Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 

Special Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 
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Updated 18 January 2023

Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 

Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 
  • “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report is based interviews with experts and executives
  • Majority of those surveyed warn a critical skills gap threatens societies and key infrastructure

DAVOS: The risk of catastrophic cyberattacks is soaring because of geopolitical instability, according to a report launched at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on Wednesday.

More than 93 percent of cybersecurity experts and 86 percent of business leaders, who were interviewed for the report, believe that “a far-reaching, catastrophic cyber event is likely in the next two years,” and that there is a critical skills gap threatening societies and key infrastructure.

The “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report is based on polls, workshops and interviews with more than 300 experts and senior executives. Half of the companies surveyed said the current landscape is making them reevaluate the countries in which they do business.

Despite challenges, organizations are improving cyber resilience, one of the key priorities of the WEF’s Centre for Cybersecurity.

The report said that awareness and preparation would help organizations balance the value of new technology against the cyber risk that comes with it.

It highlighted the need to address the shortage of talent and skilled experts. A significant 34 percent of cybersecurity experts said they lacked some skills in their team, while 14 percent said they lacked critical skills.

The problem is more pronounced in key sectors such as energy utilities, where nearly 25 percent of the cybersecurity experts surveyed said they lacked the necessary critical skills to protect their organizations’ operations.

Expanding the cybersecurity talent pool is needed to solve this problem, according to “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023,” which was written in collaboration with Accenture.

Several successful cybersecurity skills programs are underway around the world, but many have difficulty scaling to large numbers. Greater cross-industry collaboration and public-private partnerships are needed to overcome this challenge.

Geopolitics is reshaping the legal, regulatory and technological environment. “As global instability increases cyber risk, this report calls for a renewed focus on cooperation,” Jeremy Jurgens, managing director of the WEF, said.

“All stakeholders from public and private sectors who are responsible for our common digital infrastructure must work together to build security, resilience and trust.”

A WEF news release that accompanied the launch of “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” highlighted the views of leading industry figures on a range of topics.

“The research shows that business leaders are now more aware of their organizations’ cyber risks. However, there is the need to go further to assessing and translating the business risk into actionable next steps across the entire organization,” Paolo Dal Cin, global lead of Accenture Security, said.

“Long-term cyber resilience requires a closely coordinated team effort across the C-suite to gain a clearer view of the cyber risks so security can be embedded in all strategic business priorities and protect the digital core. As our digitally connected world expands, now is the time to build cyber resilient businesses for customers, employees and supply chain partners.”

Commenting on the skills gap, Ken Xie, chairman of the board and CEO of Fortinet, said: “The threat landscape continues to expand and evolve with cyber adversaries targeting organizations of all sizes, locations and industries around the world.

“The disruption of operations or services and the compromise of data due to cyberattacks against the backdrop of a global skills gap places every individual, organization and even nation at risk. When we work together to encourage best practices we see greater progress in the fight against cybercrime.

“Shared data and trusted global partnerships can enable more effective responses and better predict future attack strategies to deter adversary efforts.”

Leaders are now more likely than one year ago to see data privacy laws and cybersecurity regulations as an effective tool for reducing cyber risks across a sector. But speed is clearly an issue.

On the question of regulation, Hoda Al-Khzaimi, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and founder and director of Emartsec at New York University, Abu Dhabi, said: “Standardization can take 18 months but a cyberattack takes seconds. The speed at which emerging technologies are implemented often outpaces our ability to build security measures around them. We need to go beyond simple compliance with regulations if organizations are to be cyber-resilient.”

Underscoring the importance of investing in cybersecurity, Nikesh Arora, CEO and chairman of Palo Alto Networks, said: “Cyberattackers don’t rest with macro-economic challenges, they double down on them. There is no path to success that is not heavily driven by AI and automation.

“As companies accelerate their digital transformation journeys, the time for reimagining and investing in cybersecurity architectures — intelligent platforms — is now. Boards and the C-suite must embrace a strategy whereby cybersecurity is deeply embedded across the enterprise from operations to innovation. Only then will organizations be able to create a state of resilience that enables, not inhibits, their strategic business outcomes.”

A lingering, vexing challenge is how to price cybersecurity, according to the “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report. It quoted one survey respondent as saying: “Board members are interested in risk, opportunities and investment in cost.

“We need to better respond to the question(s), What is the return? How do I know this is a good investment across the myriad of things that I could potentially be invested in? How can we improve at making effective metrics to help boards make better-informed decisions?”

Cybersecurity is also influencing strategic business decisions, with 50 percent of participants in the research saying that it was a consideration when they evaluated which countries in which to invest and do business.

Compared with last year, the report found that board-level executives are more likely to prioritize cyber risk and are more aware of their own role in addressing it. This has led to increased interaction with cybersecurity leaders, “cyber leaders, business leaders and boards of directors are now communicating more directly and more often.” The bad news is that they “continue to speak different languages.”

All too often, according to the report, when security and business leaders discuss cybersecurity, the rapidly evolving contours of cyber risks get lost in translation. Chief information security officers may fail to convey the complex data they have gathered — on risk points, threat actors, mapping of criminal campaigns — into an accessible story that results in specific mitigating actions in their organizations.

Instead, they need to tell stories that align with their corporate and business priorities. “Boards should be presented with a cyber posture that resonates with customers’ and authorities’ expectations and helps address sectorial ecosystem challenges,” said Christophe Blassiau, senior vice-president of cybersecurity and global chief information security officer at Schneider Electric.

Despite this challenge, “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” reports that the disconnect between cybersecurity managers and business executives has begun to close. Both increasingly perceive the elevated degree of risk exposure and are allocating more resources to coordinate responses in an effective manner, it said, adding that the priority today is on speed.

Russia eyes opportunities at trade show in Riyadh

Russia eyes opportunities at trade show in Riyadh
Updated 28 May 2023

Russia eyes opportunities at trade show in Riyadh

Russia eyes opportunities at trade show in Riyadh
  • Exhibition to showcase industrial technologies to help boost KSA’s development

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Russia’s bilateral economic ties are set to get a new boost as the Kingdom is hosting the Made in Russia +Innoprom business mission in Riyadh on May 29 and 30. 

In an interview with Arab News, Anton Atrashkin, program director of the Innoprom International Trade Show, said that more than 100 Russian companies would be a part of the event to be held in Riyadh. 

The delegation will be led by Russia’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Alexei Gruzdev. 

Innoprom is the largest Russian industrial exhibition that has been held for the last 14 years in Yekaterinburg. 

The event aims to showcase advanced technologies developed in Russia that are ready to be used in the industrial sector. 

“All of us are very excited to see the reaction and attitude of the Saudi business community toward what we have to offer. We are really making our very first steps in the blessed land of the KSA. For many Russian delegates, it will be their first trip to the country. I would say that our business mission is opening a new page of bilateral economic relations,” said Atrashkin. 

Russian Helicopters, Transmashholding, Rostselmash Agricultural machines, Power Machines, and Kaspersky are some of the key companies participating in the industry event. 

Atrashkin also said that Russian agricultural products are getting popular in the Saudi market, and the event seeks to introduce Russian industrial technologies in the Kingdom. 

Gruzdev said the Russian-Saudi ties are based on a strong foundation, which will contribute to the development goals of both countries. 

Our business mission to Riyadh aims to strengthen economic ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Alexei Gruzdev, Russia’s deputy minister of industry and trade

“Our business mission to Riyadh aims to strengthen economic ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia, discover new business opportunities, exchange ideas, and establish long-term partnerships,” said the deputy trade minister. 

He added: “We are particularly grateful to the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce for hosting us as well as to our Saudi partners from the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and Ministry of Investment.” 

Atrashkin said that the infrastructure development currently underway in Saudi Arabia, including the giga-project NEOM, presents an opportunity for Russian companies to showcase their potential to become part of the success story of the Kingdom. 

“The whole world sees this project (NEOM) as the highest point of mankind’s ambitions. Many companies from Europe, the US, and Asia want to get a stake in this No. 1 project of the 21st century. Russian companies definitely have many competitive technologies in unmanned systems, construction, engineering, and software products,” added Atrashkin. 

He said that some business leaders visiting Saudi Arabia as part of this event are “prepared to discuss deep localization, being aware of the opportunities (available in) 36 industrial cities managed by the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones.” 

The Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, also known as MODON, has been undertaking the development and supervision of industrial lands and integrated infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, and it oversees 36 existing and under-development industrial cities across the Kingdom, in addition to private industrial facilities. 

According to Atrashkin, some areas where Saudi businesses can use Russian technologies include IT, engineering technologies for construction industries, unmanned systems for industrial and agricultural projects, and cybersecurity, to name a few. 

During the interview, Atrashkin also lauded the reformatory measures introduced by the Saudi government, which now allows foreign investors to operate in the Kingdom. He further noted that Russian-Arab relations have always been cordial and deep. 

I would say that our business mission is opening a new page of bilateral economic relations.

Anton Atrashkin, Program director, Innoprom International Trade Show

“When I witness the negotiations between the Russian and Arabic businessmen, I always note very warm attitudes toward each other. A genuine deep respect for your partner is a common feature of our business culture. It works well and helps to avoid many mistakes,” said Atrashkin. 

He further said: “I would also mention great support from the Saudi government to make the economy open — not only to the Russians but to all the partners of the KSA. The ambition of the Saudi government is to have the best infrastructure in the world. This means millions of opportunities for the manufacturers.” 

A recent press statement from Innoprom said that Saudi Arabia is currently witnessing a real industrial revolution, offering tremendous opportunities for foreign investors. 

“Many experts call the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia one of the most promising partners. Today, a real industrial revolution is taking place in Saudi Arabia; dozens of industrial cities are springing up with special regimes for foreign investors. The Russian industrial technology developers are looking for ways to get contracts worth multimillion dollars from the Kingdom,” it said in a press statement.

Qatar’s trade balance surplus hits $6bn in April

Qatar’s trade balance surplus hits $6bn in April
Updated 28 May 2023

Qatar’s trade balance surplus hits $6bn in April

Qatar’s trade balance surplus hits $6bn in April

RIYADH: Qatar recorded a trade surplus of 22 billion Qatari riyals ($6 billion) in April 2023, according to a report released by the country’s Planning and Statistics Authority.  

The data reflects a 3.5 percent increase over March while a 35.6 percent decline on an annual basis.  

The value of merchandise imports during April 2023 also fell 6.3 percent from the previous year and 9.3 percent from the last month to reach an estimated 8.7 billion riyals.  

Meanwhile, the value of Qatar’s exports of oil, gas, and condensate tumbled in April to 18.6 billion riyals, reflecting a decrease of 33.2 percent on an annual basis.  

The report showed that China and South Korea accounted for over a third of Qatar’s exports in April.

China topped the exports with 5.6 billion riyals, accounting for 18.3 percent of the total value.  

South Korea, on the other hand, came second with 5.1 billion riyals, representing 16.6 percent of the whole pie.  

Real estate market

Meanwhile, the Gulf nation reported 343 million riyals worth of transactions in the residential real estate sector from May 14-18.

Sales operations were concentrated in Doha, Al-Rayyan, Al-Daayen, Al-Wakra, Umm Salal, Al-Khor, Al-Thakhira, and Al-Shamal.

Qatar and other Gulf countries are seeing significant growth in non-oil activities as the region diversifies its economy away from oil.  

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stated his country’s non-oil sector grew by 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, and oil activities also saw a 4.8 percent rise.

Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum, Al-Thani stated that the efforts of the gas-rich Gulf state have led to the development of robust financial institutions and the establishment of a work environment that stimulates business growth.  

These initiatives have resulted in a considerable increase in both domestic and foreign investments.  

Saudi HR development fund approves 18 professional certificates to boost labor market

Saudi HR development fund approves 18 professional certificates to boost labor market
Updated 28 May 2023

Saudi HR development fund approves 18 professional certificates to boost labor market

Saudi HR development fund approves 18 professional certificates to boost labor market

RIYADH: Aiming to create more job and career advancement opportunities for the national workforce, Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources Development Fund approved 18 professional certificates. 

With this move, the total number of approved professional certificates in the Kingdom has jumped to 146, according to a statement.

The fund disclosed that the newly approved certificates serve three professional fields: finance and banking, industrial engineering and information technology. 

It said that the new accreditation will help boost the competitiveness of the Kingdom’s national workforce. 

The accreditation will also motivate the Saudi workforce and help develop its skills and experience in various sectors. 

The fund is known to collaborate with other programs to empower national cadres and further develop their professional skills and capabilities.

It is seeking to build a productive and stable workforce in line with the strategic objectives of the Kingdom’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. 

In March, the fund launched a new strategy and identity to support the development of a sustainable workforce in the Kingdom through training, empowerment and counseling programs.    

The new strategy aims to help the development of human capabilities and allow them to enter and remain sustainable in the labor market. 

In January, the fund also signed a cooperation agreement with the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program to encourage the training and recruitment of Saudis.    

Furthermore, it claimed that in 2022, it facilitated the employment of 400,000 persons in the private sector.   


Saudi bourses feel the heat as US debt ceiling clouds global markets

Saudi bourses feel the heat as US debt ceiling clouds global markets
Updated 28 May 2023

Saudi bourses feel the heat as US debt ceiling clouds global markets

Saudi bourses feel the heat as US debt ceiling clouds global markets

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index fell 46.52 points to close at 11,138.05 on Sunday, exercising caution ahead of the US debt ceiling decision that has gripped global markets. 

While the parallel market Nomu slipped slightly to 21,0553.54, the MSCI Tadawul Index closed flat at 1,483.75. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.66 billion ($1.24 billion) as 98 stocks of the listed 224 advanced and 113 retreated. 

East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry and Alkhaleej Training and Education Co. were the worst-performing stocks of the day, as their share prices fell about 5 percent to SR63.40 and SR22.50, respectively. 

However, Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co. emerged as the No. 1 stock as its share price surged 9.79 percent to SR17.50. 

Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp., Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co., Saudi Industrial Services Co., and Saudi Fisheries Co. also had a field day as their share prices rose in the 5 percent range. 

On the announcements front, Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance informed Tadawul that it registered a 212.9 percent increase in net income to SR188.6 million during the first quarter of 2023 compared to SR60.3 million in the year-ago period. 

The company said the strong performance was driven by a 27.2 percent annual increase in insurance revenue and a 77.7 percent decline in net expenses from reinsurance contracts held. Its share price jumped 1.58 percent to SR179.80. 

Abdulaziz and Mansour Ibrahim AlBabtain Co. told the Saudi Stock Exchange that its shareholders approved a 5 percent cash dividend or SR0.5 per share for the first half of 2022. The company will dole out SR1.7 million in dividends on May 25. Its share price progressed 2 percent to SR51. 

Last week, Al Moammar Information Systems Co. signed two contracts worth SR188.72 million. 

The first contract was concluded with Advanced Electronics Co. Ltd. to renew software licenses at SR47.04 million. The contract has a term of five years. 

The second 24-month agreement was signed with the National Center for Government Resources Systems for SR141.68 million. The deal entails establishing and building the infrastructure for a unified government resource system by supplying and installing hardware and software. MIS’s share price increased 0.9 percent to SR134. 

On Nomu, Aqaseem Factory for Chemicals and Plastics Co. announced its plans to issue Saudi riyal-denominated sukuk through an offering on the website of Sukuk Capital Co. 

The company said the issuance value will be determined later based on market conditions and will be employed to support the company’s operational activities. 

The stock exchange also witnessed the retail subscription of two initial public offerings: Morabaha Marina Financing Co. and Al Mawarid Manpower Co. 

MMFC has offered about 2.14 million shares, or 10 percent of the total shares, at SR14.60 each, while AMMC proposed 450,000 shares at SR64 each. 

These IPOs are the first on Tadawul this year. 

NEOM sets ambitious target to preserve natural environment

NEOM sets ambitious target to preserve natural environment
Updated 28 May 2023

NEOM sets ambitious target to preserve natural environment

NEOM sets ambitious target to preserve natural environment

RIYADH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect the environment and promote sustainable living, NEOM has pledged to allocate 95 percent of its total area for preservation.

It will also develop a facility in Al-Asilah to preserve the Arabian oryx, the Arabian sand gazelle, the mountain gazelle, and the ibex.

The reserve will be home to one of the biggest wildlife restoration programs in the world and will allow visitors to learn about NEOM’s programs for the development and rehabilitation of vegetation and wildlife.

The announcement was made at the second Tabuk Forum, which was organized by NEOM.

During the forum, NEOM officials highlighted various programs it is currently undertaking in different areas such as social responsibility, sports, tourism, media, career guidance management, human resources, contracts and purchases, hospitality, education, and scholarships.

Saudi Arabia is expanding its ambitions through projects such as The Line in NEOM, a zero-car environment that is part of a 100 percent sustainable transport system.

The city will be 200 meters wide, 170 km long, and rise 500 meters above sea level and will contribute to conserving 95 percent of NEOM’s land and support environmental sustainability.

Its design is based on a new concept of zero-gravity urbanism, the idea of layering city functions vertically while enabling inhabitants to move seamlessly in the city in three directions — up, down, and across — offering quick access to offices, schools, parks, and residential facilities.

The Line’s unique modular design ensures that all facilities and amenities can be accessed within a five-minute walk.

Using an innovative design that requires minimal space and less water, hydroponics gardens will grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers in half the time of traditional agriculture methods.

NEOM has several ongoing megaprojects, one of them being Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex designed by Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid. And what will be the first outdoor ski resort in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, is set to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029.

Another megaproject is Sindalah Island, a luxury tourist destination.