Saudi Arabia, Silicon Valley to launch health innovation platform

Saudi Arabia, Silicon Valley to launch health innovation platform. (Twitter)
Saudi Arabia, Silicon Valley to launch health innovation platform. (Twitter)
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Updated 26 March 2022

Saudi Arabia, Silicon Valley to launch health innovation platform

Saudi Arabia, Silicon Valley to launch health innovation platform. (Twitter)
  • The platform will also support the plans of global and local startups to grow and expand to the Saudi market and beyond

RIYADH: The Council of Health Insurance on Friday announced a strategic partnership with Plug and Play, Silicon Valley’s leading innovation platform connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies.

Plug and Play Middle East, in partnership with the council, will launch the Kingdom’s first open innovation platform called iHub focused on the health insurance industry.

In line with Vision 2030 goals to digitize government services, as well as develop new areas of the economy, iHub will bring together insurers, healthcare providers, tech-based startups, and healthcare experts to solve industry-specific challenges, develop new services and products, and discuss the best digital policies and regulatory changes needed for the Kingdom’s healthcare and insurance sectors.

HIGHLIGHT

Plug and Play Middle East will support in building and operating iHub’s open innovation platform with a focus on digital product innovations and emerging technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes within Saudi Arabia’s healthcare and insurance sectors, while also growing the health tech and insurance tech digital economy.

Council secretary-general Dr. Shabab Al-Ghamdi said: “The partnership agreement with Plug and Play is one of the most important strategic partnerships to enable the sector, entrepreneurs, and emerging companies to innovate technical solutions for the private health insurance sector that overcome challenges and enhance quality and efficiency for beneficiaries to obtain their full rights of protection and care.”

Plug and Play Middle East will support in building and operating iHub’s open innovation platform with a focus on digital product innovations and emerging technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes within Saudi Arabia’s healthcare and insurance sectors, while also growing the health tech and insurance tech digital economy.

The platform will also support the plans of global and local startups to grow and expand to the Saudi market and beyond.

Abdullah Al-Sharqi, the council's chief technology and digital transformation officer, said: “Emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and IoT is disrupting the health insurance sector and providing opportunities for health insurance companies and healthcare providers to transform their business models and the beneficiary experience.

“iHub will be the eyes and ears of digital innovation for the entire sector, to enable its transformation.”


Indian craftsman astonishes Boulevard World visitors

Indian craftsman astonishes Boulevard World visitors
Updated 10 sec ago

Indian craftsman astonishes Boulevard World visitors

Indian craftsman astonishes Boulevard World visitors

RIYADH: An Indian craftsman amazed visitors to Boulevard World, one of the 15 entertainment zones in Riyadh Season, by making ornaments with natural colors and fire.

The craftsman, Shand Mohammed, traveled from India to Boulevard World to present the history of his profession to visitors of Riyadh Season by crafting accessories and prayer beads.

He dazzled visitors to the zone with his skill in mixing natural colors derived from tree resin with fire and preparing them for sale within five minutes.

Mohammed has been practicing his craft, which he learned from his ancestors, for more than 35 years.

His sons also accompanied him to introduce the public to their goods and products, which have been a major attraction for visitors, especially the colorful prayer beads and accessories.

The history behind the art, according to Mohammed, is as old as India itself, as it has constituted one of the most prominent traditions in the country.

As part of the Boulevard World activities, the India subzone, where Mohammed showcased his craft, has attracted much attention from Riyadh Season visitors, with its luxury handmade goods and its buildings and streets modeled after traditional Indian architecture.

Boulevard World receives visitors daily from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. Entry tickets can be booked via the link: https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=786/en_Boulevard_World.

Visitors to Boulevard World can also learn about different world cultures through subzones inspired by China, Italy, France, Morocco, Spain, America, Japan, Greece and Mexico.

For both families and individuals, Boulevard World is a premier entertainment destination, featuring a host of experiences, including rides in hot air balloons, submarines and boats.

It has the largest man-made lake in the world, where boats can travel between cities through 11 stations. It also offers the Area 15 experience from Las Vegas; The Sphere, the biggest spherical theater in the world; a city for game fans; comic book and anime-themed activities; and plenty of family-friendly entertainment options.

Visitors can enjoy a ride in a Venetian gondola, taste American cuisine, shop for the best Spanish products and watch flamenco shows.


International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition kicks off in Riyadh

International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition kicks off in Riyadh
Updated 6 min 47 sec ago

International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition kicks off in Riyadh

International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition kicks off in Riyadh

RIYADH: The eighth International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition has kicked off at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center with the participation of more than 300 local and international institutions from across the world.

Continuing until Dec. 3, the exhibition aims to attract investors, importers and seekers of new investments in the coffee and chocolate field and provide a platform to launch new products.

The Saudi Barista Championship, accredited with the World Barista Championship, will see the winner travel to Athens to represent Saudi Arabia in the international contest.

The exhibition has also prepared workshops and courses specializing in coffee and chocolate.

It will feature the Coffee Race Zone, a recreational area for adults and kids with virtual reality VR games and a small race-car circuit, and a Coffee Talk area, which will bring together prominent coffee and business experts with the public to talk about topics related to coffee and investment in the field.

Culinary professionals and amateurs will also have an opportunity to compete with the Cooking Platform, which will see four chefs challenged daily to prepare a special dessert.

The exhibition attracts government agencies, entrepreneurs, producers and exhibitors for coffee and chocolate products and equipment, as well as a number of donors.


Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 
Updated 51 min 27 sec ago

Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

Music and Web3: an intro to the state of the industry in the metaverse 

RIYADH: Artists and industry professionals have an essential role to play in manifesting and entering the new dimension of the metaverse and Web3, a version of the internet based on blockchain. 

From full-fledged concerts and music scenes to audio-visual art, the metaverse is slowly becoming the newest music market to tap into. 

At the XP Music Futures conference, industry leaders and experts explored the various ways musicians, managers and record labels can use the platform to transform the music industry. With Saudi Arabia’s commitment to developing immersive and artificial intelligence technologies under Vision 2030, it is slowly becoming one of the fastest-growing markets globally. 

“We have all the new and human resources needed to create the city of the future,” Noor Said, A&R and product manager at MDLBEAST, said. 

“I believe what’s driving this big investment in the metaverse and AI is…the current situation of the country…We are already very connected to online content.”

The AI-driven metaverse provides infinite opportunities for creators to elevate music and create unprecedented immersive experiences through emerging technologies, such as non-fungible token concerts, music videos, brands, marketplaces and fan royalties. 

Sensorium’s Art Director and Deputy CEO Sasha Tityanko said: “The road to (virtual reality) adoption, as you might know, has been notoriously bumpy. Headsets have been clunky, heavy and uncomfortable to use, and entering a virtual reality game, for example, was the sort of thing we could not do. 

Fortunately, the hardware and software are evolving every day, and the concept is becoming more sophisticated and engaging…in particular, innovations in smartphone hardware coupled with state-of-the-art VR-compatible headsets. I expect (it) to be a significant market driver in the next decade.”

There are also massive advancements with 5G networks, with benefits in VR to reduced latency, delivering a smoother, richer and more engrossing user experience. 

Artists are given endless possibilities to manage their digital presence and performances; creators can generate a photorealistic avatar that mimics real-life goals and can adapt to different stages of their creative journey. 

Companies like Sensorium work to help artists and creators realize the most ambitious artist distributions with the help of this emerging technology. 

Since gravity and real-life limitations are nonexistent in the metaverse, designers can experiment with thousands of 3D architectural assets and elements, including virtual infrastructures, colors and lighting effects, to create limitless stages and concert venues.

For fans within cyber-physical distance, fans can have exclusive opportunities to engage in meet-and-greets, create stronger connections with the fandom communities, and experience a performance through the artists’ perspectives. 

While the concept sounds intriguing, the reality can play out very differently. One of the key challenges is that many of the biggest players in Web3 are intermediaries. Power is far from equitable, making ownership over blockchain networks unequally distributed and concentrated in the hands of early adopters and venture capitalists.

While legitimate actionable laws, rules and regulations have not been set around NFT and Web3 usage globally, there are few ways outside of the platform by which musicians can secure their rights.

However, creators and brands can use existing commercial rights and copyrights. For example, Gucci recently designed a virtual Roblox purse, which sold for over 25 percent of the retail price. The same can apply to music artists in terms of album covers, streams and track releases. 

In a more innovative approach, Dutch DJ Don Diablo made history by selling the first feature-length concert NFT film for $1.2 million last year. 

“The metaverse is innovative…Intellectual property in the metaverse world is very deep and has a very clear presence. We just need to unlock it,” Dr. Al-Hanoof Al-Debasi, executive director for copyright at the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, told Arab News. 

“There are no laws in the metaverse…It’s a new technology, and the whole world is still unsure how to deal with it because they need to understand it first, as well as where the boundaries for one country end and where another begins.”

Her advice for aspiring artists looking to venture into the metaverse is to create their innovations in the physical world and file for registration, patents and copyrights, making sure to have physical documentation. 

After establishing concrete rights, they can then take their innovations to an emerging world. 


King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday
Updated 56 min 26 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday

King Abdulaziz Camel Festival kicks off on Thursday
  • The festival will feature entertainment, including cultural and heritage shows, and popular markets such as Al-Dahna Market
  • Several different breeds of camels will participate in around 75 competitions

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival will start on Thursday with the participation of thousands of camels that will compete for dozens of prizes worth over SR100 million ($26 million).
The 45-day festival, which is one of the largest camel festivals in the Middle East, has become a cultural, tourist, sports, entertainment and economic destination for citizens and residents of the Kingdom, and Gulf nationals in particular.
Held 130 km north of Riyadh, the festival will feature entertainment, including cultural and heritage shows, and popular markets such as Al-Dahna Market.
Several different breeds of camels will participate in around 75 competitions.
Journalist Ayedh Al-Abdullah told Arab News that the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is an important part of the national economy as it attracts domestic, regional and foreign tourists, and creates job opportunities for both men and women.
A large number of foreign delegates visit the festival and enjoy its various activities, Al-Abdullah said. Featured at the festival are also a seasonal commercial market and booths and food trucks, where local families can sell their goods.
“The festival is of great importance as it shows Saudi culture and authentic heritage. It’s an invitation to get to know the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia closely,” Al-Abdullah said.
“The camels have cultural and historical value in the economy of the Arabian Peninsula,” he said, describing the festival as “a unique opportunity” to highlight this for younger generations.
Zael Al-Daihani, one of the camel owners who will be present at the festival, told Arab news: “This is an opportunity to keep our heritage alive and highlight the importance of camels in our history.
“Winning is a symbolic matter, just a recognition of your efforts and an indication that your camels are the best. The competition is a regional event full of events and opportunities to meet new people and reunite with old friends,” he added.
Last year’s camel festival featured more than 70 rounds of competition, over a period of 43 days, with prizes amounting to approximately SR250 million.


Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
  • The three-day conference is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity”
  • Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity”

RIYADH: The second Riyadh International Philosophy Conference opens on Thursday, bringing together philosophers, scientists, authors and contemporary thinkers from around the world to explore philosophy and its modern applications.
The three-day conference, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Saudi Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity.”
The forum, which will be open to public, will shed light on the state of contemporary science, space diplomacy, climate change, cognitive justice, ethics in exploration, and artificial intelligence quandaries to assess the possibility of these topics in defining humanity’s future.
On the sidelines of the conference, a series of lectures, panel discussions and workshops will also be held, in addition to a children’s philosophical pavilion.
Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission Executive Director Mohammed Alwan said: “The success of the last edition of the conference led to the reinforcement of the Kingdom’s international role in philosophy and reinforced its status as a regional center for philosophical discussion.”
Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity. Natural sciences give us important and fundamental reports on reality, while philosophy is concerned with asking about the meaning, value and connotation that result from those reports provided by natural sciences or experimental sciences in general.
“This equation is both possible and necessary, on which we rely as modern technology evolves, as well as the ethical, cognitive, and existential concerns raised by man’s experience with all of these developments.”
He said that the society of philosophy is a community-based institution that seeks to highlight the significance of philosophical thought in human renaissance and societal advancement.
“It depends on active engagement of society, as we have seen in the past two years when the society began its work.”
Al-Mutairi, who is also an associate professor of education at King Saud University, said that community interaction took place at different levels of attendance, participation in events, lectures, seminars, philosophical writing and publishing as well as volunteering and collaborative initiatives.