Saudi crown prince, UAE president led mediation in US basketball star Griner, Russia’s Viktor Bout prisoner swap

Saudi crown prince, UAE president led mediation in US basketball star Griner, Russia’s Viktor Bout prisoner swap
US basketball star Brittney Griner smiles inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at the Khimki Court in the town of Khimki outside Moscow. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 December 2022
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Saudi crown prince, UAE president led mediation in US basketball star Griner, Russia’s Viktor Bout prisoner swap

Saudi crown prince, UAE president led mediation in US basketball star Griner, Russia’s Viktor Bout prisoner swap
  • Brittney Griner arrived in Abu Dhabi by private plane from Moscow after her release
  • Viktor Bout arrived on another private plane from Washington

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed led mediation efforts that secured the release of two prisoners between the US and Russia, a joint statement issued by both countries’ foreign ministries said on Thursday.
“The ministries said the success of the mediation efforts was a reflection of the mutual and solid friendship between their two countries and the United States and Russia,” the statement said.
“They also highlighted the important role played by the leaderships of the two brotherly countries in promoting dialogue between all parties,” it added.
US basketball star Brittney Griner arrived in Abu Dhabi by private plane from Moscow on Thursday after she was released by Russian authorities, the statement confirmed, while Russian citizen Viktor Bout came in a separate private plane from Washington after he was released by US authorities, in the presence of specialists from the Kingdom and the UAE.
“The UAE and Saudi Arabian foreign ministries expressed the thanks of their respective governments to the governments of the US and Russia for their cooperation and response, and for the joint mediation efforts made by the leaderships of the two countries,” the statement also said.


Saudi FM takes part in OIC, Arab League meetings during UN General Assembly

Saudi FM takes part in OIC, Arab League meetings during UN General Assembly
Updated 22 September 2023
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Saudi FM takes part in OIC, Arab League meetings during UN General Assembly

Saudi FM takes part in OIC, Arab League meetings during UN General Assembly
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan calls for collective response to common challenges facing global community

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday took part in a coordination meeting of the foreign ministers of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly session in New York, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The minister expressed the Kingdom’s condolences, sympathy and solidarity with Morocco and its people in the aftermath of the earthquake that rocked the North African country, and to Libya and its people following the deadly flooding in Derna.

He praised the OIC and member states’ response to a call by the Kingdom for an extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers to address the desecration and burning of copies of the Qur’an in Sweden and Denmark.

Prince Faisal highlighted the Palestinian issue and the pursuit of a comprehensive solution, in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He also chaired the Arab side of a high-level foreign ministerial informal interactive dialogue session between the Arab Summit Troika and the UN Security Council.

During the session, the Saudi foreign minister said the international community faces many common challenges that require collective action, but no progress will be achieved without a safe and stable regional and international environment that enables countries to work together.

The Arab Summit Troika is a group of three rotating countries that monitors the implementation of resolutions and commitments adopted by the Arab League, which consists of the outgoing, current, and incoming Arab Summit chairs — Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Other countries belonging to the Arab Group at the UN have been invited to participate in the meeting, along with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Prince Faisal said that since Arab issues make up a prominent share of the topics raised in the Security Council, strengthening cooperation and joint work between the Arab League and the Security Council to establish peace and security in the Arab world is of great importance.

The Kingdom is interested in improving this cooperation to achieve a common perspective for dealing with crises and developing peaceful solutions, he said.

Prince Faisal warned of the growing role of armed groups outside the framework of the state in creating these crises, which threaten international peace and security.

He said the ease with which these groups gain access to advanced technology and weapons enables them to undermine state institutions.

He called on the Security Council to take serious and strict measures against the groups.

Prince Faisal welcomed the results of discussions on a road map to support the peace process in Yemen, which brought together the Saudi communication and coordination team with the Sanaa delegation in Riyadh, with the participation of Oman.

He expressed the Kingdom’s hopes for dialogue between the Yemeni parties to pave the way for security and stability in the war-torn country, and ensure a future in which Yemen enjoys a comprehensive renaissance and sustainable development.


Saudi Arabia calls for reform of global cooperation frameworks ahead of Summit of the Future

Saudi Arabia calls for reform of global cooperation frameworks ahead of Summit of the Future
Updated 21 September 2023
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Saudi Arabia calls for reform of global cooperation frameworks ahead of Summit of the Future

Saudi Arabia calls for reform of global cooperation frameworks ahead of Summit of the Future
  • Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the UN needs to be part of the process, in particular the Security Council which ‘must be expanded and more representative in nature’
  • The UN describes the September 2024 Summit of the Future as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance global cooperation to tackle critical challenges

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia on Thursday called on the international community to reform multilateral cooperation frameworks to better take into account the concerns and needs of all states, including developing countries.

“We need more-influential and more-effective multilateral mechanisms … and international development that will be supported as we work toward a world that is more just and more peaceful,” said Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly session in New York, at a ministerial meeting to prepare for the Summit of the Future in September 2024. The UN describes the upcoming summit as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance global cooperation to tackle critical challenges, address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments, including to the UN’s charter and Sustainable Development Goals, and establish a multilateral system better positioned to positively affect people’s lives.

Prince Faisal said the summit aims to help overcome the challenges that undermine global hopes for a better future, and stressed the need to reaffirm shared principles and intensify consultations to agree a mutual vision that can “improve the world for our populations.”

UN bodies need to be included in the reforms process, he added, in particular the Security Council, which “must be expanded and more representative in nature,” and that implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through international partnerships must be high on the list of topics for discussion at the event next year.

“The Global Sustainable Development Report for 2022 noted the significant progress made by the Kingdom because we have prioritized sustainable development as a priority for the Saudi Vision 2030,” the prince told the meeting.

“The Kingdom is working tirelessly, through its membership in international organizations and blocs, to revitalize the path of development in relations between countries, to support better understanding and better cooperation.”

He said constructive relationships that rely on dialogue to resolve differences, and cooperation in establishing security and stability, offer a path toward achieving comprehensive development.

“International cooperation frameworks must be facilitating and supportive of partnership and cooperation, resistant to the pressures of competition and polarization, and discouraging any calls that spread hatred between peoples, disrespect for religions, and fuel extremism and terrorism,” said Prince Faisal.

The summit will also take into account the comprehensive nature and specificity of human rights concepts, he added, while also addressing inherent rights such as the rights to development and food, preservation of the pivotal role of the family, and reject of contempt for or belittlement of religions.

Thursday’s meeting provided an opportunity for ministers to set out their visions and priorities for the Summit of the Future, and to outline their expectations for the action-oriented outcomes that can be achieved when the heads of state and government meet next year.

The summit aims to build on a two-day Sustainable Development Goals summit that took place on Monday, and breathe new life into the multilateral system so that it can deliver on the promises of the UN Charter and the organization’s 2030 agenda for a sustainable future.

“The Summit of the Future is a unique opportunity to help rebuild trust and bring outdated multilateral institutions and frameworks into line with today’s world, based on equity and solidarity,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“But it is more than an opportunity; it is an essential means of reducing risks and creating a safer and more peaceful world.”

During the summit, UN member states are expected to adopt a Pact for the Future that covers five main issues: sustainable development and related financing; international peace and security; science, technology, innovation and digital cooperation; youth and future generations; and transforming global governance.


Saudi Snapchat designer creates special National Day filter lenses

Saudi Snapchat designer creates special National Day filter lenses
Updated 21 September 2023
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Saudi Snapchat designer creates special National Day filter lenses

Saudi Snapchat designer creates special National Day filter lenses
  • Maha Al-Dosary draws inspiration from objects, world news, daughters’ imagination to create immersive augmented reality experiences

RIYADH: To mark Saudi Arabia’s 93rd National Day, Maha Al-Dosary, a certified Snapchat Lens Developer and Ambassador, created special filter lenses meant to capture the essence of the occasion.

Al-Dosary, who is also a wife and mother, has been able to seamlessly balance her roles while nurturing her interests in Augmented Reality lens development on Snapchat.

“I designed a simple lens that embodies the national identity for the 93rd National Day where I animated several pictures using scripts provided by Lens Studio. The lens works when you click on the missile as it launches upward and then the picture becomes clear,” she explained.

Lens Studio, an AR development tool by Snap, is designed to empower artists and developers to craft immersive AR experiences for Snapchatters worldwide.

Al-Dosary’s work exemplifies the growing influence of AR technology, and she believes that it can enhance various aspects of daily life, including e-commerce.

As of 2022, the Ipsos Augmentality Shift Study commissioned by Snap Inc. found that the number one reason people use AR is not for fun but for shopping.

Snapchat filter lens created by Al-Dosary, a Saudi- certified Snapchat lens designer. (Supplied)

The fast-growing field of AR technology offers the opportunity to merge the physical and digital worlds while fostering connections with friends and colleagues.

Al-Dosary draws inspiration from various sources, including pictures, objects, world news, and even the imagination of her daughters, underscoring the versatile nature of AR design.

“My girls are always telling me how proud they are of me and the job I do. They truly enjoy using the filters I design and are my biggest supporters,” Al-Dosary said with pride.

In 2022, Al-Dosary clinched the top spot in the Tunisia AI Hackathon in the Snap Augmented Reality Challenge. This competition, which focused on using SnapML to address UNICEF’s Sustainable Development Goals, attracted participants from 27 Middle East and African nations.

Al-Dosary’s journey into the world of Snapchat lenses had a humble beginning, with self-learning and limited English proficiency.

However, her curiosity and determination led her to become a certified Snapchat ambassador, trainer, content creator, and a leader of the Snapchat Lenses community in Saudi Arabia.

Sharing her message of encouragement for aspiring Snap lens creators, she said: “Success is one of the most beautiful things a person can achieve, but it requires effort and perseverance. Set your goals and strive to achieve them. Take advantage of quiet times and make use of the free educational materials available on the Internet.”

Maha Al-Dosary, a Saudi certified Snapchat lens developer. (Supplied)

Snapchat is playing a pivotal role in transforming Saudi Arabia in alignment with Vision 2030. It not only showcases art, culture and entertainment but also fosters technological advancements in AR.

“We’ve been working on AR for nearly a decade. Snap has long had the ability to be ahead of the curve,” said Rayan Al-Zahab, AR developer relations lead at Snap MENA.

“We believe AR is the future of immersive customer experiences and are developing the technology to facilitate virtual try-ons, catalog browsing, showrooming, and much more.”

“Snapchat is committed to empowering Saudi youth by providing hands-on training in augmented reality and innovation through local events and Saudi AR experts,” Al-Zahab added.

As Snap continues to lead the way in AR innovation, it is evident that the future holds exciting possibilities for both creators and users of this immersive technology.


Saudi FM meets Yemeni president, Somalia PM on UN General Assembly sidelines

Saudi FM meets Yemeni president, Somalia PM on UN General Assembly sidelines
Updated 22 September 2023
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Saudi FM meets Yemeni president, Somalia PM on UN General Assembly sidelines

Saudi FM meets Yemeni president, Somalia PM on UN General Assembly sidelines
  • Officials discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields of cooperation

NEW YORK: Chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Al-Alimi on Thursday received Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly session in New York, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry announced.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prince Faisal conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Al-Alimi, and their best wishes to the Yemeni government and people for further progress and prosperity, while the president reciprocated the sentiments.


During the meeting, the two sides reviewed ways to strengthen and develop ties, and discussed efforts to reach a peace settlement in Yemen.
The two sides discussed ways to support dialogue between the Yemeni parties to achieve a transition to security, stability and sustainable development in the war-torn country.
Prince Faisal also met with Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Thursday to discuss further cooperation between the two countries and aspects of consolidating multilateral work.


Libraries Commission launches audio services tool

Libraries Commission launches audio services tool
Updated 21 September 2023
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Libraries Commission launches audio services tool

Libraries Commission launches audio services tool
  • The device allows library and park visitors to benefit from the audio services provided in an accessible and easy way
  • The launch of the device is a continuation of the second phase launched by the commission this year in Al-Ahsa

RIYADH: CEO of the Saudi Libraries Commission Abdulrahman Al-Asem has launched a device created from the audio library booths “Masmou” project at the King Fahd National Library Park in Riyadh.
The device allows library and park visitors to benefit from the audio services provided in an accessible and easy way.
The launch of the device is a continuation of the second phase launched by the commission this year in Al-Ahsa, to be followed by many devices in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province. It is also one of the strategic initiatives of the commission aiming to provide library services in gathering places.
Through “Masmou,” the commission seeks to introduce audio content and facilitate access to knowledge for different community groups in all regions of the Kingdom by providing audiobooks in distinctive locations, as well as reviving cultural heritage in an innovative way.
The idea of the audio library booths project was inspired by the telephone booths of the Ministry of Telegraph, Post, and Telephone in the 1980s and the 1990s, as they were commonly available and easy to use.
The “Masmou” booths allow users to listen to audio content via mobile phone, by browsing content according to duration, topic, most listened to, and other categories. Users can then choose the desired audio file, with the ability to listen to a short clip directly via the device or scan the QR code to listen to the entire audio file via mobile phone.