DiplomaticQuarter: Italian envoy and Eastern Province governor praise bilateral relations

Prince Saud bin Naif, governor of Eastern Province, meets Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone. (SPA)
Prince Saud bin Naif, governor of Eastern Province, meets Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone. (SPA)
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Updated 21 January 2021

DiplomaticQuarter: Italian envoy and Eastern Province governor praise bilateral relations

DiplomaticQuarter: Italian envoy and Eastern Province  governor praise bilateral relations
  • Saudi Arabia is Italy’s biggest trading partner in the Gulf and its second biggest in the wider region

RIYADH: Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone held a meeting with Prince Saud bin Naif, governor of Eastern Province, where they exchanged views on the growing relationship between Saudi Arabia and Italy.

Prince Saud praised the two countries’ growing bilateral relations in various fields and their partnership in preparing Italy’s hosting of the G20 Summit this year, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The governor wished Italy steady progress and prosperity.

The Italian ambassador praised the growing bilateral ties and affirmed that relations between Saudi Arabia and Italy have strengthened communication in various fields. The envoy also wished Saudi Arabia and its people further progress and prosperity.

Following the successful completion of the G20 summit in Riyadh in November 2020, Italy assumed the forum’s annual rotating presidency from Saudi Arabia at a ceremonial handover by King Salman during the two-day summit. This was the 15th meeting of the forum that brings together leaders of economies that account for 85 percent of global gross domestic product to discuss the most challenging socioeconomic issues.

Saudi Arabia is Italy’s biggest trading partner in the Gulf and its second biggest in the wider region. Italy is one of the top 10 suppliers to Saudi Arabia with exports reaching €3.279 billion ($3.966 billion) in 2019 — up 6 percent compared to 2018. Imports to Italy from the Kingdom were at €3.795 billion in 2019.

More than 70 Italian companies operate in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks
The report explores the impact of cyberattacks and breaches on organizations and details how security teams are adapting to these challenges. (AFP)
Updated 44 sec ago

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks
  • “Having an infrastructure that can provide a security operations center, with robust situational intelligence, will give context to threats and help prioritize potential targets and remediate risk with confidence”

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s senior cybersecurity professionals and their organizations continue to face serious threats as nearly 93 percent of the 252 organizations surveyed in the Kingdom experienced a cyberattack in the past year, according to a report.
VMware, an American cloud computing and virtualization technology company, released the findings from the fourth installment of the Global Security Insights Report. It was based on an online survey of 3,542 chief information security officers (CISOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and chief technology officers (CTOs) in December 2020 from across the globe.
The average number of breaches suffered by each organization was 2.47 over the past year while 11 percent of respondents said their organizations had been breached between 5 to 10 times. The uptick in attacks was mainly due to more employees working from home, highlighting the vulnerabilities in legacy security technology and postures.
The report explores the impact of cyberattacks and breaches on organizations and details how security teams are adapting to these challenges. Accelerated digital transformation has caused security teams to face evolving threats as cybercriminals seize the opportunity to execute targeted attacks exploiting fast-tracked innovation and remote workforces.
In an online press conference, Ahmed El Saadi, VMware’s regional director of sales, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, said that complexity is the enemy of security. It is an indication that organizations cannot see into the corners where personal mobile devices and home networks have been grafted to corporate distributed IT infrastructure through insecure technologies such as VPNs.
“It is vital that organizations gain visibility of their networks through cloud-based technologies such as Secure Access Services Edge (SASE),” El Saadi said.
“Having an infrastructure that can provide a security operations center, with robust situational intelligence, will give context to threats and help prioritize potential targets and remediate risk with confidence.”

HIGHLIGHT

The average number of breaches suffered by each organization was 2.47 over the past year while 11 percent of respondents said their organizations had been breached between 5 to 10 times. The uptick in attacks was mainly due to more employees working from home, highlighting the vulnerabilities in legacy security technology and postures. 

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Information Center are doing a quite great job in this regard, he said, as they are using advanced cybersecurity technology to ensure secure services.
For his part, Saif Mashat, VMware’s country managing director, Saudi Arabia, said it is vital for organizations in the Kingdom to fully understand their security weaknesses if they are to improve their security posture.
“Many organizations surveyed are already using, or planning to use a cloud-first security strategy, and while they may encounter significant challenges related to cybersecurity, there is room for optimism,” Mashat told Arab News.
“By adopting an intrinsic, cloud-first approach to security, whereby security is built-in, and not bolted-on, organizations will be able to address challenges including ineffective legacy security technology and process weaknesses.”
He added that this will ensure companies in Saudi Arabia are better positioned for success in a fast-changing world, while also supporting the Kingdom’s ambitions to be a digital leader.
The report highlighted a shift that has undoubtedly changed the threat landscape, requiring security teams to transform their cybersecurity strategies and stay one step ahead of attackers.
The report also emphasized that key focus areas for the coming year must include improving visibility into all endpoints and workloads. Responding to the resurgence of ransomware, delivering security as a distributed service, and adopting an intrinsic approach to cloud-first security are also vital for a company’s security.
Moreover, 11 percent of all breaches were caused by ransomware, which continues to see a rapid escalation.
Ransomware has added an unwelcome tension as multistage campaigns involving penetration, persistence, data theft, and extortion are ramping up the pressure. Attackers are capitalizing on the disruption faced by remote workers and in most ransomware attacks, email continues to be used as the most common attack vector to gain initial access, the report said.
The message is being heard as 80 percent of respondents agreed they need to view security differently than they did in the past due to an expanded attack surface prompted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Apps also topped the list as the most vulnerable point on the data journey, but they are by no means the only area of concern.
The report also found that third-party apps are a common cause of breaches. Of the surveyed professionals, 78 percent said their ability to innovate as a business depends on them, so it is not surprising that security teams are focusing on sharpening their approach to consuming and developing them.
Some 46 percent of respondents said they plan to build more security into their infrastructure and apps and reduce the number of point solutions while 38 percent said they have adapted security to mitigate risk using existing assets.


Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties
Updated 6 min 6 sec ago

Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA), Nabil Khoja, met on Tuesday in Riyadh the undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion of Oman, Asila Al-Samsamiya, to discuss special economic zones between the two nations.

They covered cooperation and integration opportunities the zones would offer, with Khoja touching on the ECZA’s role as the organizational umbrella that ensures the alignment of the special economic zones project with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and national strategies.

He stressed that the meeting with Al-Samsamiya comes within the framework of strengthening international cooperation via special economic zones and seeking to build strategic partnerships.

Khoja noted that the ECZA has expertise in supervising, regulating and controlling economic cities and special zones, which can be shared between the Kingdom and Oman. He added that this will contribute to achieving the goals of the two countries, and to enhance the vital role that the ECZA can play in realizing the objectives of Vision 2030.

This meeting followed an extended session between the ECZA’s team, headed by the vice secretary-general for Special Economic Zones, Wassim Khashoggi, and the deputy chairperson of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones in Oman, Ahmed Al-Deeb. 

The two parties discussed providing support for Omani efforts to attract Saudi investment for special economic zones and free zones projects in the Sultanate.

They also covered the possibility of establishing a Saudi industrial zone in Oman, which the Saudi side would develop, operate and manage, and build roads to transport goods between the Saudi and Omani special economic zones.


Saudi art, music collide in exhibition

Saudi art, music collide in exhibition
The event will include seminars by expert speakers, performances, presentations on Saudi music and its symbols, and an art exhibition. (Supplied)
Updated 12 min 17 sec ago

Saudi art, music collide in exhibition

Saudi art, music collide in exhibition
  • The Jeddah event, which runs until June 28, will also shed light on art and its relationship with music

JEDDAH: Music can transcend boundaries, bridging gaps between different cultures and creating an atmosphere that is appreciated by all.
On World Music Day, the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts (SASCA) celebrated in Jeddah its first Music Forum under the slogan “Music is the universal language of mankind.”
The event was sponsored by the University of Business and Technology (UBT), with the participation of 84 artworks.
The forum, which aims to break music barriers, is proof of how musicians from different backgrounds can learn from each other while forging new artistic collaborations, according to Mohammed Al-Sobieh, the director of the association in Jeddah.
“Music is a universal language that brings people together to express themselves, and collaborate,” Al-Sobieh said.
The forum gathered musicians from Saudi Arabia, the US, France, Syria, Portugal, Egypt and the Philippines.
Music tastes are no longer confined to a single genre, language or even country. People often enjoy songs in languages they do not speak, showing how music can transcend cultural boundaries.
Al-Sobieh said the forum is one of the most prominent activities on SASCA’s annual agenda. “The event provides a platform for musicians from everywhere to compete in offering their inspiring music.” The Jeddah event, which runs until June 28, will also shed light on art and its relationship with music. It will include seminars by expert speakers, discussion groups, performances, presentations by intellectuals on Saudi music and its symbols, and an art exhibition. He added that Saudi music icons will be honored during the 10-day event.

HIGHLIGHTS

• On World Music Day, the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts (SASCA) celebrated in Jeddah its first Music Forum under the slogan ‘Music is the universal language of mankind.’

• The event was sponsored by the University of Business and Technology (UBT), with the participation of 84 artworks.

• The Jeddah event, which runs until June 28, will also shed light on art and its relationship with music.

Al-Sobieh said that Jeddah has always been a cultural hub in the region, proudly adding that the Jeddah Association brought together the pioneers of Saudi music.
A musically inspired art exhibition called the “Whispering Iron” will also be displayed. It was created by renowned artist Mansour Al-Mutairi, a member of the Saudi Plastic Artists Association and owner of Najdeh Colors Art Salon. The exhibition includes around 42 artworks, including  20 models of musical instruments.
Al-Mutairi has recently turned his hand to creating art from musical instruments, both modern and old.
The solo exhibition showcases metal sculptures made from huge piles of scrap metal collected from junkyards. While Al-Mutairi believes that they have been exquisite art forms in their prime, he has given them a new lease of life.
“My exhibition is entirely dedicated to music and it is my personal tribute to some of the Saudi singers, poets, musicians and composers I have listened to in my life and who have made a great impact on the Saudi music. Poets such as Prince Bader bin Abdulmohsen, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, composer Tarek Abdulhakeem and singer Talal Maddah.”
He added: “There are over 40 works on display, each telling their own story about these wonderful machines of music and our relationship with them.”
Al-Mutairi, from Taif, hopes to expand the exhibition to other parts of the Kingdom as part of a bigger national project.
Demonstrating its continued support of art and culture, the UBT has announced its sponsorship of the Music Forum for the next 10 years. UBT Chairman Abdullah Dahlan said at the opening ceremony: “We are proud to be the official sponsor of the Music Forum because we are very keen to merge education with arts and culture.”


Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration
Updated 23 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel has been the director general of the women’s branch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) in the Eastern Province since 2015.

As part of the IPA’s role in helping public servants, especially those with disabilities in workplaces, the branch recently delivered a three-day, text-processing training program designed for the region’s female public employees with hearing difficulties.

Al-Ageel received a bachelor’s degree in translation from King Saud University (KSU) in 2003. Seven years later, she obtained a master’s degree in applied linguistics (TESOL) from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, she was granted a doctorate in global, urban and social studies from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

In 2005, Al-Ageel joined the IPA, where she served as a faculty staff member in the English language department at the Riyadh women’s branch for nearly 10 years before she was appointed head of the women’s branch in the Eastern Province.

Al-Ageel’s doctoral thesis focused on the behavior of Saudi women in contemporary Arabic-speaking situations. The research she presented for the degree investigated Saudi pidgin Arabic that has emerged as a result of Saudi people interacting with foreign workers, especially Asians.

In 2018, the IPA published an Arabic version of Jason W. Osborne’s “Best Practices in Logistic Regression” translated by Al-Ageel. She has also translated and reviewed a number of scientific papers in different fields, and has led consultation teams in training needs assessment, human resource and organizational structures.

She is also active in increasing awareness about corporate social responsibility and sustainable development goals.


Saudi air defenses intercept five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Jazan

Saudi air defenses intercept five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Jazan
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi air defenses intercept five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Jazan

Saudi air defenses intercept five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Jazan
  • Arab coalition says taking operational measures to protect civilians and deal with the imminent threat

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s air defenses on Wednesday intercepted and destroyed five explosive-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthis toward the Kingdom’s southern region, state TV reported.
The Arab coalition said one of the drones was targeting the province of Jazan, adding that the Iran-backed militia continues its attempts to deliberately target civilians and civilian objects in Saudi Arabia.
A few hours later, the coalition said four more drones were intercepted without specifying their intended target. 
“We are taking operational measures to protect civilians and deal with the imminent threat,” the coalition added.
On Tuesday, Saudi air defenses intercepted a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthis toward the southern city of Khamis Mushait.
And on Saturday, the coalition said the Kingdom’s air force had intercepted and destroyed 17 explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia’s southern region within 24 hours.
“The interception was successfully carried out in Yemeni airspace, and the hostile attempt was repelled,” Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday, citing the coalition.
The Houthis have stepped up cross-border attacks on southern Saudi Arabia since the start of the year with drones and missiles, and sometimes major cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, in what the coalition has said are “deliberate and systematic hostile attempts” which constitute war crimes.