Saudi Arabia sets sights on becoming leading digital economy

Saudi Arabia sets sights on becoming leading digital economy
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Updated 11 March 2021

Saudi Arabia sets sights on becoming leading digital economy

Saudi Arabia sets sights on becoming leading digital economy
  • Saudi Cabinet approves establishment of Digital Government Authority

RIYADH: Saudi Cabinet approval on Tuesday for the establishment of Digital Government Authority (DGA) proves the Kingdom’s commitment to becoming a leading digital economy, experts said.

This will be achieved by adopting digital transformation in government services on a par with international standards, according to Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University, Riyadh.

“The newly approved authority will play an instrumental role in creating digital interactions, online platforms and electronic services between citizens to government, government to citizens, and government to businesses,” he told Arab News. “Consequently, it will unify and improve the efficiency of government departments by providing transparent, secure and cost-effective services.”

The authority will help prepare a national e-government strategy, and organize the work of digital government, including platforms, websites, services and e-government networks.

Khan said that the step highlights the Kingdom’s determination to have an integrated digital government with harmonized policies, strategies and regulations.

HIGHLIGHT

Digital Government Authority is responsible for building the national capabilities specialized in digital government to adopt and enable modern technologies, in addition to adopting policies related to the authority’s activities, plans, programs and projects necessary for its implementation.

Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, an adviser and law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News: “The establishment of the DGA is a major step toward improving and enhancing digital services provided by various government agencies.”

He added that the authority will increase the efficiency of e-services, which will augment the return on government investment in digital services.

“This comes in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to improve the Kingdom’s ranking to be among the top five countries in e-governance by 2030 and its ranking in the government effectiveness index to to be among the top 20 countries,” Al-Obaidy said.

He added that the Kingdom has achieved “tremendous strides” in the field of e-governence, and expanded services to include job searches, distant learning, traffic, passport, civil status and digital payments.

“The authority will simplify and facilitate the procedures (of provided services), diversify communication channels and tools, and support the use of digital applications by government agencies, such using government digital cloud, sharing data platform and managing human resources,” said Al-Obaidy.

He noted that the creation of the authority comes at a time when countries are changing to digital economies and transformation, and Saudi Arabia aims to be a leader in this new world of digital governance.

Abdullah Al-Swaha, minister of communications and information technology and chairman of the National Digital Transformation Unit, said that the authority opens up new horizons in digital government services through proactive and integrated digital services.

DGA is responsible for building the national capabilities specialized in digital government to adopt and enable modern technologies, in addition to adopting policies related to the authority’s activities, plans, programs and projects necessary for its implementation.

The minister also said that the authority will raise the efficiency of government digital business models and develop the talent of government employees.

Saudi Arabia's heritage treasures
The five historic sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List tell a story of universal importance

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Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait on Tuesday, state TV Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The Kingdom has seen an increase in attacks by the militia after the US delisted the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations.

Last month, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak condemned recent attacks by the Houthis, saying that they hindered the peace process and blamed Iran for the ongoing crisis in the country.
“The Iranian interventions have become a formidable obstruction to peace as Iran has turned the Yemeni conflict into a negotiating card that Iranian regime capitalizes on to serve its nuclear negotiations,” he said.


Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 
Updated 20 April 2021

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

RIYADH: The National Culture Awards Ceremony kicked off with a bang in Riyadh, honoring 32 Saudi cultural figures in 14 categories.

A part of the Quality of Life program of Vision 2030 the Ministry of Culture announced the first annual National Cultural Awards winners in a ceremony on Monday evening in the Cultural Palace of the Diplomatic Quarter.

Sponsored by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over 14 categories were awarded in cultural pioneering, youth cultural, cultural institutions, film, music, fashion, national heritage, literature, theater and performing arts, visual art, architecture and design, culinary arts, publishing, and translation.

In January 2020 the Ministry of Culture began the completion process and received over 15,000 submissions online and began deliberating the top submissions into October and chose the final winners in December.

The Vice Minister of Culture Hamed M. Fayez spoke on behalf of the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud in a speech addressing the ceremony stating, “ Culture, with its civilizational value, its social weight, and its effective developmental role today occupies the place it deserves. Thanks to the inspiring and ambitious national vision, the Saudi Vision 2030, which restored culture as a basic pillar in building society.  Anchored by the national identity and aspects of pride in the history and civilization of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Although the Minister of Culture was not in attendance he applauded the winners of the awards for their role in preserving and promoting the Kingdom's Culture stating, “ These intellectuals and creative minds are our cultural capital. With whom we will reach, with them and with their help, a cultural renaissance fitting the stature of our country.”

Dana Awartani one of the winners of the visual arts award from Jeddah, brings to life traditional geometry and historical themes in her art pieces.

“For me it is a huge honor first of all finally being recognized for the creative industry as a whole and all of the work that we do you know the past few years since the ministry has formed it has been completely different for us in getting support and recognition.”

“This is the first ever awards ceremony recognizing different arts which for me is a an honor to be a part of and it’s everything we have been working for, for the past my whole career has been summed up in today’s award and it is also great to see its  recognition from my own community, from my own country in a place where I grew up and where my art started,” Awartani shared with Arab News”.

Arwa Alammari a fashion pioneer of over 7 years and one of the winners of the fashion award shared her sentiments with Arab News stating,

“Being a part of such a cultural celebration of our heritage in such a way and it coming from my country means a lot to me, I have been working in this field for a very long time and I have been awarded internationally but when it comes from my country it means that we are all going toward the cultural changes that is going to be exported to the world.”

The awards ceremony concluded with a speech from the Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar in attendance on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. 

“There is no doubt that it is a very excellent and wonderful step.  That establishes a cultural approach for this country that affirms its high and sublime position in all forums.” 

Prince Bandar thanked the Crown Prince for sponsoring the awards, the Ministry of Culture, and members of the ministry for organizing the event, “I hope that we will all succeed on other occasions to come, so that we will be at a high level in all our events, as much as tonight.  I thank you and hope every year you are well. Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.”

14 cultural awards winners:

  • The Cultural Pioneer of the Year Award: H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Nasser Alaboudy
  • Youth Cultural Award: Winning first place is Shahad Saeed Amin for her films including “Lady of the Sea” and “Scales” that Saudi Arabia’s film authority nominated for best international film in the Academy Awards.
  • Cultural Institutions Award: First place in the private sector track is King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), First place in the Non-Profit sector track is Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, and winning first place in the Social responsibility track is the Ketabi Lak Application.
  • Film Award: In first place is Shahad Saeed Amin
  • Fashion Award: In first place Lomar, in second place Yousef Mohammed Akbar,and in third place Arwa Abdullah Alammari
  • Music Award: In first place Zaina Emad Swelleh,in second place Akram Ibrahim Almattar, and in third place Reem Fahad Altamimi.
  • National Heritage Award: In first place Abdulaziz Abdullah Aldakheel, in second place Dr. Hisham Ali Mortada ,and in third place Torathuna Social Responsibility Company.
  • Literature Award: In first place is Abdulaziz Saleh Alsagabi, in second place Magbool Moussa Alalawi, and in third place Amal Saleh Alharbi.
  • Theater and Performing Arts Award: In first place Sami Abdullatif Algamaan and in second place Yasser Yahya Madkhli.
  • Visual Arts Award: in first place Lolowah Abdulrazzaq Alhomoud ,in second place Danah Abdulrahim Awratani, and in third place Ahmad Sami Angawi.
  • Architecture and Design Award: A winner was not selected as the submissions did not meet the requirements. 
  • Culinary Arts Award: In first place Rakan Ibrahim Aloraifi, in second place ZADK Culinary Academy, and in third place Norah Abdulwahab Albadran
  • Publishing Award: In first place was Obeikan Publishing and Translation, second place Kadi and Ramadi for Publishing and Distribution, and in third place Dar Athar for Publishing and Distribution.
  • Translation Award: In first place Abdallah Mohammed Idris, in second place Sultan Nasser Almujaiwel, and in third place Bander Mohammed Alharbi.

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries
Updated 20 April 2021

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

RIYADH: King Salman has authorized SR 1.9 billion to be paid to Saudis who receive social security benefits, Al Ekhbariya reported early Tuesday.
Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi, the minister of human resources and social development, welcomed the king’s generous support to citizens during the holy month of Ramadan. 
The announcement came as Saudis prepare to fast for the eight day.


Saudi deputy defense minister receives British PM's envoy

Saudi deputy defense minister receives British PM's envoy
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi deputy defense minister receives British PM's envoy

Saudi deputy defense minister receives British PM's envoy

Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman recieved special envoy to UK’s PM for the Arabian Gulf, Edward Lister.
They reviewed the “strong cooperation between our two friendly countries, especially in the defense,” Prince Khalid tweeted early on Tuesday.
“We reemphasized the importance of our partnership in preserving regional stability&security,” he added.


Saudi authorities intensify efforts to curb virus

Saudi authorities intensify efforts to curb virus
The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques has launched a new initiative to transport the elderly and people with disabilities using golf carts within the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi authorities intensify efforts to curb virus

Saudi authorities intensify efforts to curb virus
  • 970 new cases reported amid crackdown on violators

RIYADH: Amid a rise in the daily tally of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Kingdom, authorities have expedited their efforts to ensure compliance with health precautions.

The Ministry of Health on Monday announced 970 new cases in the Kingdom with the Riyadh region on top with 438 infections.
The Makkah region followed with 227, the Eastern Province reported 131, and the Madinah region reported 37 new cases. The regions with the lowest number of cases are Najran (8), Al-Jouf (4), and Al-Baha (3).
The total number of cases in the Kingdom has gone up to 405,940 now. With 896 new recoveries, the number of people who recovered from the disease has risen to 389,598 since the beginning of the outbreak.
The ministry also reported 11 new deaths due to COVID-19.
The number of active cases in the Kingdom currently stands at 9,508 with 1,087 of those cases in critical condition. According to Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammad Al-Abd Al-Aly, over half of those cases are people above the age of 60.
The Kingdom is vaccinating its population against COVID-19 at a rate of approximately 1.44/second, or 124,661 each day. Currently, over 7 million vaccines have been administered, with the number standing at 7,280,904.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The number of active cases in the Kingdom currently stands at 9,50 8.

• The ministry also reported 11 new deaths due to COVID-19.

• The Riyadh region reported the highest number of cases on Monday.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs on Monday said that in the last 11 weeks, its special teams carried out more than 230,000 inspection tours to various mosques in the Kingdom to ensure that safety measures are followed.
It said a total of 143 violations were detected and necessary actions were taken to address the issue and penalize the violators.
Taif municipality also reportedly carried out over 2,600 inspection tours of commercial establishments during Ramadan. The municipality’s field teams targeted locations projected to see high activity during Ramadan, such as restaurants, bakeries, buffets, and Arabic sweets shops.
Meanwhile, field teams in Jeddah also cracked down on violators, closing 36 locations for failing to adhere to anti-COVID guidelines. Jeddah municipality announced that its teams had carried out 4,049 field trips in 19 sub-municipalities and 15 governorate municipalities. Similarly, in Tabuk, 58 commercial establishments were closed for not implementing anti-virus measures.