Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

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Updated 02 December 2021

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’
  • Michael Champion, regional executive VP of Informa Markets, worked alongside Steve Wiley, GM of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential
  • Michael Champion: I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region

RIYADH: With more than 20,000 visitors over three days, the inaugural @Hack conference was the largest cybersecurity event in the world in 2021, according to its organizers.

“This is only the beginning for the future digital city of the world,” Michael Champion, regional executive vice president of Informa Markets, told Arab News.

“Nowhere can you launch an event which would normally take 15 to 20 years to grow to this size in any another city, and (have) done it in one edition,” he said. “That just shows how important and right the timing was of doing an event like this in Riyadh.”

Champion worked alongside Steve Wiley, general manager of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region,” Champion said.

Black Hat is an annual cybersecurity event that brings together hackers, trainers and government agencies from around the world to share their knowledge and experience. The largest event of its kind, in 2019 it attracted representatives from almost 120 countries.

“Coming here to @Hack has been a really good experience. Black Hat’s role has been as an adviser to the @Hack team over the last few months,” Wiley said.

Comparing the event in Riyadh to the global event, Wiley added that “people will see a lot of commonalities between the Black Hat event and @Hack.”

“We have taken the formula and applied it to the local market here. It’s been a great event,” he said.

Black Hat and @Hack shared many of the same elements and were both deeply rooted in content, Wiley said, adding that the “right educational information, training and courses offered makes sure the right people are here.”

The three-day event achieved its primary goal of attracting a wide range of visitors and participants, he said.

“I think @Hack has the right foundational elements, there is a lot of people here. The cyber community in Saudi Arabia is very robust and I think it’s great we are here for the inaugural event, and I am sure that this is an event that will carry on from the strong support we are seeing,” Wiley said.

Champion added that @Hack was also one of the most diverse cybersecurity events he had ever seen.

“At least half the people here are women or girls. If I go to a cybersecurity event in America or in London, only 10 percent will be women,” he said.

“All over the world, I think there are a lot of people who have a real misconception about Saudi women.”

While the technology field in Europe and America might be seen as closed off to women, in Saudi Arabia there were crowds of young women eager to participate in the @Hack event, not only as attendees but also as speakers, Champion said.

“I can tell you, we wouldn’t sell out an event like that, the largest debut event in history, the largest cybersecurity event in the world of 2021. That doesn’t happen because there is a good team on it, that happens because of the markets, the timing and the partnerships we have,” he said.

Riyadh had the right markets and the right support to launch multiple global events in the future, Champion added.

“When an event booms to the size @Hack and Leap have, it’s only because there is real intensity behind that market. Everybody knows it,” he said.

“For so many years, Saudi has had so much wealth concentrated in hydrocarbons, but now it seems to have released it to help transform that economy into a heavyweight in technology.”

Leap is an upcoming technology event organized by Informa Markets in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. It is set to run from Feb. 1 to 3 at the Riyadh Front Expo Center.

“When it launches, it will be the largest debut tech event ever,” Champion said. “It will have thousands of companies participating.”

The CEOs of companies like Ericsson, VMware and Magic Leap, as well as the chief digital transformation officer of Huawei Enterprises, are among those set to attend, Champion said.

“You have unbelievable speakers on this, the real heavyweights of global technology are absolutely desperate to get on the speaker faculty. And the reason is that Saudi is a booming market,” he added.

“Saudi is the right market, it’s a very lucrative and attractive market for many companies wanting to be a part of these megaprojects because they know they are seismic.”


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.