Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life

Special Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life
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Visitors to Ithra, in Dhahran, test prototypes of the first five winning projects to emerge from the center’s Creative Solutions initiative. (AN Photo)
Special Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life
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Visitors to Ithra, in Dhahran, test prototypes of the first five winning projects to emerge from the center’s Creative Solutions initiative. (AN Photo)
Special Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life
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Ithra means “enrichment” in Arabic and is intended to signify that its programs are intended to enrich citizens culturally. (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 February 2022

Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life

Saudi creative program sees 1st immersive technology ideas brought to digital life
  • Year-long Ithra initiative designed to boost Saudi Arabia’s creative economy
  • 5 winning teams created prototypes individuals can test at Ithra until April 23

DHAHRAN: The first fruits of a special creative program launched in Saudi Arabia to generate innovative ideas using the latest immersive technologies are being showcased at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture.

Visitors to Ithra, in Dhahran, will be able to test prototypes of the first five winning projects to emerge from the center’s Creative Solutions initiative.

Using augmented, virtual, and extended reality, haptics, and immersive audio, the products will remain on public display until April 23.

Speaking at a recent demo day, Ithra’s head of programs, Ashraf Alfagih, said: “At Ithra, innovation takes center stage. Here is where imagination is powered, ideas are born, and knowledge is shared. We at Ithra aim to support, inspire, and nourish the growth of Saudis, both locally and internationally.”

Program participants have spent the last 10 months working to bring their visions to life and from thousands of potential ideas, five were selected to be developed into prototypes.

One was Alqatt XR, featuring the women-centric traditional Al-Qatt art form from southern Saudi Arabia. The other creations consisted of a mixed reality, location-based experience focused on the sensations which come from heavy rainstorms, the Jawaab interactive gamified museum tour project, a storytelling experience about great scientists involving holograms, virtual reality, and multi-speaker immersive sound, and the Wamdah virtual journey through time and space in Saudi Arabia.

Some of the finalists had no previous experience of immersive technologies, while program judges focused on looking for original ideas in storytelling with marketability.

As well as receiving up to SR375,000 ($87,400) to develop their prototypes, the innovators behind the selected projects were given access to Ithra’s ideas and immersive labs housing equipment including a haptic suit for physical VR experiences, a special VR treadmill, one of the technology sector’s highest-resolution mixed-reality headsets, and a state-of-the-art VR camera.

Hamish Jenkinson, the program’s creative director who also served as a mentor, connector, and one of the judges for the 30 selected cohorts, told Arab News that he became involved in the scheme in 2019 after being encouraged by the large pool of applicants and the potential for technology to foster gender equality in the Kingdom.

He said: “The Saudi youth is more digitally connected than most in the region, so this program represents a huge opportunity. It speaks to other great changes that come to the country. When it comes to things like esports, there’s great equality there — it’s how fast you can think and move your thumbs.

“When it comes to immersive technology, there is no reason why women in Saudi Arabia can’t be leading — just look at the cohorts. There are three prototypes that are led by female teams and two by men. It’s a great example of how women in Saudi Arabia are really stepping up,” he added.

The Ithra initiative aims to enrich, educate, and inspire creative individuals by developing digital immersive content that connects participants with global experts and investors to promote and nurture new and innovative products.

Through interactive projects, workshops, and talks, the center hopes to help build a national ecosystem of innovators working on realities that expand beyond the physical.

Applicants for the next cohort have until April 30 to apply online.


Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
Updated 25 June 2022

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
  • Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef on official visit to Britain to highlight opportunities
  • Kingdom’s mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion, including phosphates, gold, copper, zinc

LONDON: The Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef has held a meeting with mining companies and investors in Britain, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He highlighted investment opportunities in the Kingdom’s mining and industrial sectors during his official visit to the UK, which was organized by his ministry under the theme “Invest in Saudi Arabia.”

Alkhorayef and his team reviewed the most important elements that attract exploration and mining in the Kingdom. Several British mining companies outlined their successes in investing in Saudi Arabia. 

The ministry detailed the huge potential and strong infrastructure that make the Kingdom one of the best investment environments in the global mining sector.

The ministry’s delegation also invited attendees to the international mining conference that Saudi Arabia holds annually in Riyadh.

Throughout his visit, Alkhorayef stressed the Kingdom’s great interest in enhancing investments as it aims to exploit mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion.

This sum includes stores of phosphates that are valued at $321 billion, gold at $229 billion, copper at $222 billion and zinc at $138 billion.


Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
Updated 25 June 2022

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
  • Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by hosts Saudi Arabia to make their pilgrimage safe, comfortable and meaningful

JEDDAH: Officials at the Halat Ammar border crossing are continuing their efforts to welcome pilgrims from abroad through an integrated system of services provided by civil, military, and government agencies.

The services aim to better help pilgrims and improve the quality of services provided by the Saudi government, from the moment pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom, on their way to the holy sites, and until they return to their home countries.

Under the direct supervision and follow-up of Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the region’s Hajj work committee at Halat Ammar’s Pilgrims’ City also provides medical services and religious awareness programs.

Pilgrims expressed their satisfaction with the services provided, saying that King Salman had spared no effort to help his Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they were.

Palestinian pilgrim Widad Ibrahim expressed her great pleasure in being among this year’s pilgrims. She also thanked the Saudi authorities for the services they were providing.

“The pilgrims are receiving the finest services, and for that, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the services and hospitality we found. In fact, they reflect the Saudi government and people's interest in serving the guests of Allah who come from all corners of the world to perform their Hajj rituals,” Ibrahim said.

Pilgrims also expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia in utilizing its capabilities and services to aid pilgrims coming through the Halat Ammar border point so they could perform their rituals in an atmosphere of security, safety, comfort, stability, and tranquillity.

Another Palestinian, Wael Al-Humaidat, said he was happy for the opportunity to perform his first Hajj. He commented on the excellent services provided by the Saudi government and the warm welcome pilgrims had received.

Al-Humaidat prayed for Saudi Arabia and its people to be protected from evil. He also called for Allah to perpetuate his blessings of security and safety upon Saudi Arabia.

 

 


Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 25 June 2022

Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 25 June 2022

Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss deal to join digital network

RIYADH: Bahrain is set to become the first country to sign up with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital, the largest network of its kind in the world.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel recently met his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, for talks on an agreement that will link Bahrain with the virtual hospital.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post- vaccine complications.

• The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

The hospital was launched in February this year as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to digitalize its healthcare sector.

Al-Jalajel outlined the functions of the Seha Virtual Hospital and its command and control center, and welcomed the prospect of Bahrain becoming the first country to be linked with the facility.

The ministers also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post-vaccine complications.

Al-Sayed highlighted the importance of cooperation in the fields of genetic diseases and genes, telemedicine and clinical trials.

The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

Later, the Bahraini minister toured the Seha Virtual Hospital and was given a detailed explanation of the facility’s services. She also visited the command and control center.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.

 


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.