PwC, Microsoft launch CoE to develop Saudi AI talent

PwC, Microsoft launch CoE to develop Saudi AI talent
PwC Middle East and Microsoft announced the AI Center of Excellence during LEAP.
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Updated 25 March 2024
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PwC, Microsoft launch CoE to develop Saudi AI talent

PwC, Microsoft launch CoE to develop Saudi AI talent

PwC Middle East in Saudi Arabia and Microsoft have announced the launch of an artificial intelligence center of excellence in Riyadh that will upskill and scale the AI capabilities of Saudi engineers and researchers. The launch of the AI Center of Excellence, announced during LEAP 2024, supports the Kingdom’s community development and nationalization agenda by nurturing next-generation talent in alignment with Vision 2030.

Running every two months, each cohort of the program will recruit top talent through partnerships with leading universities in the Kingdom. These young Saudi professionals will be trained in cutting-edge AI skills and technologies including Azure OpenAI and open source models and frameworks. The center will serve as a unique platform for knowledge exchange and collaborative learning, engaging both local and global partners from public and private sectors to expand expertise and perspectives.

Ali Hosseini, chief technology officer, PwC Middle East, said: “Our commitment to Saudi Vision 2030 and our future in technology is unwavering. We’re focused on building unparalleled AI engineering capabilities within Saudi Arabia. By investing in local talent, PwC is set to pioneer a new era of technological excellence that will not only serve the Kingdom but also the wider region. In partnership with Microsoft, we are proud to launch a platform that nurtures and develops next-generation AI talent, carefully selected from the Kingdom’s premier universities. This effort to enhance the skills of our talent pool underscores our dedication to maximizing the benefits of AI technologies for Saudi Arabia. Such initiatives are designed to drive economic growth in key sectors and position the nation as a leader in knowledge and technological innovation.”

As part of the collaboration, Microsoft will provide expertise, training resources, and access to cutting-edge AI technology platforms. PwC will spearhead the strategic approach, program management, operational framework, and curriculum development for the center of excellence.

Turki Badhris, president, Microsoft Arabia, added: “Skilling the workforce to take advantage of cloud and AI technologies is crucial to unlocking the full potential of these transformative technologies, and we are proud to play a role in this important endeavor. Through our partnership with PwC Middle East and the launch of the AI Center of Excellence in Riyadh, we aim to provide young Saudi engineers with the skills and tools they need to help drive innovation and economic growth in the Kingdom.”

The Kingdom holds a clear vision for the development and implementation of AI-based technologies, embarking on large-scale national programs to digitally transform the country. PwC and Microsoft have a long-standing alliance across a variety of different areas. In 2023, PwC US announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next three years to expand and scale its AI offerings, which includes an industry-leading relationship with Microsoft, creating scalable offerings using OpenAI’s GPT-4/ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service.

By leveraging their best technology and resources worldwide, PwC Middle East and Microsoft are firmly focused on championing the next phase of digitally-focused talent development in the Kingdom. Ultimately, the AI Center of Excellence will help enable more innovative and sustained outcomes for clients across the region, supporting the digital transformation ambitions of governments and businesses alike.


Emirati-Chinese cultural exchange on show at book fair

Emirati-Chinese cultural exchange on show at book fair
Updated 24 June 2024
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Emirati-Chinese cultural exchange on show at book fair

Emirati-Chinese cultural exchange on show at book fair

In a bid to support Emirati publishers in exploring the trends of the Chinese publishing market and understanding the aspirations of readers in this ancient country, the Emirates Publishers Association participated in the Beijing International Book Fair 2024. This event, one of the most influential book fairs in Asia, took place from June 19-23.

The association’s participation, featuring a dedicated pavilion, underscored its commitment to supporting Emirati publishers and advancing the publishing industry in the UAE. This initiative aligns with the vision and directives of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al-Qasimi, founder and honorary president of the EPA.

As part of its ongoing efforts to provide global expansion opportunities for its members, the EPA successfully secured sponsorship from the Beijing International Book Fair for three of its members through the SME sponsorship program. This program, which supports small publishers worldwide, offered a unique opportunity to 30 publishers globally, including three Emirati publishers. The selected publishers benefitted from a sponsored pavilion, training courses, and networking opportunities to expand their businesses both in China and internationally.

The three sponsored publishers are: Khalid Al-Ali, founder of Bawabat Al-Kitab Publishing House; Nour Arab, founder of Nour Publishing; and Kira Jean, founder of The Dreamwork Collective, a community of writers, entrepreneurs, creators, and trainers committed to inspiring creators and sharing their stories with the world.

Publisher Mohammed Bindekhain, member of the EPA board and treasurer, and director of Altakhayol Publishing House, said that participating in the exhibition reflects the UAE’s openness to diverse cultures and civilizations. He emphasized the association’s dedication to strengthening cultural cooperation and exchange between China and the UAE, and to leveraging China’s pioneering experience in publishing and knowledge production.

He said: “The book fair provides an opportunity to strengthen ties with international organizations and institutions in the publishing sector. It also serves as a platform to promote Emirati publishers and open horizons for forming partnerships to exchange publishing and translation rights through organized sessions with international publishers.”


Hyundai deploys robots at Seoul smart office

Hyundai deploys robots at Seoul smart office
Updated 24 June 2024
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Hyundai deploys robots at Seoul smart office

Hyundai deploys robots at Seoul smart office

Hyundai Motor Group announced the deployment of Hyundai Motor and Kia’s “DAL-e Delivery” robot and Hyundai WIA’s “Parking Robot” at Factorial Seongsu, providing innovative services at the robot-friendly office building in Seoul. The group also released a video of its deployed robots.

At IGIS Asset Management’s Factorial Seongsu, occupants can enjoy beverage delivery from the DAL-e Delivery robot and parking services from the Parking Robot, both utilizing the group’s latest technologies.

“With DAL-e’s full-fledged delivery service, we aim to make Factorial Seongsu the first building to apply our Robot Total Solution,” said Dong Jin Hyun, vice president and head of Robotics LAB at Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation. “We plan to expand our robotics services to more buildings, making these technological enhancements a major criterion for space innovation.”

The group has proposed a “Robot Total Solution” development plan, which involves using various robots and facial recognition systems in smart buildings, starting with Factorial Seongsu. It also intends to develop a “multi-integrated control system” for managing multiple delivery robots within the Robot Total Solution.


Commvault boosts emerging markets operations

Commvault boosts emerging markets operations
Updated 24 June 2024
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Commvault boosts emerging markets operations

Commvault boosts emerging markets operations

Commvault, a provider of cyber resilience and data protection solutions for the hybrid cloud, has announced the appointment of Ravi Baldev as senior director, sales engineering, emerging markets.

In his role as sales engineering director, Baldev will lead his team to continue supporting the development of new business within the emerging markets, providing invaluable leadership to the talented pre-sales team in the region.

With extensive and significant background at Dell, Ravi served as the chief technology officer (field) for cyber resilience in EMEA, where he orchestrated high-level engagements with CxOs, earning recognition as a central advocate for the organizations he worked with.

Prior to his time with Dell, Baldev has also held senior positions with ISIT AE, HSBC and STME.


KitKat partners with Esports World Cup in Riyadh

KitKat partners with Esports World Cup in Riyadh
Updated 23 June 2024
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KitKat partners with Esports World Cup in Riyadh

KitKat partners with Esports World Cup in Riyadh

Nestlé’s iconic chocolate brand KitKat has partnered with the Esports World Cup Foundation to support the inaugural Esports World Cup this summer in Riyadh. Their collaboration with the world’s largest gaming festival further integrates KitKat into global gaming culture, combining the brand’s catchy “Have a Break” philosophy with the necessary pauses that come with gaming at all levels — Get Ready to Climb, Break, and Dominate!

By supporting the Esports World Cup, KitKat aims to connect with competitive and casual gamers through its legendary ethos. Whether it is a tactical pause on stage to discuss strategy, or simply a moment to reset and come back refreshed to take on what is next, having a break is an essential aspect of the gaming experience. KitKat and EWC view breaks as an integral part of life inside and outside the game, together aspiring to make each moment of enjoyment and rejuvenation for players and maintain a healthy approach to gaming.

“We are excited to partner with an amazing brand like KitKat to bring a fresh energy and connection to the esports community,” said Mohammed Al-Nimer, sales director, Esports World Cup Foundation. “This collaboration will not only enhance the experience of all visitors, but also highlight the importance of having strategic breaks for better performance. I highly encourage all fans attending the Esports World Cup to visit the KitKat booth, have a break and enjoy some delicious KitKat goodies!”

“This partnership enables us to connect with the next generation of gaming enthusiasts, offering them the breaks they need both in-game and in life,” said Robert Helou, CEO of Nestlé KSA. “We believe we will deeply resonate with gamers by integrating our ‘Have a Break’ philosophy into the esports world. This collaboration highlights the importance of taking breaks and prioritizing mental well-being, especially in the high-stress environment of competitive gaming.”

Beginning July 3, the Esports World Cup will transform Riyadh into the epicenter of esports fandom and gaming culture. Located in Boulevard City, fans can watch their favorite athletes and clubs compete across 22 game championships for a share of more than $60 million in life-changing prize money — the largest prize pool in esports history. Across eight weeks, the Esports World Cup will also feature festival activities that include numerous gaming activations, community tournaments, pop culture celebrations, international experiences, and more.


Bahrain Airport Company conducts runway maintenance

Bahrain Airport Company conducts runway maintenance
Updated 23 June 2024
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Bahrain Airport Company conducts runway maintenance

Bahrain Airport Company conducts runway maintenance

Bahrain Airport Company, the operator and managing body of Bahrain International Airport, has successfully completed its second regular runway maintenance program, underscoring its continuous commitment to elevating safety measures across the airport operations, in adherence to the highest industry standards.

The runway maintenance program is conducted three times a year in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 14, Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority regulation, the Aerodrome Manual, and other ICAO standards and recommended practices. This maintenance program highlights BAC’s dedication to safety, business continuity, and the integration of preventative and corrective measures to avoid any disruption due to infrastructure unavailability.

BAC Chief Executive Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah said: “I would like to express my gratitude to our BAC facility management team, whose dedicated round-the-clock support and hard work has led to keeping our airport operations running smoothly and securely. Keeping the runway in optimal condition is crucial for safe and secure daily operations at the airport. At BAC, we are committed to continuously enhancing our safety measures to ensure the airport’s resilience and business continuity.”

The maintenance program is managed by a dedicated Bahraini team, which includes qualified engineers from the Airside and Landside Maintenance team. 

The planning for Airside Ground Lighting infrastructure is executed by a 20-member team of Airfield Ground Lighting technicians, working in four shifts.

BAC executes its runway maintenance program each time over a continuous period of 15 nights. During this period, the runway is closed for a brief span of two hours and 25 minutes to facilitate thorough maintenance works. The primary aim of these activities is to significantly enhance safety standards and provide safe aircraft movement surfaces.

During the runway maintenance program, on average, 114 personnel and 40 vehicles and equipment are deployed for maintenance. The maintenance covers runways, taxiways, and strips, including tasks like rubber removal, asphalt patching, remarking, joint sealing, shoulder repairs, grading, and various lighting and signage maintenance.