4IR can help KSA become a global hub for new drone technology

There were also key areas where 4IR technology could be used in the campaign against climate change. (SPA)
There were also key areas where 4IR technology could be used in the campaign against climate change. (SPA)
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Updated 31 July 2021

4IR can help KSA become a global hub for new drone technology

There were also key areas where 4IR technology could be used in the campaign against climate change. (SPA)
  • Improving the Kingdom’s logistical infrastructure is a priority area of the Vision 2030 strategy

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia could become a global center for new drone technology under plans being advanced by the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) recently inaugurated in Riyadh in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Mansour Alsaleh, director of the center, told Arab News that heavy lift drone technology had been prioritized by the Kingdom as one of its 4IR projects. “Saudi Arabia can be a leading country in developing the regulatory framework for heavy-lift drones. It can be ahead of the world,” he said.
Heavy lift drone technology has advanced to a stage where it requires a more sophisticated regulatory framework, he said, not just in the Kingdom but globally, and these are being developed in partnership with the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Transport and Saudi Aramco. “The applications are endless,” Alsaleh said.
Advanced drones have been used to deliver vaccines in Africa in the course of the pandemic, and American drone manufacturers have also been accelerating their efforts to transport heavy loads — up to 500kg depending on the technology — to locations with poor access. Improving the Kingdom’s logistical infrastructure was identified as a priority area of the Vision 2030 strategy, and drones are seen as a key enhancer of existing transport systems.
“By integrating these two mutually supportive components of regulatory transformation and pilot tests, Saudi Arabia can be a model for the rest of the world while supporting its own industrial development and social goals,” the WEF said in a recent report of which Alsaleh was a co-author.




Mansour Alsaleh

Alsaleh said that the Kingdom had identified 70 opportunities to apply 4IR technologies, and was prioritizing plans in five other areas, apart from drone technology — artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, government data systems, and “smart cities” such as NEOM.
Each potential project goes through four stages, he explained: Identifying and selection; framework development in partnership with other stakeholders; prototyping and testing; and scaling up within a regulatory framework.
At the recent two-day event run from Riyadh to celebrate the inauguration of the 4IR center, many speakers underlined the need for partnership between government and other parts of the economy and society. Alsaleh reinforced that view. “We are looking for an eco-system, involving the public and regulatory sector, along with private industry and research and academia. It is about having the right blend between those areas,” he said.
One of the challenges was to identify technology at an early stage and take it through the phases of “sandboxing” and testing to further development, even as a regulatory framework was being fully developed. “Sometimes you have just got to take the risk,” he said. Some experts have warned of the challenges associated with rapid technological development, such as vulnerability to cyberattack and concerns over data privacy, but Alsaleh was confident these issues could be met and overcome. “There is no one single recipe to solve these challenges, we need to tackle them one by one. But if we focus more on the benefits that will flow from 4IR technology, it will help you overcome the challenges. We have to minimize the risks from emerging technologies,” he said.
The impact of 4IR technologies cuts across all aspects of human social and economic activity, Alsaleh said. “You cannot limit it to one particular sector, it is everywhere. If you do not keep up with the pace and become an early adopter, you will fall behind,” he explained, underlining the need to strike a balance between the “explore” and “exploit” phases of a 4IR project. But he said that IoT and AI technologies had great market value and could be used in multiple different applications. “You never know what will be shaping the future,” he said.
There were also key areas where 4IR technology could be used in the campaign against climate change. “We have the Circular Carbon Economy initiative. To make a clean energy transition, 4IR must be at the heart of that,” Alsaleh said.
Advanced technologies have been crucial in helping confront the big issues presented by the pandemic, and some changes — such as remote working via virtual communication systems — may become a permanent feature of the post-pandemic world.
Saudi Arabia is one of 13 centers for 4IR around the world, and Alsaleh said the benefits would have global impact.

“Organizations such as the WEF and 4IR are reaching out to everybody. It is all accessible and everyone can benefit from the work,” he said.


Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns
Updated 15 sec ago

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

Oil prices hover around 2014 highs, supported by supply concerns

SINGAPORE: Oil steadied on Thursday, clawing back losses earlier in the session, as strong demand and short-term supply disruptions continue to support prices close to their highest levels since late 2014.
Brent crude futures fell 17 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $88.27 a barrel, as of 0418 GMT, having dropped more than $1 earlier in the session. The global benchmark touched $89.17 a barrel on Wednesday, its highest since October 2014.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to stand at $87.03 a barrel, having also shed nearly $1 earlier. WTI climbed to as much as $87.91 on Wednesday, the highest since October 2014.
"The International Energy Agency said global oil demand is on track to hit pre-pandemic levels," analysts at ANZ bank said in a note.
"Shorter-term supply disruptions are also helping tighten markets. Brent crude rallied sharply after reports a key oil pipeline running from Iraq to Turkey was knocked out by an explosion."
However, the flow of crude oil through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has resumed, after it was halted on Tuesday due to a blast near the pipeline in the southeastern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, officials said on Wednesday.
Supply concerns have mounted this week after Yemen's Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Meanwhile Russia, the world's second-largest oil producer, has built up a large troop presence near Ukraine's border, stoking fears of invasion and subsequent supply uncertainties.
Underpinning oil prices is the broad post-coronavirus pandemic recovery in demand for fuel.
OPEC officials and analysts say that an oil rally may continue in the next few months, and prices could top $100 a barrel as demand shrugs of the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
OPEC+, which groups the cartel with Russia and other producers, is struggling to hit a monthly output increase target of 400,000 barrels per day.
U.S. crude and gasoline stocks rose while distillate inventories fell last week, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday.
Crude stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels for the week ended Jan. 14. Gasoline inventories rose by 3.5 million barrels while distillate stocks fell by 1.2 million barrels, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
Updated 20 January 2022

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
  • The conference aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa
  • Britain will launch a digital tool to link African and British businesses to the UK government

LONDON: The UK is hosting an investment conference on Thursday to boost sustainable economic cooperation with African countries and to support the continent’s transition to clean growth.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open the one-day event, which will be attended by UK and African ministers, business leaders and and heads of international organizations.
The conference, in its second edition, aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa.
“Two years on from the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger,” said Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
“This year’s conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots toward a more environmentally friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future,” she added.
During the conference, the UK will launch a new Growth Gateway — a digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK government trade, finance, investment services and opportunities.
UK Export Finance — Britain’s export credit agency — has significantly increased support for markets in Africa in the past year from about £600 million ($817 million) in 2018-19 to more than £2.3 billion in 2020-21, supporting a range of infrastructure projects in countries from Cote d’Ivoire to Uganda, the Department for International Trade said.
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said that the UK is “deepening its economic ties with African nations” and “there is a lot more that can be done,” adding: “Growth Gateway will make it easier than ever for African and British businesses to access the support they need to boost two-way trade and investment.”
This year’s conference also comes after Britain hosted the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26. The country is looking to build on its commitment to providing £11.6 billion of its International Climate Finance program to help developing countries tackle climate change over the next five years.
Last year’s virtual conference was attended by more than 2,800 delegates from over 40 African countries. Across the UK, 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion were announced, on top of further commitments worth £8.9 billion.


Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
Updated 19 January 2022

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
  • Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round

RIYADH: Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round, almost tripling its valuation to $2.75 billion in six months, MAGNiTT reported.

This round of funding was led by Index Ventures, subscribed by returning investors such as Makers Fund, IVP, Kora, Balderton Capital and managed by BlackRock.

The company plans to use the funds for doubling its headcount to 200 people and launch a new game this year.

Founded in 2019, Istanbul-based Dream Games is a mobile gaming company that developed Royal Match — one of the highest grossing mobile games.


UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
Updated 19 January 2022

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
  • The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies

RIYADH: The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies for the period between 2017 until 2020, according to a report launched by the Arab Monetary Fund.

The fifth Arab economies competitiveness report showed that the UAE maintained its top ranking in the general index as it benefited from high scores in the business environment and infrastructure category as well as the organizational and government governance category.

The Kingdom ranked second after having performed well in the overall economic index, the external activities sector and the official reserves index.

Qatar followed in third place, after attaining first place in the real economy sector, the inflation index and GDP per capita index.

Four Arab nations advanced in terms of competitiveness compared to the previous period, including Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, and Mauritania.

Arab states and other non-Arab countries — such as Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey — are included also in the calculation of the index.

The report monitors the economic competitiveness of Arab countries and sheds light on the economic and political measures applied by decision makers for that purpose.


TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks
Updated 19 January 2022

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's The Red Sea Development Co., or TRSDC, announced the financial closure of a SR14.12 billion ($3.76 billion) loan with four Saudi banks.

The financing will be in a form of a term loan facility and a revolving credit facility.

TRSDC, which is developing the world's largest sustainable tourism project, has obtained the loan from Saudi National Bank, Riyad Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, and Saudi British Bank, according to a statement.

“This year, we have proceeded at pace with the delivery of our flagship project, all the while mindful of our commitment to not only reduce our impact on the environment but actively deliver a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040,” explained John Pagano, chief executive officer of The Red Sea Development Company.

GFC Media Group have recently awarded TRSDC’s Green Financing as Project Finance Deal of Year in the Capital Markets Saudi Arabia Awards.