INTERVIEW: Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 is a glimpse into KSA’s future, says French politician

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Updated 14 November 2021

INTERVIEW: Saudi pavilion at Expo 2020 is a glimpse into KSA’s future, says French politician

Olivier Cadic French politician. (Supplied)
  • Senator Olivier Cadic, who represents French expatriates, said Saudi Vision 2030 transformed the country in the past 5 years

RIYADH: French politician Olivier Cadic no longer recognizes Saudi Arabia. During a trip to the Kingdom to prepare for a visit by the France-Gulf countries friendship group he chairs in the Senate, he said he is enthusiastic about the “profound evolution”  of the country since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030.

The senator, who represents French expatriates and has visited 99 countries during 410 official trips, said he was touched by the welcome he received in the Kingdom.
“This is the first time that a parliamentarian from the host country has been there to welcome me as soon as I get off the plane,” he said. “This fact has a unique meaning and indicates that the level of friendship between Saudi Arabia and France is at its optimum.
“I am grateful to the Shoura (Council) for its welcome, and the manner in which a French parliamentarian is treated. I will never forget them and I will never forget Saudi Arabia.”

We have two countries looking to reform. President (Emmanuel) Macron is also seeking to fundamentally reform France. Reforming a country is not easy.

Olivier Cadic, French politician

During an interview with Arab News en Francais at the Alliance Francaise school in Riyadh, the French parliamentarian discussed the cooperation between the countries in the cultural, economic and military fields.

Q Since your election in 2014, and as president of the France-Gulf countries group in the Senate, you have seen the launch in 2016 of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its implementation.
Five years later, what are your conclusions?
A Five years after launching this vision, I do not think we can reach any conclusions. We can only have observations. We can tell that this is a growing process and a dynamic has kicked in.
I noticed the difference because the first time I came to Saudi Arabia was in 2015, and when I returned in 2019, I did not recognize the country. This is my first observation.




Senator Olivier Cadic with French Ambassador Ludovic Pouille at the gated district of At-Turaif, northwest of Riyadh. It is one of the Kingdom’s most-significant historical treasures. (Supplied)

I am returning in 2021 to prepare for the friendship group visit. I would have liked to come back sooner, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to travel. What I perceive is an ongoing dynamic, a real internal revolution that takes into account the population of the Kingdom, which is a young population, and therefore I see a political will to be in agreement with its population, and that this energy will positively drive the country to new heights.

Q You have visited Saudi Arabia several times. What changes do you see?
A The first thing that stood out between 2015 and 2019 was that people’s demeanor has changed; I felt they were smiling more. It really surprised me.
Besides, I wanted my partner to come with me because the country has changed a lot since 2015 and I wanted to see this country through her eyes also, not just through mine. The change is really profound and when we had a first look we were surprised, as it was not very positive for her in 2015 and it was really important that she was by my side so that we can watch, together, this country change.

Q You are visiting the Alliance Francaise school in Riyadh. What developments you perceive in Franco-Saudi cultural relations?
A I come, for that matter, to observe certain programs in which France is invested. Obviously, the Alliance Francaise supports the Francophonie, the learning of French, which is the language of the Enlightenment, of Voltaire, of Rousseau, that carries the values of our country. It is of utmost importance that we can share our language and our culture.
With the friendship group, we also plan to go to AlUla because there is really a collective, common work on the site, where France is deeply engaged. We want to see in which way the work was done, and how the alliance of France and Saudi Arabia can help enhance this exceptional archaeological heritage. This is one of the many angles and it would be difficult to summarize them, since there are many projects that go in this direction. It shows the attachment of our two countries, these cultures that blend together so well.
There is, once again, a real evolution in Saudi Arabia to bring out this local culture, which I believe will shine. And if France can help in spreading your culture, then it would be a very beautiful gift of confidence that you are giving us, in allowing us to work with you on this marriage of our cultures.

Q What are the new forms of cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia taking place now?
A There is a lot of mixed cooperation. Some is of economic nature, at the corporate level, with significant investments by French companies in Saudi Arabia. An example that comes to mind is the investments in the energy sector that EDF (Electricite de France), which is investing an € 800 million in Saudi Arabia, can make. These are companies that are investing massively to help develop Saudi Arabia’s economy, to support the Vision 2030 project that truly carries the country.

Q What about military cooperation between the two countries?
A The first thing I would like to say is how affected France is to see these recurring attacks that Saudi Arabia is subjected to on a regular basis. I would like to say that our country stands alongside yours to fight against the aggressions it is suffering. That is really fundamental to me.
After that, obviously, we have a common work and collective issues in front of us.
We will certainly talk about the situation in Lebanon, which despairs us, as well as the Saudi government, I believe. However, we will have to find solutions. We cannot let down the Lebanese people who are suffering from this situation. We are now in extensive discussions.
We admire the announcements made by the crown prince at COP 26, such as Green Riyadh, for example, with this tree-planting project. There is here a vision of the future that emerges.
It has been five years now since (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) announced Vision 2030, whereas it has only been five weeks since the president of the Republic announced France 2030. So somewhere, (the crown prince) might have inspired us, too, in looking ahead to reform your country.




Olivier Cadic, French politician

We have two countries looking to reform. President (Emmanuel) Macron is also seeking to fundamentally reform France. Reforming a country is not easy. This brings us together in all areas and that applies for diplomatic decisions as well as defense decisions. There are proximities. We think together. We work together. We are never very far from each other to make the decisions.

Q How is Saudi Arabia perceived in France today?
A My role is to allow the French to go beyond the cliches. There is an intellectual laziness in thinking that Saudi Arabia looks like this or that. It is a view inherited from the past. In fact, we are talking about a country without knowing it.
My wish is that the French realize that the changes in the country are profound. We cannot judge. You have to come and see this country, meet its people … (I) invite the French to come along with me to meet this country and to help it, to stand by its side, because I believe that Saudi Arabia may need France to help it succeed in its goals.
But France also needs the Saudis so it can move forward and, therefore, we must put all the cliches behind us, look at each other and work together. I think, given what Saudi Arabia is doing, the French will be in awe of the projects here in Riyadh, but also across the country.
What I wish is for the French to come here and discover this country.

Q Where will Saudi Arabia be in 10 years?
A It all depends on how this pandemic will be defeated in order to be able to say where the country will be in 10 years. I think the country will surprise very much for a good and simple reason: I visited Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 and I saw that it was the most visited of the 190 pavilions in the expo. This shows that there is an interest in your country.
In this pavilion are precisely displayed the vision, the projects on which the Kingdom is working. So if you want to know what Saudi Arabia will be like 10 years from now, let me give you a tip: Go visit the pavilion at Dubai Expo.

Film Commission launches its strategy to develop Saudi film, cinema sector

The Film Commission launched its strategy at a ceremony in Riyadh, held under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. (SPA)
The Film Commission launched its strategy at a ceremony in Riyadh, held under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

Film Commission launches its strategy to develop Saudi film, cinema sector

The Film Commission launched its strategy at a ceremony in Riyadh, held under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. (SPA)
  • The strategy aims to increase direct GDP contribution, increase job opportunities, and increase the number of locally produced feature films

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Film Commission on Sunday launched its strategy to develop the Kingdom’s film and cinema sector at a ceremony in the capital, Riyadh.
The ceremony was held under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the minister of culture and chairman of the commission.
Hamed Fayez, the deputy minister of culture and vice chairman of the commission’s board of directors, said that the strategy, with its diverse and comprehensive programs and initiatives, represents a first step toward developing the sector and supporting and empowering Saudi filmmakers.
Fayez said the Kingdom has great potential in the industry due to creative Saudi talent winning awards at regional and international film festivals, Saudi films that have achieved remarkable recognition locally and internationally, and the growth of the production movement in recent years.
The Film Commission’s CEO Abdullah Al-Ayyaf said the strategy contributes to achieving the goals of the Ministry of Culture and the Kingdom’s Vision 2020 National Culture Strategy, by achieving growth in the Saudi film production sector and transforming it into a competitive industry.
It includes producing local cinematic content to attract Saudi and international audiences, and presenting the Kingdom as a leading global center for film production in the Middle East, he added.
The strategy was based on a benchmark comparison with the 20 most important countries in the film industry.
It includes six strategic pillars, including talent development, infrastructure, local production in the Kingdom, international production in the Kingdom, regulatory framework, film distribution and screening.
According to the strategy, the Film Commission will work on 19 strategic initiatives aimed at creating a large movement in the Saudi film sector, providing an infrastructure for film production, and empowering Saudi talents and capabilities.
The commission said its strategy was designed to increase direct contribution to the gross domestic product, increase the number of job opportunities in the film sector, and increase the number of locally produced feature films. 
The Film Commission is one of 11 cultural bodies affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and was established in February last year.


Kaspersky, Saudi Technology Control to combat cyberattack

Dr. Bandar Al-Haqbani, Dr. Abdulaziz Alhussain, Engineer Mohammad Alwashmi and Mohammad Hashem at the conference. (Supplied)
Dr. Bandar Al-Haqbani, Dr. Abdulaziz Alhussain, Engineer Mohammad Alwashmi and Mohammad Hashem at the conference. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)
Updated 28 November 2021

Kaspersky, Saudi Technology Control to combat cyberattack

Dr. Bandar Al-Haqbani, Dr. Abdulaziz Alhussain, Engineer Mohammad Alwashmi and Mohammad Hashem at the conference. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia is currently developing digitization and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain, fintech and 5G across its public and private sector

RIYADH: Global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has signed a strategic agreement with Technology Control Company, a security services, digital services and big data company in Saudi Arabia, at the @Hack Infosec Conference 2021.
The managed security service provider agreement was marked at the conference, one of Saudi Arabia’s most anticipated information-security events of the year.
The move is in line with Technology Control Company’s commitment to providing its customers in Saudi Arabia with enhanced managed security services.
Mohamad Hashem, country manager at Kaspersky, told Arab News how new technologies increased the risk and exposure to cyberattacks by opening new avenues of attack.
“Taking this into account, Kaspersky is delighted to expand and strengthen Technology Control Company’s portfolio and offer customers in Saudi Arabia the most effective prevention, detection and response capabilities to the market,”  he said.

Dr. Abdulaziz Alhussain from TCC and Mohammad Hashem singing the agreement in @hack conference. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

“Our innovative solutions and extensive expertise will ensure that our customers in the region receive the best data protection possible via a trusted local technology and service provider,”  he said.
Technology Control Company will be offering Kaspersky’s resources and services such as Security Operations Center consulting, security assessment, awareness and training.
The Kingdom is currently developing digitization and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain, fintech and 5G across its public and private sector.

Taking this into account, Kaspersky is delighted to expand and strengthen Technology Control Company’s portfolio and offer customers in Saudi Arabia the most effective prevention, detection and response capabilities to the market.

Mohamad Hashem, Country manager at Kaspersky

As the country continues its road to digitization and adoption of these technologies, Kaspersky expects a steady rise in cyberattacks.
The partnership will play a key role in navigating these risks by helping Technology Control Company deliver security monitoring, incident response, threat hunting, threat intelligence, managed detection and response, security assessment and security awareness services in a cost-efficient, scalable and flexible way.
Technology Control Company’s customers in Saudi Arabia will be able to subscribe to next-generation SOC services based on solutions in line with global industry standards. Providing training such as incident response, malware analysis and digital forensics is another essential element of the alliance.
Hashem expressed his excitement about participation at @hack event and said that this was the first time the event was being held outside the US.
“Of course, we had to be a part of this great event because Kaspersky is one of the leading companies in the cybersecurity realm, and we are glad to be here,”  Hashem said.
He said that the company had signed an initiative with Cyberkids to help promote a better understanding of cybersecurity.
Muhammad Alwashmi, security services director at Technology Control Company, said that they were glad to partner with an international company with worldwide exposure and intelligence specific to the region.
“This agreement will support and provide our customers with premium protection to their businesses through the best solutions available in the market. Having Kaspersky on board will contribute to our success, and we are looking forward to a prosperous collaboration,”  Alwashmi said.


Saudi Arabia to chair anti-human trafficking forum

Awwad Al-Awwad. (Supplied)
Awwad Al-Awwad. (Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2021

Saudi Arabia to chair anti-human trafficking forum

Awwad Al-Awwad. (Supplied)
  • The forum will discuss the challenges and developments in the field in order to enable national committees to develop joint action plans to address crime

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday will chair the third government forum to discuss the challenges of combating human trafficking in the Middle East.

The two-day forum will be held virtually under the theme “National and international coordination on combating trafficking in persons in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The forum will involve the heads of anti-human trafficking committees of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, a number of Arab states and international representatives.

It will be inaugurated by the president of the Human Rights Commission and chairman of the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Awwad Al-Awwad.

The forum will discuss the challenges and developments in the field in order to enable national committees to develop joint action plans to address crime.

Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the forum affirms the important role of the Kingdom in tackling human trafficking and supporting victims. It comes as the Kingdom marks continued progress in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.


Who’s Who: Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board Program and External Relations Commission

Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin. (SPA)
Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin. (SPA)
Updated 29 November 2021

Who’s Who: Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board Program and External Relations Commission

Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin. (SPA)

Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin was recently elected to chair the UNESCO Executive Board Program and External Relations Commission for two years.
During the 213th session of the UNESCO executive board in Paris, the executive council named Princess Haifa, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to UNESCO, for the position.
The Kingdom’s presidency of UNESCO’s programs and external relations committee reflects its pivotal role in UNESCO to support the decision-making process in a systematic and fair way.
Commenting on the election, Princess Haifa posted on Twitter: “Glad to announce that Saudi Arabia will continue its pursuits to ensure a better future for all as chair of the Executive Board Program and External Relations Commission.”
Princess Haifa received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Riyadh-based King Saud University in 2000 and a master’s degree in science in economics with reference to the Middle East from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London in 2007.
In 2009, she briefly took up a part-time role lecturing at King Saud University, before starting work with the UN Development Programme. In 2013, she was promoted to the role of program analyst there, covering social development and human rights.
She joined the Ministry of Economy and Planning as head of the sustainable development goals sector in 2016 and was appointed assistant deputy minister for sustainable development affairs in 2017.
She also served as the assistant deputy minister for G20 affairs under the Ministry of Economy and Planning from 2018. That same year, she was a speaker at the Second Urban Planning Forum — a testament to her expertise in the empowerment of youth and human rights advocacy.


Saudi falconry festival starts in Riyadh

Saudi falconry festival starts in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi falconry festival starts in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi falconry festival starts in Riyadh

Saudi falconry festival starts in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • The festival holds a competition to select the most beautiful falcons in seven rounds, two are allocated for the Farkh category and five are for the Qirnas category

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival 2021 started on Sunday in Malham, north of Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It runs until Dec. 16 and is being organized by the Saudi Falcons Club, which has allocated more than SR25 million ($6.66 million) for winners.

The festival, the largest of its kind in the world, opened with the qualifying runs for Saudi falconers. These started with the Shaheen Farkh category of Saudi owners, with strong competition for a place in the final rounds for the King Abdulaziz Cup.

There will be runs for international falconers in the categories of owners and professionals.

The festival also holds a competition to select the most beautiful falcons in seven rounds, two are allocated for the Farkh category and five are for the Qirnas category.

Through these events, the festival aims to preserve Saudi heritage, pass on the hobby of falconry to future generations, educate children about their history and values, and enhance the spirit of competition among falconers.

The festival continues to register falcons in some categories until Dec. 9 to accommodate the largest number of falconers wishing to participate.