Female app developers launch business startups, praise Apple’s support

Special Female app developers launch business startups, praise Apple’s support
The first all-women Apple Developer Academy in the Middle East opened its doors in Riyadh in February. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 June 2022

Female app developers launch business startups, praise Apple’s support

Female app developers launch business startups, praise Apple’s support
  • US firm did an ‘amazing job’ to establish first all-women academy in the Middle East, says design winner
  • Students now creating applications for finance, education and the tourism industry

RIYADH: Ever since the first all-women Apple Developer Academy in the Middle East opened its doors in Riyadh in February, Saudi and Arab women have had the opportunity to develop their programming skills and contribute to the iOS app economy, and are now producing designs for finance, education and the tourism industry.




Fay Al-Shiban. (Supplied)

“As a Saudi woman who cares about technology, I can say that Apple did an amazing job to support Saudis and Arab women by bringing the first all-women Apple Developer Academy to the Middle East,” said Fay Al-Shiban, a student at the institution.

Al-Shiban is also one of the winners of the Worldwide Developers Conference 2022, or the WWDC22-Swift Student Challenge. The initiative enabled students to showcase their design skills by creating a Swift Playgrounds app project in any industry of their choice. 

The academy in the Kingdom received lots of attention following a video announcement during the WWDC Conference, when Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO and board member, spoke about the initiative in Riyadh. 

“In Saudi Arabia we launched our first developer academy for women in February, our entrepreneurship camps provide developers from under-represented communities with mentorship, inspiration and insights from Apple,” said Cook.

Partnered with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, represented by Tuwaiq Academy and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, the program officially welcomed its students in February for a nine-month intensive coding program.

Despite many worldwide programs being held remotely, the Riyadh-based academy students attended the sessions completely in-person.

“The first time I found out that Apple was opening an academy in Riyadh I got excited,” Al-Shiban said. “I’ve always wanted to develop my skills on app development and there’s not a better way to do it than in an Apple Developer Academy. Apple is my role model when it comes to creativity and I want to become a world-class app developer.”

The programmer said she received an immense amount of support when she was accepted into the program.




Sara Al-Ghamdi. (Supplied)

Sara Al-Ghamdi, a student and apprentice developer, is currently working to create an app that will contribute to the Kingdom’s tourism industry. “I’m currently working with my team to develop a tourism-based app to promote and spread awareness about various tourist locations in Saudi Arabia.”

“Apple’s constant efforts to provide new tools and programs for app development has really made life easier for fellow developers like me … it ensures that my app, which is under development, can be made more user-friendly, user-engaging and ultimately increase the app-reach amongst people,” she said.




Lina Ismail. (Supplied)

Lina Ismail, another student, aims to take the skills she has learned to help her community. “I enrolled in the academy’s program because I always wanted to make a positive impact in the community and somehow improve the lives of upcoming generations,” said Ismail.

Ismail is currently working on her application called Naeem, which will help people save money. “My inspiration for creating this app came from my experience living alone far from my family and having to manage all my expenses while also saving a bit of money,” she explained.

The application studies the spending habits of users, including where money is being spent. “Then using machine learning it will give you suggestions and special personalized offers,” she said.

“Apple Developers Academy taught me how to find a niche idea and turn it into a business. I had a mentor who supported me along and helped me pitch the idea to big investors from Saudi Central Bank and Saudi Fintech,” Ismail said, revealing that her app was now being tested on the App Store.




Maryam Arif. (Supplied)

Student Maryam Arif said the academy helped her see the wide range of business possibilities. “What is great about the program is the infinite options of projects you can create! You can work in any field you wish,” she said.

Arif chose to create an expense-management application for the financial sector called E-pockets. “The idea came from the amount of receipts and warranties one person gathers during (a lifetime) and needs to keep.”

“The app idea and development was so revolutionary, it impressed our Apple reviewers as they came to realize this was the first time such an app was being executed,” she said.

The academy helps with skills development but also assists in bringing the apps to the marketplace, with support for enhancements such as design, Arif said. 


Thai citizens share their joy performing Hajj

The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
Updated 03 July 2022

Thai citizens share their joy performing Hajj

The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
  • Arabic teacher Mamu Kayah and businessman Arong Samae praise Saudi and Thai officials for smooth journey

RIYADH: Two Thai pilgrims performing Hajj for the first time have expressed their joy at arriving in Saudi Arabia after not being able to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hajj is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I could not hold back the tears when I saw the Kaaba for the first time. If I am able to perform Hajj after this time, I intend to perform Umrah every year, God willing. Hajj means everything to me,” Arong Samae told Arab News.

Samae from Narathiwat Province, located in the south of Thailand, is a businessman who is undertaking the pilgrimage with his wife this year.

“I seize this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for its gigantic efforts by which Muslims can visit the city of the Prophet (Madinah) and Makkah once again, and I pray to God Almighty to grant it more prosperity and progress,” said Samae.

The Narathiwat Province native took a plane from southern Thailand to Madinah Airport directly. He arrived in Saudi Arabia on June 11 and left for Makkah on June 17.

“I have never encountered any difficulties; everything is organized and easy. The Thai Hajj Company supplies everything from start to finish, and the Thai government also provides support and facilities at all stages,” Samae said.

“The trip took approximately eight hours by chartered flight, and I did not expect these facilities, because I heard that the pilgrimage journey is tiring and long, starting with car transfers to the capital, then waiting for the flight for two or three days,” he said.

Samae was surprised to see how quick and seamless the process was: “Thank God, everything (was) easy … Less than 12 hours … and I was in Saudi Arabia, I thank God for that,” he said.

“I prayed to God that one day I would arrive in Saudi Arabia. I also thank everyone who serves the pilgrims, whether they are from Thailand or from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He said that he wanted to perform Hajj two years ago but was unable to because of COVID-19 restrictions. The pandemic had “changed everything” they wanted to do, he said.

Thai native, 58-year-old Mamu Kayah, is performing Hajj with his wife this year. He is a high school Arabic teacher from Yala, a city in the south of the country.

“I am very pleased to have this opportunity, and I thank God day and night for that. And I am absolutely certain that every Muslim who has come to this pure land shares this feeling with me,” Kayah said.

He told Arab News that this was his third time performing Hajj.

“We are very fortunate to have a direct flight from the far south of Thailand, the state of Narathiwat, which is only a hundred kilometers away from my home,” he said.

“The Thai Hajj company and the Thai Hajj mission did their duty well; everything is organized and tidy, especially with the presence of electronic platforms that contribute greatly to facilitating the procedures from the first day until we boarded the plane to Madinah,” he said.

Kayah took a direct eight-hour flight from Narathiwat to Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport. He thanked the Kingdom and Thailand for providing these routes for pilgrims.

“I heard that organizing the chartered plane was not easy, and it can only be done with the tremendous efforts of the two countries, Thailand and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Kayah and his wife arrived in Madinah on June 12, traveled to Makkah on June 18, and will return to their home country on July 20.

“It can be said that Hajj this year is very special and completely different from my previous experience,” he said.

“For example, from when I got off the plane at Madinah Airport to my arrival at the hotel, the process took only one hour. Every step is fast and tidy, starting with the procedures in the passports, taking the luggage, riding the bus,” Kayah added.

He added that Saudi and Thai employees were available everywhere to assist. “Above all, the reception from the competent Saudi authority was very wonderful; we felt like one of the VIPs,” he said.

It was an emotional experience for him. “Indescribable pleasure, especially for a person of my age. I always cry when I stand in front of the Prophet’s Mosque and the Holy Kaaba, crying for joy, of course, and it is all thanks to God Almighty,” he said.

“The only issue that worries me and everyone is the high prices of everything; in any case, we understand very well that this thing is not in our hands, so that not only the costs of Hajj increased but in everything and all over the world. Other than that, there are no difficulties,” he said.

Thailand has a post-pandemic quota of 5,885 pilgrims, according to the Thai Embassy in Jeddah, with 3,738 having registered to do so. Before the COVID-19 restrictions, Thailand had a quota of 13,000. In 2018 and 2019, a total of 7,851 and 8,462 pilgrims respectively performed Hajj.

As of June 20, 1,120 pilgrims had arrived in Madinah on Thai Airways charter flights. Four flights arrived in the Kingdom from June 10 to 13. The other 2,618 pilgrims will travel on eight flights from June 29 to Jeddah, five of which are through Thai airways and three are with Saudi Airlines.

As the first groups of pilgrims arrived in Makkah and Madinah on Sunday, Basri Tatif, the deputy head of the Thai Pilgrims Affairs, praised the Kingdom for its organization, and said that his fellow citizens will be able to perform their rituals safely with all the measures in place.


Jeddah Season receives 6 million visitors

The season created numerous opportunities for partnerships with the private sector. (SPA)
The season created numerous opportunities for partnerships with the private sector. (SPA)
Updated 03 July 2022

Jeddah Season receives 6 million visitors

The season created numerous opportunities for partnerships with the private sector. (SPA)
  • Jeddah Season began in May and ended on Saturday, July 2

JEDDAH: Jeddah Season set a new attendance record over its 60 days of events this year. Organizers said 6 million people had visited the season — the highest number in its short history.

Jeddah Season began in May and ended on Saturday, July 2. The number of visitors it attracted suggests the Kingdom’s drive to boost its tourism and entertainment sectors is a success.

The season created numerous opportunities for partnerships with the private sector, as well as a wide range of employment opportunities for young Saudi men and women in stores, restaurants, cafés, markets, or other organizational or logistical services.

More than 80 percent of all employees involved in Jeddah Season were Saudis.
 

 


Restoring ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, says forum chief

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA file photo)
Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA file photo)
Updated 03 July 2022

Restoring ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, says forum chief

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA file photo)
  • “Vegetation will help reclaim its eco-capacity to revive itself and accelerate as soil carbon. This will include flora, animals, and how humans can fundamentally use it,” he told Arab News

JEDDAH: Restoring the ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, the CEO of the Saudi Green Building Forum has said.  

The SGBF, along with the UN Environment Programme, is studying the Al-Mashair area to restore land and look into its boundaries and carbon capacity.

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina.

SGBF CEO Faisal Al-Fadhl said that helping the environment restore itself meant increasing good carbon (soil carbon), a natural phenomenon that could be achieved through man-made initiatives.

HIGHLIGHT

The Saudi Green Building Forum, along with the UN Environment Programme, is studying the Al-Mashair area to restore land and look into its boundaries and carbon capacity. It covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina.

“Vegetation will help reclaim its eco-capacity to revive itself and accelerate as soil carbon. This will include flora, animals, and how humans can fundamentally use it,” he told Arab News. “Seventy million tons of soil carbon is needed to restore the area through trees.”

Areas between Al-Mashair needed restoration for a rich human experience, he explained, “not just Mina, the mountains around it too.”

Al-Fadhl said good carbon canceled out the bad carbon from heat islands, a term referring to objects, elements, and structures such as cement, buildings, and reflective glass.

“These all generate a lot of heat so we want to reduce that through increasing soil carbon. The study is accredited by the United Nations Environment Programme, and this area requires certain care scientifically, zoologically, and botanically,” said Al-Fadhl.

He said Saudi Arabia was aiming to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2060, an announcement from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last October, and that this move was in line with the Kingdom’s development plans.

Al-Fadhl said the forum had begun projects to provide a green Hajj since it was established and now, with more sustainability awareness, the team was stepping up its action plans.

“It is not only a ritual place from the inside, it is a human experience and we have to restore its nature. It is the biggest international host in the world, so restoring the eco-capacity is a must for the human experience to be unique.”

Al-Fadhl said vegetation cover was very poor in Al-Mashair, with less than half of one percent having greenery or any form of vegetation. But he said that vegetation coverage had increased from 122 square meters to 878 square meters between 2000 and 2010.

“That is an 800 percent increase,” he added.

Al-Fadhl referred to US architect William McDonough’s “A New Language For Carbon” in his explanation to identify three strategies for carbon management and climate change.

The first was carbon positive, converting atmospheric carbon to forms that enhanced soil nutrition or to durable forms such as polymers and solid aggregates, also recycling carbon into nutrients from organic materials, food waste, compostable polymers, and sewers.

The second strategy, carbon neutral, referred to actions that transformed or maintained carbon in durable Earth-bound forms and cycles across generations; or renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower that did not release carbon.

The third strategy, carbon negative, referred to actions that polluted the land, water, and atmosphere with various forms of carbon, for example, releasing CO2 and methane into the atmosphere or plastics into the ocean.

 


Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect Arabian Leopard documented by Princess Reema Bint Bandar

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect Arabian Leopard documented by Princess Reema Bint Bandar
Updated 03 July 2022

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect Arabian Leopard documented by Princess Reema Bint Bandar

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect Arabian Leopard documented by Princess Reema Bint Bandar
  • Her book ‘The Arabian Leopard’ documents national efforts through the strategy of the Royal Commission for AlUla to preserve the endangered animal
  • The book contains over 100 works of art and photos

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect the Arabian Leopard is one of the most prominent global models, said Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.
Princess Reema’s remarks came in the presence of Prince Khalid bin Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the UK, while launching a new book entitled, “The Arabian Leopard”, Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The book documents national efforts through the strategy of the Royal Commission for AlUla to preserve the Arabian Leopard and protect it from extinction, within the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Assouline Publishing House in London hosted the book launching ceremony, during which the ambassador emphasized the Kingdom’s efforts to protect the leopard and return it to its natural habitats.

 

 

Prepared and written by a number of experts in the fields of environment and nature conservation, the book contains over 100 works of art and photos. It also contains various reports on the history of the Arabian tiger, which has existed for more than 500,000 years in the Arabian Peninsula.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Arabian Leopard as among the most endangered animals, with only 200 alive today, due to overhunting and other reasons within the animal’s subsistence system.
 


The RCU’s strategy to preserve the animal includes a variety of initiatives, including expanding the breeding program by opening a dedicated center in the Sharaan Nature Reserve, and establishing the Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard, for which the authority has allocated $25 million.
In line with the Saudi Green Initiative, RCU aims to convert 80 percent of AlUla’s area into nature reserves, including wild plants and animals, as initiatives to protect the Arabian leopard have also included the resettlement of wild species such as mountain ibex and gazelles.


Makkah Healthcare Cluster establishes mobile dental clinic to serve pilgrims

Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm  specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
Updated 02 July 2022

Makkah Healthcare Cluster establishes mobile dental clinic to serve pilgrims

Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm  specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
  • The mobile dental clinic includes 32 medical and operational cadres equipped with modern capabilities around the clock for the length of the Hajj season

MAKKAH: Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed a cooperation agreement with a medical company specializing in providing dental services, to establish a mobile dental clinic stationed at Al-Haram Emergency Hospital area to provide free healthcare to pilgrims during the Hajj.

The mobile dental clinic includes 32 medical and operational cadres equipped with modern capabilities around the clock for the length of the Hajj season.

After the end of the season, Makkah Healthcare Cluster will discuss with the company the feasibility and effectiveness of the mobile clinic and the possibility of expanding the scope of its work and facilitating services to its patients.

The acting CEO of Makkah Healthcare Cluster, Dr. Hatem bin Ahmed Al-Omari, said that Hajj and Umrah rituals represent one of Makkah Healthcare Cluster’s goals by refining health services and safety at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and enable the cluster to provide quality services to pilgrims by improving cooperation and integration with the private sector, filling gaps in the provision of health services.