Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah

Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah
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Hani Al-Moqbel, chairperson of ALESCO’s Executive Council, center, Mohammed Walad Amar, the director general of ALECSO, right, during the conference in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah
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The two-day session concluded on Wednesday and will be followed on Friday by the organization’s General Conference. (Supplied)
Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah
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The two-day session concluded on Wednesday and will be followed on Friday by the organization’s General Conference. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 May 2024
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Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah

Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization session concludes in Jeddah
  • Organization’s director general tells Arab News about its future plans and how it addresses current events and needs in the Arab world, including the crisis in Gaza
  • Other topics discussed during the 121st session of the organization’s Executive Council include efforts to preserve Arab heritage, the effects of AI, and educational initiatives

JEDDAH: The 121st session of the Executive Council of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization concluded in Jeddah on Wednesday.

During the two-day event, ministers and other representatives from 22 Arab nations discussed important topics, initiatives and proposals related to knowledge sharing, scientific advancement, and innovation within the framework of the work of the organization. It will be followed on Friday by its General Conference.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on Wednesday, Mohammed Walad Amar, the director general of the organization, said: “The aim of this conference is to approve the organization’s budget for the next two years and to endorse its selected projects based on the proposals and needs of Arab countries, envisioning a real acceleration toward the goals of our Arab nations in the fields of education, culture and information technology, as well as in various areas prioritized by Arab countries in cultural and educational work.”

Addressing the crisis in Gaza, Walad Amar said the organization condemned what is happening there and called for support for Palestinians in the fields of the education and culture.

“The organization sees this aggression not only as an attack on the (Palestinian) people but also as an assault on Arab identity in general, and an assault on the Palestinian educational approach,” he added.

A key aspect of ALECSO’s cultural activities and initiatives, Walad Amar said, is its submissions to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization with the aim of preserving Arab culture and heritage through inclusions on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

“To date, we have successfully accredited the initial submissions concerning the palm tree, Arabic calligraphy, traditional clay architecture, metal engraving and wedding customs,” he said. 




Mohammed Walad Amar, the director general of ALECSO. (AN photo by Nada Hameed)

“Our approach aligns with the Arab strategy, which prioritizes both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, fostering awareness across Arab nations about its significance.”

These efforts are complemented by educational programs, Walad Amar said.

“Given the current landscape, our primary challenge lies in revising curricula to reflect present realities and anticipate future needs,” he added.

ALECSO recently staged the fourth Arab Programming Week at King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language, which was attended by about 250 teachers from Arab countries. The organization has also created a guide for teaching students in Arab primary and secondary schools about artificial intelligence and is developing an Arab charter for the ethical use of AI.

“We recognize the inevitable influence of artificial intelligence and the challenges it presents,” Walad Amar said.

“While embracing its advancements, we prioritize safeguarding the privacy of our Arab nations. Our aim is to harness the positive aspects of AI while avoiding any negative impacts. Achieving this requires strengthening our educational systems to equip our children with the necessary skills and awareness.”

Two topics discussed during the Executive Council session that were described as particularly significant were the establishment of an ALECSO Partnership Forum, which was initiated by the Kingdom, and an Arab Cultural Week within UNESCO, both of which received unanimous approval.

“The Kingdom consistently presents us with positive and constructive initiatives that unite Arab educational and cultural efforts across various scientific fields,” Ahmed Sameer, the assistant secretary-general of the Yemeni National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, told Arab News.

Issam Louhichi, who oversees operations at the National Commission for Education, Science and Culture in Tunisia, told Arab News that a consensus on ideas during the two-day session meant that a number of decisions were quickly agreed.

“It provided an opportunity to practice democracy within our Arab world through voting on resolutions and exchanging successful experiences in various educational, scientific, and cultural fields,” he added. “This Executive Council serves as an opportunity to present proposals from countries, with the aim of including them in the General Conference agenda (on Friday).

“It was an excellent opportunity to discuss the core issue of Palestine by presenting several proposals. Algeria proposed integrating lessons within educational curricula across Arab countries each year to educate youth about the history and justice of this issue.”

“Today, we were presented with a proposal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the Arab Cultural Week at UNESCO. This initiative, which involves all Arab countries, including Tunisia, aims to foster collaboration and ensure its success. We will contribute diverse insights and experiences spanning cultural, historical, educational and scientific domains.”

Other topics discussed during the two-day session, which was hosted by the Saudi National Committee for Education, Culture and Science, included the challenges that Arab nations face in the fields of education, culture and science, innovative solutions to those problems, and ways to forge new partnerships that can broaden the horizons of for education and creative thought.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 52 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.


Saudi ginseng reappears in Northern Borders region after 20 years

Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi ginseng reappears in Northern Borders region after 20 years

Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the Northern Borders region.
  • Khonaysser Wadi Al-Anazi, a vegetation cover enthusiast, mentioned that he saw the Saudi ginseng plant on the outskirts of the city of Arar

RIYADH: Saudi ginseng, an evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, has reappeared after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Border region, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Nasser Rashid Al-Majlad, president of Amana Environmental Association in the region, said the plant has several names: Al-Abab, Saudi ginseng, or ashwagandha, and has reappeared again in the region after more than 20 years, similar to many other wild plants.

 Al-Majlad pointed out that the region is rich in wild plants with high economic value, as it has a distinctive natural vegetation cover, which can be invested as a natural plant resource to increase biodiversity, combat desertification, expand green areas, and enhance tourism and human development, following the green economy system that balances economic and environmental needs, benefiting humanity and the planet.

Khonaysser Wadi Al-Anazi, a vegetation cover enthusiast, mentioned that he saw the Saudi ginseng plant on the outskirts of the city of Arar. He attributed this to the recent increase in rainfall and expansion of green areas in the region.

He also noted that with the reappearance of the plant, it could be used for various purposes.


Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the telephone on Wednesday. (File/SPA/AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the telephone on Wednesday. (File/SPA/AFP)
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi crown prince and French president discuss bilateral relations during phone call

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the telephone on Wednesday. (File/SPA/AFP)
  • Saudi crown prince and French president exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues including the latest developments in Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed relations between their countries and ways to develop existing cooperation during a phone call on Wednesday. 

The leaders congratulated each other on a deal between the Saudia Group, represented by Saudia and flyadeal, and Airbus for 105 confirmed aircraft, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

France is one of Airbus’ four founding countries, as well as home to the company’s headquarters facility – which is located in Toulouse.

The crown prince and Macron also discussed topics of common interest. They exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues including the latest developments in the situation in Gaza, the need to intensify efforts and international communication to reach an immediate end to the war there, and the necessity of delivering adequate humanitarian aid to the territory. 


Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

Sync Summit returns with digital call to action
Updated 22 May 2024
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Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

Sync Summit returns with digital call to action
  • US activist urges children’s online safety regulations in sobering discussion
  • Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World”

DHAHRAN: “We have become more concerned with burnt toast than frying our brains,” Abdullah Al-Rashid, director of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, told the attentive crowd at the opening of the Sync Summit, the two-day event which opened on Wednesday.
Sync Summit, first held in 2022, returned to Ithra with more sobering reminders of why now, more than ever, we need to reset our relationship with the digital world.
Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash returned to the Sync stage where he moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World.” He offered insights as someone who owes his career to the power of the Internet but also recognizes many of its negative aspects.
“A knife can slice bread or stab someone,” Bukhash said, noting technology’s ability to be a tool to build or injure, depending on how one uses it.
His panel included Kristin Bride from the US, an activist focused on children’s safety regulations on social media, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“Four years ago was the worst day of my life,” Bride told the stunned crowd. Her son, who was in high school, was seemingly thriving, having just landed a summer job at a pizza parlor.
Bride recalled telling her son how proud she was. Her son described how much he was looking forward to the future, but just hours later, he died by suicide during the night.
The activist later found out that her son had been severely bullied on Snapchat by anonymous users. The hundreds of messages she saw when she opened her late son’s account were every mother’s worst nightmare.
Bride fears that young people today lack the tools or the coping mechanisms to deal with online bullying. For the last three years, she has worked tirelessly to advocate for stronger regulations for young users, seeking stricter rules against anonymous users and asking for accountability from Snapchat and Meta.
“I feel sorry for my role,” said Wozniak, mentioning how he holds some guilt in building what has become a tangled World Wide Web.
Social media algorithms track a user’s activity to tailor content, which can sometimes limit the human or organic aspect of social interactions online.
“It’s not just a ‘like’ … you trigger a hundred advertisers,” Wozniak said.
Meanwhile, in a fireside chat, Arab News reporter Lama Alhamawi spoke to legendary football manager Jose Mourinho, who offered his philosophy on the social media usage of football players, describing the role that technology plays in the world of sport.
The summit also included a panel on utilizing technological advancements and finding ways to enhance the accuracy of fake news detection, along with other sessions dedicated to AI and wellness in the digital realm.
Ithra offered other events in the main plaza as well as programs curated for diverse audiences at the Ithra Theater and Ithra Cinema.
The Sync Summit is livestreamed and can be accessed on the Ithra website and social media channels.