Saudi Arabia harbors more gender-diverse gaming sector globally, experts say

The US average of women in the gaming industry is typically 20%, Liu said. Using those statistics, Saudi Arabia supersedes that number across its game development studios, Tams said during the panel. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)
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The US average of women in the gaming industry is typically 20%, Liu said. Using those statistics, Saudi Arabia supersedes that number across its game development studios, Tams said during the panel. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)
At Next World Forum, the largest esports and gaming conference worldwide, industry leaders and experts stated that Saudi Arabia statistically has a more gender diverse sector compared to its US counterpart. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)
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At Next World Forum, the largest esports and gaming conference worldwide, industry leaders and experts stated that Saudi Arabia statistically has a more gender diverse sector compared to its US counterpart. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)
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Updated 03 September 2023
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Saudi Arabia harbors more gender-diverse gaming sector globally, experts say

Saudi Arabia harbors more gender-diverse gaming sector globally, experts say
  • Jessica Tams, the CEO of Seven Falls, participated in a panel discussion featuring prominent female personalities in the esports industry

RIYADH: At the recent Next World Forum in Riyadh, the largest esports and gaming conference worldwide, industry leaders and experts noted that Saudi Arabia has a more gender-diverse sector compared to its US counterpart.

Jessica Tams, the CEO of Seven Falls, participated in a panel discussion featuring prominent female personalities in the esports industry, including Holly Liu of PKO Investments, investor Boyoung Kim, and adviser and investor Fan Shen.

The panel, “Breaking the Code: The Challenges for Women in Gaming Leadership,” explored female success in a male-dominated world as well as the significant challenges women faced, such as fighting stereotypes and making difficult career decisions.

The US average of women in the gaming industry is typically 20 percent, Liu said. Using those statistics, Saudi Arabia supersedes that number across its game development studios, Tams said during the panel. 

“Hopefully that will stay … because of the programs from the government and training, and because they are gender-blind, when they’re coming up, and they’re very data-driven, it’s enabled a lot of women to come up and have jobs,” Tams said. 

They drew an example from one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent game development companies. 

Tams said: “I’ve noticed most of the companies in the gaming space are doing well, because having a diverse company makes better products. The companies that are very toxic, luckily are not producing this product for us. You can see a great example, actually, here in the Kingdom with Manga Productions, where they have over 60 percent women on staff.”

“They have programs for youth where they funnel them up, send them off to Japan and the US to get trained, and bring them back. They’ve noticed that a lot of the people that are coming back, because they’re so highly qualified, are actually women.”

In the US, finding women leaders in the industry is difficult. Griffin Gaming Partners attempted to track the number of female co-founder companies over the past year — but that wasn’t enough, Kim said. The numbers stayed stagnant and low, quarter after quarter, and it became a challenge to actively increase outbound activities to seek out those female founders.

Kim explained that the process involves “intentionally seeking out those opportunities. Same thing for recruiting: we took a data-driven approach, and noticed that there simply wasn’t enough coming down the pipeline from the initial application submission stage. 

“So, what we had to do was reach out to candidates with experiences that we’re looking for, or adjacent experiences if it had to be, and once they came through the interviewer pipeline, really training them, spending extra time giving them the unfair advantage — because they have an unfair playground when they join.” 

A study conducted by the University of California Los Angeles showed that women are more inclined to voice their opinions when there is a representation of at least 30 percent or more women in the room.

One major barrier for women in the gaming industry is the male-dominated company cultures, pay gaps, and lack of belonging as minorities. Women leaders are taking action by actively including women in the field, providing safe spaces for their growth, promoting themselves and other women, and creating opportunities. It is important to incorporate women into corporate and decision-making spaces, as diverse leadership teams lead to greater innovation, growth and creativity.

“I think it’s very important for any company to realize that because females, right now, fall in a lot more economic power. Having female employees in leadership to really capture that is really beneficial for the business,” Shen said. 


‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)
Updated 14 sec ago
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‘Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative’ invites local participants to join fifth edition

Ithra has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative.” (SPA)

DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Ithra, has announced the opening of entries to participate in the fifth annual initiative “Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative,” which is centered on leveraging the rich heritage of culture and arts in the Eastern Province.

“Al-Sharqiya Gets Creative” will be held from Nov. 1-23 in several spaces within the Eastern Province, including activations at Ithra headquarters.

As in the last four iterations, local creatives in the Eastern Province will be invited to offer curated programming. This year, as in the past, they are soliciting entries from the corporate sector, education sector, culinary sectors, social sector, sports sector, arts sector, trade sector, and logistics sector.
 
The previous editions of the initiative surpassed 700 entities and establishments, with over 2,300 creative contributions, 55 strategic partners and five main partners.
 
According to the statement, the initiative seeks to strengthen the concept of social responsibility among entities and individuals to achieve integration and uplift the community and all its institutions. The initiative aims to create a qualitative shift in the creative culture and to create a welcoming environment that discovers and develops talents, helping to make the Eastern Province a destination for creativity and creative tourism in the Kingdom.
 
This open call seeks entries from local creatives and asks them to share their talent in a leadership role. Among the requests is to pitch an in-person workshop idea, propose a talk or any other relevant programming idea. Those who earn a spot within this initiative will become leaders during the 23-day initiative, in which the general public will be invited to attend.
 
Interested local leaders in the creative space are invited to apply via the online portal. Registration will remain open for the next month through the initiative’s page on the Ithra website.


Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims

Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims
Updated 19 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims

Saudi Scouts Association issues maps for pilgrims
  • Pilgrims can download the map application from the association’s website at www.scouts.org.sa
  • Several changes to the holy sites and the two central areas in Makkah and Madinah recorded and updated

MAKKAH: The Saudi Arabian Scouts Association has issued detailed and interactive maps to help pilgrims.

The maps include the Mina and Arafat areas, the central area of ​​the Holy Mosque and the Aziziyah neighborhood in Makkah, the entire city of Madinah, the central area of ​​the Prophet’s Mosque, the Al-Naseem neighborhood, and Batha Quraish.

Pilgrims can download the map application from the association’s website at www.scouts.org.sa.

The general leader of the public service camps, Nasser bin Ali Al-Anazi, said this year’s maps were issued after continuous field and office work carried out from an early stage. He praised both the team’s efforts and the support and follow-up that camp volunteers received.

Al-Anazi said several changes to the holy sites and the two central areas in Makkah and Madinah had been recorded and updated. The most important were the new developments in Mina, particularly the new residential towers.

The head of the guide maps committee at the camps, Eng. Waleed Khaled Felemban, said the inclusion of the Al-Naseem neighborhood and Batha Quraish were new this year. He said 150,000 layers were needed for the software used to ensure clear, easy-to-use maps.


Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations opened for pilgrims

The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 24 min 58 sec ago
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Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations opened for pilgrims

The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday. (SPA)
  • Pilgrims can now use the metro to move between the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah
  • The service follows the end of a 90-day trial of the line, which Saudi Arabia Railways announced on Monday

RIYADH: The Al-Mashaer Al-Mugaddasah Metro Line’s nine stations were opened for Hajj pilgrims on Thursday.

Pilgrims can now use the metro to move between the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The service follows the end of a 90-day trial of the line, which Saudi Arabia Railways announced on Monday.

Seventeen trains are available on the line for pilgrims throughout the season.

Saudi Arabia Railways has completed all maintenance and upgrades to trains, stations, signaling and communication systems, and its operations and control center.

The company has contracted over 7,500 seasonal workers, including individuals fluent in English, Turkish, Indonesian and other languages.


Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims

Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims
Updated 38 min 24 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims

Saudi Arabia embraces technology to deliver effective Hajj experience to pilgrims
  • SDAIA’s efforts during the Hajj season focus on providing data-driven capabilities and predictive analytics
  • Technologies have been leveraged to support government agencies working in Hajj

RIYADH: The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence has deployed advanced data and AI technologies to streamline the entry process for Hajj pilgrims.

The SDAIA has this year equipped 14 entry points across the Kingdom — including airports, seaports, and land borders — with the necessary technical infrastructure to ease entry procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In addition, the body is backing the Makkah Route Initiative, partnering with multiple government bodies to implement the program in seven countries worldwide.

SDAIA’s efforts during the Hajj season focus on providing data-driven capabilities and predictive analytics, enhanced through continuous innovation in AI.

These technologies have been leveraged to support government agencies working in Hajj. The body has deployed a national technical team to secure communication circuits and ensure uninterrupted service in the regions of Makkah, Madinah, the Eastern Province, Tabuk, Al-Jouf, the Northern Borders, and Najran.

The SDAIA team is providing its services at various entry points, including King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Jeddah Islamic Port, Taif Airport, Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, the Empty Quarter, Al-Batha, Salwa, Ar Ruqi, King Fahd Causeway, Halat Ammar, Neom Port in the Tabuk region, Jadidah Arar in the Northern Borders region, Al-Haditha in the Al-Jouf region, and Al-Wadiah in the Najran region.

The SDAIA is providing technical support to border crossing points, sorting sites, and security control centers through the National Information Center, according to the SPA.

It operates in 78 locations in the holy sites, offering systems, services, and technical products while enhancing integration with other government agencies. This integration ensures the availability of pilgrims’ data before their arrival, reducing the time required for entry registration.

The SDAIA has set up a round-the-clock technical support center to handle reports and resolve issues for various sectors during Hajj. Mobile technical kits have been deployed to ensure swift response to problems at all entry points and preventive maintenance has been carried out on workstations and network devices at Hajj terminals.

The SDAIA has also overseen the infrastructure and data rooms in the reception halls for pilgrims. Additionally, biometric capture and registration stations have been established at border points, with devices prepared, programmed, and equipped with the approved software. Personnel from participating sectors have also received training on the new systems and updates.

The organization has introduced Banan, a mobile device that enables identity verification services through biometric data for agencies working in the field.

The SDAIA has also developed the Sawaher and Baseer platforms to help manage crowd sizes effectively at various Hajj sites. These platforms ensure each location does not get overcrowded, promoting a safer and smoother experience for pilgrims.

The authority has integrated many pilgrim services into the Tawakkalna app. Pilgrims can now manage everything from Manasik Gate procedures to displaying their pilgrim cards, and entry permits for vehicles and personnel working on Hajj, in collaboration with Public Security.

Additionally, the platform offers the Rescue Me service and features such as the digital Qur’an, prayer times, and qibla direction.


Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke

Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke
Updated 59 min 48 sec ago
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Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke

Turkish pilgrim’s life saved after stroke
  • Specialized medical team at King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah saved the life of a 70-year-old Turkish pilgrim
  • Patient regained full consciousness and was able to speak and move her limbs within less than an hour

MAKKAH: A specialized medical team at the King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah saved the life of a 70-year-old Turkish pilgrim who suffered a stroke.

The team performed a minimally invasive procedure that involved inserting a catheter into the brain to unblock the clogged artery and remove a blood clot.

The patient regained full consciousness and was able to speak and move her limbs within less than an hour.

She was then placed in the intensive neurological care unit for monitoring.