Saudi world's robotics competition debut to pave way for 4IR progress: RPDC CEO

Saudi world's robotics competition debut to pave way for 4IR progress: RPDC CEO
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Updated 22 September 2021

Saudi world's robotics competition debut to pave way for 4IR progress: RPDC CEO

Saudi world's robotics competition debut to pave way for 4IR progress: RPDC CEO

RIYADH/JEDDAH: As the Saudi team secured sixth place in a contest at the World Robot Summit held in Japan, the chief of the Research Products Development Co. (RPDC) expressed optimism over Kingdom’s plan to promote artificial intelligence and build a strong robotics base in the Kingdom.

Abdulmohsen Al-Majnouni told Arab News that it was a major accomplishment as the Kingdom “is building its capabilities” to bring about the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The company is owned by Taqnia, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund. Officials of the Research Products Development Co. led the Saudi robotics team, which competed with 16 other countries at the summit and qualified for the final contest.

“Inspired by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, our national robotics team of young men and women, under the leadership of Dr. Nahid Sidki, the chief technology officer of RPDC, reached the final competition. The journey to the summit included qualification round of 119 international teams where 16 teams managed to reach the finals in the industrial challenge,” he said.

According to Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alsawaha, advanced technology from the Fourth Industrial Revolution is expected to generate around SR1 trillion for the Saudi economy in new revenue streams.

The Kingdom will enjoy economic boosts from robotics, artificial intelligence, and wireless production models as it pushes for smarter cities and infrastructure.

“This accomplishment is inspiring to both our young men and women and to our leadership. We do not need to wait until 2030 to start achieving our targets. They are closer than many (people) think. With the government's support, we can start building amazing capabilities in robotics and AI and transform the Kingdom into a highly competitive economy,” said RPDC COO Dr. Mashal Al-Harbi. 

The secret to achieving the target, he said, is to find “passionate, dedicated and smart talent, engaging them in challenging projects for hands-on experience and supporting them with the needed resources and guidance to unlock their full potential.”

The World Robot Summit is supported by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; and the Energy Industrial Technology Development Organization. It aims to expedite the development of robotics and AI technologies to support the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

“They open it up to the world to inspire young men and women to solve a very challenging problem. We managed to develop an innovative architecture to address the challenge and our talented team worked hard for almost two years despite the COVID-19 lockdown and the many challenges we faced,” said Sidki.

“The accomplishment is a reminder to our young talent that only through the dedication and hard work we can accomplish what others consider impossible,” he said.

“My message to Saudi young men and women is to follow your dreams and unlock your full potential and don’t let fear drive your ambition. Moving forward, we expect Saudi Arabia’s young talent to be major competitors in international AI and Robotics competitions,” the company’s chief technology officer said.


US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap
Updated 7 sec ago

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

RIYADH: Consumer confidence in the U.S increased to 113.8 in October, up from 109.8 in September, the US-based Conference Board said. Concerns about high inflation were offset by an optimistic outlook for the labor market. 

This suggests that economic growth might have recovered early in the fourth quarter. This comes after consumer confidence in the country declined for three months in a row. 

UK annual pay rises

Full-time earnings in Britain rose by 4.3 percent in April compared to the previous year, data published by the Office for National Statistics revealed.

Median full-time earnings increased to £611 ($843) in April. After adjusting for inflation, the increase was 1.7 percent.

Hong Kong’s trade deficit

Hong Kong's trade deficit expanded to HKD42.4 billion ($5.5 billion) in September up from HKD12.7 billion ($1.6 billion) a year earlier, Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department said. 

Imports grew by 23.5 percent to reach an all-time high of HKD484.2 billion ($62.3 billion), triggered by a significant increase in imports of electrical machinery and related parts.

Exports rose at a lower annual rate of 16.5 percent as it reached HKD441.8 billion ($56.8 billion). This was driven by jumps in the exports of electrical machinery, office machines and automatic data processing machines, and gold and silver products.

Brazil’s inflation

Monthly inflation in Brazil reached 1.2 percent in early October, Bloomberg reported, citing the country’s statistics agency. This will likely put some pressure on its central bank to raise interest rates there, despite plans for greater public spending in the country.

The hike in prices was driven by jumps in transport and housing costs, which increased by 2.06 percent and 1.87 percent respectively.

In addition, the country’s annual inflation rate rose to 10.34 percent.

 


EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister
Updated 37 min 28 sec ago

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

RIYADH: Global supply chains need to be rethought to reduce the impacts of humanitarian or geopolitical crises, France’s foreign trade minister has told the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh.

Franck Riester highlighted the health, energy and food sectors in particular as areas where the current system is susceptible to fluctuations, such as those caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said the European Union is already seeking to diversify its suppliers in a number of areas, and flagged up closer working with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as part of this.

The GCC will be "good partners" in a post-pandemic world, he said.


Pound at new 20-month high vs. euro on diverging central bank bets

Pound at new 20-month high vs. euro on diverging central bank bets
Updated 26 October 2021

Pound at new 20-month high vs. euro on diverging central bank bets

Pound at new 20-month high vs. euro on diverging central bank bets

LONDON: Sterling touched a new 20-month high against the euro on Tuesday, driven by diverging interest rate expectations for Britain and the eurozone, though concerns over economic growth and EU ties kept the currency broadly flat on the day.

Money markets are pricing in a rate hike by the Bank of England at its Nov. 4 meeting, helping the pound rally around 2 oercebt versus the euro and the dollar so far this month .

The euro, meanwhile, is being dogged by signs the European Central Bank will be among the last to raise interest rates in the developed world. Monday data showing German business morale deteriorating for the fourth month running in October, cemented expectations of a dovish message from Thursday’s ECB meeting.

By 0850 GMT, sterling traded at 84.2 pence to the euro, 0.2 percent firmer on the day at the highest since February 2020, while against the dollar it was marginally firmer at $1.378, having come off five-week highs touched last week.

However, Britain's weak economic data — including last Friday’s unexpected drop in retail sales — has capped the pound’s gains. Short-dated gilt yields too have slipped from 17-month highs hit last week, with fears growing that impending policy tightening will exacerbate the slowdown.

“Euro-sterling is trading close to the bottom end of its post-referendum low on BoE hike expectations. But UK growth momentum is weakening, which could see euro-sterling turn,” Bilal Hafeez, head of the MacroHive consultancy, told clients.

There are also concerns around potential tax hikes that may be unveiled in Wednesday's budget announcement, alongside EU-UK wrangling over provisions that govern post-Brexit trade between Britain, Northern Ireland, and EU member Ireland.

Britain has threatened to take unilateral action if a solution cannot be found at the ongoing talks, which some reckon could emerge as a serious headwind for the pound.


Ma’aden pledges 60% emissions cut by 2040

Ma’aden pledges 60% emissions cut by 2040
Updated 26 October 2021

Ma’aden pledges 60% emissions cut by 2040

Ma’aden pledges 60% emissions cut by 2040

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Ma’aden, will cut carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2040 and reduce groundwater consumption by 65 percent, its chief executive said in an interview with Al-Arabiya. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Abdulaziz Al-Harbi said the production at the mining company would not slow.

The mining company on Monday posted profit of SR1.27 billion ($339 million), after deduction of zakat and taxes, in the first nine months of the year as compared to SR6.47 million a year ago. Revenue over the same period rose 44 percent to SR6.7 billion.


Crypto too close to criminals, says SAMA governor

Crypto too close to criminals, says SAMA governor
Updated 32 min 58 sec ago

Crypto too close to criminals, says SAMA governor

Crypto too close to criminals, says SAMA governor

Saudi Arabia’s central bank (SAMA) should have no involvement with crypto-assets as many of those who deal with them are criminals, according to its governor.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Fahad Al Mubarak claimed there would be no smashing of the banking system by digital currencies such as Bitcoin, but instead an expansion of a centralized system for regulating the tender.

Regulators are still playing catch-up when it comes to how crypto-curencies should be governed, he added.

Hussain Abdulla, co-CEO of Qatar-based investment bank QInvest, claimed the products were not yet Sharia-compliant, and more understanding was needed.

Abdulla warned though that the Middle East is lagging way behind the US and Europe when it comes to digitization of the banking industry, adding: “Winners in the banking industry will be those who take steps today toward digitization rather than later.”

The SAMA governor talked up the rise of online banking during the Covid-19 crisis, and said: “Before the pandemic only 35 percent of the transactions were electronic, now it’s around 55 percent “