Arabic Hackathon competition awards SR1 million to winners in Riyadh

(Twitter @KSGAFAL)
(Twitter @KSGAFAL)
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Updated 19 June 2022

Arabic Hackathon competition awards SR1 million to winners in Riyadh

(Twitter @KSGAFAL)
  • The award’s criteria include accuracy of the application in providing results and outputs, and the impact and added value of the idea

RIYADH: The King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language, under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture, organized the closing ceremony of the “Arabic Hackathon” in Riyadh on Saturday, with 22 teams winning in various competitions.

The competition aims to develop technical solutions to benefit from the components of the Arabic language, which the KSAA launched to create technical solutions and digital platforms. It also aims to provide specialized tools that serve Arabic and improve its position among the world’s living languages.

A total of 151 projects submitted by more than 1,030 participants from 40 countries around the world compete to win awards totaling more than SR1 million ($270,000), distributed over 22 prizes.




Abdulrahman Aljasir, member of the Literary Club Council in Riyadh

Of the 22 prizes, 12 are allocated for the first three tracks, including the Arabic poetry challenge, lexicon challenge, and the challenge of language games for children, with four prizes for the first four places in each track.

The other 10 prizes are distributed to winners of each innovative idea project, with two prizes for each project.

The award’s criteria include accuracy of the application in providing results and outputs, and the impact and added value of the idea.

The closing ceremony included an exhibition in which the Arabic programs’ strategic partners presented technological aspects and demonstrated their impact on the attention given to the Arabic language.

The prize aims to raise the status of the Arabic language, to recognize the efforts of individuals and institutions serving it and to encourage their renaissance. The prize also enhances the belonging of the people of the Kingdom in particular and the Arab people in general to their identity, and encourages them to preserve the integrity of the Arabic language and to develop new ways to use it.

The prize is intended for government and private institutions, as well as individuals with an interest in Arabic. It is divided into four categories: Teaching and learning Arabic, computing Arabic and serving it with modern technologies, research and scientific studies of Arabic, spreading linguistic awareness, and creativity of linguistic community initiatives.

Abdulrahman Aljasir, a member of the Riyadh Literary Club’s board of directors, told Arab News that this type of award strengthened communication between cultural institutions and the recipient, and between language as an identity and society in the hierarchy of its generations and segments.

“It also reflects an important role for the KSAA by reaching the ordinary non-specialized recipient, which in my opinion is very important,” he said.

“Our language is beautiful by nature,” Al-Jasser said.

Educational and cultural institutions, as well as relevant authorities, should play a role in instilling a love for the Arabic language, he said, as well as “the family when they understand the importance of cherishing the language and that it is part of identity and personal development.”

Al-Jasser said that one of the most important outcomes of the project is the support of Arabic and linguistic content, whether at the library or the virtual network level, as well as the entry of the Arabic language into the world of games and software.

This constituted “a real pioneer if done in a way that appeals to the new generation,” he said.


French foreign minister Colonna arrives in Riyadh on official visit to Saudi Arabia

French foreign minister Colonna arrives in Riyadh on official visit to Saudi Arabia
Updated 02 February 2023

French foreign minister Colonna arrives in Riyadh on official visit to Saudi Arabia

French foreign minister Colonna arrives in Riyadh on official visit to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna arrived in the Saudi, capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday on an official visit to the Kingdom.

Upon her arrival at King Khalid International Airport, she was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

Colonna’s visit is expected to focus on ways to enhance the distinguished cooperation between the Kingdom and France, the ministry added.

The reception was attended by Saudi Ambassador to France Fahd Al-Ruwaili and French Ambassador to the Kingdom Ludovic Pouille.


Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts
Updated 02 February 2023

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hissein Brahim Taha, the ministry said on Wednesday. 
During the call, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the Kingdom and the OIC in various fields, in addition to discussing the most prominent regional and international developments.
Prince Faisal also received separate calls from his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides and his Kyrgyz counterpart Zheenbek Kulubaev, the ministry said.
During the calls, they reviewed bilateral relations, and ways to enhance and develop them in various fields of cooperation and joint coordination, and discussed aspects of enhancing joint action toward various regional and international issues.


Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
Updated 02 February 2023

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes

Top chef serves up the story behind Saudi Arabia’s new national dishes
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi explains the appeal and cultural significance of jareesh and maqshush
  • They were recently named by the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission as the Kingdom’s national dish and dessert

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Culinary Arts Commission announced this month that jareesh has been selected as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and maqshush as its national dessert.

Jareesh is a slow-cooked dish of cracked wheat, vegetables and a sauce, with the optional addition of lamb. Maqshush is made of buckwheat bites topped with some combination of ghee, honey, dates, molasses and sugar.

The commission’s announcement forms part of its National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which seeks to identify and celebrate popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture. It will include research to discover which dishes best represent each region, the results of which are due to be announced later in the year.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Rakan Al-Oraifi, an internationally renowned Saudi executive chef, welcomed the initiative, which he said will showcase traditional dishes and ensure they are at the forefront of the Saudi Culinary scene.

Al-Oraifi, who is a member of the World Master Chefs Society and the founder of Kit Catering, said that jareesh originated in the central Najd region and there is more than one variety.

“Usually, we cook it with laban (buttermilk), so it is known as white jareesh,” he said. “We also have a second kind of jareesh, which is from Hail (in north-western Saudi Arabia), and it is red because we cook it with tomato sauce.”

The distinctive flavors of the dish come from its topping of ghee, caramelized onions and lemon powder, he added.

The selection of jareesh as national dish reflects its popularity across Saudi society, the Culinary Arts Commission said, and references to it can be found in heritage books dating back centuries. It is considered one of the most important dishes in Saudi heritage and is known as “master of dishes,” it added.

Al-Oraifi said that the main reason jareesh is so popular is because people in the Najd region historically ate wheat rather than rice because it required fewer resources.

“Jareesh is a traditional dish everyone likes, young and the old,” he said. “The dish is filled with different flavors; it is kind of salty, a little bit sour because of the buttermilk, and you can eat it during winter or summer.”

According to the commission, the dish is typically served on a variety of occasions, mainly happy ones, and though it originated in the central region it spread throughout the Kingdom.

Maqshush, meanwhile is a dessert typically served as breakfast in Saudi households, and comprises wheat flour, ghee and honey or sugar. It is particularly popular during the winter. According to the commission, the history of the dish dates back more than a century and it is commonly served with Saudi coffee.

Al-Oraifi — who is also a member of the World Association of Master Chefs, the Emirates Culinary Guild, Latin American gastronomic association Aregala International, and the Saudi Arabian Chef Association — is pleased that the dessert, which originated in Hail, is being recognized.

“Maqshush also is made from wheat,” he said. “We mix two kinds of flower in Maqshush: white and brown.”

He added that it is a popular breakfast dish because the wheat, ghee and honey provide energy and power.

In addition to their widespread popularity, the authenticity of their flavors, and their significance in Saudi culture, jareesh and maqshush were chosen as national dishes because they are simple to prepare using ingredients that are readily available, the commission said.

According to “Saveurs d’Arabie” (“Flavors of Arabia”), a cookbook published recently by the commission and Cassi Edition, maqshush might be considered a combination of pancakes and bread because of its taste and texture. It’s small, soft loaves are simple to make and were traditionally baked on a saj, a convex metal pan.

According to the book, the word maqshush means one who picks the smallest portion or pieces of food, which is thought to reflect the fact the dish is prepared from simple, inexpensive ingredients.

Al-Oraifi has been crowned the best chef in Saudi Arabia three times. In 2021, he was awarded first place in the culinary category at the National Cultural Awards. He was the executive chef of Suhail restaurant in Riyadh and AlUla, for which he created a unique, authentic menu.

He joined Al-Khozama group as Executive Chef in 2022 to create a contemporary Saudi menu for Maiz restaurant in Diriyah, and recently moved to Paris for the advanced study of French pastry.


Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.
Updated 01 February 2023

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Alzamil, director of talent acquisition at the Soudah Development Co.

Abdulaziz Alzamil is the director of talent acquisition and organization development at the Soudah Development Co. owned by the Public Investment Fund. 

His role includes overseeing design and implementation of the company structure and talent acquisition function in line with the company’s objectives. He is involved in supporting the development and implementation of HR initiatives and functions while implementing global best practices for sustainable growth. 

Before joining PIF, Alzamil was director of strategic workforce planning and HR transformation for the public sector at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development in Riyadh.  

Alzamil played a major part in enhancing government effectiveness and increasing the performance of public sector employees as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 through developing procedures that included top-down analysis, workforce planning, and workload analysis for all ministerial and non-ministerial entities. 

He also helped in developing benchmark comparisons with the public sectors around the world and designed an HR maturity assessment to provide superior employee experiences. 

Alzamil has held several leadership roles in designing and implementing recruiting strategies in telecom and IT companies such as Nokia, Jawwy, and Mobily.  

He also worked as a research assistant at California State University, San Bernardino, in the US. His area of focus mainly involved an integrative emotional intelligence model, the development of social-emotional competence assessment, and coaching competence. His research article was published in a peer-reviewed journal in the US. 

He gained a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh in 2009 and a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, San Bernardino in 2014. 

Alzamil holds a CIPD Level 7 certification and has attended many training courses, including strategic workforce planning from the Leoron Institute in Dubai, and international organizations management from the University of Geneva.
 


VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
Updated 01 February 2023

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination

VIA Riyadh, the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination
  • Turki Al-Sheikh inaugurates new premium destination in Saudi capital

RIYADH: VIA Riyadh is the Saudi capital’s latest luxury destination that includes select restaurants, a cinema, the Kingdom’s first St. Regis Hotel, and elite shopping outlets.

Fireworks lit up the sky as Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, inaugurated VIA Riyadh, which will officially open its doors to the public in mid-February.

VIA Riyadh will offer live performances, as well as exceptional hospitality, accommodation and services to visitors seeking premium experiences. 

Construction of the area, which is built in the Salmani style, took 20 months. The Salmani design process is based on six core values outlined by King Salman: authenticity, continuity, human-centricity, livability, innovation and sustainability. Salmani architecture integrates modern lifestyles while evoking the local identity and architectural heritage of the Kingdom. 

Khaled Al-Malik, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, honored for his exceptional media career. (SPA)

Located near the Ritz-Carlton, VIA Riyadh holds a significant place in Saudi history as it was the birthplace of the Second Saudi State in the 1820s. Stones from the Tuwaiq mountains were carefully chosen and extracted to create and build the area. 

To encourage calm and serenity at VIA Riyadh, water fountains have been installed in the interiors and waterfalls intertwined with the rest of the outdoor landscape. The gentle and soothing sounds of water create an experience that enhances the picturesque natural landscape of the area. 

The inauguration ceremony witnessed the presence of a number of ministers, officials and ambassadors accredited to the Kingdom. 

VIA Riyadh will offer live performances, as well as exceptional hospitality, accommodation and services to visitors seeking premium experiences. (Twitter: @AhmedAlKhateeb)

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Saudi minister of tourism, shared on his official Twitter account: “At the invitation of my brother, His Excellency Counselor Turki Al-Sheikh @Turki_alalshikh, I was pleased to attend the opening of the @ViaRiyadh project, which includes the St. Regis Hotel for the first time in the Kingdom and a number of luxurious restaurants, which contributes to creating a unique experience for visitors and residents of the city of Riyadh, which will remain the most exciting and attractive tourist destination.”

Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Iwai Fumio said on his official Twitter account: “At the kind invitation of His Excellency the President of the General Entertainment Authority @Turki_alalshikh attended the inauguration ceremony of @ViaRiyadh last night. This site truly embodies a distinct mark in Riyadh where you enjoy a new and unique experience.”

The private ceremony also witnessed the honoring of Khaled Al-Malik, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, for his exceptional media career.