NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON launches first edition of hackathon

NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON launches first edition of hackathon
OXAGON is building infrastructure to foster a collaborative innovation ecosystem. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 August 2022

NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON launches first edition of hackathon

NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON launches first edition of hackathon
  • Hackathon finalists will participate in 3-month accelerator program, present concepts at event later this year

NEOM: NEOM’s industrial city OXAGON on Wednesday launched the first edition of its hackathon in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Education.

The initiative aims to turn entrepreneurs’ innovative solutions into viable startup businesses while under the supervision of specialized experts in various fields.

It will revolve around four industries reflecting the NEOM industrial goals of technology in service of people, water innovation developing sustainable solutions for water scarcity challenges, and green hydrogen and e-fuels, both of which bolster the Kingdom’s commitment to explore clean energy alternatives.

Powered by Blossom Accelerator, Saudi Arabia’s first tech-inclusion and female-focused accelerator, the hackathon will take place between Oct. 6 and 8 in Riyadh.

The OXAGON accelerator, a 12-week program providing early-stage founders with expertise, resources, and networks needed to build successful investment-ready companies, will also launch later this year.

OXAGON is building infrastructure to foster a collaborative innovation ecosystem in which ideas are accelerated from the lab to the market.

The coastal city will be home to a dedicated research and innovation district. Its campus will feature cutting-edge facilities ranging from open working spaces to the latest technology, all powered by clean energy.

In addition to applicants from Saudi universities, the hackathon and accelerator will be open to homegrown innovators from throughout the country.

Vishal Wanchoo, chief executive officer of OXAGON, said: “This unique partnership shows that OXAGON sees education as a cornerstone of innovation communities, and we are excited about working with the Ministry of Education to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi universities.”

Saudi Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, said: “The launch of both initiatives, the hackathon and accelerator, will contribute to building a generation of future pioneers and leaders, developing national talent, and contributing to the Kingdom’s economic diversification plans, in accordance with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Our partnership with OXAGON provides participants from Saudi public and private universities the opportunity to implement their innovative ideas, developing sustainable solutions that support the future of clean industries domestically and globally, with the added benefit from the expertise that OXAGON offers,” he added.

Blossom Accelerator CEO Emon Shakoor, said: “What is truly unique about both the hackathon and the accelerator program is that we are really focusing on the power of the people who are innovating within Saudi Arabia.

“This is an inclusive innovation program, and we invite creators from different genders, backgrounds, skillsets, and who have faced different adversities, to participate. We believe the pillar to innovation and economic growth is inclusion.”

All hackathon participants will be encouraged to draw on OXAGON-critical capabilities such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence. The hackathon will include long days of work and expert mentors who will guide the entrepreneurs every step of the way.

Students will work alongside established founders, startups, and entrepreneurs who will be able to source talent and ideas. They will also have the opportunity to meet potential cofounders and team members with whom they can collaborate to grow ideas, technologies, and businesses.

OXAGON will offer three hackathon finalists the opportunity to participate in its three-month accelerator program and to present their concepts at an upcoming event later this year. This will give participants access to world-class leaders, mentors, and potential Middle East and North Africa region investors.

NEOM, one of the Kingdom’s most important Vision 2030 projects, is dedicated to promoting long-term economic diversification and talent development.

The NEOM region is designed to inspire and challenge human potential by combining world-class technology with data and intelligence to interact seamlessly with its population and form cognitive communities.

OXAGON, a place where ideas can profoundly change the world, was launched in November 2021. It combines a radical new model for future manufacturing centers based on NEOM's philosophy of redefining how humanity lives and works in the future.


Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
  • High quality content created, says CEO Essam Bukhary
  • Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game coming soon

RIYADH: It all began with a dream and now Manga Productions boasts its first anime movie, “The Journey,” which premiered in 2021, and is working on Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game that should be released this year.

Speaking on The Mayman Show, Dr. Essam Bukhary, CEO of the company, a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, or Misk, said he has fond memories of how it all started.

It was in 2017, the year the firm was founded, that the company decided to hold talks with a leading Japanese counterpart.

“So the first step was to negotiate with Toei Animation, convince them (of) the idea. They liked it. They accepted the offer. But we had one important condition in the contract. Which is providing opportunities for internship for Saudi talent,” explained Bukhary.

 

Initially a competition was held in the Arab world to determine which project to back.

The company met in Riyadh with Shimizu Shinji, a former board member of Toei Animation, who became the executive producer of “The Journey.”

After that meeting, Manga Productions started hiring the first group of artists from Saudi Arabia to work on the project.

The students were sent to become interns in Japan for two months. “After that, we hired them to start working hand in hand with our Japanese partners.

“In 2017, we signed the contract with Toei Animation during the Misk Global Forum to officially start the production of ‘The Journey’ movie,” said Bukhary.

 

Bukhary said the “high quality” film was made in Saudi and demonstrated the talent and commitment of the young artists.

He recalled how Manga Productions sent 1,300 retakes to Toei Animation, which led a board member to praise the team for producing such quality that “we don’t even think about in Japan.”

He said the movie was an amazing experience because it was a collaboration involving two companies with totally different cultures, languages, art styles, and even age. “Toei Animation’s experts were in their 50s and 60s where Manga Productions’ team were in their 20s and early 30s,” he explained.

 

The plot of the movie revolves around one man trying to defend his city, Makkah, against a huge army. The hero has a dark past but uses his skills to overcome his adversaries.

Manga Productions focuses on animation, video games, and comics. They have two offices, in Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Bukhary is also editor-in-chief for Manga Arabia and has a doctorate in technology and innovation management. He is also the co-chair of the executive committee of the Mohammed bin Salman Center for Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.

 


Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s relief work for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan continues with the launch of a food security project for the displaced living outside camps

The Kingdom’s latest project, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), aims to help refugee families and the neediest people in the host community, and contributing to improving their living conditions, according to a report from state news agency SPA.

Among KSRelief’s efforts for refugees in Jordan includes a $1.33 million agreement with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation to treat Syrians diagnosed with cancer; a $2 million accord with the National Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition to boost food security for poor families as well as a pact with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization to provide housing and utilities support for 22 Syrian families involving 109 individuals.


Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thanked Uzbekistan for supporting Riyadh’s bid to host the World Expo 2030, during a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported citing a joint statement. 

The meeting between the two leaders, held in Jeddah on Wednesday, reviewed the countries’ relations and ways to enhance bilateral ties, a joint statement between the two countries said. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Mirziyoyev also emphasized the importance of exploring investment opportunities between their two countries, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals and Uzbekistan’s development goals.


Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 August 2022

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH: The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev performed the Umrah pilgrimage on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The president was received by several officials from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and from the Special Force for the Security of the Grand Mosque upon his arrival. 

Mirziyoyev’s official press service shared photos from the president’s pilgrimage on Twitter. 

 

The Uzbek president had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The pair held a meeting and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, in addition to reviewing a number of issues of common interest. 


Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
  • The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received in Jeddah Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement leader Ammar Al-Hakim, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Friday.

The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest.

Al-Hakim arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday and was received by deputy minister of foreign affairs Waleed Al-Khuraiji.

Saudi and Iraqi senior officials attended the meeting.