World Tourism Organization opens first regional office in Riyadh

The UN World Tourism Organization opened its regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh in the presence of Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb. (Twitter/@pololikashvili)
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The UN World Tourism Organization opened its regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh in the presence of Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb. (Twitter/@pololikashvili)
The opening of UN World Tourism Organization’s regional office for the Middle East will provide jobs, education and training opportunities for millions. (Twitter/@AhmedAlkhateeb)
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The opening of UN World Tourism Organization’s regional office for the Middle East will provide jobs, education and training opportunities for millions. (Twitter/@AhmedAlkhateeb)
The UN World Tourism Organization opened its regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh in the presence of Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb. (Twitter/@pololikashvili)
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The UN World Tourism Organization opened its regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh in the presence of Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb. (Twitter/@pololikashvili)
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Updated 27 May 2021

World Tourism Organization opens first regional office in Riyadh

World Tourism Organization opens first regional office in Riyadh
  • The office will also contribute to promoting tourism products and sustainable development
  • The first initiative of the new office will be to develop an international tourism academy

RIYADH: The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) opened its first regional office in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The new office will act as a hub for the UNWTO to coordinate policies and initiatives across 13 Middle East countries.

The office will also contribute to promoting tourism products, sustainable development, and collecting important statistics for the sector.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, and regional tourism ministers and industry leaders all attended the opening.
During the ceremony, Al-Khateeb said: “As the first office of its kind for the World Tourism Organization, it will serve as a beacon for regional cooperation.

“We are pleased to host the office in the Kingdom, and this comes within the framework of our commitment to work with our partners in the UNWTO to develop a strong industry based on the principles of sustainability, and opportunities for all, in various parts of the region and the world.”
Pololikashvili said the launch of the first regional office was a landmark event and represents a new direction for coordinating global tourism through regional cooperation.

“This new initiative realizes that compatibility at the regional level is the key to unlocking the huge tourism potential in the Middle East and creating social, economic and environmental resilience for the sector and its people,” he said.
The first initiative of the new office will be to develop an international tourism academy dedicated to supporting the new generation of tourism leaders.


Saudi, Azerbaijani foreign ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 16 min 12 sec ago

Saudi, Azerbaijani foreign ministers hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • They discussed strengthening coordination frameworks on issues of common concern

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan held talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, and his accompanying delegation, at his office at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh on Thursday.
During the meeting, they discussed ways of strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing coordination frameworks on issues of common concern, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
They also reviewed regional and international developments and efforts made toward them.


Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,255 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,255 new cases
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,255 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,255 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,247 new cases reported and 920 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 17 mosques reopened in 5 regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after 17 people tested positive for coronavirus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed 14 new COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,730.
The Ministry of Health reported 1,255 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 479,390 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 11,322 remain active and 1,451 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 340, followed by the Eastern Province with 282, the capital Riyadh with 203, Asir recorded 156, and Jazan confirmed 81 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,247 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 460,338.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened 17 mosques in five regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after 17 people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,653 within 138 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 180 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.90 million.


Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy
  • Al-Rajhi said Saudi Arabia has shown tremendous progress in achieving gender participation gap target agreed at the Brisbane summit
  • He called for the need to properly classify workers to ensure their rights

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi, concluded on Wednesday the Kingdom’s participation in the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ Meeting in Rome, the ministry said.
His participation came as part of the Kingdom’s support for Italy, which holds the rotating G20 presidency, as a member of the Tripartite Committee (troika) for the current year. The Troika is represented by the country that holds the presidency, its predecessor (Saudi Arabia), and its successor (Indonesia) and works to ensure continuity within the G20.
The program included a joint meeting with the education ministers of member states to discuss issues related to supporting efforts to facilitate the transition of young graduates to the labor market, whereby they reached an agreement after holding an independent session and issued a joint statement.

Al-Rajhi delivered a speech in which he said: “Saudi Arabia commends the Italian presidency for adopting priorities that promote women’s employment, gender equality in the labor market, work patterns in the era of digitization, and social protection systems that ensure efforts from the previous presidency continue. These areas are of great importance in the field of public policy for each of the G20 countries and the world.”
He called for the continuity of work on the G20 Youth Roadmap 2025 approved by the ministers during the Kingdom’s presidency last year, and said that some important issues, such as those related to women and gender equality in the labor market, provide the opportunity to make tangible progress in previous ministerial commitments.
He said that Saudi Arabia has shown tremendous progress in achieving gender participation gap target agreed at the Brisbane summit.

“Based on data from 2014 to 2020, for Saudi nationals in the labor market, we have exceeded the Brisbane target with a gap reduction of 27 percent, where in 2016, the National Transformation Program set a goal to increase women’s participation to 30 percent by 2030, and this goal has been exceeded with the achievement level reaching 33.2 percent by 2020, which confirms that the Kingdom has made progress by surpassing targets that were very ambitious and challenging,” he added.
Al-Rajhi siad that the current labor market is highly affected by global trends, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and witnessed a significant acceleration in the use of modern technologies, including artificial intelligence, even in the most traditional business models.
He called for the need to properly classify workers to ensure their rights with regard to wages, occupational health and safety, and working hours, in addition to their access to adequate social protection.
Al-Rajhi headed the ministry’s delegation to the G20 ministerial meetings, which kicked off on Monday in Catania, and included Dr. Ahmed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for labor affairs and head of the employment group for the Saudi side in the Tripartite Committee, as well as Undersecretary for International Affairs Dr. Adnan Al-Naim.


Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji also tells meeting on international cooperation about the nation’s environmental credentials

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji told an international gathering on Wednesday how the Kingdom’s government went to great lengths to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect public health.
Speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a virtual, high-level meeting on International Cooperation Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosted by China, he said Saudi authorities implemented stringent precautionary and health measures to the highest international medical standards, along with World Health Organization protocols.
Al-Khuraij added that his country worked last year, during its presidency of the G20, to amend the program for the group’s annual summit to focus mainly on addressing the pandemic, including its effects on health and its economic and social consequences. In addition, the efforts of all working groups were intensified in an effort to address the most important issues affecting the lives of people all over the world.
He said Saudi Arabia continues to work closely with international partners to address the pandemic, based on a belief in the importance of international cooperation. It also shares with the world its experience of the challenges and difficulties it has faced, as an extension of its international partnerships and in response to humanitarian calls from around the world, to which the Kingdom has spared no effort in responding in an effort to improve people’s lives.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 diversification and development program highlighted environmental and sustainable development among its main objectives, he added, and stressed the need to emphasize the preservation of the environment during the nation’s presidency of the G20. It therefore placed this at the forefront of its agenda, based on a desire to ensure sustainability and find feasible solutions to global environmental, climate and energy issues.
Al-Khuraij also highlighted the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March, which aim to protect the planet and combat environmental challenges. Among other ambitious targets, they aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region, and plant 50 billion trees as part of the world’s biggest afforestation project.


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 24 June 2021

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.