Ancient and modern: The Arabic language gets a boost from AI

Ancient and modern: The Arabic language gets a boost from AI
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Updated 06 January 2022

Ancient and modern: The Arabic language gets a boost from AI

Ancient and modern: The Arabic language gets a boost from AI
  • Head of the King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language tells how the latest technology is helping to improve knowledge and teaching methods

MAKKAH: Artificial intelligence is an increasingly important part of modern life and the technologies we rely on, but it is also being used to enhance awareness and understanding of more traditional and long-established aspects of our lives and cultures.

For example, AI is serving the Arabic language through its use in applications that support teaching and learning and assist in the development of dictionaries and programs to help millions of people worldwide to learn and use the language.

Abdullah Al-Washmi, the secretary-general of the King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language, told Arab News that the academy aims to become a global reference resource for the language by providing the tools required to promote, teach, learn and encourage the use of Arabic, in accordance with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its Human Capability Development Program.

Part of the academy’s strategy involves a focus on accelerating the pace of technical research in various fields relating to the Arabic language, using AI tools to aid understanding, he added.

AI has become a major enabler of the teaching and learning of languages, Al-Washmi said, by helping to provide multiple learning patterns that allow students to learn Arabic in ways tailored to their needs. He added that they can choose the form and level of teaching that best suits them, along with the specific field in which they intend to use the language, and the AI will adapt each student’s learning experience to their particular needs by helping to identify and address any weaknesses and build on strengths.

“When it comes to Arabic speakers, AI helps them develop their skills by providing tools for learning Arabic grammar in a way that differs from the one taught in traditional books,” Al-Washmi said.

“In addition to teaching young people the language using techniques and educational methods that fit their needs, AI also enables students to choose the method through which they want to learn, such as simulation, dialogue or other methods they might prefer.”

AI provides amazing solutions thanks to the high-performance devices it runs on and the amount of data it can process, he added. For example, it can help people learn Arabic and develop reading skills by automatically identifying and correcting pronunciation, evaluating the current reading level, and helping to control the speed of reading, speaking and listening. It can also help to develop writing skills by correcting spelling, grammar, semantics and generating complete sentences.

AI can help to enhance the level of speaking and listening skills through smart dialogue systems, Al-Washmi said. It also allows users to explore other linguistic fields such as summarizing, translating, improving searches, detecting fraud, plagiarism and rumors, identifying hate speech and answering questions. All of these contributions are grouped into a science called natural language processing, or computational linguistics, which brings together specialists in AI and linguistics.

Speaking about modern ideas for teaching Arabic through AI, he said that the use of robots has received widespread acclaim in educational circles in many parts of the world. These robots offer near-limitless opportunities for students to think, design, implement their ideas, employ scientific principles and complete research.

AI is helping to make robots more intelligent and effective in communicating, following instructions, answering questions, providing lessons, and performing some Arab customs that Arabic-language students sometimes needs to know to help them learn, Al-Washmi said.

He added that the virtual world offers opportunities to facilitate the teaching and learning of Arabic and make the educational experience more exciting and enjoyable. It also allows students to become totally immersed in virtual Arabic-speaking environments.

The academy recently concluded a deal with THIQAH Business Services to develop applications for the Arabic language by building linguistic data sources and tools for archiving and analysis and making them available to academics, experts, and students. This project aims to raise knowledge and awareness of the Arabic language and improve the quality of published Arabic content.


Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
  • 53 candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes

SHARJAH, UAE: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development won two accolades at the 9th Sharjah Government Communication Awards in the UAE.

The ministry scooped awards in the categories for best systems in government communication in the Arab world, and best government communication initiative to empower women globally.

Fifty-three candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes, with the Saudi ministry recognized for the methodology used in the implementation of its projects, the impact and results achieved, the effective use of technology and media to reach target audiences, and its innovative and proactive visions.

The ministry’s assistant minister for shared services, Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said the awards success was down to the hard work of employees.

He added that the ministry sought to create an effective communication media system capable of keeping pace with the rapid changes taking place in the sectors it supervised while responding to the digital transformation that had seen a transformation in government media over recent years.

 

 


Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
Updated 01 October 2022

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
  • The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of the history of Diriyah, the original home of the Saudi royal family

RIYADH:  The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has teamed up with the National Association of the Blind “Kafeef” to launch an initiative for the translation of Diriyah’s history into Braille.

The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of Diriyah’s history.

Paper copies of the content printed in Braille will help strengthen participants’ emotional connection to their rich Saudi history and heritage.

The project reflects DGDA’s commitment to the visually impaired, and is aligned with the authority’s mandate to preserve and celebrate its culture and heritage.

The first part of the initiative runs until Oct. 15, and includes a course on Diriyah’s history for young men and women from “Kafeef.”

Supporting course materials were translated into paper and digital formats, including content on the year 850 — the year that Diriyah was established — as well as the At-Turaif district and the history of the First Saudi State.

Participants with the highest scores have since been selected to teach within the program itself, based on the level of their interest in Saudi history and their Braille skills.

DGDA is committed to working with “Kafeef” to provide support to participants, including paper and digital training materials, as well as lessons for registered participants, with an official certificate available on completion of the course.

The course is expected to foster a competitive, knowledge-based atmosphere that will help bolster the connection visually impaired individuals have to their heritage; strengthen their sense of belonging to their country’s past, present, and future; and instil a sense of community and collective investment in the country’s progress.

 

 


Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan on Friday held talks with his Jordanian counterpart, Haifa Najjar, on the sidelines of the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development — Mondiacult 2022 in Mexico.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prince Badr congratulated Najjar on the Jordanian city of Irbid being chosen as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2022.
He also praised the success of the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts, and thanked Najjar for the support in organizing the “Saudi Cultural Week” in Jordan from Spet. 12-15, stressing the depth of the relations that bind the two kingdoms, their governments and people.
During the meeting, they discussed ways to intensify and deepen cultural cooperation between their two countries in various cultural and artistic fields, exchange visits and establish cultural activities, and enhancing joint cooperation in preserving their antiquities and historical sites.
Prince Badr also met with Iraqi Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Dr. Hassan Nazim, where they praised the depth of the relations and stressed the importance of strengthening joint cultural cooperation.
The Saudi minister also praised the joint efforts between the Saudi-Iraqi work teams specialized in heritage, under the umbrella of the growing cooperation between the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, calling for more cooperation in all cultural fields.
During his meeting Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri, the two sides reviewed bilateral cultural relations and ways to develop cooperation and cultural exchange.
The Saudi minister also met Burkina Faso Minister of Communication, Culture, Arts and Tourism Valerie Kabore, where they discussed opportunities for cultural cooperation in the fields of crafts and folklore, artistic residency programs, seminars and events aimed at building capacities and introducing the cultures of the two countries.
He also held similar talks with his Chadian counterpart of the sidelines of the conference.


Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
Updated 30 September 2022

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
  • The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works

JEDDAH: Two young Saudi film directors have been presented with trophies after winning the second edition of a 48-hour filmmaking challenge, with participants racing against the clock to create a short film within a two-day limit.

Khaled Zidan and Tala Alharbi received their awards on Thursday during a special screening held at Vox Cinemas in Red Sea Mall, Jeddah.  

The 48HR Film Challenge was part of a collaboration between the Alliance Française of Saudi Arabia, the Consulate General of France in Jeddah, the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Red Sea International Film Festival, Cercle des Amis de la Culture Francaise and Vox Cinemas.

The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works.

A team of between two and five participants, led by a Saudi director or scriptwriter, received two days’ training to develop their film before the challenge.

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, congratulated the winners and said: “We watched some really amazing short films that were very intriguing and projected a lot of creativity from the young Saudi filmmakers, especially to create it within 48 hours only.” 

He told Arab News: “I believe this platform will help them reach their goals with the support of the Red Sea Fund.”

During the event, Al-Turki said that the two films will be screened at the Red Sea Film Festival as a part of the “New Saudi New Cinema Shorts” segment.

Zain Zedan, Red Sea Souk manager, described the winning efforts as “a great achievement and accomplishment.”

He added: “This will encourage other filmmakers not to be hesitant to produce the films they like.”

Catherine Corm-Kammoun, Consul General of France in Jeddah, told Arab News that she was impressed by the exceptional work of all participants. 

“It was surprising to see the deep thoughts of the young filmmakers and learn the way they see life. As the Consulate General of France, we are eager to generate new filmmakers among the youth in Saudi Arabia. Our aim is to strengthen the film industry in the Kingdom,” she said.  

“With this successful partnership with the Red Sea Film Festival, we decided to renew this challenge for the next year as it is a good cooperation and hope to keep on working like this.”

Charles-Henri Gros, cultural attache of the Consulate General of France, told Arab News: “As this was the second edition, we added a new initiative by challenging the participants to create a film in just two days. We hosted them at the residency of the French General Consulate in Jeddah and dedicated the two days to the young talents, and introduced them to some Saudi and French experts in cinema.”

He added: “This is just the beginning of a great future for them in the cinema, which is a masterpiece of arts and culture. As a French consulate, we consider ourselves lucky to initiate this with the Red Sea Film Festival.”

Zidan, who won with a short film titled “The Kid in the Closet,” told Arab News: “It wasn’t an easy challenge. There were some limitations, especially the time. Making a film in 48 hours isn’t an easy thing. We used to work on films in the pre-production area and I know it takes a lot of time to make films.” 

He said that creating a film with just three team members was also challenging. “But I am happy that it was a great learning experience, which in itself is a reward. The workshops at the French consulate allowed us to get expertise from a number of directors, producers and actors.”

Alharbi, who created a winning film titled “When Red Blooms,” said: “It is unbelievable and feels like a dream to have won. It has definitely been a lot of hard work. It was an exciting experience, but very stressful.”

The jury, chaired by award-winning actor Dhafer L’Abdine, and filmmaker and journalist Wael Abu Mansour, presented the two teams with trophies designed by the artist Rabi Alakhras. Winning team leaders will also attend an educational residency program led by leading French cinematographers.

Jana Mazin, writer and director of another of the short films, “LuLu,” will receive support to create a movie with the help of Vox Cinemas.


Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people
  • UAE, Jordan and Pakistan issued similar statements condemning the deadly attack
  • The bomber hit while hundreds of students inside were taking practice entrance exams for university

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday strongly condemned and denounced a “terrorist attack” on an educational center in the Afghan capital, Kabul, which killed and injured a number of people.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s total rejection of all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism,” it said in a statement, affirming that Saudi Arabia stands in solidarity with the Afghan people.
The ministry also offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the deceased, with wished the injured a speedy recovery.
At least 19 people, most of them young women, were killed and dozens more wounded after a suicide bomber attacked the Kaaj Higher Educational Center in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul earlier on Friday, where hundreds of students were preparing for university exams.
Meanwhile, the UAE also strongly condemned the attack and expressed its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at destabilizing security and stability and inconsistent with humanitarian values ​​and principle.
Jordan and Pakistan also issued similar statements denouncing the attack and rejecting all forms of violence and terrorism. 
(With AFP)