Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 

Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
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The Digital center on the Metaverse, launched in 2022, uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as a tool to bridge cultures. (Supplied)
Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
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The Digital center on the Metaverse, launched in 2022, uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as a tool to bridge cultures. (Supplied)
Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
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The Digital center on the Metaverse, launched in 2022, uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as a tool to bridge cultures. (Supplied)
Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
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The Digital center on the Metaverse, launched in 2022, uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as a tool to bridge cultures. (Supplied)
Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
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The Digital center on the Metaverse, launched in 2022, uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as a tool to bridge cultures. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 August 2023
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Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 

Alwaleed Philanthropies conducts verbal abuse social experiment on metaverse 
  • Study found 70% of bystanders did not respond to an intervention 
  • More should be done to safeguard users from intolerance in virtual spaces, says AP secretary-general

RIYADH: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Alwaleed Philanthropies conducted a case study on the metaverse to measure users’ responses to verbal abuse in a virtual space.

AP Secretary-General Princess Lamia bint Majed said that the main goal of the study was to “capture a jarring discrepancy between the standards of social conduct in immersive spaces, versus what’s typically considered as acceptable behavior in the physical world.”

After receiving “unsettling reports citing abusive behavior” via its Digital Center on the Metaverse, AP decided to launch the study to advocate for meaningful change.

The social experiment was performed on artificial simulations acting as perpetrators and victims.

Users’ avatars were created to appear of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The experiment observed users’ willingness to intervene in situations with discrimination, and how long it would take for them to do so.

The result revealed significant disparity in kinds of abuse, particularly about ethnicity or religious orientation.

All the instances of abuse took place in congested parts of popular metaverse platforms: Decentraland, Sandbox, and Spatial.

Seventy percent of bystanders showed no response at all, and if an intervention occurred, it took an average of 2:02 minutes to occur.

In the three experiments where users were exposed to racial abuse and discrimination, no users intervened — despite taking place in typically crowded areas on the platform.

However, when the perpetrators’ avatars verbally harassed them due to their ethnic and religious backgrounds, there was a response from 2.8 percent of users.

Princess Lamia said: “We needed to show how a prevailing culture of ‘lawlessness’ in the virtual world could undermine the progress and values we fight for.”

She added: “Although we provide a snapshot of abusive behavior on the metaverse, it’s clear that more should be done to safeguard users from intolerance in virtual spaces.

“We all have a collective responsibility to drive social change, which often starts by changing mindsets.”

AP has remained committed to using its platform to combat social misconceptions and promote meaningful inclusion in the metaverse.

Its Digital Center on the Metaverse uses cultural dialogue, artistic exhibitions, and historical artifacts as tools to bridge cultures, allowing users to learn more about Islamic history and culture. 

“The digital-cultural nexus is a springboard that can help raise awareness around our shared history, so we’re excited to continue working in this new and exciting space,” the princess said.

“Rather than gate-keeping cultural resources, users were able to access exhibitions and engage with new ideas in cyberspace.

“We saw how social polarization grew in digital spaces, so we thought about using the same technology to foster tolerance and inclusion through education and dialogue,” she added. 

The organization has also launched Alwaleed Cultural Network in collaboration with many known institutions such as Harvard and Oxford University to promote cross-cultural dialogue through education.

Princess Lamia highlighted the importance of being responsible and accountable amid technological progress. 

“We can’t let rapid technological change compromise our historic progress on inclusion and tolerance. Generally speaking, accountability always comes back to a broader sense of ‘collective good,’” she said.

“We firmly believe that accountability is, and will always be, an active pursuit. So, whether we work on expanding access to cultural resources, or advocating for better safeguarding measures on the metaverse — our message focuses on protecting the inclusion and freedom we fight for. This helps build on our social consciousness, at both the individual and community levels,” she added.


Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities
Updated 9 sec ago
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Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

RIYADH: The Saudi Club at Harvard University recently organized a graduation ceremony for Saudi graduates from Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and Tufts University.

The event took place on Harvard’s campus in Boston and was attended by Mohammed Khashaan, director of the public diplomacy department at the Saudi Embassy in the US, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the ceremony, Khashaan said that the distinguished Saudi students are graduating in light of the transformations occurring under Saudi Vision 2030.

He highlighted the investment in the nation’s talented individuals, and said that the Kingdom is experiencing economic, industrial, and environmental growth, accompanied by renewed opportunities for its citizens to pursue their dreams, and contribute to building the future of the nation and the world.

Additionally, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Ratney, delivered a recorded speech in which he congratulated the graduating students and thanked the Saudi Club for organizing the event to celebrate their achievements.

“I have been in Saudi Arabia for only a year, and the professional and personal opportunities here have never been greater. Your country is rich in resources, but its most valuable asset is its human capabilities,” Ratney said.

He also highlighted the diversity he has observed in various fields, from filmmaking to video game development and space travel, and expressed his happiness at witnessing this growth.


Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria

Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria
Updated 2 min 4 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria

Saudi Arabia appoints new envoy to Syria

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has appointed Faisal Al-Mujfel as the kingdom's new ambassdor to Syria, the Saudi Press Agency said. 

"The honored ambassador extends his thanks to the leadership on the occasion of his appointment as Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic," SPA said.


Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative
Updated 6 min 52 sec ago
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Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

Elderly Indonesian pilgrims enjoy easier Hajj journey with Makkah Route Initiative

RIYADH: The Makkah Route Initiative implemented by the Ministry of Interior at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, is providing exceptional services to Indonesian pilgrims, ensuring a smooth and comfortable Hajj journey.

Elderly pilgrims have expressed gratitude for the ease of procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Siti Munasaru, a 69-year-old pilgrim from Tangerang, said she appreciates the ease with which Hajj procedures are carried out, and expressed deep gratitude to Saudi Arabia and those responsible for the initiative.

Suwatini Binti Amat, a 68-year-old pilgrim from Purworejo, Central Java, thanked the Kingdom for the services provided to pilgrims, and stressed that the Makkah Route Initiative has greatly relieved the hardships faced during traditional travel, particularly for elderly pilgrims, making their Hajj journey more comfortable and safer.

The Makkah Route Initiative has reduced waiting times, and made the trip to the holy land more convenient.

It reflects the strong collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and underscores the commitment to provide excellent services to pilgrims, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Services include the issuing of electronic Hajj visas, biometric data collection, completion of passport procedures in specialized lounges at departure airports, ensuring health requirements are met, and efficient luggage tagging and sorting. After arrival in the Kingdom, pathways are assigned, and partner agencies ensure hassle-free delivery of pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation.


MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia
Updated 1 min 41 sec ago
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MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

MoU signed to revive cultural sites in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Heritage Commission and ASFAR, Saudi Arabia’s tourism investment company fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance visitor experience at cultural heritage sites in the Kingdom.

Heritage Commission CEO Jasser Al-Harbash and ASFAR CEO Fahad bin Mushayt attended the signing, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The agreement aims to improve operational efficiency, enhance cooperation, develop plans, refine designs, and establish operational models for heritage sites across Saudi Arabia.

The commission highlighted the importance of partnerships in its commitment to developing the national heritage and archaeology sector, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

ASFAR plays a crucial role in shaping the Kingdom’s tourism sector through investments in tourist destinations, historical and cultural sites, SPA said.

The company aims to raise the prominence of Saudi cities on the tourism map by collaborating with public and private sectors.


Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border
Updated 26 May 2024
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Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

Young volunteers serve Iraqi pilgrims at Arar border

RIYADH: The spirit of volunteerism thrives in the Northern Borders region, where young men and women play an important role in welcoming pilgrims arriving from Iraq through the Jadidat Arar border crossing.

More than 80 volunteers affiliated with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Northern Border University, the Saudi Red Crescent, the Arar Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, have stepped up to serve the pilgrims.

Their dedication has been evident since the arrival of the first groups of pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Tasks include assisting the elderly, providing guidance and hospitality in the designated pilgrim city, and helping with entry procedures and basic health-related tasks, such as taking vital signs.

Several volunteers, some with years of experience, expressed the deep sense of fulfillment that comes from giving back. They view their service as a way to honor their faith, serve their country, and contribute to a smooth and comfortable pilgrim experience.

They also commended government agencies for making their tasks simpler by creating a seamless and flexible work environment.