JEDDAH: Virtual reality made a guest appearance at the Hajj Expo 2023 in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
Madinah’s International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization provided visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about the Prophet Muhammad’s life using the technology at its pavilion at the Hajj and Umrah services conference.
Virtual reality displayed scenes from the Prophet’s Chamber, giving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in Islam’s values and practices while also exploring rare artifacts mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The display at the pavilion provided a glimpse of how contemporary techniques will be used to project Islam and its culture in the future.
Saudi Arabia’s climate envoy meets ministers, officials at UN General Assembly
Discussions were held on how to deal with the effects of climate change
Updated 22 September 2023
RIYADH: Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs and climate affairs envoy, met this week with ministers and senior officials on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York.
In a meeting with Bahrain’s minister of oil and environment, Mohammed bin Mubarak bin Daina, discussions were held on how to deal with the effects of climate change.
Talks were also held on the subject, and other issues, with the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, and President of the 78th Session of the UN Dennis Francis.
Al-Jubeir held further meetings with Prince Jamie de Bourbon, climate envoy for the Netherlands, and Jennifer Lee Morgan, state secretary and special envoy for international climate action at the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany.
He also reviewed ties, as well as international and regional developments, with Alvaro Leyva Duran, Albert Ramdin, and Ana Cecilia Gervasi Diaz, the foreign ministers of Colombia, Suriname and Peru respectively.
The Saudi government has urged anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline
Updated 22 September 2023
JEDDAH: Saudi authorities seized a large cache of drugs in Jeddah and Asir on Friday.
The Jeddah Traffic Department arrested two Yemeni nationals for selling 300 kg of qat, and border guards in Asir thwarted an attempt to smuggle 57,600 prescription pills into the Kingdom.
Qat leaves are chewed for their stimulatory effects.
The Saudi government has urged anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number 00 966 114208417, or email [email protected]. Reports notifying the authorities of suspected cases of drug smuggling are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for tips leading to arrests.
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
Updated 22 September 2023
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.
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
Maha Al-Dosary draws inspiration from objects, world news, daughters’ imagination to create immersive augmented reality experiences
Updated 21 September 2023
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.
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.”
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.