the sectors targeted for development by Vision 2030 with the aim of the Kingdom becoming a world leader in the field. He added that the commission is working to enhance the sector through the scientific and professional development of the skills required in the field, and by providing the necessary support to promote research and development in space technologies.

“We are pleased today to join the International Space Federation to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally and to consolidate its leading role in the development of the space economy internationally,” Al-Tamimi said.

FASTFACTS

• The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said.

• They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said. They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The Saudi Space Commission was established by royal decree in late 2018 to stimulate space-related research and industrial activities. In 2020, Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Saudi, Arab and Muslim astronaut, said the Kingdom was planning an SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) investment in the nation’s space program as part of Vision 2030.

“In the time we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth,” he said. “Space business and the space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward.

“We believe there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the space sector and we, in Saudi Arabia, intend to tap these opportunities at all levels.”

The Kingdom aspires to being a leading global player in the space industry while advancing the prospects for future generations, the prince added.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
  • Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra, will launch the fourth Tanween creativity season with a plethora of cultural events for curious minds.

Held under the theme “Tools: Crafting Creativity,” the event features high-profile speakers and a series of targeted workshops and masterclasses until Nov. 13, and is designed to celebrate, explore and inspire the creative process. 

Underscoring Ithra’s goal of supporting and developing the region’s creative industries, a key highlight will be the unveiling of one of the most comprehensive studies mapping the cultural and creative landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, including rare insights into the Saudi cultural pulse.

“Since its inception, Ithra has positively disrupted the scene in culture, art, knowledge, creativity and community. Through the annual creativity season, Tanween, a cultural catalyst and global gateway, Ithra has succeeded in creating an unprecedented ecosystem that embodies its five pillars, while offering unique experiences to the public and to creative professionals,” said Ashraf Fagih, head of programs at Ithra.

Miznah Alzamil, head of innovation and creativity at Ithra, explained that like previous editions, titled “Disruption,” “Play,” and “The New Next,” this edition of Tanween will explore an aspect of the creative process and tap into how cultural and creative industries continue to innovate and steer the future of the creative economy — highlighting the tools at their disposal. 

“Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools and identifying new opportunities presented by adopting and developing new toolsets,” she said. 

“From the first stone hammer to modern-day technology, tools enable our creativity to shape our world. From hand and head tools to digital and physical tools, and abstract and real toolsets, Tanween 2021 explores the role tools have in our creative process and industries, and shaping our creativity for the future.”

From its launch in 2018, Tanween has connected change-making creatives and innovators with global subject matter experts in an inspiration-fueled environment to nurture creative potential, share ideas and redefine what creativity means in a changing world. It offers a platform for them to connect with curious learners, aspiring creatives, and professionals to unlock creative potential across all levels and industries.  

This year’s headline speakers include former Adidas Senior Design Director Chris Law, founding director of the Khatt Foundation Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, international contemporary artist and researcher Sougwen Chung, and Arthur Mamou-Mani, founder of the award-winning Mamou-Mani Architecture practice.


Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses destroyed explosive drones by Yemen’s Houthi militia targeting Abha airport and Najran, both located in southern Saudi Arabia.
The militia has continued to target the Kingdom on a near daily basis, often selecting civilian targets in the south of the country.
Houthi attempts to target civilians has been labeled as war crimes by the Kingdom. 
The militia has attacked civilian infrastructure in the past including the international airports in Abha and Jazan.
The Arab coalition has been supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government regain full control of the country after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.
In March, Saudi Arabia announced a roadmap called the Riyadh Initiative to halt fighting in Yemen and reopen Sanaa airport, as well as continuing talks to find a solution to the conflict. The proposal was seen as a welcome step internationally, but has been rejected by Houthi leadership.
Fighting in Marib province has claimed thousands of lives, among both government and Houthi forces. The resource-rich region has been heavily contested as the militia seek to strengthen their control of northern Yemen.
Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.
In July, The World Food Programme welcomed Saudi contributions to the fund saying humanitarian action in Yemen could not be sustained without it.


Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information
Updated 27 October 2021

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Hassan Al-Shawi has been director of the licensing and permits department at the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information since January 2021. He has also been a member of the geospatial data governance team since September 2019.
Before joining the authority, he was a manager at the department of photogrammetry and aerial survey from March 2020 until January 2021. He prepared the rules and conditions for issuing permits for photogrammetry and aerial surveys, panoramic photography, similar technologies and marine hydrographic surveys and their guidelines.
He was a manager of the technical affairs department at the General Administration of Map Production from October 2020 until January 2021, a secretariat member of the National Geospatial Center from October 2019 until August 2020, and was a member of the development team at the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information from September 2019 to February 2020.
Before that, he was a surveying engineer in the General Administration of Map Production at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs from January 2019 to September 2019, and project manager at Aerial Imaging Saudi Arabia Co. Ltd. from August 2018 until June 2019.
He was also a surveyor at Badan Agricultural & Contracting Co. Ltd from December 2017 until June 2019, and a surveyor at Al Fozan Trading & General Construction Co. from April to October in 2015.
He specializes in strategies, policies and rules governing the survey and geospatial information sector, stimulating investment, raising spending efficiency, monitoring and supervision, and creating, producing and analyzing geospatial data.
Al-Shawi has more than seven years’ experience and knowledge in implementing strategies, programs and organizational projects to improve the national geospatial infrastructure.
He has experience dealing with diverse systems that contribute to raising the quality of life in the economic, social, environmental and strategic aspects of the transition to digital twinning, smart cities, ecological balances and harmony between the components of the national data infrastructure. He has also managed operational projects of photogrammetry and aerial and ground surveys.
He is a member of several advisory and executive committees and has represented the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information at the Council of Ministers.
Al-Shawi holds a bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering. He is completing a master’s degree at King Saud University in geospatial information systems.