Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs

Exclusive Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs
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UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh aims to bring awareness on coral reefs preservation during visit to Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman AlQahtani)
Exclusive Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs
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UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh aims to bring awareness on coral reefs preservation during visit to Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman AlQahtani)
Exclusive Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs
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UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh with British Ambassador Neil Crompton at the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman AlQahtani)
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Updated 09 October 2022

Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs

Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh: We need urgent climate action to save coral reefs
  • If we heat the planet by 2°C, we lose 99% of coral reefs; we are now on track for at least 2.3°C. For coral reefs, every fraction of a degree is drastic
  • Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans, visiting Neom to swim into the Red Sea, says: ‘I would love to swim with Saudi swimmers’

RIYADH: Renowned endurance swimmer and the UN Environment Programme’s Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh has issued a clarion call: It’s time for urgent climate action to save coral reefs to support life on earth.

Pugh, an ocean advocate and a pioneer swimmer who has been a leading figure in efforts to protect the oceans, participated in a talk hosted by the British Embassy in Riyadh on saving coral reefs.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the UN patron shared his purpose for his Saudi Arabia visit: “It’s to start talking about the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), which is happening in Sharm El-Sheikh, which is in the Red Sea. And the situation for coral reefs is very, very serious. The science is, if we heat the planet by 1.5 degrees (Celsius), 70 percent of coral reefs die. If we heat the planet by two degrees, 99 percent of coral reefs die. We are now on track for at least 2.3 to 2.4 degrees. We are on track to lose all the coral in my lifetime.”

Pugh said that coral reefs are essential for life on Earth and that about one-quarter of life in oceans lives in coral reefs: “They are the nurseries of our oceans, and they are absolutely essential for these countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan. This is something so precious, we cannot afford to lose these coral reefs.”

“I am here to say to everybody in Saudi Arabia that every fraction of a degree now matters,” said Pugh.

Pugh, who is the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, was asked if he is going to swim into the Red Sea in the Kingdom: “Yes, I have to make an announcement very soon. I have always wanted to do a very big swim in the Red Sea, and hope to make an announcement next week.”

Praising Saudi Arabia for its green initiative and commitment to advancing the fight against climate change, Pugh underlined: “Saudi Arabia has obviously got a very important role to play. They are a G20 nation, and they have the funds now necessary to invest in new technologies and transition as we have to do this really quickly to transition from fossil fuels into renewables. I think they can play such an important role in leading the world into a sustainable future.”

On his visit in a time of transformation in various fields in line with Saudi Vision 2030, the oceans advocate said: “Well, I am very excited to be here. This is my first time in Saudi Arabia. It’s my first time going down to Neom this weekend to see that part of the country. I am really excited. A lot of my friends have dived there. And they said to me that this is one of the most incredible places to dive in our world.”

“When we think of the Red Sea in the West, we think of Egypt. But the Red Sea forms the Jordanian border all the way down to Yemen. It’s about 2,200 km, Saudi Arabia owns over half of the Red Sea, and it has, obviously, a duty and a responsibility to protect this. This is one of the great natural wonders of the world,” he said.

“Just like we say to the Brazilians, you have got the majority of the Amazon, and you must protect that for all mankind. A message to Saudi Arabia, you have something which is precious to the whole world. Let’s work together to protect this natural wonder of the world,” added the UN Patron of the Oceans.

The Saudi Swimming Federation aims to promote water sports among Saudi youth, when asked if he is open to cooperation with the federation, the endurance swimmer told Arab News: “I am here just for a few days, I never ever come to a country just once. COP27 is happening now in Sharm El-Sheikh. COP28 is going to be in Dubai. Saudi Arabia is the meat in the middle of the sandwich. I will be coming back here, for a couple of years now, talking about this transition which we have to make to a sustainable future. I do it through sport. Sport carries a message. So I would love to swim with Saudi swimmers.”

Pugh has highlighted the melting of the Arctic sea ice, the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and the impact the reduced water supply will have on world peace, and has a message for the Saudi youth: “I tried to do a very simple swim. So it carries a message. Each swim must have a purpose; each swim must highlight a specific part of the world, and why it's important to protect it. And then afterward, I go in and meet the politicians and the business leaders and the communities in that area to try and get them protected.”

He added: “Over a period of 35 years, my team and I have done something in some incredible places. But the vast majority of the swims have been in the polar regions, in the Arctic and the Antarctic, that’s where we are seeing the huge change, we are seeing the melting of the ice. And as I mentioned, we see coral and ice as the two ground zeros of the climate crisis. This is where we see the change taking place. So I want to do more swims over coral reefs. And not just being a voice for the polar regions, but also for coral reefs, and all the magnificent wildlife that lives in.”

He concluded his comments by saying that every generation has an opportunity to change the world, to make it more sustainable and just: “We have got to be that generation.”

To save the seas, the UN Patron of the Oceans said that we need to be protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s oceans now by 2030, and the best way to do that is to create these big marine-protected areas like national parks but in the sea.

He also said that the world has to reduce carbon emissions dramatically and that people must become educated: “What I mean by that is we (have) got to become environmentally literate. We (have) got to understand the impact which we are having on the planet. It’s more than awareness.”


Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 February 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-tech platform Footlab to launch in Saudi Arabia
  • Partnership with Portuguese legend Rui Costa is the world’s first indoor football measurements, performance and training park
  • Footlab has signed an agreement with Kingdom’s Confrontation Entertainment company

Saudi entertainment company Confrontation Entertainment has signed an exclusive franchise agreement with Footlab, a partnership by Cristiano Ronaldo and Rui Costa.

Footlab, a cooperation between the Portuguese football legends through Ronaldo’s tech company 7EGEND, started from an idea to bring to life a blend of e-gaming, real-life football and technology. It is headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, and opened in 2018.

At the platform, players can train, compete and keep track of their real-time performance data within different stations in the park, which are all connected in a digital ecosystem.

Footlab was designed with the next generation of football players in mind, providing players and trainers with the tools they need to measure and track performance in real time and use that information to create personalized development.

The technology behind it was developed in-house by Sports Scientists, a team of software and hardware engineers, UX designers, AI and data experts, to deliver the world’s leading football data-driven experience.

Luis Parafita, Footlab world CEO, expressed his gratitude for entering the Saudi market through this agreement. “Sports is an integral component of Saudi Arabia’s transformative Vision 2030, and we are thankful for the unconditional support of our partners and the perfect timing to launch Footlab in all (of the) Kingdom, having Cristiano here and world attention for what lies ahead.”

“Footlab aspires to change the game in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he pointed out, “with elite facilities and coaching staff dedicated to the analysis and development of players, empowering teams and groups of friends with challenges, to test and improve their cognitive, physical and technical skills.”

Ahmed Madani, Confrontation Entertainment CEO, said the growth of the sports and entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia made this an ideal time to introduce innovative projects such as Footlab in the market.

He said this partnership was aligned with the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 realization projects “which encourages the private sector to contribute to the development of the entertainment and sports sector, by offering an abundance of new experiences that contribute to raising the quality of life.”


Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 
Updated 06 February 2023

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 

Tech giants from around the world take center-stage at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference 
  • Second edition of the event, being held over Feb. 6-9, to have more than 700 leaders in technology and tech investment in attendance
  • LEAP’s inaugural conference broke the record for largest tech event ever held, with this year looking to be even larger

RIYADH: More than 700 leading experts in technology investment from 50 countries are set to speak during the second edition of the LEAP technology conference, which will take place at Riyadh Front Expo Center from Monday to Thursday.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, and UAE-based IT services and consulting firm Tahaluf.

It aims to spark discussions on artificial intelligence, the digital transformation and advancements in the field of technical and innovative entrepreneurship through immersive learning, storytelling sessions and lectures.

LEAP will shed light on artificial intelligence, digital transformation and advances in the field of technical and innovative entrepreneurship. (Supplied)

“The first edition of LEAP was surprisingly more than I expected from a debut event. I am excited to see how this edition will make an even greater impact on our industry and the creative economy,” Sujoy Cherian, group CEO of Option 1 Events, an event technology and content company, told Arab News.

“Besides speaking on the panel for future live events, I am honored with the opportunity for a solo session to share my insight on some of the latest in tech for hybrid events and content creation,” he added.

Cherian, a creative technologist and serial entrepreneur, is just one of the hundreds of speakers from more than 400 global and local technology companies speaking at the event.

HIGHLIGHTS

Executives from Saudi Aramco, NEOM, Microsoft, Oracle, Huawei, Zoom, Ericsson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are among the roster of speakers.

International tech figures include G.V. Ravishankar, managing partner of Sequoia Capital India; Tim Ringel, an investor and advisory board member at Adit Ventures; and William Bao Bean, general partner of venture capital firm SOSV.

Former world boxing champion Anthony Joshua, astronaut Susan Kilrain and West Ham United Football Club vice-chairman Karren Brady to also speak at LEAP.

Executives from leading firms such as Saudi Aramco, NEOM, Microsoft, Oracle, Huawei, Zoom, Ericsson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are set to deliver speeches during the conference.

Some of the world’s leading tech figures will take to the Investor Stage, including G.V. Ravishankar, the managing partner of Sequoia Capital India, Tim Ringel, an investor and advisory board member at Adit Ventures, and William Bao Bean, general partner of venture capital firm SOSV.

The tech conference will be held in Riyadh. (Supplied/LEAP)

Former world boxing champion Anthony Joshua, astronaut Susan Kilrain and West Ham United Football Club vice-chairman Karren Brady will also speak at the conference.

Some of the talks set to take place at LEAP will shed light on the creative economy, education, retail, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, future energy, smart cities, and health tech.

One of the companies that will discuss the creative economy during one of the many orbital talks is Sparkup, a real-time engagement platform for live streams and hybrid events. “Our experience combines virtual audience technology and interactive live streaming to offer attendees a front-row seat on an event and allow them to react in real-time,” Vincent Bruneau, founder and CEO of Sparkup, told Arab News.

The company is working toward scaling and integrating its real-time engagement platform, bringing the concept into different environments. “It’s quite exciting because virtual and hybrid events are becoming very popular, people are now used to it and it forces you to innovate, to level up your game and imagine what should the next experience be like,” Bruneau said.

The investors’ platform is expected to witness multiple investment deals with global tech industries.

 


The changing landscape of the Saudi design industry

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2023

The changing landscape of the Saudi design industry

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. (Supplied)
  • Designathon competition encourages designers to consider modern challenges

RIYADH: The first Designathon competition was recently held in Riyadh, gathering 500 designers and specialists to solve key issues facing the design industry, including social impact, health and sustainability.

Organized by the Architecture and Design Commission on Feb. 2-3, it brought together local creators to compete for awards collectively worth more than SR500,000 ($133,000).

Sumayah Al-Solaiman, CEO of the commission, said: “It is the designer’s role to really advocate for not just themselves but also society and the planet. We made sure that we have that responsibility reflected within the three tracks.”

CEO of the Architecture and Design Commission, Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman, at the opening remarks of Desginathon's first edition launch in Riyadh. The competition brings together 500 global participants in search of solutions to wellbeing, social impact, and sustainability design challenges from Feb. 2-4. (Supplied)

Coming in first place in the wellness track was team “Sabeel,” followed by team “Mumtir” in second place, and team “Khutwah bi Khutwah” in third.

The sustainability design track’s winning teams were “Wasm” in first place, “Table Mo1” in second place, and team “Waste No More” in third place.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Coming in first place in the wellness track was team ‘Sabeel,’ followed by team ‘Mumtir’ in second place, and team ‘Khutwah bi Khutwah’ in third.

• The sustainability design track’s winning teams were ‘Wasm’ in first place, ‘Table Mo1’ in second place, and team ‘Waste No More’ in third place.

• Finally, the social impact track awarded first place to team ‘Dreams,’ second to ‘Rans Team,’ and the third winning spot to ‘Hayyak.’

Finally, the social impact track awarded first place to team “Dreams,” second to “Rans Team,” and the third winning spot to “Hayyak.”

The initiative aims to encourage up-and-coming designers to consider real-life modern design challenges that truly impact community members, create awareness around participatory design concepts, and highlight the role of design in resolving global issues. Participatory design is a cooperative method that looks at solutions that involve all stakeholders, with a focus on the procedure of design rather than the style itself.

“This time, we will be learning from everything that happens. We want to use that design methodology and hear from all the participants (regarding) their experience…and how we can improve it for next editions,” Al-Solaiman explained.

One of the participants, Huda Al-Qahtani, is a senior architecture student at Prince Sultan University who is interested in the art behind design and its role in enhancing the microclimate.

“I actually was interested in the well-being track and the social impact track. For well-being here in Saudi specifically, we don’t have any chances for walkability or cycling. It’s very hard, whether you’re considering the width of the streets or the climate,” she told Arab News.

Al-Qahtani expressed her excitement at the new initiatives that cater to the growth of the local design scene. “I feel very proud. Now I’m seeing more opportunities in Saudi than...abroad,” she said. “It’s (expanding) very fast, which makes me relieved…Even the architecture here in Saudi is gaining its identity back.”

Raghad Fathaddin, one of the sustainability track mentors, told Arab News: “What (the Designathon) is telling us all as citizens of this nation is that there (are) new ways of thinking, and that’s what we’re calling upon in order to achieve the Saudi Vision 2030 and sustainable development goals.

“I’m very impressed by the ideas I’m hearing…Our nation shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m excited for our future.”

Al-Solaiman noted the possibility of expanding on the three tracks in the future, increasing the number of participants, or even venturing into a different city.

The Designathon is one of 33 initiatives undertaken by the commission, most of which look at enhancing education and job opportunities, incentivizing the design sector, highlighting the economic value of design and content development, and fostering community engagement and support.

 


Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat
Updated 05 February 2023

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat

Saudi FM meets Omani counterpart in Muscat
  • Prince Faisal travels to Oman after talks in Kuwait

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Muscat on Sunday.

He was met at Muscat International Airport by his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi, and the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Oman Abdullah Al-Enaz.

Earlier on Sunday, Prince Faisal met Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at Bayan Palace in Kuwait City.
 


Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu delights fans in Jeddah

Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2023

Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu delights fans in Jeddah

Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Making his first ever appearance in the Kingdom, Sanu thrilled the audience of mostly Indian expats, serving up renditions of more than 20 songs

JEDDAH: Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu wowed the crowds on Friday night as the latest celebration of Indian culture drew to a close.

Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah’s Al-Frosyah district, which was organized by Good Hope Events in cooperation with the General Entertainment Authority.

Making his first ever appearance in the Kingdom, Sanu thrilled the audience of mostly Indian expats, serving up renditions of more than 20 songs.

“I have been waiting to perform in Saudi Arabia and here we are in Jeddah for the first time,” he told his adoring fans from the stage.

“We have a great crowd and I am happy to see you enjoying the night.”

Also on the bill were Rachna Chopra, Biplab and Afsal, who helped ramp up the crowds with a host of Bollywood numbers.

“I am amazed by the energy that flowed from you guys,” Chopra told the crowd.

Fan Nadia Azmi, who went to the gig with friends, said: “We all are privileged to have Sanu among us in Jeddah today. We all have grown up listening to his songs since the ’80s and ’90s.

“It is wonderful to listen to him live today. I want to thank Saudi Arabia and the organizers for their efforts in making this possible.”

Junaise Babu, chairman of Good Hope Events, said the festival had been a huge success.

“It was a great feeling to see so many men, women, young and old, not only Indian expatriates but also other Asians enjoying the various musicians we brought.”

Amrina Qaiser, who introduced Sanu on stage, said: “It was an amazing experience hosting such a mega event in Jeddah for the first time.

“I felt overwhelmed and I was lucky enough to interact with the king of melody from Bollywood, Kumar Sanu.”