Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Special Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
As an emerging tech giant, China has made immense strides in robotics, artificial intelligence, and space science. (AFP)
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Updated 08 December 2022

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader

Why China is a natural partner for Saudi Arabia in its quest to become a tech innovation leader
  • Xi Jinping’s Saudi visit is expected to result in new strategic partnerships worth $29 billion
  • Plans are underway to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have both embraced technological innovation and digital transformation as a means of broadening their economies, creating new ways of doing business, and competing globally in what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution.

As an emerging tech giant, China has made immense strides in robotics, artificial intelligence, and space science, as well as internet and 5G connectivity, construction and engineering, and green renewable technologies, particularly solar.

Although several developed and emerging economies have made similar bounds in science, engineering, computing, and technology, few have matched the pace and the extent of change seen in China over the past decade alone.

China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade, and a robust digital economy, which has increased in value from 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) to 45.5 trillion yuan.




China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.032 billion over the past decade. (AFP)

China’s success is a reflection of its clearly set societal goals, which include attaining and sustaining economic growth, implementing a mass campaign of domestic poverty alleviation, and promoting technological innovation.

Utilizing technology and embracing digital transformation are widely viewed as effective means with which to accelerate economic and social development in an inclusive, dynamic, and cybersecure fashion.

Saudi Arabia has adopted this model, shifting several government and private-sector functions online with a view to providing seamless service delivery, improve end-user experiences, and to foster innovation.

Similarly, after four decades of technological and digital advancement, Chinese consumers have become a hyper-adaptive and hyper-adoptive community, making China one of the world’s most competitive markets on the digital frontier.

In Saudi Arabia, the government has developed a series of five-year plans to replace traditional processes with secure, efficient, and accountable digital platforms to provide high-quality public services, from licensing and permits to welfare and charitable donations.

Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025, the highest in the world, accounting for 21.7 percent of national spending, according to the Digital Government Authority.

This year, China spent 2.44 percent of its gross domestic product, approximately $441 billion, on research and development, and is aiming for 10 percent of its GDP to come from the digital economy by 2025 — up from 7.8 percent in 2020.




Saudi Arabia’s projected spending on technology is valued at around $24.7 billion by 2025. (AFP)

In its own race to become a regional tech hub and global leader in innovation, Saudi Arabia was also set to add nearly $16 billion to its GDP by 2040 through its research and development program.

In September, speaking at the G20 Digital Economy Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Abdullah Al-Swaha, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, said investment in these areas was crucial to sustainable economic development.

One of the Kingdom’s goals, outlined in its social reform and economic diversification agenda, Vision 2030, was to become one of the world’s top 10 countries in the Global Competitive Index by the end of the decade, rising from its current position of 24th.

Although China was already Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, this week’s visit by President Xi Jinping was expected to see a flurry of new deals and strategic partnerships worth $29 billion and a plan to harmonize Vision 2030 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Digital Silk Road is the technological arm of the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been forecast to add $255 billion to regional GDP and create 600,000 technology-related jobs across the Gulf Cooperation Council area.

Earlier this year, China issued its 14th five-year plan for the development of the digital economy, setting out proposals to actively engage with the EU, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, African countries, and Belt and Road countries on digital economy policy.

Analysts consider the Middle East and North Africa region a critical commercial link to European and African markets, making Saudi Arabia and its GCC neighbors vital strategic partners for China’s digital expansion.


KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger
Updated 01 February 2023

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) on Tuesday distributed 1,040 food aid packages to Syrian refugees in several Lebanese regions, benefiting 5,200 people.

The Saudi charity has a project aiming to distribute food aid to the most neediest groups in various countries.

On Sunday, KSRelief distributed  731 food parcels in Marib Governorate, Yemen, benefiting 5,117 people.

And in Niger, KSRelief distributed on Sunday a further 1,000 in Niamey, benefiting 1,000 families, around 7,176 people.

In Niger, KSRelief distributed on Sunday a further 1,000 in Niamey, benefiting 1,000 families, around 7,176 people.​​​​​ (SPA)

In Pakistan, they distributed 1,130 food packages to 7,910 affected by the floods in Sindh Province, Pakistan.

 In Pakistan, KSRelief distributed 1,130 food packages to 7,910 affected by the floods in Sindh Province. (SPA)

 


Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks

Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks

Saudi Cabinet calls for revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks
  • Ministers called on the international community to step up and play its part in the process, protect Palestinians by putting pressure on Israeli authorities to halt attacks
  • They also discussed the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings, and approved a number of international cooperation agreements

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities in relation to this and to help end the occupation, stop Israeli attacks, and ensure civilians are protected.

It came during the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers at Irqah Palace in Riyadh, presided over by King Salman, during which members discussed the latest regional and international developments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

At the start of the session, the Cabinet was briefed on a message sent to the king by the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and a telephone call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Ministers then discussed the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings, in light of its desire to develop initiatives and solutions that can help address the challenges facing the global economy.

These include a joint framework initiative for debt treatment, and Saudi Arabia’s role in the implementation of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Health Security, including financial support of $50 million, to help prevent pandemics.

They also include the Kingdom’s work in cooperation with the Indonesian presidency of the G20 last year to develop a response to the global food-security crisis, and the implementation of those initiatives in partnership with India, which holds the presidency of the G20 this year.

Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of the burning of copies of the Qur’an in a number of European capitals.

Ministers welcomed the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding during the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit last week, he added, as well as discussions during the event that focused on developments in the sector, investment opportunities, and ways to consolidate and enhance the Kingdom’s leading position in this field, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the national economy through research and the development of scientific knowledge.

The Cabinet also noted the outcomes of the Municipal Investment Forum in Riyadh last week, during which investment portals were launched for Saudi cities, and 125 contracts and agreements worth more than SR12 billion ($3.1 billion) were signed, offering more than 5,000 investment opportunities for the private sector. During the event, about 200 projects for entrepreneurs were reviewed, and the largest investment opportunity of its kind in the outdoor advertising sector was launched.

Ministers approved a cooperation agreement between the Saudi and Uzbekistan ministries of energy, and another one between the Saudi Ministry of Education and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education.

They authorized the minister of culture to sign a draft memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation with the Ministry of Crafts, Culture, Hotel Industry and Tourism in Mali, and approved a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi and Senegalese governments for cooperation to encourage direct investment.

The Cabinet also approved a MoU on desalination cooperation between the Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and authorized the minister of health to sign a draft MoU for cooperation with the Tunisian Ministry of Health.

The minister of media, and chairman of the board of directors of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, was authorized to sign a draft MoU with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India, and the president of the Islamic University of Madinah to sign a draft MoU with the Islamic Development Bank Group.


Weather alert warns of thunder, dust storms and snow across Saudi Arabia this week

Weather alert warns of thunder, dust storms and snow across Saudi Arabia this week
Updated 01 February 2023

Weather alert warns of thunder, dust storms and snow across Saudi Arabia this week

Weather alert warns of thunder, dust storms and snow across Saudi Arabia this week
  • Surface winds were expected to reach speeds of more than 60 kilometers per hour
  • Tides could rise in some areas, reaching more than 2.5 meters

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have issued a weather alert covering most regions of the Kingdom until Friday, warning of high winds and dust storms, thunderstorms of varying intensity, snow, drops in temperature and frost, and rising tides, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

Surface winds were expected to reach speeds of more than 60 kilometers per hour and could cause dust storms resulting in little or no visibility in parts of Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders Region, Hail, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah. Tides could rise in those areas, reaching more than 2.5 meters.

Moderate to heavy thunderstorms, accompanied by torrential rain and hail were expected on Wednesday in the regions of Tabuk (affecting Tabuk, Haql, Al-Wajh, Duba, Umluj, Neom, Sharma and Taima), the Northern Borders Region (Rafha, Arar and Turaif), Al-Jawf (Sakaka, Dumat Al-Jandal, Al-Qurayyat and Tabarjal), the Eastern Province (Hafar Al-Batin, Al-Khafji, Al-Nairyah and Al-Olaya village), and most parts of Hail and Al-Qassim.

Light to medium rain was forecast for Wednesday in Makkah Province (including Makkah city, Jeddah, Rabigh, Taif, Jamum, Al-Kamil, Khulais and Bahra), Madinah (Ais, Badr, Yanbu, AlUla, Khaybar Madinah, Al-Mahd, Wadi Al-Fara and Al-Hanakiya), the Eastern Province (Qatif, Dammam, Dhahran, Al-Khobar, Abqaiq and Al-Ahsa) and Riyadh (the capital, Al-Kharj, Al-Muzahimiyah, Al-Quwayiyah Al-Majma’ah, Al-Zulfi, Al-Ghat, Shaqra, Ramah, Al-Dawadmi and Afif).

Forecasters said there was a chance of snow on Wednesday on peaks in Tabuk region (at Jabal Al-Lawz, Alaqan, Al-Dhuhr), and temperatures would drop from Wednesday in the regions of Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders, Hail and the north of Madinah. Minimum temperatures were expected to reach between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius, with a chance of frost in some areas. In Al-Qassim, Riyadh and the north of the Eastern Province, temperatures were expected to fall to between 4 and 7 C from Thursday.

The National Center for Meteorology advised the public to check official channels for updates to the forecasts, and urged them to follow any instructions from authorities.


Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack

Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack

Saudi leaders offer condolences to Pakistan on victims of mosque attack
  • A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded mosque killing 100 people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a cable of condolences to Pakistani President Arif Alvi over victims of the terrorist attack at a mosque in Peshawar that killed 100 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn this criminal act and we send to your excellency, the families of the deceased and the Pakistani people, our deepest and sincere condolences,” the king said, wishing the injured a speedy recovery and affirming the Kingdom’s stand with Pakistan.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to President Alvi.

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded mosque in a highly fortified security compound in Peshawar on Monday, the latest in a string of attacks targeting police.

Police said the attacker appeared to have passed through several barricades manned by security forces to get into the Red Zone compound that houses police and counter-terrorism offices in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

A police chief said Tuesday that the blast was a targeted revenge attack.


FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain

FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain
Updated 40 min 36 sec ago

FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain

FIFA president tours ‘Saudi House’ hosting AFC meeting in Bahrain

RIYADH: FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Tuesday visited the “Saudi House” in the Bahraini capital, Manama, which is hosting the 33rd Asian Football Confederation Congress that began on Monday and will continue until Wednesday evening, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

 

 

Infantino toured the “Saudi House” and was briefed on the most important pillars of the Kingdom’s hosting of the 19th Asian Cup, under the slogan “Forward for Asia.”

Infantino was given a briefing on the stadiums proposed to host the games and the Saudi national team’s history in the Asian Cup, including the Green Falcons winning the championship three times in 1984, 1988, and 1996.