Jeddah exhibition sets out to inspire new era of Saudi architecture

The exhibition is being hosted at Hayy Arts and features research by architects Basmah Kaki, Hussam Dakkak, and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound. (Supplied)
The exhibition is being hosted at Hayy Arts and features research by architects Basmah Kaki, Hussam Dakkak, and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 January 2023

Jeddah exhibition sets out to inspire new era of Saudi architecture

Jeddah exhibition sets out to inspire new era of Saudi architecture
  • Antonia Carver, Art Jameel’s director, said: “We have collaborated with the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission and the Ministry of Culture to bring this amazing show to Hayy Jameel for Jeddah and Saudi audiences

JEDDAH: Architecture’s changing role and influence over time is explored at a major exhibition at the Hayy Jameel arts complex in Jeddah.

“Accommodations,” which kicked off on Jan. 20 and will run until Aug. 7, is curated by Brooklyn-based Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali.

It features research by architects Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound.




The exhibition is being hosted at Hayy Arts and features research by architects Basmah Kaki, Hussam Dakkak, and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound. (Supplied)

The exhibition, on the ground floor of Hayy Arts, uses archival documentation to explore the relationship between inclusion and exclusion, separation and unification, and the influence and impact the built environment has on generating new meanings, and redefining the relationship between the individual and the community.

Unfolding in three parts, it investigates a hotel, an island, and a home — a refuge of the familiar whose primary function has been inverted through growing reliance on digital interfaces for connection with others.

HIGHLIGHTS

• ‘Accommodations’ kicked off last week and will run until Aug. 7. The exhibition was curated by Brooklyn-based Murtaza Vali and Uzma Z. Rizvi. It uses archival documentation and unfolds in three parts as it investigates a hotel, an island, and a home.

• The exhibition made a highly acclaimed debut at the Saudi National Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022.

Through exploration and retrospection, the exhibition encourages visitors to question how the meaning and use of such spaces alter over time.

The exhibition made its highly acclaimed debut at the Saudi National Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022.




The exhibition is being hosted at Hayy Arts and features research by architects Basmah Kaki, Hussam Dakkak, and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound. (Supplied)

Speaking to Arab News about bringing “Accommodations” to Hayy Jameel, Antonia Carver, Art Jameel’s director, said: “We have collaborated with the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission and the Ministry of Culture to bring this amazing show to Hayy Jameel for Jeddah and Saudi audiences. It is great to bring a show that highlights the history of the hotels, homes and ports.”

Sumayah Al-Solaiman, CEO of the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission, said that cooperation with Art Jameel allowed the commission to transfer its international experience to Saudi Arabia.

Reactivating ‘Accommodations’ for a local audience will promote the event at the global level through the Venice Architecture Biennale, Al-Solaiman said.

“We hope that the new edition will be an inspiration for architects, enhancing their creativity not only at Jeddah’s level, but also in the rest of the cities in the Kingdom.”

Fady Jameel, chairman and founder of Art Jameel, said: “Architecture is an integral part of Hayy Jameel’s mission, with the center designed to facilitate cultural exchange in the Kingdom, embrace creativity, and showcase Saudi Arabia’s thriving art and design scene. We are invested in telling the story of Jeddah and Saudi’s rich histories, and their resonance within this fascinating exhibition.

“We would like to thank the Architecture and Design Commission, the curators and the architects for their commitment and collaborative spirit and look forward to further such curatorial partnerships in the future.”

 

 


Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23
Updated 11 sec ago

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

RIYADH: Meta has announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in the Middle East and North Africa region, in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy and Simplon, a French digital skills provider, at the second edition of LEAP in Riyadh.

Kojo Boakye, vice president of public policy for Meta in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkiye, told Arab News: “We have announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in this region.

“We think [it] will feed exactly into what this region is doing, sparking the development of the metaverse ecosystem, working with creators and developers, the builders of the metaverse, to ensure it comes to fruition.”

The academy will be based in Riyadh and will aim to support the region’s metaverse ecosystem through training programs.

Boakye added: “We have great hopes for the future, and we believe the academy, in partnership with Tuwaiq and Simplon, will help that.”

Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of Tuwaiq Academy, said: “We are thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative with Meta to establish the first metaverse academy in the MENA region.

“This partnership with Meta allows us to continue this mission and support the growth of the metaverse ecosystem by training and empowering the next generation of metaverse builders and leaders.”

The academy will launch a series of programs from May 1 that will equip students with the necessary skills to pursue a career in the growing metaverse.

Boakye said: “There’s a broad range of training, everything from a short course where you can just learn a little bit more about the metaverse, to a mid-level course that takes four to six weeks, to something in-depth where you can be training for eight to nine months to get the qualifications you need to add impacts to the work that’s being done.

“It’s the vision that we’re seeing in the region here in Saudi Arabia. The plan is to have one programmer for every 100 citizens.

“We are utterly convinced [by the project] when you look at the innovation and the ideas that are coming out from this region.

“We believe that this region and the builders here will affect the global spread and broad adoption of the metaverse, and that’s what we are aiming for.”

Boakye said that Meta had already encouraged developers, aspiring developers, and others interested in the metaverse to sign up for the program online.

He added: “If adoption of the metaverse were to grow in a similar way to the use of mobile technology, after 10 years it would contribute $360 billion, or 6.2 percent, to the GDP in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkiye.”
 


Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’
Updated 43 min 2 sec ago

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’
  • Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha tells LEAP bringing “the right talent into the market” can solve existing service and other problems
  • Mahindra Satyam CEO Prakash Gurnani says “India’s 1.4 billion population will benefit” if Saudi Arabia becomes a tech role model

 RIYADH: While the digitalization of an economy is key to its technological advancement, it is also a way to ease daily life and provide jobs and opportunities for the young population.

As explored in several sessions at this year’s LEAP conference, this holds particularly true for Saudi Arabia as part of its Vision 2030 reform agenda.

According to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, 36.7 percent of the Kingdom’s population is aged between 15 and 34. Due to an acceleration of the digital economy’s growth in the Kingdom, more than 1 million jobs are expected to be created by 2025, with a focus on technology and innovation.

“The transformation that is happening on the back of Vision 2030 is probably one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now,” said Mudassir Sheikha, CEO of Careem, during a panel themed Deep Dive: Unicorns of the World.

“I have been coming here for 15 years now and over the last five years you can see the change each month on the ground. The pace of change is incredible, and we know that when such change is generated at the macro level, it creates opportunity.”

In the second quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate for Saudi Arabia fell to 9.7 percent, fueled by government reforms directed at the labor market, according to data provided by GASTAT.

It is reflected by the participation rate of Saudis in the labor market, which grew by 1.7 percentage points to reach 51.8 percent. The employment-to-population ratio of Saudis also grew by the same amount, reaching 46.8 percent compared to the previous year, according to the GASTAT report.

Environmental and digital security are among the fastest growing fields in Saudi Arabia, according to data released on LinkedIn in January 2023.

Still, as Sheikha underlined, there are still many issues related to services and relevant providers that need to be solved. “This provides additional opportunities for the Saudi workforce,” he added. “There are many problems that still need to be solved. How do you solve those problems? You need to bring the right talent into the market.”

There is no shortage of human capital and talent in the Saudi market, he added. “With hard work and the right tools great things can happen. From my perspective, there’s probably no better place to be right now than in Saudi today,” he said.

The phrase “digital economy” reflects how the technological revolution is transforming value chains in exponential, revolutionary ways — endowing new opportunities for markets worldwide to generate social and economic change.

“There is a worldwide need for reskilling and upskilling. The OECD estimates that over the next decade 1.1 billion jobs will be radically transformed by technology,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U, Inc., a leading US provider of software for universities.

“What is happening right now with AI is a good example of this and we are excited about what is happening here in the Kingdom.”

A panel on the main stage of LEAP, titled “Roadmap to Building a ‘DigitALL’ Economy in the Kingdom & Solving the Talent Conundrum,” included a conversation with Chander Prakash Gurnani, CEO of Mahindra Satyam, and British journalist Adam Boulton, with the talks examining how Saudi Arabia is building an inclusive economy through rapid advancements and investment in technology.

“India’s 1.4 billion population will benefit from the Kingdom becoming a role model in technology,” said Gurnani. “The Kingdom is one of our major focus countries. It’s a beautiful opportunity for us to participate and be part of the growth. When you work backwards, you need people, processes, technology and more importantly, an ecosystem of both products and technology.”

The Kingdom has attracted more than $9 billion in investment in future technologies, including by US giants Microsoft and Oracle, which are building cloud regions in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha told Reuters during LEAP on Monday.

Al-Swaha added that China’s Huawei will also invest $400 million in cloud infrastructure for its services in the Kingdom, as well as create another cloud region in partnership with Saudi Aramco.

The Kingdom has also encouraged the use of AI to achieve Vision 2030 and Smart Government Strategy objectives. The plan is expected to result in the Kingdom’s AI market growing to $135.2 billion by 2030, which is estimated to contribute 12.4 percent to gross domestic product.

As most panelists stressed during the sessions at LEAP, while investment in tech is paramount to advancement in technology and economic growth, what is key is training the younger, eager Saudi labor force and readying them with education and opportunities for the fourth industrial revolution, with the Kingdom increasingly looking to be a center of the new technological age.
 


KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia
Updated 07 February 2023

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia
  • Universities, industrial partners can work together to solve problems, says VP

JEDDAH: The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has completed its innovative mobile plant project for wastewater treatment, after five years of research at the university’s water desalination and reuse research center.

The project is a result of the efforts and partnerships between KAUST and the National Water Company.

The technology is the first of its kind in the Kingdom, as it treats wastewater and converts it efficiently into reusable water for areas that are not connected to the central sewage network.

In September last year, KAUST and the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON, teamed up to tackle wastewater treatment. (Supplied)

It can reduce energy demand by 50 percent, and produce treated water of similar or even better quality than that produced by conventional biological treatment processes.

It is expected that this technology will have a significant impact on underserved areas of the Kingdom by creating new job opportunities that support Saudi youth and offer them the chance to make use of their talents.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The mobile plant treats wastewater and converts it efficiently into reusable water for areas that are not connected to the central sewage network.

• It can reduce energy demand by 50 percent, and produce treated water of similar or even better quality than that produced by conventional biological treatment processes.

Kevin Cullen, vice president of innovation at KAUST said: “Developing a reliable wastewater treatment service is one of the biggest challenges we face today.”

Cullen also pointed out that the ecosystem of deep tech startups at KAUST has become so developed that it has enabled the university to build strong partnerships with the government and established companies, which work together to bring these startups closer to the market.

In September last year, KAUST and the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON, teamed up to tackle wastewater treatment.

Cullen said: “The relationship between KAUST and MODON is an excellent example of how universities and industrial partners can work together to solve real challenges in our society and in a city like Jeddah where we need to increase wastewater treatment capacity.”

MODON has been piloting a new wastewater bioreactor technology at scale at their industrial city in Jeddah.

During this partnership, Peiying Hong, an associate professor at KAUST, developed a new, zero-energy technology that may hold the key to transforming wastewater sustainability and recycling.

MODON, which operates significant infrastructure throughout the Kingdom for environmental services including wastewater treatment plants, has selected Hong’s technology to pilot on-site at its first industrial city in Jeddah.

Cullen explained: “This technology not only processes wastewater more efficiently using a decentralized treatment model, it can be done in an energy-neutral way providing sustainability for the future.”

 


Massive turnout for LEAP tech conference in Riyadh proves to be a mixed blessing

Massive turnout for LEAP tech conference in Riyadh proves to be a mixed blessing
Updated 07 February 2023

Massive turnout for LEAP tech conference in Riyadh proves to be a mixed blessing

Massive turnout for LEAP tech conference in Riyadh proves to be a mixed blessing
  • For two days in a row, attendees have braved Riyadh’s rush-hour traffic and capacity crowd to gain admission
  • Event has proved a great opportunity for investments, partnerships, meetings and networking with people in tech

RIYADH: Such has been the overwhelming popularity of this year’s LEAP23, a four-day annual tech conference hosted in the Saudi capital Riyadh, that organizers were forced to close the doors to new attendees on Tuesday after the venue reached maximum capacity. 

Held at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, the event’s second edition has seen a massive turnout, as some of the biggest names in the tech world showcase their products and discuss new industry trends.

For two days, students, entrepreneurs and startup owners have braved Riyadh’s rush-hour traffic and large crowds to gain admission — a challenge one attendee described as “a logistical nightmare,” as more than 250,000 registrations were recorded on the first day alone.

Amal Al-Khalid, 24, traveled from the Eastern Province to take part in one of two contests — the Rocket Fuel competition and Alibaba Cloud hackathon — with a SR6 million ($1.5 million) prize pool aimed at rewarding Saudi-based startups and boosting cloud technologies.

“I came with the intention of checking out the competition with my three colleagues as our startup is focused on providing water treatment solutions for domestic use,” she told Arab News on the sidelines of the event.

“Our idea came up as we kept hearing about the problems with the quality at home. I knew it was going to be crowded as many members of our entrepreneurial community spoke of LEAP for months, but I did not expect to see crowds of this kind.”

The Rocket Fuel competition, supported by the National Information Technology Development Program and the Misk Foundation, aims to help new businesses, highlight entrepreneurial projects, and build innovative solutions that address technical challenges.

As many as 90 local startups will compete for a chance to be one of 15 awarded a share of SR4 million, with a top prize of almost SR940,000. The event is a great opportunity as far as investments, partnerships and meetings are concerned, to say nothing of connecting with new people in tech from around the world.

Several young tech entrepreneurs were drawn by the prospect of competing in the contests and the chance to network on the LEAP23 sidelines. However, the event’s enormous popularity appeared to overwhelm the available facilities.

“User journeys were not planned out correctly,” Ghaliah Al-Sukait, an experience and planning development manager, told Arab News.

“Only the main pathway had ushers organizing the human traffic. All the other pathways were disorganized and not clear. The distribution of booths did not allow for smooth transitions from one space to the other, but rather created even more traffic.

“Given the huge anticipated footfall, there should have been multiple entrances and exits to the space to allow users to move freely. Instead, there was only one main entrance (for regular tickets) and one main exit at the opposite side, forcing users to walk through the entire space within the traffic.

“The exit was positioned far away from the parking, leading users to walk through the parking after an already long walk through the space. This resulted in increased frustration from users.”

Roads to and from the venue were also packed, with attendees spending hours stuck in traffic.

“Having left my house at around 1 p.m., and there was a lot of traffic, it took me over an hour to get there,” one visitor from the US told Arab News.

“It was a mess with the traffic. The venue was large. It’s at least a 2-3 mile walk because it’s so huge and overwhelming, though nice. But there were no legends or maps to tell you where to go. They (the crowd) were just standing there,” she added.

LEAP23 will run until Feb. 9, and features an exhibitor and convention line-up of transformational talent, a product showcase of advanced and generative technology potential, and a celebrity guest list of billionaire entrepreneurs, business magnates, sporting heroes, and musical icons-turned futurists and financiers.

On Monday, the conference announced more than $9 billion in investments to support future technologies, entrepreneurship, and tech startups to enhance the Kingdom’s position as the largest digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa region.
 


Saudi Cabinet affirms full support for Iraq’s stability, security

King Salman chairs weekly Council of Ministers meeting at Irqah Palace in Riyadh. (SPA file photo)
King Salman chairs weekly Council of Ministers meeting at Irqah Palace in Riyadh. (SPA file photo)
Updated 07 February 2023

Saudi Cabinet affirms full support for Iraq’s stability, security

King Salman chairs weekly Council of Ministers meeting at Irqah Palace in Riyadh. (SPA file photo)
  • Kingdom’s chair of Digital Cooperation Organization until 2030 hailed
  • Major conferences this week assuring nation’s global leadership role

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday affirmed the Kingdom’s support for the Iraqi government’s efforts to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity for its people.

At the start of the session, chaired by King Salman at Irqah Palace in Riyadh, ministers were briefed on the recent talks between Saudi Arabia and several other countries. These were held to ensure regional and global development, cooperation and stability.

Minister of State and Acting Minister of Media Issam bin Saad bin Saeed said that the Cabinet addressed several reports on regional and international conferences hosted by Saudi Arabia during the week. He said these events were held to secure partnerships and investment that would further boost the nation’s leadership role on the global stage.

The Cabinet also welcomed the election of Saudi Arabia as chair of the executive council of the Digital Cooperation Organization, a post it will hold until 2030. This highlights the Kingdom’s pioneering role in technology and the digital economy, and would assist in building mutually beneficial relations and pacts with member states that would ensure a promising digital future for everyone.

The Cabinet also discussed the latest regional and international developments, and stressed that Saudi Arabia supports those nations affected by Monday’s earthquakes, which resulted in deaths, injuries and missing people.