Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations
The delegation will explore opportunities for research and technology transfer collaboration in robotics, artificial intelligence and clean energy.
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Updated 15 April 2024
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Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

Hong Kong university delegation visits UAE for collaborations

A high-level delegation from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology — a world-class research-intensive university that focuses on science, engineering, business, as well as humanities and social science, is visiting the UAE from April 15-18.

Led by the university president, the delegation aims to establish relationships with the UAE’s higher education and innovation sectors to explore opportunities for research and technology transfer collaboration in robotics, artificial intelligence and clean energy. Additionally, the delegation seeks to identify potential synergies between HKUST’s expertise in engineering and technology and the UAE’s investment in these essential areas for the future.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong and the UAE have formed strong economic partnerships, with the UAE emerging as one of Hong Kong’s main trading partners and the largest in the Middle East. Demonstrating the commitment to strengthening connections, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee embarked on his first overseas visit to the nation last year. Earlier in March, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Professor Sun Dong, visited the UAE to foster collaborations, particularly in the fields of technological innovation. Consequently, building upon these efforts, HKUST’s President Professor Nancy Ip is leading a delegation to the UAE, marking a significant milestone as the first leader among Hong Kong’s universities to reinforce the city’s commitment to advancing research and innovation with the UAE.

The HKUST delegation will establish new connections with key partners and stakeholders in the UAE’s higher education and innovation systems through various meetings and discussions with government representatives, various companies and other partners dealing with innovation, research, technology, and technology transfer in the fields of robotics, AI, clean energy, and startup incubation. These key institutions include the Dubai Future Foundation, University of Sharjah, Khalifa University and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.

Given HKUST’s plans to establish Hong Kong’s third medical school, the delegation will also visit the state-of-the-art medical-related research facilities of these key UAE institutions to gain insights and explore potential collaboration opportunities.

“HKUST is a distinguished global research institution with leadership in the field of AI. There is tremendous potential for collaborative ventures that span education, research, and knowledge transfer with the UAE, which has made substantial investment in the field. Together, we can make meaningful contributions to the advancement and betterment of humankind,” said Ip.


MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation
Updated 1 min 47 sec ago
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MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

MENA ISC 2024 returns to support KSA’s digital transformation

The MENA Information Security Conference, one of the oldest and most trusted events among chief information security officers and cybersecurity professionals in the region, will once again bring together top industry leaders and decision-makers, for its 12th edition, to discuss the latest cybersecurity challenges and share ground-breaking solutions.

With the theme, “Hyper-resilient Cyber: Navigating the Evolving Threat Landscape of the Interconnected World of IT, OT, IoT, IIoT, and Hybrid Cloud,” MENA ISC 2024 will address the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape and its implications for the Kingdom’s thriving businesses and critical infrastructure. The event will be held in Riyadh from Sept. 10-11.

The unemployment rate for Saudis dropped to 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2023, nearing the objective of 7 percent as set for Vision 2030. The nation is set to grow by 4.4 percent in 2024, fueled by substantial investments in non-oil sectors and the ambitious Vision 2030 initiative aimed at economic diversification. As Saudi Arabia’s economy continues to flourish, this economic upturn is further supported by robust consumer spending, stabilized oil prices, easing inflation and a highly digitalized public and private sector.

As a digitally advanced nation, the Kingdom’s residents have technology integrated into everyday life, from government services on platforms like Absher to various mobile applications for healthcare, finance, insurance and other services. Saudi Arabia is recognized globally for its digital advancements, ranking third in the World Bank’s GovTech Maturity Index for digital government transformation and first in the Arab world for digital competitiveness. This widespread digital integration necessitates the need for a resilient cybersecurity infrastructure to ensure the secure functioning of digital services.

The rapid expansion is also driven by the implementation of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, and hybrid cloud, in both public and private sectors. Reflecting this trend, the cybersecurity market in Saudi Arabia is witnessing unprecedented growth, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.78 percent and a market size of SR21 billion ($5.6 billion) at the end of 2023.

The Kingdom’s rapid digital transformation and economic diversification under Vision 2030, increase the vulnerability of its digital infrastructure, making it a prime target, with the average cost of a cyberattack in Saudi Arabia being significantly higher than the global average, highlighting the critical need for cybersecurity measures such as the government’s significant investments in developing cyber-secure infrastructure and the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Authority.

Four new special economic zones in Saudi Arabia were also launched at the end of 2023, including the Cloud SEZ, which aims to attract leading global cloud computing companies to start their commercial operations with the capability to build and operate data centers throughout the Kingdom. This was followed by major global companies like Oracle announcing a SR6 billion investment toward developing local cloud computing centers, AWS announcing a SR20 billion investment toward building data centers and a significant cloud presence, and Google launching a new cloud region in Dammam, which is estimated to add SR409 billion to the country’s GDP between 2024 and 2030.

To achieve hyper-resilience against cyberthreats, strong collaboration between government entities, private enterprises and international partners is essential. 

This approach leverages the strengths and resources of all stakeholders to create a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for the nation. MENA ISC 2024 aims to play a pivotal role in this collaborative effort by gathering thought leaders, visionaries, market innovators and experts, who will together pave the way for a digitally secure Kingdom.


London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market
Updated 2 min 42 sec ago
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London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

London roundtable facilitates financial firms’ entry into Saudi market

Jersey Finance, an international financial center, partnered with the Saudi British Joint Business Council to host a roundtable in London titled “Setting up in Saudi — Practical Insights for Financial Service Firms.”

The event at 33 St. James’s Square, brought together experts from Saudi Arabia, including government representatives, to discuss the practical requirements and support available for finance firms looking to establish operations in the Kingdom.

The roundtable was led by Faizal Bhana, Jersey Finance’s director — Middle East, Africa and India. “These events are crucial in providing financial services firms with the knowledge and connections they need to successfully navigate the process of setting up in the dynamic Saudi market,” said Bhana.

He added: “Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation presents significant opportunities, and we are committed to helping firms leverage Jersey’s expertise to establish a presence in the Kingdom.”

The event featured speakers from the Saudi Embassy in London and the Ministry of Investment, as well as leading law firms and advisory firms. Abdullah Masood, commercial attaché at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, highlighted the embassy’s support for establishing financial services in the Kingdom. 

Richard Jacobs, managing partner, also provided insights into the Saudi financial sector development plans and regulatory environment.

Chris Innes-Hopkins, SBJBC UK executive director, said: “The roundtable aimed to foster discussion and debate, equipping attendees with valuable, on-the-ground insights into setting up a financial services firm in Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “We are pleased to partner with Jersey Finance to facilitate this knowledge-sharing and connect financial firms with the resources they need to succeed in the Saudi market.”

Jersey has been a leading international finance center for more than 60 years, offering a forward-thinking and ESG-driven approach across banking, corporate services, fintech, funds, investment management, private wealth, and specialist areas like Islamic finance and philanthropy. Financial firms in Jersey provide services to clients around the world, and more than 30 Jersey-based financial firms also operate in the Gulf region and four have recently set up in the Kingdom.


Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership
Updated 3 min 53 sec ago
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Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

Mastercard supports Saudi gaming with EWC partnership

The Esports World Cup Foundation has announced Mastercard as an official partner of this year’s Esports World Cup, the world’s largest gaming festival taking place this summer in Riyadh. Through curating an exciting, one-of-a-kind gaming journey, Mastercard is helping create an accessible and enjoyable experience for all EWC attendees.

The EWC provides an ideal opportunity to showcase Saudi Arabia’s rapidly growing esports industry, highlighting the nation’s progress in developing its digital economy and infrastructure.

Mastercard’s sponsorship will enable enhanced experiences for attendees, including seamless digital payments, and the chance to win valuable prizes by competing in a broad selection of rousing challenges. Meanwhile, a dedicated Mastercard booth, located in the Esports Arena, is hosting on-ground activations and meet-and-greets with Saudi esports stars and gaming personalities.

In addition to holding weekly tournaments that put gamers’ skills to the test, Mastercard will also reward game lovers for their passion and enthusiasm for esports with an array of prizes. The technology company will also challenge visitors to demonstrate their teamwork abilities by taking on a novel, exciting game called “Gen Blend,” with the aim being to play and win together.

“Mastercard’s sponsorship is a significant milestone for EWC, supporting our goals and harmonizing with Saudi Vision 2030’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and digital innovation,” said Mohammed Al-Nimer, sales director, EWCF. “We look forward to welcoming a diverse audience of gamers, tech aficionados, and industry professionals to EWC, casting a bright spotlight on the Kingdom’s digital prowess and cultural vibrancy.”

“At Mastercard, we are committed to connecting people to their passions,” said Maria Medvedeva, country manager, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Mastercard. 

“With Saudi Arabia being home to some of the most skilled and dedicated gamers in the world, we are proud to contribute to the development of the Kingdom’s gaming industry in line with Vision 2030 and in tandem with EWCF. We look forward to further strengthening our long-standing partnership with EWCF to fuel the robust gaming ecosystem in the Kingdom. We look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to EWC.”

The EWC, which began on July 3, has transformed 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 tournament will also feature festival activities that include numerous gaming activities, community tournaments, pop culture celebrations, international experiences, and more.


Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure
Updated 22 July 2024
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Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

Tech giants urge data center suppliers to help decarbonize digital infrastructure

The Governing Body of the iMasons Climate Accord, a program of Infrastructure Masons, is calling on all suppliers serving data centers to support greater transparency in Scope 3 emissions as part of broader efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

Consisting of AWS, Digital Realty, Google, Meta, Microsoft and Schneider Electric, the Governing Body released an open letter that explains the importance of widespread adoption of Environmental Product Declarations, which are standardized, third-party-verified documents reporting the embodied emissions of a product. EPDs outline the greenhouse gas emissions of a product through its entire lifecycle, from the raw materials in the product (e.g., how they are extracted, transported, and processed), to manufacturing, transportation, product use, and product end-of-life (e.g., landfill, recycling, repurposing, etc.).

While EPDs are common in some business sectors, there is not widespread adoption of EPDs in the data center industry. The open letter demonstrates a significant push forward from the world’s largest hyperscalers and digital infrastructure companies to drive meaningful change across the industry, working in partnership with their trusted suppliers.

It is essential to continue to ensure the digital infrastructure industry decarbonizes as it grows. The signatories of the iMasons Governing Body’s open letter all have net-zero carbon emissions commitments in place to address their responsibility in mitigating data center carbon emissions (with deadlines ranging from 2025 to 2040, which is at least 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement), and this letter marks another milestone toward decarbonizing of operations.

Hyperscalers have implemented strategies to reduce and/or mitigate Scope 1 and 2 emissions. As they seek to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the coming years, solving the next piece of the sustainability puzzle lies in reducing Scope 3 emissions, which can represent anywhere from 38-69 percent of data centers’ total carbon footprint. Scope 3 emissions are not produced by the company itself; rather, they include the indirect emissions throughout the value chain.

Access to the critical information in EPDs empowers data center owners, operators, and end-users to effectively calculate their environmental impact and choose products (servers, cooling systems, uninterruptible power supplies and services based on lower Scope 3 emissions, best aligning with sustainability targets.

“EPDs are crucial in transforming the future of digital infrastructure to be more resilient and climate positive. The adoption of EPDs within the global supply chain fosters both sustainable and accountable outcomes. As standardized and verified data provides a layer of transparency, this initiative supports a collective approach to reducing our carbon emissions and environmental footprints,” said Miranda Gardiner, executive director of the iMasons Climate Accord, a coalition of 250+ members that represents an $8 trillion combined market cap.

“At AWS, we are committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions across our operations by 2040 by investing in carbon-free energy, scaling solutions, and collaborating with partners to broaden our impact,” said Eric Wilcox, vice president of data center engineering at AWS. “We support the iMasons call for suppliers to adopt the use of Environmental Product Declarations. Doing so will provide greater transparency in Scope 3 emissions embodied in equipment and help accelerate the overall industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.”

“As a leading data center company, we recognize the need to address Scope 3 emissions associated with the construction of new data centers,” said Lex Coors, chief data center technology and engineering officer for digital realty and Infrastructure Masons Governing Body member. “By advocating for the adoption of EPDs, we’re not just committing to transparency; we are taking a decisive step toward empowering the entire industry to make informed, responsible choices that align with our collective sustainability ambitions. This initiative is crucial as we strive to meet the growing demands of our digital world in a sustainable manner.”

“In line with our commitment to open standards and our company-wide goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all our operations and value chain, we support industry-wide adoption of Environmental Product Declarations as a crucial lever in low-carbon procurement of digital infrastructure,” said Joe Kava, vice president, global data centers, Google. “As a member of the Governing Board of iMasons Climate Accord, Google is excited to help accelerate solutions that drive progress toward a more sustainable, transparent data center industry.”

“Reducing our emissions is Meta’s top priority to reach net-zero emissions across our value chain in 2030. We join our peers in calling for greater transparency in the data center supply chain to better understand the embodied carbon of the infrastructure that underpins our operations. These declarations will play an important role in accelerating decarbonization efforts for the data centers of tomorrow,” said Rachel Peterson, VP, infrastructure data centers at Meta.

“Microsoft has committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030 and removing all greenhouse gas emissions produced since our founding by 2050. By joining our peers in promoting sustainability and using digital innovation to drive progress, Microsoft is helping to create a more sustainable future for all,” said Shirin O’Connor, CVP, datacenter engineering, procurement and construction, Microsoft.

“To enable the digital infrastructure industry to align with net-zero emission goals, carbon emissions must be a fundamental consideration in procurement decisions,” said iMasons Governing Body Member Anna Timme, who is also the head of sustainability for secure power and data centers at Schneider Electric. “Promoting industry-wide adoption of EPDs is a critical step in enabling carbon-informed decision making. Schneider Electric has been dedicated to publishing EPDs since 2008, and we are excited about the significant impact that industry adoption will have as we collectively progress toward net-zero.”

The open letter is the second issued by the ICA calling for action from suppliers to accelerate decarbonization efforts. In April 2023, the Governing Body of the ICA called on data center industry suppliers to use lower-carbon concrete in data center infrastructure.


Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project
Updated 21 July 2024
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Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel and Eversendai partner for NEOM project

Emirates Steel, part of Emirates Steel Arkan Group, one of the largest publicly traded steel and building materials manufacturers in the region, is partnering with Eversendai, a global powerhouse in steel construction, solidifying their collaboration for the prestigious NEOM Trojena Ski Village project in the heart of NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious giga-project.

The strategic partnership marks a significant milestone in the steel industry, highlighting the two companies’ joint commitment to delivering excellence in sustainable innovation across the wider GCC region. Emirates Steel will supply premium steel beams renowned for their sustainability, regionally record-setting low carbon emissions, and exceptional durability for the construction of the NEOM Trojena Ski Village.

The partnership agreement was formalized during an official ceremony, signifying the commencement of a robust alliance aimed at setting new benchmarks in construction excellence. The collaboration will not only enhance Emirates Steel’s position within the wider GCC market, but also highlights its pivotal role in shaping iconic projects in the region.

Saeed Alghafri, CEO of Emirates Steel, said: “We are delighted to partner with Eversendai on this significant project which promises to be a staple of NEOM in Saudi Arabia. Emirates Steel is committed to supplying benchmark sustainable steel solutions that meet the stringent demands of innovative construction projects. This collaboration exemplifies our dedication to driving sustainable growth across the GCC and delivering value to our partners and stakeholders.”

Narishnath Nathan, deputy group managing director of Eversendai, said: “Eversendai is proud to collaborate with Emirates Steel on the NEOM Trojena Ski Village, a landmark project that will showcase our collective capabilities in delivering world-class steel construction solutions. This partnership highlights our commitment to pushing the boundaries of engineering and construction.”

The NEOM Trojena Ski Village is poised to become a premier global destination, offering unparalleled recreational experiences in the region. Emirates Steel’s advanced steel beams will play a crucial role in the structural integrity and sustainability of the resort, ensuring it meets global standards for quality and safety.