Saudi Arabia, UAE better placed than UK, Germany for AI innovation: Report findings

Saudi Arabia, UAE better placed than UK, Germany for AI innovation: Report findings
With rapid growth in technology in the Kingdom, awareness about cybersecurity must also increase, say experts. (File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 13 January 2022

Saudi Arabia, UAE better placed than UK, Germany for AI innovation: Report findings

Saudi Arabia, UAE better placed than UK, Germany for AI innovation: Report findings
  • Survey shows 50 percent of Saudi/UAE employees able to automate day-to-day tasks
  • Only 16 percent of workers in the UK, and 24 percent in Germany, can automate similar tasks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE are uniquely placed to drive artificial intelligence innovation post-coronavirus pandemic, a new report has revealed.

The findings of a YouGov survey commissioned by American analytics automation company Alteryx showed that 50 percent of the employees quizzed in the two countries were now able to automate their day-to-day tasks.

And 58 percent of staff questioned said they were able to produce faster results through the use of analytics technology compared to five years ago.

In comparison, only 16 percent of workers in the UK, and 24 percent in Germany, said they could automate similar tasks, the report found.

YouGov surveyed more than 300 employees in Saudi Arabia and the UAE who worked with data in large companies.

However, the research discovered that inconsistently applied training programs still hindered the region with only existing experts — such as qualified data scientists — receiving vital upskilling. Highlighting the scope of this need, 97 percent of Gulf workers agreed that training was necessary for all staff that handled data.

Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “The advancement of AI and automation has enabled machines to outperform human workers in more aspects, resulting in enhanced productivity, increased efficiency, and reduced labor costs.”

He said the Alteryx findings showed how Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries had become tech-savvy and willing to adopt digital transformation.

“Saudi Arabia, as an early adopter of technologies, is harnessing the potential of AI with a plan to inject $135.2 billion into its economy by 2030, equivalent to 12.4 percent of the national gross domestic product.

“This will not only make the Kingdom one of the global leaders in AI but will also transform it into a knowledge-based and data-driven economy.

“Data and AI are at the heart of the Saudi Vision 2030, which has been manifested by the recently launched initiatives and strategies spearheaded by the Saudi Data and AI Authority. This will not only develop Saudi Arabia as a data and AI powerhouse but will also make it a global hub in research, development, business, and innovation,” he added.

Khan pointed out that one of the stumbling blocks that may hinder AI-driven innovations was the upskilling and reskilling of experts and professionals with state-of-the-art tools, techniques, and knowledge in data science and analytics.

He said: “Therefore, it is imperative to launch modern educational and training programs to keep the workforce prepared for new challenges in this field.”

Tauseef Ahmad, a health informatics analyst at King Saud University, told Arab News: “It is inspiring to see the new findings with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region adopting technology to update day-to-day operations. Recent years have seen rapid adoption of updated technology.

“The report showed that employees’ productivity increased 58 percent faster as compared to five years ago, which shows that these significant successes could never have been achieved without the help of data scientists. However, proper training and workshops would help cover the remaining 42 percent of employees.

“By delivering a foundation of data skills to all employees and removing the pressure from data and technology teams, business leaders can minimize the challenges they face,” he said.

As the advancement of AI and automation has enabled machines to outperform human workers, Saudi smart apps such as Absher, Tawakkalna, and Sehhaty have made things easier during the pandemic by offering innovative and smart interactive services to cater for public needs.

The number of registered Absher users exceeded 23 million last year, with the platform providing more than 300 individual, business, job seeker, and government e-services while also allowing online transactions.

The Tawakkalna app, launched last year by Saudi authorities to help track COVID-19 infections, is available in 75 countries worldwide. It has been designed around the prevention and management of COVID-19 and has a section to help people avoid entering areas with a high incidence of cases. The app has been updated to show the COVID-19 health status of an individual.

The Saudi Ministry of Health’s Sehhaty app enables users to access health information and medical e-services provided by health organizations throughout the Kingdom. These include booking appointments for COVID-19 tests and vaccine jabs, self-assessment checking, vital signs updates, tracking prescribed medicine, and retrieving and sharing sick leaves.


King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations
Updated 15 May 2022

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations
  • King Salman thanked well-wishers within Saudi Arabia and from friendly countries

JEDDAH: King Salman left King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah on Sunday evening after undergoing medical examinations and successfully completing the treatment plan and recovery period.

Saudi Press Agency reported the king thanked well-wishers within Saudi Arabia and from friendly countries for their messages of support.


Dutch artist Satori headlines Riyadh desert event

DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds'
DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds' "Mars Escape" on Friday. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 15 May 2022

Dutch artist Satori headlines Riyadh desert event

DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds' "Mars Escape" on Friday. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • New wave of events featuring international lineup of artists and diverse activities catering to music lovers, weekend family entertainment in Riyadh

RIYADH: On Friday, a vibrant series of electronic house music bounced off the hills of the Riyadh desert at the NOX Camp Desert Resort, bringing together music, art and desert-sport lovers alike in a one-of-a-kind event.

The exclusive music and art event organizer, Desert Sound Entertainment, presented their premiere “Mars Escape” experience to the Saudi community, transporting about 1,000 attendees to another dimension made distinct by live art, festival makeup and fire performances.

The moon shone, setting up the atmosphere for the celestial night, the music ascended. Headlined by Satori, the international DJ lineup included the likes of Alaa Jazaery, Rafa, NarkBeat, and a surprise performance by local DJ Ibbie.

One. of. the Mars. Escape attendees enjoyed one of the many games and activities 'Mars Escape' had to offer. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

The 10-hour festival saw a distinctive blend of artists taking to the main stage. Rafa gave the crowd a sensual and authentically earthy organic house experience while NarkBeat’s performance left the crowd in anticipation with sultry Arabian oud sounds. Alaa Jazaeri, founder of a similar music festival titled “Narratives,” slowed down the groove with an organic and soulful house music set, taking festival-goers on a mini-journey.

The diverse music echoing the valley of the desert culminated with Satori, a world-famous Dutch producer whose music focuses on spirituality and enlightenment. His set took off promptly at midnight and closed the event. His stop at Riyadh is part of his world tour this month with upcoming shows in Moscow, Stockholm and London.

HIGHLIGHT

Rafa gave the crowd a sensual and authentically earthy organic house experience while NarkBeat’s performance left the crowd in anticipation with sultry Arabian oud sounds.

“I would not imagine from this side of the world that people would know me and connect with the music in this way, so it was really a big pleasure. I’ve been playing in this region of course already for a few years, if we speak about Dubai or Egypt, I played in Oman and Lebanon, but never in Saudi,” Satori said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Satori’s mellow sounds, crafted under the influence of the Japanese term “Satori,” cannot be narrowed down to a single genre, but rather a feeling. His music combines elements of self-exploration, earthy melodies, psychedelic tones and vivid energy. The crescendo of the piano, synthetic electronic beats and kalimba prompted a series of cheers as people danced. Almost every listener was rhythmically entranced, surrendering to the sound.

AN photo by Basheer Saleh

“For me it feels like I’m part of innovation. There’s something progressing and just to be part of that is really a great honor. It feels like we’re writing history and I’m kind of part of that chapter,” he said of his recent performance. “In the end, music is a universal language, people would connect to that or understand that even if they’re not used to these types of events. People will feel it.”

While primarily centered around the musical performances, the Saudi General Entertainment Authority-certified event also included an array of cultural activities such as art installations, graffiti sites and street art, virtual reality booths, games, and live catering. “We wanted to complete the music experience as a whole, connecting with nature and expressing through art and feeling with music,” assistant manager, Reema Al-Saud, told Arab News.

Event-goers were ready to indulge in the cultural aspect of the experience. “This is my first experience, and it gives a nice vibe,” said attendee Bha’a Mahdi. “I didn’t like that there wasn’t a big crowd. The place is very, very gorgeous. Incredible. It’s unreal. I liked the music, but was hoping the music would have more drops and highs. I felt united with the desert, I even removed my shoes,” he said.

Other members of the audience had similar comments. “The location is good, the vibe is nice. Just one thing: I wish there were more people,” said one attendee.

“The ground traps you. The sand doesn’t give you way to dance or walk,” said another attendee.

This international lineup and diverse activities come after a new wave of events that cater to those music-lovers, the latest being Freaks of Nature, bringing new meaning to weekend family entertainment ventures in Riyadh.


Saudi Civil Defense rescues pet animals trapped in Alkhobar fire

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
Updated 15 May 2022

Saudi Civil Defense rescues pet animals trapped in Alkhobar fire

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
  • All animals are subject to periodic medical checkups by Pets Houses’ veterinarian clinic, which provides for all their needs, including hygiene

RIYADH: Pet owners were relieved after their animals were rescued from a massive fire that broke out Friday inside Alkhobar’s Dhahran Mall in eastern Saudi Arabia.

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses, a pet supplies store in the largest commercial complex in the Eastern Province.

The animals were transported during daylight hours after a fire that started on the complex’s roof was put out.

We always find these (Civil Defense) heroes providing assistance and saving lives, says Badr S. Al-Turaif, General manager Rahmah Animal Welfare Association

According to a Civil Defense source, it is part of firefighters’ job in such circumstances to perform search and rescue operations at the scene to ensure that no one is trapped inside and that any animals are rescued.

The same source told Arab News that firefighters evacuated the pets to a safe location outside the mall before the animals were returned to their owners.

Nawaf Al-Mandeel, general manager of Pets Houses, said that “the shock was tremendous at Pets Houses,” following the fire that broke out at Dhahran Mall, where one of the company’s branches is located.

Firefighters rescuing animals from a pet shop near the conflagration which broke out in Dharhan Mall and caused a lot of damage while a fireman appears to carrying a fish tank. (Supplied/Saudi Civil Defense)

Al-Mandeel said that Pets Houses does its best to afford care and a decent life for the many pets at the branch located in Dhahran Mall. Pet owners regularly come to the branch, he said, to purchase supplies and learn how to breed and care for their pets as part of the family.

All animals are subject to periodic medical checkups by Pets Houses’ veterinarian clinic, which provides for all their needs, including hygiene, he said.

“We were shocked by the news of the fire that morning. We contacted the authorities and alerted them to the presence of pets inside our branch located inside the complex, and they responded immediately,” Al-Mandeel added.

Firefighters rescuing animals from a pet shop near the conflagration which broke out in Dharhan Mall and caused a lot of damage while a fireman appears to carrying a fish tank. (Supplied/Saudi Civil Defense)

He described the waiting periods as “excruciating” until he received the welcome news that all the animals at the branch had been rescued and transported safely and without any injuries, thanks to the efforts of the Civil Defense “heroes.”

“The team brought the animals to our veterinary clinic swiftly to check on their health. The medical team confirmed the safety of all the animals,” he said.

Badr S. Al-Turaif, general manager of Rahmah Animal Welfare Association, told Arab News that the association is in contact with the shop’s management and that the animals are in good health, adding that they had not been exposed to either fire or fumes as the shop is located relatively far from the fire site.

Nawaf Al-Mandeel, General Manager of Pets Houses. (Supplied)

“The courageous efforts of the Civil Defense team are not surprising,” Al-Turaif said. “We always find these heroes at the center of incidents, providing assistance and saving lives.”

Al-Turaif urged pet store owners to implement the preventive measures outlined by the Civil Defense to avoid tragedies in the future. These include setting fire alarms, developing an emergency and evacuation plan, ensuring adequate ventilation, designing the shop in a way that allows for the implementation of these measures, and creating an appropriate environment for animals so that their health and safety are not jeopardized.


Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages
Updated 15 May 2022

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages
  • The robots guide pilgrims on how to perform their Umrah rituals, issue fatwas, and answer questions
  • They also have high resolution cameras that provide clarity in transmitting images, high resolution headphones, and a microphone with high capture quality

RIYADH: Robots that provide visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah with guidance can be accessed in 11 languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, Hausa.

The robots guide pilgrims on how to perform their Umrah rituals, issue fatwas, answer questions and provide opportunities for people to communicate with scholars remotely.

The four-wheeled robots have 21-inch touchscreens and are equipped with a smart stopping system that allows them to be moved easily and smoothly.

They also have high resolution cameras that provide clarity in transmitting images, high resolution headphones, and a microphone with high capture quality that allows clear sound transmission.

The robots work on a Wi-Fi wireless network system at a speed of 5 GHz which enables fast and high transmission of data.


Saudi Ministry of Justice: 79k e-transactions completed since March 2020

79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
Updated 16 May 2022

Saudi Ministry of Justice: 79k e-transactions completed since March 2020

79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
  • The service has been streamlined to enable electronic agreement on sale terms without a notary’s certification, so that the operation can be completed in less than one hour

RIYADH: Almost 79,000 property e-conveyancing transactions have been processed since the launch of the Najiz.sa service in March 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Justice announced.

The total value of the transactions exceeds SR11 billion ($2.9 billion).

“The service is available through the Najiz.sa portal at ept.moj.gov.sa,” the ministry said.

“The upper limit for the e-conveyance of property has been raised from SR3 million to SR20 million.”

The service has been streamlined to enable electronic agreement on sale terms without a notary’s certification, so that the operation can be completed in less than one hour.

It had also enabled digital verification of bank accounts and payment of property transaction tax.

As part of several reforms and development initiatives, the Ministry of Justice is working on enhancing digitization and providing innovative tech solutions that facilitate services, simplify procedures and boost security.

“In cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank, the ministry made it available through 17 local and international banks,” the statement said.