Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum
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(Left to right) Moderator Adel Almegren and XR expert panelists Simon Benson, Faisal Bin Homra, Rodrigo Terra, and Dr. Ali Alshammari discuss the future of extended reality at Riyadh Boulevard City on Monday. (Sourced/Ithra)
Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum
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Saudi public trying out XR technologies produced by the Ithra's first Creative Solutions program cohort after the discussion panel at Riyadh Boulevard City on Monday. (Sourced/Ithra)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum

Leading tech experts discuss future of XR technologies at Riyadh forum
  • The XR industry was valued at $27 billion a mere three years ago and is expected to reach around $300 billion by 2024
  • Currently, only 1 percent of locally produced video games are consumed in the Saudi market

RIYADH: Local and international leading tech experts took to the stage at Riyadh Boulevard City on Monday to discuss the future of extended reality technologies in a panel discussion.

XR technologies are now more affordable than ever, which has led to their adoption in many industries globally such as education, film and industrial design. 

The XR industry was valued at $27 billion a mere three years ago and is expected to reach around $300 billion by 2024.

One of the goals of the panel, hosted by Gamers8, Ithra and the Saudi Esports Federation, was to spread awareness about Ithra’s Creative Solutions program, which has now hosted two cohorts of tech creatives, some of whom have been nominated for the Virtual Reality Awards in December.  

It also aims to educate the public about the newest XR technologies and their implementations. 

From VR arcades back in the 1990s to PlayStation Move in 2010 and portable VR headsets today, these technologies have been in development for years. Now, they are slowly being integrated into our daily lives.

The panel was moderated by marketing communication specialist Adel Al-Megren, while many questions about AR, mixed reality and artificial intelligence were answered by Simon Benson, inventor and tech consultant; Faisal bin Homran, head of esports at SEF; Rodrigo Terra, co-founder of ARVORE Immersive Experiences; and Dr. Ali Al-Shammari, managing director of NEOM Academy.

Esports education is one of the main goals of the biggest gaming and esports festival globally, Gamers8, and aims to create a greater market for local production and consumption.

Currently, only 1 percent of locally produced video games are consumed in the Saudi market. 

“We see the program as a window, as a gate, that connects Saudi to the world and the world to Saudi,” said Filipe Gomes, curator of the Creative Solutions program. 

Benson, who is also on the advisory board for Ithra’s Creative Solution program, said: “Instead of using the keyboard and mouse or a touchscreen as a tiny thing in our phone or our smartwatches to interact with digital content, we can actually do it in a much more intuitive way.”

Diego Terra, chief technology evangelist at ARVORE, said that now films and games can become more immersive as these technologies interact with the body itself and are also more user-friendly to older generations. 

“When we have the real-time content and you have interaction, you can explore one thing that is crucial, which is the senses,” he said. 

While headsets are currently on the market, smart glasses are a growing trend.

Smart glasses can instantaneously translate a restaurant menu instead of typing it into a translator app.

“If we were to have a video call, instead of you just appearing as a flat person, you could be in 3D, like a hologram in front of me,” Benson said, describing another use for the technology.

“It’s very much on our horizon now…definitely within our lifetime,” he added. 

The newly charted territory of the metaverse goes hand-in-hand with XR technologies. 

The metaverse, accessed through these technologies, will allow us to enter places and not just links. 

“We’re going to [be] doing all the things that we do now but in a different way…Websites will not be websites, [they] will be places…The vision is that gaming is just a place you go, not something that you download and use,” said Terra.


Saudi foreign minister and Blinken discuss relations during call

Saudi foreign minister and Blinken discuss relations during call
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi foreign minister and Blinken discuss relations during call

Saudi foreign minister and Blinken discuss relations during call

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

During the call, they reviewed aspects of relations between the Kingdom and the US, and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields of cooperation.

The two sides also discussed regional and international developments and the most prominent issues of common interest.


French-Saudi agreements signal ‘beginning of new era of cooperation,’ says French ambassador

French-Saudi agreements signal ‘beginning of new era of cooperation,’ says French ambassador
Updated 01 October 2022

French-Saudi agreements signal ‘beginning of new era of cooperation,’ says French ambassador

French-Saudi agreements signal ‘beginning of new era of cooperation,’ says French ambassador
  • Saudi Arabia hosts 150,000 French speakers and 500 teachers of the French language in various institutions
  • French presence in the Kingdom is marked by a network of schools in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar

DUBAI: On the occasion of the launch of the new French Cultural Season in Saudi Arabia, French Ambassador to the Kingdom Ludovic Pouille hosted an evening celebrating French-Saudi cultural dialogue at the French Embassy in Riyadh.

“You make French culture present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Pouille, addressing an audience of artists, entrepreneurs and officials.

The ambassador hailed the joint effort by France and Saudi Arabia to enable the success of cultural events in the Kingdom. “I want to thank our Saudi partners and friends, artists, professors, entrepreneurs and officials from the Saudi government for their contribution in strengthening on a daily basis our cultural relationship,” he added.

Among the participants were partners from the EU, Francophone countries, the Alliance Franҫaise d’Arabie Saoudite led by Zaher Al-Munajjed and the French Embassy’s team led by Catherine le Thomas.

Saudi Arabia hosts 150,000 French speakers and 500 teachers of the French language in various institutions. The French presence in the Kingdom is marked by a network of schools in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar, making education one of the primary elements on which the two nations collaborate.

 

 

As part of its Vision 2030, the Kingdom has initiated large-scale events enabling its development as a culture, education, tourism and sports hub on an international level. These events include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season, AlUla Season, the Red Sea International Film Festival, the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale and the upcoming Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah.

“We are all very lucky to live in a thrilling context in which Saudi Arabia is rapidly opening up and exploring new directions for its future. The Kingdom is now witnessing what President (Emmanuel) Macron called a ‘cultural revolution’ during his visit to Jeddah,” said the ambassador.

The new French Cultural Season in Saudi Arabia is a promising one, with events starting in October with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of French-Saudi cooperation in the field of archaeology. The event is a two-day symposium that will see the participation of the 15 French archaeological missions collaborating with Saudi archaeologists across the Kingdom in the Farasan Islands, Hegra and AlUla, among other locations.

The second event in the pipeline is “Digital November,” which is aimed at bringing art and technology together. A series of tournaments, workshops and other activities centered on esports and e-games will be featured.

Other cultural cooperation projects will involve music, cinema, fashion, design and poetry, with the annual Night of Poetry to be held in December.

Franco-Saudi cooperation is also evident through the Kingdom’s giga-projects — such as the development of AlUla — that will shape the country for decades to follow.

AfAlula, the French Agency for the Development of AlUla, is collaborating with the Royal Commission for AlUla to develop the region “based on an intergovernmental agreement signed in April 2018 during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Paris,” Pouille said.

The AlUla project is the first of a series of initiatives that aim to reinforce the ties between the two countries.

Since the French president’s visit to Jeddah in December 2021, several agreements have been signed, including one for Villa Hegra, an ambitious institution of contemporary art that will enable the Kingdom to build a creative and artistic hub, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

The agreements signal the “beginning of a new era of cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia,” according to the ambassador.

This story originally appeared on Arab News en Français.


Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

RIYADH: Border guards in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region have thwarted an attempt to smuggle 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish. 
Initial legal procedures have been completed and the drugs were seized and handed over to the relevant authority, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia has been cracking down on attempts to smuggle drugs into and out of the Kingdom, with authorities saying they would continue to stop all attempts to put the public at harm.


Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
  • 53 candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes

SHARJAH, UAE: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development won two accolades at the 9th Sharjah Government Communication Awards in the UAE.

The ministry scooped awards in the categories for best systems in government communication in the Arab world, and best government communication initiative to empower women globally.

Fifty-three candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes, with the Saudi ministry recognized for the methodology used in the implementation of its projects, the impact and results achieved, the effective use of technology and media to reach target audiences, and its innovative and proactive visions.

The ministry’s assistant minister for shared services, Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said the awards success was down to the hard work of employees.

He added that the ministry sought to create an effective communication media system capable of keeping pace with the rapid changes taking place in the sectors it supervised while responding to the digital transformation that had seen a transformation in government media over recent years.

 

 


Diriyah Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriyah Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
Updated 01 October 2022

Diriyah Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriyah Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
  • The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of the history of Diriyah, the original home of the Saudi royal family

RIYADH:  The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has teamed up with the National Association of the Blind “Kafeef” to launch an initiative for the translation of Diriyah’s history into Braille.

The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of Diriyah’s history.

Paper copies of the content printed in Braille will help strengthen participants’ emotional connection to their rich Saudi history and heritage.

The project reflects DGDA’s commitment to the visually impaired, and is aligned with the authority’s mandate to preserve and celebrate its culture and heritage.

The first part of the initiative runs until Oct. 15, and includes a course on Diriyah’s history for young men and women from “Kafeef.”

Supporting course materials were translated into paper and digital formats, including content on the year 850 — the year that Diriyah was established — as well as the At-Turaif district and the history of the First Saudi State.

Participants with the highest scores have since been selected to teach within the program itself, based on the level of their interest in Saudi history and their Braille skills.

DGDA is committed to working with “Kafeef” to provide support to participants, including paper and digital training materials, as well as lessons for registered participants, with an official certificate available on completion of the course.

The course is expected to foster a competitive, knowledge-based atmosphere that will help bolster the connection visually impaired individuals have to their heritage; strengthen their sense of belonging to their country’s past, present, and future; and instil a sense of community and collective investment in the country’s progress.