Amazon launches Saudi-dialect speaking Alexa

Amazon launches Saudi-dialect speaking Alexa
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Updated 08 December 2021

Amazon launches Saudi-dialect speaking Alexa

Amazon launches Saudi-dialect speaking Alexa

RIYADH: Amazon on Tuesday launched Alexa in Saudi Arabia offering customers an all-new, localized language experience in an Arabic Khaleeji dialect.

Alexa, the brain that powers the Echo device family, has unique new features built with Saudi customers in mind, new smart home integrations with compatible devices, and nearly 200 Alexa skills.

It seeks to deliver a localized experience, including a local dialect voice with a local personality that will surprise and delight customers—local pronunciations and intonation; local knowledge; and nearly 200 Alexa skills with favorites from Saudi developers and regional brands including Anghami, AlArabiya, MBC, Careem, Fatafeat, Al Baik, Sabq, and more.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring Alexa and the Echo family of devices to Saudi Arabia,” said Tom Taylor, senior vice president, Amazon Alexa. 

“The team has worked hard to create an all-new experience designed from the ground up for our customers in Saudi Arabia, reflecting the Kingdom’s rich heritage, traditions, and culture while celebrating the uniqueness of the Arabic language.”

Commenting on the launch of Alexa, Nawaf Alhoshan, deputy minister for technology development at the Saudi Ministry of Communications and IT, said Amazon Alexa will contribute to our goals and help drive the adoption of IoT and artificial intelligence in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is building an infrastructure with international standards that will pave the way to make it a leading digital nation and be among top 20 digital economies and a hub for technology investments in the region.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon MENA, said the company supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the launch of the new and customized product is a testimony to the efforts.

Giving a little background about Alexa, Rafid Fatani, regional director of Amazon Devices for the Middle East, said it is named after the great library of Alexandria. Alexa, which is a cloud-based service that “gets smarter everyday,” he added.


Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more carbon than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more carbon than it captures, study claims
Quest CCS facility. Shell.com
Updated 19 sec ago

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more carbon than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more carbon than it captures, study claims
  • The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually


RIYADH: Shell's carbon capture plant, better known as Quest, has been accused of releasing more greenhouse gases than it captures by UK human rights organization Global Witness.

The UK multinational oil and gas firm's carbon capture facility, located in Alberta, Canada, has averted 5 million tons of carbon dioxide from breaking free into the atmosphere since 2015.

However, Global Witness claim its investigation shows that at the same time it has emitted 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.


The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually, the study added.

The oil giant rebutted the study analysis by Global Witness stating it was “simply wrong”, CNBC reported citing a spokesman for Shell.

While the carbon capture and storage industry vowed a 90 percent carbon capture rate, the Global Witness study indicates that only 48 percent of Quest’s carbon emissions were, in fact, captured.

The Quest plant poses a potential solution to the energy transition and is designed to capture around 33 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, the Shell spokesman claimed.


Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 18 min 27 sec ago

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent

Pakistan raises $1bn, offers highest-ever rate for a sukuk of 7.95 percent
  • The issuance comes at a time when Pakistan’s gross foreign reserves have fallen to nearly $17 billion

Pakistan has raised $1 billion with a 7-year sukuk, offering an interest rate of 7.95 percent, the highest return the South Asian nation has ever paid on an Islamic bond, a finance ministry official said on Tuesday.


The issuance comes at a time when Pakistan’s gross foreign reserves have fallen to nearly $17 billion from $19 billion in the past two weeks due to debt repayments.


Ministry spokesman Muzammil Aslam said international debt markets worldwide had suffered shocks since December due to expected increases in interest rates in the United States and Europe.


“So given the situation, we have got the good deal in this uncertain time,” he told Reuters.


Pakistan sees foreign funds inflows as critical given that its external account deficit has widened on back of soaring global commodity prices — in particular oil, which makes up about a third of the country’s payments.


Foreign exchange reserves are also a key buffer to stabilize the rupee. Pakistan only last year adopted a market-based exchange rate, resulting in a sharp depreciation of the rupee.


An IMF review board is meeting on Jan. 29 to approve a $1 billion tranche of a $6 billion loan signed with Pakistan in 2019.


The last sukuk Pakistan issued was a five-year sukuk in 2017 at a rate of 5.6 percent.


A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa
Updated 41 min 59 sec ago

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

A healthier global economy is set to push oil demand to an all-time high: Jadwa

Driven by a stronger global economy, higher mobility and loosened restrictions, oil demand is expected to hit an all-time high of 100.8 million barrels per day, according to a Saudi investment bank.

Jadwa Investment said that demand will be 4 percent higher in 2022 when compared to the previous year.

However, the omicron outbreak could induce a setback in demand for the first quarter of 2022, before going up in the following three quarters.

The investment firm pointed out that the traditional centers of oil demand — such as the US, China, other Asia and India — will account for 62 percent of the growth in demand this year.

One issue Jadwa mentioned was the inability of some OPEC+ members to meet their production targets. In the final quarter of 2021, the alliance raised its production by 240,000 barrels per day, noticeably below the expected average of 800,000 barrels per day.

As for oil prices, the Riyadh-based firm increased its 2022 Brent oil price forecasts to $76 per barrel, up from a previous estimate of $71 a barrel. 

The rise in the projection was attributed to shortfalls in OPEC+ spare capacity and drops in commercial oil activity.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 
Updated 22 min 33 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia, Iraq sign electrical interconnection agreement 

Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed an electrical interconnection agreement on Tuesday at the Saudi-Iraqi Forum.

Hamid Al-Ghazi, the  Secretary-General of Iraq's Council of Ministers, set out the need for the deal, saying: "Iraq is in dire need of electricity, and this connection will add to the Iraqi electric power."

The Memorandum of Understandng came as a result of a study conducted by the two countries, which concluded that there is an opportunity to connect them in what is a step towards achieving a regional market for electricity sharing.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Ablduaziz bin Salman said: “Recently, Saudi Arabia and Jordan signed a MoU of electrical interconnection between both countries, and then a few months ago we signed an agreement in the same regard with Egypt."

“Today comes the agreement with Iraq, which is part of a goal to make the Kingdom a regional center for linking electricity systems in the Arab world,” he added.

 

 


mCloud, Aramco to explore a joint hub for ESG solutions in Saudi Arabia

mCloud, Aramco to explore a joint hub for ESG solutions in Saudi Arabia
Updated 54 min 6 sec ago

mCloud, Aramco to explore a joint hub for ESG solutions in Saudi Arabia

mCloud, Aramco to explore a joint hub for ESG solutions in Saudi Arabia

SAN FRANCISCO: mCloud Technologies Corp., a leading provider of AI-powered asset management and Environmental, Social, and Governance solutions, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aramco, according to a statement from mCloud.

Under the MoU, mCloud will explore with Aramco the co-development of a digital technology hub for delivering ESG solutions in Saudi Arabia.

This hub would enable both parties to jointly develop new AI-powered innovations to facilitate the carbon reduction of complex energy-intensive assets throughout the Kingdom and abroad, the statement added.

The company plans to develop a center of excellence that will serve as a home base for a dedicated team of ESG and digital transformation experts based in Saudi Arabia, it added.