Saudi Arabia elected chair of UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Saudi Arabia elected chair of UNESCO World Heritage Committee
Madain Saleh became Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 25 January 2023

Saudi Arabia elected chair of UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Saudi Arabia elected chair of UNESCO World Heritage Committee
  • Unanimous vote ‘opens new chapter in Kingdom’s evolving history’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will chair UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee following a unanimous decision at the organization’s headquarters in Paris.

The committee will be chaired by Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to UNESCO, and chairperson of the organization’s programs and external relations committee.

The Paris meeting also agreed that Saudi Arabia will host the committee’s 45th session, which will be held in Riyadh from Sept. 10-25.

The selection was approved during the 18th session of the World Heritage Committee, which was held in the presence of all member states of the committee.

Princess Haifa tweeted: “In completion of the Kingdom’s prominent role in supporting and preserving human heritage, I am proud today of accrediting Saudi Arabia as chairman of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and for hosting of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee for the first time in September.”

The permanent delegation of the Kingdom to UNESCO tweeted: “Saudi Arabia is home to 6 millennial world heritage sites and 11 intangible heritage elements, Saudi Arabia will proudly host the 45th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in September— it’s a new chapter in our evolving history.”

The decision is the culmination of efforts led by the Kingdom in UNESCO, in light of unlimited support to the cultural sector by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the support and directives of Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan.

Princess Haifa praised the decision and said that it is simply the result of the Kingdom’s prominent role in supporting heritage, and its extended endeavors toward documenting human heritage alongside the member states of the committee, as well as achieving the goals of UNESCO in general, and the goals of the World Heritage Committee in particular.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of representatives of 21 states elected by the General Assembly, examines the proposals of states wishing to place their sites on the World Heritage List, assists experts to report on the sites, and provides the final assessment of the decision of the proposed sites on the list.

The Kingdom has two other members of UNESCO’s main committees, as well as its membership in the World Heritage Committee: membership of the Executive Council and membership of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which highlights the Kingdom’s role as a pivotal and international center of action in the organization’s decision-making.


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 13 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 56 min 23 sec ago

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 10 min 15 sec ago

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.

 

 


Saudi king, crown prince offer condolences on death of Musharraf

People attend the funeral prayer of Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf, in Karachi. (AP)
People attend the funeral prayer of Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf, in Karachi. (AP)
Updated 07 February 2023

Saudi king, crown prince offer condolences on death of Musharraf

People attend the funeral prayer of Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf, in Karachi. (AP)
  • Musharraf was buried in his hometown of Karachi on Tuesday after he passed away in hospital in Dubai on Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday sent cables of condolences to the President of Pakistan Arif Alvi after the passing of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf was buried in his hometown of Karachi on Tuesday after he passed away in hospital in Dubai on Sunday.

He had been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai since 2016 after suffering a rare organ disease.

The king and crown prince prayed for the deceased and offered their condolences to his family and the people of Pakistan.