Saudi tech experts bring futuristic AI technology closer to reality

Saudis of all ages try out the latest immersive AI technologies at Ithra's Creative Solutions GameDev Zone at Riyadh Boulevard City. (Supplied)
Saudis of all ages try out the latest immersive AI technologies at Ithra's Creative Solutions GameDev Zone at Riyadh Boulevard City. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 August 2022

Saudi tech experts bring futuristic AI technology closer to reality

Saudi tech experts bring futuristic AI technology closer to reality
  • Goal is to establish Saudi Arabia as the main immersive hub in the region, and possibly the world

RIYADH: Saudi technology experts are putting the latest developments in artificial intelligence into the hands of gamers attending a major international festival in the Kingdom.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has partnered with the Saudi Esports Federation for the Gamers8 event taking place in Riyadh to showcase the most recent advances in augmented and virtual reality technologies.

And Ahmed Abdulrahman, the immersive lab manager on Ithra’s Creative Solutions program, believes the futuristic AI seen in many current sci-fi movies could become publicly available within five to 10 years.




The GameDev Zone interior, buzzing with eager and curious Saudis looking to try the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Riyadh. (Supplied)

Technologies on show at the festival focus not just on gaming but also interactive and immersive experiences, entertainment, and learning.

Abdulrahman pointed out that the kind of VR gadgets seen in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adventure film “Ready Player One,” were now readily available. Ithra even had a haptic Teslasuit and glove (technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and motions to the user) that members of the public could test out.

FASTFACTS

• One of the Ithra winners’ projects, ‘The Anticipation of Rain,’ lets people sense rain by wearing a VR headset.

• Ithra even had a haptic Teslasuit and glove (technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and motions to the user) that members of the public could test out.

“We can put people into some games that utilize all the technologies together, where they can walk around and feel every hit in the game. It’s full immersion. It’s not 2045, it’s 2022,” he told Arab News.




The GameDev Zone interior, buzzing with eager and curious Saudis looking to try the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Riyadh. (Supplied)

In Riyadh Boulevard City, where Gamers8 is in full flow, the Creative Solutions’ GameDev zone features prototype games developed within 72 hours or less, as well as the program cohorts’ five previous winning designs, plus internationally developed video games.

While the available VR experiences are not fully equipped, they still allow visitors to get the general idea behind the immersive stories.

One of the Ithra winners’ projects, “The Anticipation of Rain,” lets people sense rain by wearing a VR headset. Its developer, Naima Karim, tells how she became paralyzed at a young age, but discovered a love for painting through the influence of rain. “There were so many people who were moved with it, they just took off their headset to cry,” Abdulrahman said.

Other AR projects take users on a journey through the history of the universe or on a mission to find hidden objects, similar to the “Pokemon GO” mobile game.




The main entrance to Ithra's Creative Solutions GameDev Zone in partnership with the biggest Esports festival globally, Gamers8, in Riyadh Boulevard City. (Supplied)

Next to the zone’s five winners’ booths are a selection of internationally developed gaming programs including “The Climb 2,” “Loco Dojo,” “Beat Saber,” and a PS5 Playroom.

Filipe Gomez, Creative Solutions program curator, told Arab News: “There are developers pointing to a future where no screens are going to exist. Everything will be projected.”

Amr Bogari, a conceptual artist and AI enthusiast, said: “This reflects a good mental image over time, and is expected from our government, as it is a great supporter of this development and progress that advances humanity.

“But, in general, it depends on a person’s use. The abundance of technology can reduce the spiritual aspect, and this applies in many examples. Our role is to create a moderate space that combines reality and assumption.”

On the GameDev zone, Gomez said: “The level of engagement from the public was incredible. For me, it really reflects an eagerness to learn and to develop and get ready. The creativity is there.”

The Ithra program team aims to create one-of-a-kind experiences that people of all backgrounds can enjoy.

Abdulrahman said: “They’re all proud. That’s the one word I can say. Everyone who is trying them, when they see them, they’re just amazed about the quality of work even though we call them prototypes.”

And the program goal was to establish Saudi Arabia as the main immersive hub in the region, and possibly the world.

“It depends on us, and stakeholders such as Ithra that pushes a specific agenda that really cares about how the people will be impacted through this transformation, to prepare them to be good decision-makers. When it comes to creative solutions, they create humanistic solutions,” Gomez added.


Saudi Arabia reaffirms full support for the stability of Yemen

The session was chaired by King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. (SPA)
The session was chaired by King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi Arabia reaffirms full support for the stability of Yemen

The session was chaired by King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. (SPA)
  • Cabinet appreciated UN’s efforts for a ceasefire in Yemen

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday reaffirmed the Kingdom’s firm support for all action that can help to guarantee the security and stability of Yemen and its people.

The session was chaired by King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. According to Issam bin Saad bin Saeed, the member for Shoura Council affairs and acting minister of media, the Cabinet members expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the UN to improve the adherence to the ceasefire in Yemen, in line with the Saudi initiative, announced in March last year, to end the crisis in the country and reach a comprehensive political resolution.
The ministers also expressed their hopes that the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum, which is being organized by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in partnership with the UN and will take place in February, will contribute to efforts to find innovative and practical solutions that can help provide humanitarian aid to the highest standards and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

FASTFACT

The ministers also expressed their hopes that the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum, which is being organized by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in partnership with the UN in February.

Ministers also reiterated the Kingdom’s assertion, made this month during the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, of support for international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and place its nuclear facilities under a comprehensive system of safeguards under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The council said it considers the stability and balance of oil markets as one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s energy strategy.
It described oil as an important element in supporting the growth of the global economy, as reflected in Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in establishing and maintaining the OPEC+ agreement on production quotas. Members stressed the importance of full compliance with those quotas by all OPEC+ member nations.
The council session concluded with the approval of a number of decisions. The chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence was tasked with negotiating with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development a draft administrative agreement between Saudi Arabia and the bank on a multi-donor trust fund for a digital development partnership.
The minister of energy and the minister of tourism were asked to draft and sign a cooperation agreement between their ministries and their counterparts in Thailand in the fields of energy and tourism.
A memorandum of understanding on labor cooperation between the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population was approved, as were two MoUs for cooperation in the transport and logistics sector between the Kingdom’s Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services and the French Ministry of Ecological Transition. Ministers also approved an MoU for cooperation between the Saudi General Authority for Statistics and the British Office for National Statistics.

 


National Cybersecurity Authority launches CyberIC to develop sector in Saudi Arabia

National Cybersecurity Authority launches CyberIC to develop sector in Saudi Arabia
Updated 09 August 2022

National Cybersecurity Authority launches CyberIC to develop sector in Saudi Arabia

National Cybersecurity Authority launches CyberIC to develop sector in Saudi Arabia
  • The CyberIC program is designed to develop the skills of more than 10,000 Saudis and stimulate the wider domestic cybersecurity sector
  • The program offers courses that include virtual exercises so as to ensure that participants are ready to confront the most significant cybersecurity challenges

JEDDAH: The National Cybersecurity Authority on Monday announced the launch of a new program, CyberIC, to develop the cybersecurity sector in Saudi Arabia.

The program is aimed at developing the capabilities of cybersecurity specialists working with national authorities and stimulating the domestic cybersecurity ecosystem by increasing the development and localization of cybersecurity products, services and solutions.

The CyberIC program is designed to develop the skills of more than 10,000 Saudis and stimulate the wider domestic cybersecurity sector in line with international best practices.

The first phase of the program includes a number of initiatives, such as providing training for employees of national authorities working in cybersecurity and related fields and accelerating cybersecurity activities to stimulate the sector.

It will also include the launch of the second version of the cybersecurity challenge and offer programs for chief information security officers in cooperation with prestigious international universities in the field.

To ensure participants are ready to confront the most significant cybersecurity challenges, the program offers courses that include virtual exercises that simulate real cyberattacks and incidents.

The program is based on six main tracks: innovation and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity officers, cybersecurity trainers, fresh graduates, cybersecurity specialists and law enforcement agencies.

It will support the growth of the cybersecurity industry in the Kingdom by helping more than 60 national cybersecurity startups. Forty have already been launched, while the other 20 will be established through the cybersecurity challenge.


Saudi Arabia demands halt to Israeli attacks as three more Palestinians die in raid

Saudi Arabia demands halt to Israeli attacks as three more Palestinians die in raid
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi Arabia demands halt to Israeli attacks as three more Palestinians die in raid

Saudi Arabia demands halt to Israeli attacks as three more Palestinians die in raid
  • At a Cabinet meeting in Jeddah chaired by King Salman, ministers urged the international community to assume its responsibilities and exert all efforts to end the conflict

RAMALLAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday demanded international action to halt deadly attacks by Israeli armed forces on the Palestinian people.

At a Cabinet meeting in Jeddah chaired by King Salman, ministers urged the international community to assume its responsibilities and exert all efforts to end the conflict.

The Saudi call came as three Palestinians were killed and 40 injured in an Israeli raid in Nablus in the northern West Bank, and 17-year-old Moamen Jaber died from his wounds in hospital in Hebron after being shot by Israeli soldiers in earlier clashes in Bab Al-Zawiya.

The four deaths brought the number of people killed this year by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to 130.

"From Nablus to Hebron, after Gaza and Jenin, the occupation continues to commit its open crimes against our people in all the occupied territories,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said.

Tuesday’s deaths came after elite Israeli forces surrounded a house in the old city of Nablus in the early morning, closing in on Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, and at least one other member of the group, named as Islam Sabbouh.

After Nabulsi refused requests to surrender, Israeli forces opened fire and struck the house with Matador anti-armor missiles, killing the men inside. Another Palestinian, 16-year-old Hussein Jamal Taha, was also killed.

Thousands of Palestinians took part in the three funerals, the largest in Nablus for 20 years.

Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces broke out across the West Bank, wounding at least 20 civilians, most young men. A general strike was called in a show of mourning.

Nabulsi had survived several previous attempts to arrest or assassinate him over the past five months.

The new attack came less than 48 hours after Israel suspended its military operations in the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of 46 Palestinians, and injured more than 300 civilians, including women, children and the elderly.

Nabil Aburudina, spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, condemned the killings in Nablus and said the Israeli occupation was approaching a comprehensive confrontation with the entire Palestinian people through its aggression.

Aburudina said the Israeli government was not interested in achieving peace and stability, and was working to shed Palestinian blood to achieve gains in Israeli internal politics.

He said the US delegate to the UN, by emphasising Israel’s right to defend itself, supported the Israeli narrative, which was unacceptable because Israel was the aggressor. If this aggression continued against the Palestinian people, it would ignite violence across the region, he said.

Taysir Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a prominent leader in Nablus who attended the funerals on Tuesday, told Arab News that mourners chanted slogans calling for revenge against Israel.

Nasrallah said: “It seems that Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid started his electoral campaign early by killing the largest number of Palestinians, which would enable him to obtain the largest number of votes.”

The Palestinians believe that the recent Israeli military escalations in Jenin, Gaza and Nablus are linked to the Israeli election campaign, with votes scheduled to take place on Nov. 1, and that Lapid, who lacks the military experience of his strongest rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, wishes to appear to voters as capable of dealing militarily with the Palestinians.

“We believe that there are electoral goals for this unprecedented military escalation against the Palestinians, and this confirms that Israel’s leaders have no project towards the Palestinians other than killing,” Nasrallah said.

He called on the PA to take a decisive decision to end its relationship with Israel.

“The new Palestinian generation does not believe in the approach of negotiations, which has not brought any result to the Palestinians for 27 years except by increasing settlements, killings and destruction against the Palestinians. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority must take a decisive decision to completely end the relationship with Israel, regardless of the results of this decision,” he said.

Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti told Arab News that the Israel crimes would lead to a comprehensive Palestinian popular uprising.


Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate authority reports 2,291 violations

This file photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
This file photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate authority reports 2,291 violations

This file photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
  • Saudi Center for Real Estate Arbitration recorded a total of 97 real estate disputes

RIYADH: The Real Estate General Authority reported 2,291 violations of real estate advertisements from June 23 until Aug. 9 of which 1,385 of which have been processed.

The authority confirmed that it had received 160 real estate reports and 5,600 applications to serve as real estate advertisers, of which 498 are for establishments and 5,100 for individuals.

The authority pointed out that the number of registered users in the real estate service “Iqari” exceeded 8,100 beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Center for Real Estate Arbitration also recorded a total of 97 real estate disputes.

The authority called on the real estate dealers to submit reports of any violations through their website: https://eservices.rega.gov.sa or through the toll-free number 8003030099.

These efforts come within the authority’s attempts to follow up on the implementation of the real estate advertisement protocols and the e-platforms licensing standards to develop the non-governmental real estate sector.

 

 

 

 

 


Trade picks up in Makkah as pilgrims shop

Pilgrims are visiting the marketplace to buy souvenirs for their loved ones. (SPA)
Pilgrims are visiting the marketplace to buy souvenirs for their loved ones. (SPA)
Updated 10 August 2022

Trade picks up in Makkah as pilgrims shop

Pilgrims are visiting the marketplace to buy souvenirs for their loved ones. (SPA)
  • Ajwa dates, which cost between SR20 ($5.3) and SR30 per kilo, are a favorite among pilgrims

MAKKAH: Umrah season is in full swing, and visitors from all over the world are converging on Makkah and Madinah to visit the Two Holy Mosques.
Trade in Makkah is witnessing significant activity and recovery in the second season of the pilgrimage following the pandemic.
In addition to performing their rituals, pilgrims are visiting the marketplace to buy souvenirs for their loved ones.  Ajwa dates, which cost between SR20 ($5.3) and SR30 per kilo, are a favorite among pilgrims.
Makkah has large farms in Qaba, Al-Awali and Al-Ouyoun that cater to the production of the finest Ajwa dates to meet the significant demand.
Other popular purchases include prayer beads and rugs, electronic devices, gold and audio recordings of Qur’an recitations by the imams of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.
The market also has many bookshops filled with literature on Shariah, jurisprudence, Islamic stories, and the Prophet and his companions’ biographies.