Arabic software pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies

Arabic software pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies
In 2021, Al-Sharekh was awarded the King Faisal International Prize, the most prestigious prize in the Muslim world. (SPA)
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Updated 07 March 2024
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Arabic software pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies

Arabic software pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies
  • First person to incorporate Arabic language into computers
  • Al-Sharekh’s work has ensured greater inclusivity in digital age

RIYADH: Mohammad Al-Sharekh, the Kuwaiti entrepreneur who made history by becoming the first person to develop an Arabic-language operating system for computers, died on Wednesday at 82.

Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters stated on X: “The General Secretariat conveyed the condolences of His Excellency the Minister of Information and Culture, Chairman of the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Literature, Mr. Abdul Rahman Badah Al-Mutairi, and the leaders and employees of the Council to the families and lovers of the deceased over this tragedy.”

In the early 1980s, most computers were designed exclusively for English speakers, presenting a significant barrier for those who spoke other languages. Al-Sharekh saw this as a challenge and dedicated himself to finding a solution.

After years of research and development, he created the first Arabic-language interface for computers.

 

 

In 1980, he founded Al-Alamiah Group with its headquarters in Kuwait and established Sakhr Software Company in 1982, which emerged as a leader in research and development in Arabic-language processing.

Al-Sharekh’s company has gained several patents related to the use of Arabic in computers. The SSC is the only company in the Middle East North Africa region to hold three US patents in this field.

The company has developed several groundbreaking commercial products and solutions known for their accuracy and performance, including Arabic-to-English machine translation, and optical character recognition for languages utilizing Arabic scripts.

In 1986, the company became Microsoft’s Arabic-language localization services provider.

Al-Sharekh’s work not only facilitated communication and collaboration in the Arab world but also inspired a new generation of technologists to push the boundaries of linguistic diversity in technology.

This achievement marked a significant milestone in the history of technology, as it opened up new possibilities for Arabic speakers to engage with computers and access information in their preferred language.

Before the SSC, Al-Sharekh served as the deputy director-general for the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

He was also the representative for Kuwait and the Arab Group at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Washington, D.C.

Al-Sharekh co-founded — and chaired the board of directors — of the Industrial Bank of Kuwait, and also served as vice chairman of the Association of Arab Economists.

Al-Sharekh received numerous accolades for his work throughout his career.

In 2021, he was awarded the prestigious King Faisal International Prize, which recognizes outstanding service to Islam, Islamic studies, Arabic language and literature, medicine and science.

Al-Sharekh won the State Prize in 2018 from the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait; and received the World Summit Awards and the E-Inclusion Award in 2007.

In 2002, he won Arabian Business’ E-Visionary of the Year award, and in 1998 he received “The Best Products” award at Comdex’s exhibition.

Al-Sharekh holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Cairo University in Egypt. He earned his master’s degree in development economics from Williams College in the US.

His work in the field of technology and linguistics has had a lasting impact in the world of digital communication.

Al-Sharekh’s dedication to bridging the gap between different languages and cultures has paved the way for greater inclusivity in the digital age.


TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May

TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May
Updated 58 min 55 sec ago
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TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May

TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May
  • TVTC said it signed 54 agreements with several authorities during the month and implemented 136 programs
  • TVTC held 214 meetings with human resources officials from various bodies to discuss cooperation and partnerships to attract graduates

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Technical and Vocational Training Corp, in coordination with the business sector, provided 25,171 job opportunities for graduates of technical training programs during May.

TVTC said it signed 54 agreements with several authorities during the month and implemented 136 programs to prepare graduates to enter the job market.

In addition, it held 214 meetings with human resources officials from various bodies to discuss cooperation and partnerships to attract graduates. It also distributed 594 questionnaires to measure the satisfaction of employers and 6,337 questionnaires to measure graduate satisfaction.

The center said it is working to implement several programs and initiatives to facilitate the employment of graduates. Its initiatives include the “Job Opportunity for Every Graduate” initiative, and it has established career coordination offices in affiliated universities and institutes.

TVTC holds employment exhibitions and forums at universities and institutes to link graduates and employers. In May, 141 employment forums and exhibitions were held in various regions of the Kingdom.


Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah

Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah
Updated 24 June 2024
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Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah

Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah
  • Old mattresses were repackaged and disguised with new covers to trick consumers
  • Seized items included 1,921 mattresses, 2,700 meters of raw fabric and mattress covers, and 5 tonnes of wood, which were all destroyed

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Commerce’s inspection teams in Makkah foiled an illegal operation selling used mattresses from containers and dumps as new.

Old mattresses were repackaged and disguised with new covers to trick consumers. In collaboration with security authorities, the ministry shut the facility situated east of Makkah. Additionally, inspection teams confiscated a loaded truck and handed over the individuals involved for punishment under the anti-commercial fraud system.

Seized items included 1,921 mattresses, 2,700 meters of raw fabric and mattress covers, and 5 tonnes of wood, which were all destroyed. In addition, sewing machines and other tools were seized.

The Ministry of Commerce reiterated its commitment to combating commercial fraud and enforcing legal penalties against violators. The system stipulates penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment, fines of up to SR1 million, or both, as well as publicizing the names of violators.


8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington

8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington
Updated 23 June 2024
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8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington

8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington
  • Council tackles bilateral trade and investment issues, promotes market access

RIYADH: The eighth meeting of the Saudi-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council in the United States kicked off on Sunday in Washington DC.
The Saudi delegation was led by the General Authority of Foreign Trade (GAFT), and it included 20 government entities.
The council's goal is to monitor trade and investment relations in order to identify opportunities for expansion, work on removing trade and investment barriers, improve a promising trade and investment environment, and foster economic development between the two countries.
The council tackles bilateral trade and investment issues, promotes market access, protects and enforces intellectual property rights, manages data and e-commerce, builds capacity, and reviews trade and investment policies.
The Saudi delegation is scheduled to attend several meetings and workshops on the sidelines of the meeting, which will last until Friday.
These include a workshop titled "Trade Opportunities between the Middle East and the United States," which will be attended by US ambassadors in Gulf countries, and the opening session of the Select USA Investment Summit, which will be chaired by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The delegation will also participate in the fifth GCC-US Trade and Investment Dialogue Forum, a panel discussion titled "Saudi Investment in Technology," the US-Saudi Forum titled "Investing in Our Shared Future," the GCC-US Roundtable, and the Saudi-US Roundtable, all of which will include private sector participation from both sides.
The trade volume between Saudi Arabia and the US in 2023 was approximately $34 billion, with mineral products and fertilizers being the most significant Saudi exports to the US, while machinery, mechanical appliances and spare parts, and automobiles and spare parts were the top US imports.


Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
Updated 23 June 2024
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Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
  • Relocation of trees to expand green spaces, expedite lengthy process of growth and restoration

JEDDAH: Perennial plants, with their remarkable ability to endure harsh conditions such as droughts, climatic variations, and human activities, play a crucial role in our ecosystem, providing sustenance for people and animals, and contributing to the overall well-being of the environment.

Recognizing the importance of these invaluable assets, the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

In a four-month operation, some trees were moved to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s efforts toward environmental sustainability and vegetation development. (Supplied)

In a four-month operation, the center moved some trees to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s aims regarding environmental sustainability and vegetation development.

Khalid bin Saadullah Al-Saidi, representative of the general administration of grazing and the general administration of protection, supervision, and inspection of NCVC in the Madinah region, told Arab News: “The goal is to preserve the vegetation and relocate these perennial plants to maintain and care for them, achieving the desired objectives through collaboration and initiatives with environmental advocates across the Kingdom.”

HIGHLIGHT

The National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

The relocation process involves a thorough selection of trees, based on their type, size, condition, age, and benefits.

Specialists from the center use modern methods to relocate the trees, minimizing damage and ensuring survival.

The criteria used in selecting the trees depend on the type of tree, whether it is wild or cultivated, its size, condition, age, and the extent of its benefit. (Supplied)

The process involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors.

Perennials, such as Acacia ehrenbergiana, the Latin thorn tree (Acacia tortilis) and the Maerua crassifolia, that obstruct projects and development lines also will be relocated.

The process of relocating trees involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors. (Supplied)

“Acacia ehrenbergiana trees are important local trees in the Kingdom, characterized by their large size, numerous branches, and ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions,” Al-Saidi said.

The wild acacia tree can act as a windbreak, and also provides shade and shelter for birds, as well as sustenance for livestock. The trees can grow to a height of about nine meters, and bear yellow flowers, mostly blooming from mid-February to May. These attract grazing bees, which produce “Salim” honey.

The relocation process went smoothly, thanks to the presence of experts from the center, Al-Saidi said.

“We also acknowledge the cooperation of the Ministry of Transport branch in the region in transporting the trees on main roads, and the interest and cooperation of citizens in this initiative,” he added.

This endeavor makes a substantial contribution to conserving and enriching biodiversity in the Madinah region. Focusing on indigenous tree species, which are integral to the environment and resilient to various conditions, is essential for ensuring sustainability for both present and future generations. The relocation of these trees not only expands green spaces, but also expedites the lengthy process of growth and restoration.

Earlier, on the occasion of World Environment Day, Al-Saidi said: “It is always the duty of individuals to care for the environment and practice proper behaviors to ensure sustainability for the current and future generations.”

NCVC continues to work on such activities and initiatives throughout the year, aiming to safeguard mature and rare trees, ensuring their long-term sustainability, and enriching biodiversity and eco-tourism efforts.

The center’s efforts will lead to the preservation of a wide variety of trees across the Kingdom, promoting environmental sustainability and conservation.

 


More than 1,300 pilgrims die during Hajj pilgrimage – most unauthorized

Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
Updated 24 June 2024
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More than 1,300 pilgrims die during Hajj pilgrimage – most unauthorized

Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
  • Health protocols effectively mitigated heat stress
  • Free health services to pilgrims commenced even before their arrival

RIYADH: More than 1,300 people died while performing Hajj this year, having walked long distances without sufficient protection from the sun – 83 percent unauthorised - Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel said.

Among the deceased were several elderly and chronically ill individuals.
The health minister underscored the significant efforts made by the competent authorities to raise awareness on the dangers of heat stress and the importance of preventive measures.
He added: “Our heartfelt condolences go to their families …. All reports have been compiled, families of the deceased notified, and identification completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and honoring the deceased, with death certificates provided.”

Health workers performed more than 465,000 health procedures, including 141,000 on people who were unauthorized to perform Hajj.

“This achievement was made possible through the coordinated efforts of the health system and the Hajj security forces, with no recorded outbreaks of epidemics or widespread diseases,” the minister said.

“The health system provided more than 465,000 specialized treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who didn’t obtain official authorization to perform Hajj."
But Al-Jalajel said the health of pilgrims during Hajj was good, despite the high temperatures experienced at the holy sites.
He praised the work of the health authorities’ swift response, and the effective support of the Hajj security forces in managing and reducing the effects of heat stress.
The health system treated cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care.

The minister added that the Kingdom’s provision of free health services to pilgrims commenced even before their arrival, with awareness programs at air, sea, and land border crossings. About 1.3 million preventive services were delivered, including early detection, vaccinations, and medical care upon arrival.

The healthcare services offered included open-heart surgerie, cardiac catheterization, dialysis, and emergency care, totaling over 30,000 ambulance services, with 95 air ambulance operations ensuring the delivery of advanced health services in medical cities across the Kingdom.
Additionally, the healthcare system made available nearly 6,500 beds and rooms. Measures to combat heat stress included the development of devices that enable the rapid and effective rescue of affected individuals.