Saudi Arabia and China to prioritize relations

Update Saudi Arabia and China to prioritize relations
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Above, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meets with China’s President Xi Jinping. (SPA)
Update Saudi Arabia and China to prioritize relations
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Above, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with China’s President Xi Jinping at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Updated 09 December 2022

Saudi Arabia and China to prioritize relations

Saudi Arabia and China to prioritize relations
  • Both countries to continue to firmly support each other’s core interests
  • Joint efforts to defend the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China vowed to prioritize relations as part of their foreign policy and set a model of cooperation and solidarity for developing countries, according to a joint statement released by both parties after the Saudi-Chinese summit.

The two sides reaffirmed they will continue to firmly support each other’s core interests, support each other in maintaining their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and exert joint efforts to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, rules of international law and basic principles of international relations. The Saudi side reaffirmed its adherence to the one-China principle, state news agency SPA reported.

Moreover, the Chinese side expressed support for the Kingdom in maintaining its security and stability and affirmed its opposition to any actions that would interfere in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and rejects any attacks targeting civilians, civilian facilities, territories and Saudi interests.

The two sides expressed their satisfaction with the progressive stages of bilateral relations during the past three decades.

Moreover, they stressed the importance of continuing joint action in all fields, deepening relations within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and reaching new and promising horizons.

The two sides praised the positive and fruitful outcomes of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Kingdom in January 2016, as well as King Salman’s visit to China in March 2017, in addition to the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in February 2019 to China. Visits that contributed to expanding the scope of cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Regarding bilateral relations, the two sides stressed the importance of continuing to expand Saudi-Chinese relations in their international framework, and setting an example of cooperation, solidarity, and mutual gain for developing countries. The Saudi side congratulated China on the success of convening the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, the Chinese side congratulated the Kingdom for the great achievements made in the field of national development within the framework of Vision 2030.

The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation through high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee to achieve common goals, enhancing cooperation between the two countries in all fields, and intensifying communication between the government and private sectors in the two countries to discuss economic, trade and investment opportunities and translate them into tangible partnerships, and enhancing cooperation in areas that aim to elevate the economic and developmental relationship between the two countries to broader horizons.

Regarding energy field, both sides affirmed that their enhancement of cooperation in this field is considered an important strategic partnership.

The two sides commended their oil trade volume and the great foundations of the cooperation due to the Kingdom’s ample oil resources and China’s broad markets.

They also indicated that the development and consolidation of cooperation in the field of oil is in conformity with the common interests of both sides. In addition, they stressed on the importance of stability in the world oil markets.

China welcomed the Kingdom’s role as a supporter of the balance and stability in the world oil markets, and as reliable major exporter of crude oil to China. The two sides agreed to explore the common investment opportunities in petrochemicals sector, develop promising projects in petrochemical conversion techniques, and enhance joint cooperation in a number of fields and projects including electricity, PV energy, wind energy, and other sources of renewable energy.

The two sides also agreed to develop related projects, innovative uses of hydrocarbon resources, energy efficiency, localization of energy sector components and its supply chains, in addition to cooperate in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, as well as innovation in energy sector.

The two sides stressed the importance of deepening joint cooperation in regard to “Belt and Road Initiative”, welcoming the related Saudi companies involvement in various energy and investment partnerships within the framework of “Belt and Road Initiative”, enhancing the Kingdom’s location as a regional center for Chinese companies in producing and exporting the products of energy sector, as well as the joint investment in energy projects in the countries of the region and energy consuming countries in Europe and Africa. All of this will contribute in developing Saudi local content, and achieve self-sufficiency for China in the field of petrochemicals through its related investment in the Kingdom.

Regarding climate change, the Chinese side welcomed the Kingdom’s launching of “Saudi Green” and “Middle East Green” initiatives, and expressed its support for all the efforts exerted by the Kingdom in the field of climate change through the application of circular carbon economy approach launched by the Kingdom and approved by the G20 leaders. Both sides emphasized the importance of the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement, as well as the importance of implementing climate conventions through focusing on emissions rather than sources. The two sides agreed to continue their coordination on energy policies through the use of circular carbon economy as a tool to manage emissions and achieve climate targets.

They also agreed to urge developed countries to take their historic responsibilities seriously, through the fulfillment of their obligations by greatly reducing emissions before the target date, and to tangibly help developing countries through financial, technical, capacity building support.

The two sides commended the growth of intra-trade and investment between their two countries, which embodies the depth and sustainability of their economic relations.

They also affirmed their willingness to increase the volume of non-oil trade, facilitate the Kingdom’s non-oil exports to China, as well as to increase the joint quality investment between the two countries.

The two sides agreed to enhance the work to benefit from the available trade and investment opportunities, intensify the capacity of aircraft carriers, motivate private sectors investment partnerships in both countries, consolidate efforts to create attractive, supportive, and incentive investment environment within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and “Belt and Road Initiative”, through deepening cooperation in a number of fields including automotive industry, supply chains, logistics, water desalination, infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, and the financial sector.

The Saudi side expressed its aspiration to attract Chinese expertise to participate in the future mega-projects in the Kingdom, in addition to its keenness to enable Saudi investments in the China and overcome the difficulties such investment may face.

The Saudi side also stressed the importance of attracting international Chinese companies to open regional headquarters in the Kingdom, and appreciated the interest of a number of companies in that regard as they are obtaining licenses to establish their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, to ultimately benefit from the exceptional Chinese experiences and capabilities for the benefit of the economies of the two countries.

The two sides expressed their satisfaction with signing “harmonization plan” between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the “Belt and Road Initiative”. The two sides agreed on the importance of accelerating the pace of harmonization between their projects in the two countries, employing integrated advantages, and deepening practical cooperation between the two sides so as to obtain mutual benefits and common development.

The two sides also welcomed the signing of 12 agreements and government memoranda of understanding for cooperation in the fields of hydrogen energy, the judiciary field, Chinese language education, housing, direct investment, radio and television, digital economy, economic development, standardization, news coverage, tax administration, and anti-corruption. In addition to the signing of 9 agreements and memoranda of understanding between the government and private sectors, and the signing of 25 agreements and memoranda of understanding between companies in the two countries.

The Chinese side invited the Saudi side to be the guest of honor for the sixth session of the Arab-Chinese Exhibition for the year 2023.

The Chinese side also expressed its keenness to deepen investment cooperation with the Saudi side in digital economy and green development, enhance cooperation in e-commerce, and explore means of joint economic and trade cooperation with Africa.

The Saudi side also welcomed Chinese companies’ investments in the Kingdom, through the mega investment opportunities provided by Vision 2030 in various sectors. On the other hand, the Chinese side welcomed the enhancement of investments of sovereign wealth funds and Saudi industrial capitals in China.

The two sides agreed to encourage building partnerships between investment funds in the two countries.

Regarding financial field, the two sides stressed the importance of joint cooperation to support the success of the “Common Framework for Debt Treatment beyond the scope of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative”, which was endorsed by the G20 leaders at the G20 summit headed by the Kingdom.

The two sides also confirmed the need to coordinate relevant positions in international forums such as G20, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Asian Bank, in order to invest in infrastructure and other areas, in a manner that enhances efforts aimed at increasing the effectiveness and governance of these groups and institutions.

The two sides also confirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation in the field of tax policies, thus contributing to enhancing financial, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Regarding water and agriculture field, the Saudi side welcomed the establishment of direct partnership between Chinese private sector and Saudi private sector concerning the investment opportunities available in the Kingdom in the fields of desalination plants, drinking water, water transport lines, sewage treatment plants, dams, and the organization of commercial activities between representatives of the private sector in both countries to discuss investment possibilities in the agricultural sector as well as agricultural and food industries, and the development of agricultural investment projects.

Regarding communications and information technology field, the two sides stressed the need to strengthen partnership in areas related to communications, digital economy, innovation and space to achieve a better digital future for the future generations in both countries.

Regarding transportation and logistics field , the two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and joint action on developing the air and sea transport sectors, modern transport modes and railways, and expediting the completion of studies on the Saudi land bridge project.

The two sides also stressed the importance of strengthening and developing cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors, in a way that serves their common interests.

Regarding the defense and security field, the two sides affirmed their determination to develop cooperation and coordination in defense fields, enhance and raise the level of exchange of information and expertise in the field of combating organized crime, including terrorist crimes, prevent violence and extremism, in addition to enhance cooperation and coordination of efforts and exchange of expertise in the areas of early- warning risk intelligence, security risks assessment and combating cybercrimes, in a way that serves and achieves the common interests of the two countries.

The two sides reaffirmed the rejection and denunciation of terrorism and extremism in all its forms, the refusal to link terrorism to any particular culture, race or religion, the refusal to practice double standards in combating terrorism, and the importance of spreading moderation and tolerance.

The two sides also praised the level of security cooperation between the two friendly countries in the field of combating terrorism and its financing.

The two sides agreed to enhance joint international cooperation to combat cross-border corruption crimes in all its forms, ensure the achievement of common goals related to consolidating the principles of transparency, integrity, communication and effective cooperation between the agencies concerned with combating corruption in the two countries, and benefit from the principles endorsed by the G20 regarding combating corruption and pursuing fugitive criminals and recovering proceeds of crime, and the Riyadh Global Initiative for Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities in the field of investigations of corruption cases, prosecution of perpetrators, and recovery of proceeds of crime.

Regarding health field, the two sides stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between them in health fields, and raising the level of coordination between them to combat current and future health threats and pandemics.

Regarding cultural field, the two sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation between them within the framework of the historical and cultural relations that unite the two friendly countries, and expressed support and appreciation for many cultural initiatives that express the strength of Saudi-Chinese relations, they also welcomed the launch of the first edition of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Award for Cultural Cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides also stressed the importance of jointly organizing Chinese-Saudi Digital Cultural Year, implementing the memoranda of understanding signed in a number of cultural fields. In addition, the two sides stressed the importance of cooperation in the field of tourism and promotional activities between the two countries, exploring tourism potentials that both countries have, and promoting joint action in sustainable tourism sectors for the benefit of the tourism sector and its development.

The Chinese side announced endorsing the Kingdom as an outbound tourist destination for the Chinese tourist groups.

Regarding sports field, the two sides stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation and partnership in sports programs and activities between the two countries.

Regarding education field, the two sides welcomed the raising the level of scientific and educational cooperation between the two countries. They commended the progress achieved in cooperation between them in this field, agreed on continuing to encourage direct communication between universities and academic, scientific and research institutions in the two countries, to promote cooperation in the areas of digital education and teaching Arabic and Chinese languages in schools, universities and educational institutions in the two countries.

The two sides stressed the importance of cooperation and enhancing the level of partnerships and sharing experiences and information in various areas of work and human resources in order to achieve their mutual interests.

Regarding media field, the two sides agreed to strengthen the existing media cooperation between the two countries, discuss opportunities for its development in the areas of radio, television, news agencies and the press, and exchange experiences and media visits in order to promote the development of joint media action.

The Chinese side commended the efforts exerted by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in serving Chinese pilgrims, and its cooperation in organizing Chinese Hajj campaigns and facilitating the performance of Hajj and Umrah for Chinese pilgrims.

Regarding regional and international matters, the two sides welcomed the holding of the first China-GCC summit, and the first Arab-Chinese summit in the Kingdom in the city of Riyadh on Friday Dec. 9, and expressed their aspiration for the two summits to achieve their desired goals to serve the Gulf and Arab-Chinese relations.

They also stressed that holding China-GCC summit and Arab-Chinese summit is of particular importance in light of the current international situations , and affirmed their support for “China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era” initiative.

Furthermore, they commended the important role of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in promoting collective cooperation between China and Arab countries, and expressed their willingness to participate in building and developing the Forum. They also stressed the importance of joint action to strengthen strategic partnership relations between the GCC States and China, conclude a free trade agreement between the GCC and China, and work towards holding GCC-China Meeting of Ministers of Economy and Trade 6 + 1 between GCC and China.

The two sides reaffirmed their determination to continue coordinating and intensifying efforts to maintain international peace and security, continue their coordination in the relevant organizations, call for constructive dialogue in order to achieve the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the fundamental principles of international relations.

They stressed that the situations of the region are related to security and stability in the world , and that working towards peace and prosperity in the region is in conformity with the common interest of international community. They also agreed on the importance of finding peaceful and political solutions to the region’s urgent issues through dialogue and consultation based on respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the States of the region.

The Chinese side commended the Kingdom’s positive contributions and outstanding support for the promotion of regional and international peace and stability. The Saudi side commended the efforts and initiatives of the People’s Republic of China to achieve security and stability in the Middle East. The two sides also agreed on the importance of strengthening their cooperation and partnership in order to support stability and development in the African continent.

The Saudi side expressed its support for Global Development Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping and looked forward to participating in cooperation within the framework of the Initiative, thereby contributing to accelerating the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Saudi side also expressed its appreciation for the Global Security Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two sides also discussed the most prominent global economic challenges, and the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People’s Republic of China in supporting international efforts to address these challenges. They also stressed the importance of joint action to advance comprehensive global development for the benefit of all, and the importance of stabilizing global energy markets and food supply of wheat and grains to all countries without any disruption, as well as maintaining oversupply and stable prices.

Regarding political issues:

The two sides affirmed their full support for efforts to reach a political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

The Chinese side commended the Kingdom’s initiative to end the war in Yemen and its numerous efforts and initiatives aimed at encouraging dialogue between Yemeni parties.

The two sides also stressed the importance of supporting the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council to enable it to perform its functions and reach a political solution to the Yemeni crisis in accordance with the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanisms, the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue, and Security Council Resolution No. 2216 (2015). They also stressed the importance of the Houthis’ commitment to a truce, cooperation with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, and serious engagement with initiatives and efforts for peace in order to reach a permanent and comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis. The Chinese side valued the Kingdom’s humanitarian relief and development aid to the Yemeni people through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre together with the Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen.

Regarding Iran:

The two sides agreed on the need to strengthen joint cooperation to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

The two sides also called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, maintain the non-proliferation regime, and emphasize respect for the principles of good-neighborliness and non-interference in internal affairs of states.

Regarding Palestine:

The two sides discussed the developments in the Palestinian cause, and stressed the need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and find a real horizon for resuming serious and effective negotiations in order to achieve peace in accordance with the principle of two-state solution, the relevant international legitimacy resolutions, and Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that guarantees the rights of Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Regarding Syria:

The two sides stressed the need to intensify efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, restores its security and ends terrorism, and creates the necessary conditions for the voluntary return of refugees.

They also affirmed their continued support for the efforts of the United Nations and its Special Envoy for Syria.

Regarding Lebanon:

The two sides affirmed their concern for the security, stability, and unity of the Lebanese territories.

They also stressed the importance of carrying out the necessary reforms, dialogue and consultation to ensure that Lebanon overcomes its crisis, in order to avoid being the starting point for any terrorist acts, becoming incubators for terrorist organizations and groups that destabilize the security and stability of the region, or to be a source or crossing point for drug smuggling.

Regarding Iraq:

The two sides affirmed their continuation in providing support to the Republic of Iraq, and welcomed the formation of the new Iraqi government, wishing for it success in achieving the aspirations of the Iraqi people for security, stability, and development.

Regarding Afghanistan:

The two sides stressed the importance of supporting efforts that would achieve security and stability in Afghanistan, ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a haven for terrorist and extremist groups.

They also stressed the importance of strengthening humanitarian efforts exerted by the international community to stop the ongoing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and to deliver humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.

Regarding Ukraine:

The two sides stressed the importance of resolving the conflict by peaceful means, and exerting all possible efforts to reduce escalation in a way that contributes to restoring security and stability, and limits the negative consequences of this crisis.

The Chinese side pointed out its six- point initiative regarding the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, its provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and its call for preventing a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the humanitarian and political efforts made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and the release of a number of prisoners of war of different nationalities.

The Chinese side also praised the additional humanitarian aid package which the Kingdom recently provided to Ukraine in the amount of 400 million US dollars, which will contribute in alleviating the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

In conclusion, the Chinese President expressed his gratitude and appreciation for King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and their warm reception and hospitality accorded to President Xi and the accompanying delegation.

President Xi invited the King Salman to visit China at a mutually convenient time, and the Saudi king accepted the invitation. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wished the Chinese president and the people of China best wishes, good health, and happiness in addition to further progress and advancement.


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 4 min 18 sec ago

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.”

 


LEAP conference set to showcase Saudi Arabia’s tech and entrepreneurial ambitions

LEAP conference set to showcase Saudi Arabia’s tech and entrepreneurial ambitions
Updated 40 min 53 sec ago

LEAP conference set to showcase Saudi Arabia’s tech and entrepreneurial ambitions

LEAP conference set to showcase Saudi Arabia’s tech and entrepreneurial ambitions
  • Over 100,000 innovators, investors and experts from around the world descending on Riyadh for four-day event 
  • LEAP will be co-located with DeepFest, an AI event organized by Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence

RIYADH: Artificial intelligence, digital economy, and digital metaverses may be terms the average technology aficionado expects to hear at a conference in Seoul or Silicon Valley. This week, however, all things tech will be the talk of the town in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

From Feb. 6 to 9, over 100,000 tech innovators and leading experts will gather for the second LEAP conference, a global platform for tech professionals from around the world.

Held alongside LEAP will be DeepFest, the inaugural AI event powered by the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. Both events demonstrate the Kingdom’s aim to take its place among the world’s most technologically advanced nations.

The Kingdom is projected to spend over $24 billion on various technologies by 2025 — the highest in the world, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Investing in data literacy training for public sector employees ensures that data is being used effectively. (Supplied)

At last year’s LEAP conference, Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha announced that the country would be investing $6.4 billion in future technologies and entrepreneurship to further solidify the Kingdom’s position as the Middle East and North Africa region’s largest digital economy.

The growth of the Saudi tech industry, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, is a way for the Kingdom to diversify its economy away from oil and gas revenues.

According to a 2022 Economist Intelligence report, Saudi Arabia was the world’s fastest-growing major economy in 2022, “outperforming the dynamic Asian giants of China, India, Indonesia and South Korea, as well as the struggling G7 and other major emerging economies.”

LEAP broke records last year when its inaugural conference became the world’s largest tech event ever held. This year looks to be just as big, if not bigger, than last, with top professionals in the tech industry traveling to Riyadh from across the world.

“Saudi Arabia’s recent investments in its digital economy, as well as its information and communications technology sector, helped consolidate its position as the leading information and communication technology market in the Middle East and North Africa,” Imad Abuizz, digital and technology platform Llader at the business management consultant firm PwC Middle East, told Arab News.

Since the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030 seven years ago, the Kingdom has launched a series of initiatives that emphasize technology as a tool for social and economic reform.

Strategic agendas under Vision 2030 focus on regenerating the country’s digital infrastructure to boost economic growth, knowledge and enhance daily life. To this end, Saudi Arabia has committed to an annual investment of 2.5 percent of GDP in the sectors of development, research and innovation by 2040.

The Kingdom’s technological plans are supported by SDAIA, which was launched by royal decree in August 2019.

The same year, the Saudi government launched Absher, a smartphone application which enables citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia to access a variety of government services.

“Government spending demonstrates a big focus on digitalization,” Fadi Komati, a digital government consulting leader at PwC Middle East, told Arab News. “Why the sector is moving so quickly is because the majority of the population is young and eager to move forward and advance in cutting-edge technologies.

“The government’s digital transformation and continued investment in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and innovation lay the groundwork for a lot of opportunities, both for the private and public sector.”

Komati underlines how government investment in tech is “encouraging the private sector to become more mature, thus also stimulating and incentivising international companies to visit and open in Saudi Arabia.”

“The increased progress in the private tech sector within Saudi Arabia is a result of government investment in the sector,” he said.

In the same vein, Saudi tech entrepreneur Hussein Attar, CEO at private investment firm Tech Invest Com, told Arab News: “In terms of Saudi Arabia, all the giga projects being launched, such as NEOM, have placed a strong focus on technological innovation. Every giga project has a funding side that is investing in tech. Saudi Aramco also has its own investment fund for technology.”

At last year’s LEAP conference, Saudi Aramco unveiled a billion dollars’ worth of investments in developing start-ups through entrepreneurship support fund Prosperity 7 Ventures. NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Co. stated it was investing $1 billion in future technologies and launching the new M3LD AI engine as well as the XVRS digital twin metaverse.

Technological investment in Saudi Arabia is also paramount to the country’s environmental goals. In October 2022, at the sixth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, Aramco unveiled a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, one of the world’s largest sustainability-focused venture capital funds.

Recent data demonstrates the rise of Saudi Arabia as a growing global center, both regionally and internationally, in both the private and public sectors. According to the 2022 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Report produced by Magnitt, the Kingdom was one of the emerging markets that recorded year on year growth nearing the $1 billion mark.

Saudi Arabia’s tech evolution is a way for the country to connect with the wider region and the world. AI, which was a recent focus at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is paramount to the Kingdom’s growth in the field of tech.

In September 2022, the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence announced an investment of $776 million in a joint venture with China’s SenseTime to develop the AI ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

A scene from LEAP 2022. (File photo Supplied)

“The Kingdom’s advanced technological infrastructure, high-caliber developments in the field of AI, and high standards designed by government authorities encourage AI businesses to plug in and grow in a regionally leading market,” Dr. Turki Almugaiteeb, a Saudi expert in technological development and innovation, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia has also signed a number of partnerships with global AI providers to find practical solutions to everyday problems, Komati said, adding: “AI is very high on the agenda in Saudi Arabia because it is considered a mechanism by which technology can provide much bigger benefits.”

Technological investment and the Kingdom’s numerous avenues being explored for technological growth and innovation are also about education and offering a better life for its citizens, residents, and all visitors to Saudi Arabia.

In the words of Almugaiteeb, the key ingredients in Saudi Arabia’s rise to tech giant status are “the great human resources being developed in the Kingdom, combined with educated young Saudis in the field, many of whom have gained experience abroad.”