Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
  • The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it

JEDDAH: The governorate of Makkah region, in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, is implementing the Future Champions initiative to develop digital capabilities for young people.

Under the slogan “How to be a role model in the digital world,” and through the sixth session of the Makkah Cultural Forum, the initiative aims to enhance digital citizenship, raise awareness and teach the optimal use of IT and communication.

It also aims to study the awareness of community members in the use of digital world applications and their enjoyment of skills and sound ethics through the use of the Internet and technology by analyzing a set of digital patterns and studying the behavior of individuals in the digital space.

The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it, and managing privacy by safely handling personal data when requested on the Internet.

Other skills include sound thinking and owning tools to distinguish between correct and incorrect information, managing digital footprint by understanding its nature and the real consequences, digital empathy with people in the virtual world and knowing their needs and feelings, managing screen time through self-control and time management, and digital national identity and showing it healthily and fairly.

This is achieved through an initial questionnaire to measure basic digital skills among individuals. More than 50,000 participants take part in the questionnaire.

Through its active partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the governorate of Makkah contributes to promoting the concept of digital citizenship and providing digital role models within the forum’s programs by presenting a diverse initiative that takes place in the cities and towns of the region.

It targets all segments of society to develop the region and its digital space in line with national efforts to create a new stage in communications and IT by employing smart systems, digital algorithms, analyzing big data and using the techniques of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in its cities and the work of its sectors to make the Kingdom a leading digital model.


Saudi and Egyptian armed forces conclude joint exercise

The Royal Saudi Land Forces conclude the Tabuk 5 joint exercise with the Egyptian Armed Forces in the northwestern region. (SPA)
The Royal Saudi Land Forces conclude the Tabuk 5 joint exercise with the Egyptian Armed Forces in the northwestern region. (SPA)
Updated 21 January 2022

Saudi and Egyptian armed forces conclude joint exercise

The Royal Saudi Land Forces conclude the Tabuk 5 joint exercise with the Egyptian Armed Forces in the northwestern region. (SPA)

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Land Forces and the Egyptian Armed Forces concluded a joint exercise in the Kingdom’s northwestern region, the defense ministry said on Thursday.
The Tabuk-5 maneuvers, which began on Jan. 6, were concluded in the presence of the commander of the northwestern region, Maj. Gen. Hussain bin Saeed Al-Qahtani, and a number of senior officers of the RSLF and the Egyptian armed forces.
The exercises concluded with participating forces carrying out a number of combat scenarios, which they were trained on during the exercise.
Special forces carried out parachute landings and free-jumping using helicopters to clear and storm the fortified sites. The armored divisions carried out support operations using live ammunition for light and heavy weapons.
Maj. Gen. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Khashrami, director of the exercises, said the drill was one of the most important, due to the diversity and nature of the participating forces.
He emphasized its benefits to both forces in refining their combat skills and raising their readiness, while praising the high proficiency of all the operations assigned to them during the exercise.
The Tabuk-5 exercise aimed to unify military approaches and exchange training expertise between the armed forces of both countries.


KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
Updated 21 January 2022

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
  • KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries

TAIZ: The mobile nutrition clinics of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in Al-Khawkhah district, Yemen, have continued to provide treatment services.

In one week, the clinics received 6,978 patients with various health conditions in different clinics and departments and provided them with necessary medical services. The clinics also provided 2,614 individuals with various medications.

The center distributed more than 42 tons of food baskets in Al-Shamaitain district of Taiz governorate, benefiting 1,723 people.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. In total, the center has implemented 644 projects in Yemen at a cost of $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, KSrelief has continued distributing food and shelter aid to those affected by the floods and the neediest families in Sudan. The center distributed more than 28 tons of food baskets in Sennar state, benefiting 5,700 people.

Worldwide, KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries, carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.


Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
Updated 21 January 2022

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
  • The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday

RIYADH: UNICEF has praised Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen its schools for kindergarten and elementary students.

Jumana Haj Ahmad, the agency’s deputy representative for the Gulf area, said it was an important step, adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic schools should be the last to close and first to reopen.

Ahmad’s remarks came during a visit to the Kingdom’s Satellite Broadcasting School, where Education Ministry’s Undersecretary for Public Education Mohammed bin Saud Al-Migbel gave a briefing on how lessons delivered by the facility were recorded and supervised. He also gave a presentation on the Madrasati and Rawdati platforms.

Ahmad said that Saudi Arabia’s provision of online education through the two platforms and the EIN channels was worldleading. She also noted the Ministry of Education’s efforts to ensure children’s psychological and social growth, and programs to protect them from abuse.

The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday.

Schools in remote areas would be the first to open as there were fewer coronavirus cases there, it said.


Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
Updated 21 January 2022

Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Saudi efforts to protect nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
  • Authorities plan to plant 10 billion mangrove trees across the Kingdom as part of the Saudi Green Initiative

JEDDAH: As part of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment, 10 billion mangrove trees will be planted across the Kingdom.

Mangroves, ancient coastal plants that grow partly submerged in salt water and thrive in warmer climates around the world, are considered a cornerstone of coastal environmental development and so have a key role to play in achieving the objectives of the initiative.

Ahmed Almansi, a coastal and marine environment consultant at the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, told Arab News that mangroves grow along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

“This provides an impetus for the center to cultivate more mangroves in these environments,” he added.

According to the center, two types of mangroves commonly grow on the Red Sea coast: Avicennia marina, commonly known as gray or white mangrove, and Rhizophora mucronata, also known as loop-root, red or Asiatic mangrove. They are highly sensitive to cold. 

“Mangroves grow in the form of scattered patches in the intertidal areas of the Red Sea coast and are lower in height in the northern regions,” the center said. “The reason for these differences in height may be the low temperatures that the bushes are exposed to in the northern part of the Red Sea in winter.”

The avicennia marina type of mangroves that grow in the Asir and Jazan regions are the largest found on the Saudi coast, the center said, and “the coastal areas and patches of the Red Sea that contain mangroves in the Kingdom cover an estimated area of about 35,500 hectares.”

There are a number of reasons why mangroves are considered so important to environmental and conservation efforts. They have the ability to absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and other toxic substances from water, which helps to protect seagrass and coral reefs.

FASTFACT

• The trees can protect coastal communities, provide shelter for wildlife, absorb pollution and help to combat climate change.

They also act as natural filters for sewage, preventing pollutants originating on land from reaching deep waters. And the trees help to mitigate the effects of climate change as they can absorb larger amounts of carbon from the atmosphere compared with other tropical trees.

Mangroves also form “green barriers” that serve as a first line of defense for coastal communities, protecting them from damage caused by storms and waves, preventing erosion and helping to stabilize beaches.

“These green barriers absorb at least 70 to 90 percent of wave energy generated by the winds,” said Almansi. “They are also able to reduce the intensity of tsunami waves by mitigating the catastrophic amount of wave energy associated with them, which helps reduce the loss of life and property damage.”

In addition, mangroves act as shelters and incubators for many species of fish, crustaceans and birds, providing them with a good source of nutrition. They provide nesting and resting locations for many types of resident and migratory birds, strong communities of which are considered a biological indicator of ecosystem quality. The National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification has identified 125 species that use mangrove habitats at some point in their life cycles.

Land-based animals also benefit from mangrove swamps. They provide pastures for camels on islands in the Red Sea, and provide high-quality nutrition for camels in coastal locations during the winter.

Despite their clear environmental benefits, mangroves are under threat globally from urbanization, encroachment, overgrazing, pollution, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the improper disposal of waste. The development of the tourism industry is another significant threat. But efforts are being made in Saudi Arabia to preserve and enhance this precious natural resource.

“The center is planting mangroves to rehabilitate these environments, using 60 cm long seedlings,” Almansi said, adding that nylon nets are used temporarily to protect the young plants, prevent seaweed and waves from damaging them, and encourage strong root growth and stability.


Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
Updated 21 January 2022

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
  • The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences

JEDDAH: Four zones that have entertained thousands of people from all around the world during Riyadh Season recently concluded their programs of events and activities.

The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences.

Events at Combat Field concluded on Jan. 16. It hosted 22 activities, including a thrilling zombie hotel war game, a drone zone and simulated battles. It also featured a museum showcasing a variety of weapons from throughout history.

Riyadh Safari offered something to suit all age groups and proved a particular favorite with the crowds, especially families.

It gave visitors the chance to experience nature up close and personal, including 250 different types of rare birds, wildcats and gazelles in natural habitats.

“I went to the Riyadh Safari about five times with my husband and two daughters,” said Asma Khalid, who added that it is the attraction she will miss it the most.

“My daughters love animals but it depressed me to take them to a zoo as the animals are caged. This safari allowed my children to see animals the way they should be and that is very important to me.”

Events and activities at Al-Salam Tree included stage shows, live music, a farmer’s market, an artificial flower garden, an aviary containing rare and colorful parrots, live cookery shows and shopping booths.

For the more active visitors there was a thrilling zipline activity and bungee trampolines, while those looking for a more relaxing time could enjoy the area’s lush greenery and lake.

“Al-Salam Tree had become a place where I would go to read,” said Hafsa Ayub, a university student. “I would find a quiet a tree and just sit there, especially since the weather has been cold.”

The Old Village, or Qariat Zaman, mixed history with entertainment.

It showcased Arab culture, art and heritage from different eras, including regional classics from the 1960s to 1990s.

The Intel Al-Tayyib theater presented 176 performances by folkloric bands and performers. A variety of live shows were staged each day, including traditional musical performances and Arabic game shows for children.

The zone was like a doorway to the past, giving older generations of Saudis a chance to recall and relive memories of their youth.

While the four zones have now concluded their programs of events for the season, the fun continues until March in other zones.

“I am not too sad to see these places go because a lot of other places are still open, so I am not really out of places to go,” said Omar Uthman, who lives in the capital.