World needs new tack against emerging cyber threats: Saudi minister

Special World needs new tack against emerging cyber threats: Saudi minister
Saudi minister Abdullah Al-Swaha takes part in a session titled ‘No Nation Left Behind’ at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (GCF photo)
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Updated 10 November 2022

World needs new tack against emerging cyber threats: Saudi minister

World needs new tack against emerging cyber threats: Saudi minister
  • Communication and IT Minister Abdullah Al-Swaha spoke at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday
  • Collective action needed to deal with increasing threats from hackers as advancing technology poses dangers, he added

RIYADH: The world needs a new approach to protect itself from emerging cyber threats, Saudi Arabia’s minister of communication and information technology told the Global Cybersecurity Forum on Wednesday in Riyadh.

Abdullah Al-Swaha added his voice to calls for reform in the face of increasing threats from hackers and rapidly advancing technology, such as AI and quantum computers, that has the potential to subvert even the best cybersecurity available today.

He said that the Kingdom had risen to second place globally in its ranking for cybersecurity but added that it must “reskill” to maintain that position. “We need to shift from conventional IT to secure everything,” he said.

The dangers posed by advancing technology were flagged at another panel by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, who said that the computers of the near future would make modern devices seem little more than abacuses. 

He called for education on dealing with artificial intelligence and quantum computers, and warned that several AI programs could already mimic human behavior.

“We need quantum to fight quantum. We have to rethink the whole thing. We will in fact become obsolete when quantum computers get rolled out,” he said.




Panelists take part in a session titled ‘No Nation Left Behind’ at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (GCF photo)

“People used to say it was impossible to create a quantum computer that can compete with a digital supercomputer. Three years ago, the impossible happened: Quantum computers from the US and China exceeded the ability of a super digital computer.”

He said that the Chinese quantum computer exceeded the capability of a modern-day digital device by 100 trillion times. 

“These quantum computers are initiating a new era of insecurity. These quantum computers can evade every single known security protocol. This is called chaos. Realizing that we are entering a new era, the age of Silicon Valley is coming to a close, as quantum computers begin to take over.”

He said that while the shift to the quantum era may be gradual, it was nevertheless unavoidable.

Kaku added that humans should create advanced trapdoor functions to make it difficult for a criminal to penetrate security apparatus.

FASTFACTS

The forum has gathered international experts under the theme ‘Rethinking
the Global Cyber Order.’

4,500 attendees from more than 110 countries are discussing a wide range of cyber issues.

Speaking at the same panel Shyam Saran, a former foreign secretary of India, said that global collaboration and a healthy diplomatic framework were necessary to ensure cybersecurity.

“We are living in a very difficult geopolitical situation. Countries that could lead (cybersecurity) collaboration are actually confronting each other. If they are not going to lead, who will?” he said.

He said that decision-makers should be educated on cyber threats to help them create the right regulatory policies and create safe online space.

Doreen Martin, secretary-general-elect of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, insisted that world leaders were paying attention to cybersecurity concerns.

She told the event: “The UN secretary general put cybersecurity as core and in the common agenda that he launched last year, and it’s also core to the new agenda for peace that’s being discussed.”

Martin did accept that the world needed to be better prepared for the wave of technical innovations on the horizon.

“I think each of us has to do more because as we increase the cyberworld moves faster, and quantum is coming faster, and of course the metaverse is almost here, so we do have to do more,” she said.

Martin said that the ITU was helping countries to benchmark themselves, identify gaps in their defenses and look to others in terms of best practices.




Decision-makers should be educated on cyber threats to help them create the right regulatory policies and create safe online space, the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh was told on Wednesday. (GCF photo)

“Overall we’re seeing positive trends and we have a number of countries that have introduced new laws, and we’re seeing increased training for law enforcement, which is encouraging.” 

Robert Putman, a cybersecurity products and services manager at the ABB multinational, said that it was not just technology that needed to evolve to protect against cyberattacks, but also the behavior of people.

“People do not understand what the risk is. They do not understand how to address it. Complacency is one of the root causes of the risks and exposure we have right now,” he said.

He said that the market had undergone a transition, which, like insurance, involved the modeling of risks. Using such models would enable them to understand the impact of that risk on operational assets, he added.

Interpol’s president Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi told the event that the world needed a better exchange of information and ideas to beat global threats.

“When we have a base to exchange information, even when there are no diplomatic relations between countries, it is important to protect citizens,” he said.

Al-Raisi said that the estimated yearly losses to cybercrimes had doubled to $6 trillion since 2015, and were expected to reach $10.5 trillion in 2025.

“This number is more than natural disasters that occur in a year, in addition to profits made by all drug dealers around the world,” he said.

As the whole world is becoming a village with a vast space of the internet, a large field for all criminal operations in cyberattacks has emerged, he said.

“My past experience with smart transformation has led me to have my first strategy in the organization (Interpol) and to prioritize cybercrime,” he told the gathering.

This move has led to ensuring the 195 member states have systems and capabilities of competencies that can not only respond to a cyberattack but also to prevent them, he added.

Christopher Blassiau, senior vice president of Cybersecurity & Global CISO Schneider Electric,​​ said the changing nature and fracturing of the global energy market made the sector vulnerable to hackers. “There is a big amount of risk,” he said.

Blassiau added that owing to the absolute necessity for a green agenda, digitalization is going at a fast pace and is bringing a complete visibility of asset performance and a better dialogue between human and machine.

Mary Aiken, an expert in cyberpsychology — the study of the impact of technology on human behavior — meanwhile said that the unanimity of the internet was one of the main threats faced by the modern world.

“The internet was created on the principle that all users are equal. This is not true. Some users are vulnerable, especially children and women,” she said. “Young people take risks online that they will not do in the real world.”

There has been a surge in cyberattacks in the Middle East and North African region in recent years, with many companies suffering larger losses than in other parts of the world.  The problem is compounded by the fact that 57 percent of organizations report unfilled cybersecurity positions.

A weak line of defense increases a company's vulnerability to major damage, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Global Cybersecurity Forum.

The report also said that around 94 percent of women in the Middle East would be interested in studying cybersecurity, although only a small percentage of women worldwide were active in that field.

Speaking to Arab News, Laila bin Hareb Al-Mheiri, founder and president of Alive Group, Alive Medical, Alive Labs, and Alive consulting and education, said women have a high level of emotional intelligence and a unique perspective on problems and cybersecurity benefits from this extra flair.

Al-Mheiri said there is a misconception that women are not qualified to succeed in a male-dominated society.

“I have received praise and support from my male counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It’s been nothing but positivity for me,” she said.

Mary O’Brien, general manager of IBM, said that throughout her journey, she has met with opportunity, respect and inclusion. However, as a woman, she said, “I am very aware of the lack of women around the table and the lack of diverse thought that comes with that.”

Role models and allies are critical to creating change, she told Arab News.

The report quotes more than 70 percent of respondents as saying that a role model encouraged them to learn more about the industry and pursue a degree in cybersecurity.

Many women feel more confident about pushing forward when they see another woman moving through the ranks, she said.

Ultimately, O’Brien suggested engaging young females in STEM early on and helping break some of the stigmas that limit their progress.

 


‘Exciting, overwhelming’: Officials and visitors hail Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
Updated 30 January 2023

‘Exciting, overwhelming’: Officials and visitors hail Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
  • US art professors praise Saudi pride in national narrative

JEDDAH: After several years in the making, Jeddah’s Islamic Arts Biennale is offering visitors from across the Kingdom and around the globe ‘eye-opening’ access to Islamic art.

Themed “Awwal Bait,” or “The First House,” the event is taking place at the 1983 Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal, which began accepting guests on the Jan. 23 launch.

The 118,000-square-meter space is housing five galleries, two pavilions and one grand canopy, 280 artifacts, as well as more than 50 new commissioned artworks from around the Muslim world.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Rakan Al-Touq, the vivacious vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, and also general supervisor of cultural affairs and international relations at the Ministry of Culture, hailed the event’s launch success.

Wearing a crisp white thobe and flashing a genuine smile, Al-Touq was visibly moved by how the event came together.

“We were super excited — this is a project a few years in the making, since 2019. It’s also been a passion project for me, personally. And we have a stellar group of people who came together for this project — a small but mighty team,” he told Arab News.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Al-Touq stressed the need for non-commercial experiences in which all hands are brought on deck to elevate concepts and cultures within Islamic art.

Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, he added.

FASTFACTS

• Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, said Rakan Al-Touq, the vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

• The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline, with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.

To create a cohesive and visually stunning space in which different areas and sensibilities were represented was quite a feat, Al-Touq said. Securing the iconic location to launch the world’s very first Islamic biennale was also significant to him and the team, he added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Al-Touq said that the cooperation and support from the Saudi leadership, including Prince Badr Al-Saud, the minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has ensured the success of the monumental project.

The vice-chair’s praise went beyond the glamorous opening night ceremony, attended by many members of the royal family and public.

He took pride in the fact that half of the artists taking part in the event are Saudi.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

“In 2019, we were planning for 2023 and the meeting point of doing something that is so, frankly, related to the identity of the Ministry of Culture and to Saudi Arabia, in a format that has never been done.

“To think about a biennale format for Islamic arts, that can bring together ancient history and current, and hopefully inspire future productions of art, just felt like the right thing to do.

We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms.

Dr. Stephennie Mulder, Professor in Islamic Art at University of Austin, US

“The team and the Diriyah Biennale Foundation started looking at options of locations and how we ended up here at the Hajj Terminal is also an important thing,” Al-Touq said.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation Aya Al-Bakree, Al-Touq’s co-pilot in launching the event, said: “We are keen for people to join the dialog and experience the sense of community that the faith can evoke through art.”

The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline , with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.

Jennifer Pruitt, assistant professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, traveled from the US to the Kingdom to visit the biennale with her friend, Dr. Stephennie Mulder, a professor in Islamic Art at the University of Austin, US.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Although immersed in the Middle East through their work, the two had very few expectations but were cautiously optimistic about their first visit to the Kingdom.

Before basking in the works displayed at the Islamic Arts Biennale, they spent eight whirlwind hours in Madinah and managed to explore AlUla before arriving in Jeddah.

“It's been a really exciting and overwhelming experience. My friend and I are here together and we’re both professors of Islamic arts. We’ve read about this space — we’ve read about Saudi Arabia,” Pruitt said.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

“I knew that people would be friendly and warm, which everyone has been, in fact. We were commenting on the fact that unlike any trip we’ve taken, we literally haven’t encountered anyone that has been rude or annoying.

“Really everyone has been exceptionally warm and forthcoming,” she told Arab News.

“We’ve been to a lot of Islamic art shows and I think I think we all … we both agree that this is kind of in a really high category of quality and ambition, and execution,” she added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

The pair’s trip to Madinah was eye-opening — something that they were happy to experience first before venturing to the biennale.

“It was really powerful to see people kind of streaming to this sacred spot in Madinah. It was incredibly moving,” Mulder told Arab News.

“What we teach in our classes, which is that the power of Islam is all of these people converging like that … that that the power is not in the relic or in the architecture, but in these places where people pray … and I think that was really embodied seeing all these people from all over the world streaming into Madinah,” she added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Due to earlier periods of restrictions, Saudi Arabia had been absent from the center of the Islamic art world for a long time.

But the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the introduction of tourist visas as well as academic trips has sought to change that.

“For me, like Jennifer, I just wanted to come here and be a student, and learn and observe,” Mulder said.

“We have this feeling that we’re here at the moment … of a people really discovering and being proud of and being able to construct their national narrative collectively.

“And having the freedom to do that — maybe for the first time very openly, and with a kind of joy.”

Both professors said that the enriching experience has encouraged them to change the way they teach upon their return to the US.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, the pair said that Islamic art archive images are often “sterile,” and fail to encapsulate the feeling of experiencing art in person.

The sensation of standing beneath a monument while the Adhan (call to prayer) reverberates cannot be replicated through archives, they said.

The two professors are also keen to work and collaborate with Saudi archaeologists.

“We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms,” Mulder said.

“I’m going to teach differently now; it’s kind of been percolating for a few days. I was telling Jennifer, even to have photographs of things we didn’t know before.

“We’re both architectural historians — it’s really important for us to have a sense of space and how people move through it.”

The biennale is free of charge for all visitors. It is also hosting 117 education workshops and more than 25 panel discussions.

The public programming schedule, including talks and screenings, is updated in real time.

The Islamic Arts Biennale, launched to the public on Jan. 23, will remain open until April 23.

Tickets can be booked via the official Diriyah Biennale website and on social media channels.

The space is open for visitors to roam the grounds and exhibits between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Thursdays, and between 2 p.m.  and 11 p.m. on Fridays.

 


Mexican art makes a big impact at Boulevard World in Riyadh

Mexican art makes a big impact at Boulevard World in Riyadh
Updated 30 January 2023

Mexican art makes a big impact at Boulevard World in Riyadh

Mexican art makes a big impact at Boulevard World in Riyadh
  • Visitors can also see a replica of the Chichen Itza pyramid — an archaeological site which is a popular tourist attraction — in the Mexican subzone, along with unique artifacts and sculptures from different civilizations

RIYADH: Mexican artisans are highlighting all their creative skills at Boulevard World in Riyadh.

The site, which is Riyadh Season’s largest zone, is showcasing the cultural diversity of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the US in 10 specially designed areas.

Boulevard World offers a unique experience through the location’s restaurants, arts markets, cable car rides, games area and daily shows.

A Mexican woman can be viewed skillfully applying distinctive art to pottery to highlight their country’s rich artistic identity. (Supplied)

Mexican women can be viewed skillfully applying distinctive art to pottery to highlight their country’s rich artistic identity.

Meanwhile, other talented people, sporting Mexican hats, showcase dolls inspired by famous cartoon characters.

Visitors can also see a replica of the Chichen Itza pyramid — an archaeological site which is a popular tourist attraction — in the Mexican subzone, along with unique artifacts and sculptures from different civilizations.

Viewers of the American area can watch live Hollywood shows while being served the country’s signature dishes.

A Mexican woman can be viewed skillfully applying distinctive art to pottery to highlight their country’s rich artistic identity. (Supplied)

The Moroccan subzone puts its focus on history and culture, including a traditional wedding and a puppet show.

A lion show, dancing, dragons and folk music all give a taste of Chinese culture in that country’s subzone, while the French area boasts several highlights, including a silent show and the Eiffel Tower piano, making it one of the most popular attractions at Boulevard World.

The Indian subzone has been created to attract visitors with its diverse sights, sounds, and smells. Dance and music are central to the experience, and there is a film of the country’s most striking architecture, including the Taj Mahal.

 

 


Makkah governor inaugurates Hira Cultural District project

Makkah governor inaugurates Hira Cultural District project
Updated 30 January 2023

Makkah governor inaugurates Hira Cultural District project

Makkah governor inaugurates Hira Cultural District project
  • Prince Khalid Al-Faisal inaugurated project; first phase to include Revelation Gallery, Holy Qur’an Museum, and more

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal inaugurated the Hira Cultural District project on Sunday in a ceremony held at the district’s headquarters at the foot of Mount Hira in Makkah.

The Hira Cultural District aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors, especially at sites that hold historical importance for Muslims.

Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal inaugurated the Hira Cultural District project in Makkah. (Photo/Magdy Mohammed)

Saleh bin Ibrahim Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, praised the unwavering support of the Makkah governor for the project.

Al-Rasheed said that he is hopeful the project will succeed in its objectives as part of Saudi Vision 2030.

The Hira Cultural District project in Makkah aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors. (Photo/Magdy Mohammed)

The project is implemented by Samaya Investment Co. in cooperation with other competent entities. It consists of the Revelation Gallery, the Holy Qur’an Museum, and various cultural elements and services.

HIGHLIGHT

The district seeks to be a suitable family place with a hall dedicated to children, where they can enjoy various entertaining and educational activities. Visitors will also be able to have a good time at the Hira park, enjoying nature, cafes, restaurants, and other facilities.

The Revelation Gallery will highlight the revelations made to the Prophet Muhammed through an advanced technical presentation. The visitor can enjoy a real-dimension model of Hira cave where he is believed to have received the first revelation of the Holy Qur’an.

The Hira Cultural District project in Makkah aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors. (Photo/Magdy Mohammed)

The Revelation Gallery aims to acquaint visitors with the history and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission, through presentations from the pre-Islamic era to the present.

The Holy Qur’an Museum introduces the sacred text, spreads its message and universality, and depicts its impact on the lives of Muslims through a wide system of modern technologies and distinctive collectibles, in addition to displaying a collection of precious manuscripts.

The Hira Cultural District project in Makkah aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors. (Photo/Magdy Mohammed)

Work is also underway to execute a road equipped with signs and safety measures for those wishing to climb the mountain to reach the cave.

The district seeks to be a suitable family place with a hall dedicated to children, where they can enjoy various entertaining and educational activities.

Visitors will also be able to have a good time at the Hira park, enjoying nature, cafes, restaurants, and other facilities.

The Hira Cultural District project in Makkah aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors. (Photo/Magdy Mohammed)

This is the first phase of the Hira Cultural District project, executed under the direct supervision of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and the Holy Sites, in cooperation with Makkah province, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Municipality of Makkah, the Pilgrims Service Program and the General Authority of Endowments.

It aims to develop the site in a manner befitting its historical status, and the status of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the cradle of Islam and home of various holy places and historical sites.

 


Saudi Health Ministry launches child vaccination e-certificate

Saudi Health Ministry launches child vaccination e-certificate
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi Health Ministry launches child vaccination e-certificate

Saudi Health Ministry launches child vaccination e-certificate
  • Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said that the Ministry of Health has seen an increase in influenza cases this season

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Health has launched the child vaccination e-certificate as an alternative to the paper certificate card, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

This initiative is part of the digital transformation within the health sector, facilitating health services for citizens and allowing them to keep track of critically-important vaccinations.

Parents can register their children’s vaccinations through the documentation clinic in health centers or self-register through the Sehhaty app so they can easily refer to it at any time.

The ministry created Sehhaty to provide health services to individuals in the Kingdom. The app allows users to access health information and obtain several health services offered by various authorities in the health sector.

Last month, the Ministry of Health urged citizens and residents to take the flu vaccine, saying that it is effective and safe and helps to reduce pressure on the nation’s hospitals and clinics.

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said that the most effective way to confront influenza is to take the vaccine.

Al-Aly said that the vaccine is 80 percent effective, which would help reduce the strain on the health system, particularly through reduced admissions to intensive care units. Booking can be done through the  Sehhaty app, he added.

Al-Aly said that the Ministry of Health has seen an increase in influenza cases this season. He said the flu may cause severe complications that can lead to death.

He added that millions of people worldwide contract the flu every year, with many of the most vulnerable being hospitalized. Those most at risk include children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, respiratory illnesses including asthma and heart disease.

Al-Aly urged members of the public to avoid crowded places, wash their hands thoroughly, not touch their eyes and mouths directly, use tissues when sneezing or coughing, and wear a mask.

He said people with the flu display various symptoms including shivering and sweating, a temperature of over 38 C, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, persistent cough, and runny nose.

 


Saudi crown prince receives phone call from Putin

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA/AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA/AFP)
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi crown prince receives phone call from Putin

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA/AFP)
  • Leaders reviewed bilateral relations and ways of developing them in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

During the call, the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and ways of developing them in various fields.

A number of issues of common concern were also discussed.