DiplomaticQuarter: Greece and Saudi Arabia are stronger together, says envoy

The Greek embassy in Saudi Arabia hosted a celebration on Tuesday to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the Hellenic Republic. (Greece’s embassy in Saudi Arabia)
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The Greek embassy in Saudi Arabia hosted a celebration on Tuesday to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the Hellenic Republic. (Greece’s embassy in Saudi Arabia)
Greek’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alexis Konstantopoulos, cuts a cake with Faisal Al-Sudairy, the undersecretary of Riyadh region, at a national day reception. (Greece’s embassy in Saudi Arabia)
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Greek’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alexis Konstantopoulos, cuts a cake with Faisal Al-Sudairy, the undersecretary of Riyadh region, at a national day reception. (Greece’s embassy in Saudi Arabia)
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Updated 16 March 2023
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DiplomaticQuarter: Greece and Saudi Arabia are stronger together, says envoy

The Greek embassy in Saudi Arabia hosted a celebration on Tuesday to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the Hellenic Republic.
  • Greek Embassy hosted the celebration on Tuesday to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the Hellenic Republic
  • Greece and Saudi Arabia share a long common history, not only in the early ages, but also since the 1950s

RIYADH: Alexis Konstantopoulos, the ambassador of Greece to Saudi Arabia, has highlighted the importance of enduring relations between the nations at the European country's national day celebration.

The Greek Embassy hosted the celebration on Tuesday to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the Hellenic Republic.

Faisal Al-Sudairy, undersecretary of the Riyadh region, attended the event on behalf of Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Konstantopoulos told Arab News: “Greece and Saudi Arabia are stronger together, and as we celebrate joys and successes, tonight we celebrate not only our national day but our vibrant, strong and strategic partnership.

“Today we are celebrating our national day, which is on March 25, but we have chosen to hold the celebration before Ramadan. Tonight we are celebrating not only our national day but also the very strong, vibrant, and strategic relationship we have with Saudi Arabia.

“We are very close partners; our leaders work very closely. We have set up a Strategic Partnership Council that is going to take our relationship to the next level.

“So tonight we are celebrating our friendship, everything we are doing together and we are going to do in the future.”

Greece and Saudi Arabia share a long common history, not only in the early ages, as two ancient civilizations, but also since the 1950s.

Constantinos Doxiadis, the famous Greek architect and urban planner, stamped his expertise on the Riyadh masterplan, while many companies from Greece contributed to the building of oil and gas resources, and shipping and marine infrastructure on the Red Sea.

Konstantopoulos added: “We work together to uphold regional peace and stability, [and] also through common military exercises alongside other allies.

“The presence of Greek forces in the Kingdom illustrates Greece’s strong commitment to stand firmly by Saudi Arabia. Our common ambition is to build strong and long-lasting strategic bilateral ties.

“Thanks to the successful visits of our prime minister to Riyadh in October 2021 and the Saudi crown prince to Athens in July 2022, the last two years have been extremely fruitful in the promotion of our bilateral cooperation.

“Our leaders decided to set up a Strategic Partnership Council which will allow for annual summits, while seven different sub-committees will be working throughout the year to explore further opportunities in government and business.”

He went on to mention the formation of the Greek-Saudi Business Council last October in Athens, while noting the Kingdom’s impressive reform program through Vision 2030.

He added that Greece, with its know-how and expertise, was eager to support Saudi Arabia in its future course.


Saudi Arabia pledges to continue efforts to promote and protect human rights

Head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri participates in an event in Geneva.
Head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri participates in an event in Geneva.
Updated 11 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia pledges to continue efforts to promote and protect human rights

Head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri participates in an event in Geneva.
  • Pledge was made during an event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Geneva on Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has pledged to continue its efforts to promote and protect human rights by harmonizing national legislation and practices with international human rights standards.

The voluntary pledge was made during an event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the headquarters of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Sunday. 

Other pledges included investing in the Kingdom’s position and global influence to continue its vital role in settling regional and international disputes, cooperating internationally to maintain the basic pillars of the UN, and continuing to launch global human rights initiatives such as the Initiative to Protect Children in the Cyber World and the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives.

The head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri said the anniversary was a valuable opportunity to review what has been accomplished over the past 75 years and draw lessons from events in order to correct the course of human rights in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue and respect for global and cultural diversity.


Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia

Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia
Updated 11 December 2023
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Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia

Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia
  • Repurposing olive byproducts supports local economies, contributes to environmental conservation

JEDDAH: Families across Saudi Arabia are preparing for winter, which for many means outdoor picnics and gatherings.

These often involve using charcoal for grilling and warmth, but this traditional practice has taken a toll on the environment.

However, the Kingdom’s versatile landscape has paved the way for innovative industrial substitutes. A natural alternative known as “jift” — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

During the October production season, farmers and olive oil presses collaborate to repurpose byproducts such as branches and leaves into materials for use in various commercial products.

Olive oil specialist Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, a consultant at the University of London, shed light on the process of making jift charcoal and its significant benefits for both the environment and the local economy.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jift is the pulpy substance left behind after the majority of oil has been extracted from the olive paste.

• It is made through the slow drying of agricultural residues, which are then fermented, dried, shaped into blocks.

• It is available for around SR40 ($11) per carton.

Jift is the pulpy substance left behind after the majority of oil has been extracted from the olive paste. Sabouni said: “Its value is determined by the concentrations of oil and water within, with moisture content varying based on the production process.”

Olive oil byproducts were ideal raw materials for creating jift charcoal due to their abundance and significant organic matter content, he added.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

The northern regions of Jouf and Tabuk, often referred to as the Kingdom’s “olive basket,” boast around 30 million olive trees covering 7,300 hectares. The rich soil provides an ideal environment, leading to the production of thousands of liters of olive oil each year. This offers numerous options to create products from the extracted jift, which can also be used in animal feed production.

Jift charcoal is made through the slow drying of agricultural residues, which are then fermented, dried, shaped into blocks or molds and burned in special ovens. The result is an eco-friendly alternative charcoal that can be used in heating homes, cooking and generating power.

Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, Expert

While jift charcoal is considered superior to traditional charcoal due to its longer burning time, widespread adoption in the Kingdom will require proper ovens.

Sabouni said: “The production of jift charcoal can play a significant role in utilizing olive oil byproducts. However, proper infrastructure and specialized ovens for burning olive oil residues and suspensions must be available.”

Toward a healthier Earth

Jift charcoal not only offers a sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal but also addresses environmental concerns associated with uncontrolled burning.

As the Kingdom explores the potential of jift charcoal production, it takes a significant step towards a greener and healthier future.

Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, Expert

Sabouni said: “Traditional charcoal burning in open fires or household stoves releases toxic gases and dense smoke, contributing to air pollution. In contrast, jift charcoal is produced using environmentally friendly methods, minimizing harmful emissions.”

Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its renewable energy capacity in the last two years as part of its move towards net zero emissions by 2060, according to the Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

At the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan emphasized the Kingdom’s commitment to a greener future and said: “We need to invest in innovative technology solutions — such as carbon capture, utilization and storage — and the circular carbon economy to achieve climate change goals, as well as achieving a reliable and just energy transition which will also contribute to supporting the growth of the global economy in a sustained manner.”

With the increasing emphasis on sustainable practices, jift charcoal has become a promising solution in Saudi Arabia. Demand is on the rise, leading to its production using industrial methods. It is conveniently packaged in specialized molds and available for no more than SR40 ($11) per carton.

“By repurposing olive oil byproducts this eco-friendly alternative not only supports local economies but also contributes to environmental conservation,” added Sabouni. “As the Kingdom explores the potential of jift charcoal production, it takes a significant step towards a greener and healthier future.”

 

 


Jeddah provides taste of Asia with Ramen and Anime Festival

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
Updated 11 December 2023
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Jeddah provides taste of Asia with Ramen and Anime Festival

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
  • Workshops and shows on traditional dishes, anime movies and comics
  • Children can make clay sushi, learn Japanese calligraphy, and construct paper lanterns

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Culinary Arts Commission will launch on Wednesday a Ramen and Anime Festival in the Little Asia zone in Jeddah, with the support of the Quality of Life Program.

The festival, which is part of the Jeddah Event Calendar 2023 and will run until Dec. 17, will provide visitors an opportunity to explore the culture of several Asian countries.

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)

Visitors will be able to experience how traditional dishes are prepared and buy souvenirs inspired by anime characters.

One zone of the festival will feature 15 daily performances of Asian-related shows, including some inspired by anime movies.

There will also be 15 workshops on culinary arts provided by elite local chefs.

FASTFACTS

• The Ramen and Anime Festival will run until Dec. 17.

• Visitors will be able to experience how traditional dishes are prepared and buy souvenirs inspired by anime characters.

• Children’s activities include how to make sushi with clay, learn Japanese calligraphy in sand, and construct paper lanterns.

A special zone for children has been set up to show them how to make sushi with clay, learn Japanese calligraphy in sand, and construct paper lanterns.

An outdoor cinema will show anime films every day. Side events include a group of roaming performers dressed in costumes based on popular anime characters.

The festival is part of the Ministry of Culture’s plans to boost cultural ties with Asian nations.

 

 


Over 260,000 Saudi students gear up for AI Olympics

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
Updated 11 December 2023
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Over 260,000 Saudi students gear up for AI Olympics

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
  • This competition will test students’ tech skills in problem-solving and AI algorithms, focusing on analyzing problems, designing learning-based algorithms, data structuring, and programming

RIYADH: The National Olympics for Programming and Artificial Intelligence, or ATHKA, achieved a record-breaking enrolment of more than 260,000 Saudi students from over 10,000 schools at intermediate and secondary levels in the Kingdom.

ATHKA, a collaboration between the Saudi Data and AI Authority, the Ministry of Education, and the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, or Mawhiba, aims to foster a generation skilled in programming and AI.

The application process starts with a qualifying test and progresses to a remote stage, featuring 30 hours of training for competition readiness. The five-day competition is scheduled to take place in Riyadh, starting April 23, 2024.

This competition will test students’ tech skills in problem-solving and AI algorithms, focusing on analyzing problems, designing learning-based algorithms, data structuring, and programming.

In April 2023, the Kingdom secured second place globally in societal awareness of AI. This achievement follows a survey demonstrating increased confidence among Saudi citizens in utilizing AI products and services.

In October, the Ministry of Education introduced the Artificial Intelligence Hour initiative, a training program for 575,000 students and 9,700 teachers in over 1,300 schools across Saudi Arabia, focusing on the concepts of AI.

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students, inspiring the next generation of programmers as part of the Kingdom’s youth empowerment efforts.

Since 2019, the Saudi Data and AI Authority, under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has elevated awareness and built human capabilities in data and AI while Mawhiba, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, trains gifted public school students in various subjects.

 

 


Who’s Who: Hussain Al-Dawood, cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM

Hussain Al-Dawood
Hussain Al-Dawood
Updated 11 December 2023
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Who’s Who: Hussain Al-Dawood, cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM

Hussain Al-Dawood

Hussain Al-Dawood has been a cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM since December 2022.

He spearheads this unit within the chief information security office and collaborates with diverse sectors and departments to implement cutting-edge processes and lead initiatives on cyber experimentation, resiliency, and cognitive analytics. He is at the forefront of shaping NEOM’s global standing in cybersecurity.

In 2021, Al-Dawood assumed the position of chief information security officer at Arabian Drilling, where he established the cybersecurity department and pioneered a best-in-class strategy. His introduction of unique practices has set industry benchmarks.

From 2019 to 2021, Al-Dawood served as the director of cybersecurity at GulfNet Solutions Co. Ltd. During this time, he provided consulting and advisory services, demonstrating adeptness in aligning security management strategy with business goals. This saw him supporting high-profile clients in navigating operational requirements. During this time, he served as a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Al-Dawood’s journey began at Saudi Aramco in 2010, where he rose through the ranks as a cybersecurity professional. He managed substantial cybersecurity budgets and steered the implementation of the corporate data protection program.

He represents the Global Centre for Cybersecurity at the World Economic Forum and chairs the Global Cybersecurity Forum Institute’s Knowledge Community on Cognitive and Smart Cities. His involvement with the International Telecommunication Union in developing security standards underscores his global influence.

Al-Dawood holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Arizona, a Master of Business Administration qualification from Florida Atlantic University, and a doctorate in cybersecurity and information systems from the University of Newcastle. He has pursued executive education at Harvard University, focusing on cybersecurity leadership and risk management.

He is also professionally certified by leading organizations including the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the Project Management Institute, the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board, the Computing Technology Industry Association, and the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants.