Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide
This year, the Arafat sermon translation is projected to reach a staggering one billion listeners worldwide, translated into 20 languages. (SPA photo)
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Updated 16 June 2024
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Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide
  • The translated sermons promote peace, coexistence and a deeper understanding of Islam

ARAFAT: The Arafat sermon delivered on Saturday at Namira Mosque in Makkah was projected to reach a staggering 1 billion listeners around the world, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sermon was translated live into 20 languages as part of the groundbreaking initiative launched by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in 2018. There were also non-simultaneous translations into 17 other languages.

Led by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the project serves as a cornerstone in spreading the message of moderation and centrism espoused by the holy sites, SPA said.

“The translated sermons promote peace, coexistence, and a deeper understanding of Islam — a religion built on mercy, tolerance, and peaceful living,” the report said.

When the project was launched in 2018, translations were offered in only five languages. Its reach has continued to grow each year. Sermons are translated into an increasing number of languages and broadcast on various platforms, including digital platforms, FM radio, and Islamic television channels.

“These efforts demonstrate the Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to serving Islam and the global Muslim community,” the report said, adding that the initiative “exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s dedication to serving the Two Holy Mosques and their pilgrims. It further reflects the leadership’s commitment to promoting global peace and the values of tolerance and moderation.”

The report continued: “Having surpassed 200 million listeners in 2020, the project fulfills the Kingdom’s sacred responsibility of caring for the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors. By translating the Arafat sermon, they effectively share the message of these holy sites with the entire Muslim world.”


Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage
Updated 17 min 15 sec ago
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Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage
  • SAMA said it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational, cybersecurity practices

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank, or SAMA, assured the public on Friday that its national payment and banking infrastructure systems were unaffected by the worldwide tech outage that disrupted industries, from travel to finance.

A software update by global cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike appeared to have triggered system problems that grounded flights, forced some broadcasters off air and left customers without access to services such as healthcare or banking.

SAMA emphasized that it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational and cybersecurity practices.

This includes rigorous protocols for its systems and national payment networks, as well as those connected with other financial institutions.

The bank further highlighted its commitment to regularly updating precautionary measures to ensure the effectiveness of business continuity plans and the resilience of banking and payment systems.

These measures are aimed at enhancing infrastructure safety and service efficiency, it said.

Although CrowdStrike said it had rolled out a fix for the problem, experts have questioned how easy it would be for millions of users to patch their damaged systems.
 


Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters

Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters
Updated 13 sec ago
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Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters

Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters
  • Initiative aims at a unique internship

JEDDAH: Nahj, a nonprofit organization, has recently launched its Summer Training Program to empower youngsters, which is set to run until Aug. 15 in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The initiative aims to create a unique internship and training experience, in collaboration with leading companies such as Mrsool, Najm, and Care Hospitals, covering diverse sectors including healthcare, law, business development, engineering, and technology.

Nahj is to select between 70 and 100 top students, focusing on those at high school and those under 20, and match them with companies based on their interests, skills, and CVs. The program aims to guide students toward their desired career paths by providing experience and insights.

Rakan bin Bader, CEO and founder of Nahj, said: “As a young leader, I understand the importance of exposing young trainees to market demands. Vision 2030 places a significant emphasis on the role of youth in driving our country’s future.

“This unique chance excites me and motivates me to create opportunities for youth development and empowerment. By equipping young people with the necessary skills, we can prepare them to become great leaders who will contribute to our community and help realize this ambitious vision.”

Bader spoke of the key objectives of the initiative, emphasizing the need to bridge the gap between education and employment, provide practical training, and enhance the skills of young professionals.

He added: “We aim to equip them with the necessary tools to meet market demands and become successful leaders. By offering hands-on experience and mentorship, we hope to inspire and empower the youth to contribute positively to the Kingdom’s development.

“Our ultimate goal is to support Vision 2030 by creating a generation of well-prepared, capable, and innovative young leaders who will drive our nation’s progress.”

While addressing the challenges facing young professionals in Saudi Arabia, he highlighted the misalignment between educational outcomes and market needs.

He explained that although the educational system is robust, there is often a gap between academic knowledge and the practical skills required.

He added: “There is a growing emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship, and the development of digital skills. The government and private sector are increasingly investing in programs and initiatives that support youth empowerment and career readiness.”

Jenan Kamal, chief operating officer and co-founder of Nahj, said: “One of the main challenges, particularly from an operational perspective, is selecting a limited number of students from a pool of highly qualified and experienced applicants.

“To address this, we partnered with multiple companies to increase the number of available seats. Additionally, we set high standards and implemented a rigorous application process to ensure we selected the best of the best.”

Kamal added: “We expect this program to lead change in both the private and public sectors, advocating for greater youth empowerment for those under 20.

“By raising expectations and setting a higher bar for young people, we aim to align with Vision 2030’s goals, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation among the youth.”

Rozana Al-Banawi, the founder of Qeema, the first Arabic personal financial coaching group, said: “Our program offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their understanding of startup culture, fintech, and personal financial coaching. By focusing on the intersection of these fields with well-being, research, and data, we aim to equip students with both soft and technical skills relevant to various professions.

“Emphasizing the development of a growth mindset, leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, and emotional intelligence, our program provides a practical, real-world learning experience. It encourages students to explore their motivations, expand their networks, and understand workplace complexities, ultimately fostering long-term benefits and personal growth.”

Danah Al-Jarboua, a high-school student entering 12th grade, shared her aspirations and expectations for the Nahj/Mrsool internship.

She said: “As I approach graduation, clarity in my career path is crucial. (I am) interested in industrial engineering (and) this program offers me the opportunity to explore and gain practical experience in a field that captivates me. It will help me discern if industrial engineering aligns with my ambitions, and illuminate the path ahead.

“Through practical assignments and mentorship, I aim to bolster my problem-solving, project management, technical, teamwork, and communication skills.

“These insights will not only guide my academic decisions but also fortify my college applications and lay a strong foundation for my future career.”

Bayan Kamal, a driven business intern with aspirations in marketing, reflected on the impact of the internship program, saying: “My career path is firmly set on marketing, and this internship has reaffirmed my direction by providing invaluable hands-on experience and strategic insights into marketing strategies.

“Through managing and engaging with audiences on social media platforms, I aim to enhance my social skills and public-speaking abilities, crucial for effective communication in marketing roles.

“This program offers me early exposure and practical knowledge that will undoubtedly give me a competitive edge in my future career. I look forward to showcasing my acquired experience and skills, setting a strong foundation for my journey in marketing.”

Bader is optimistic regarding the future of career development and talent acquisition in Saudi Arabia.

He said: “We are moving towards a more dynamic and inclusive job market. Emphasis on continuous learning, upskilling, and reskilling will become crucial. Companies are recognizing the value of investing in young talent and creating environments that foster growth and innovation.

“By leveraging technology and embracing new educational models we can ensure that young professionals are well prepared to meet future demands and contribute significantly to the Kingdom’s progress.”


Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad

Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad
Updated 39 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad

Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad
  • The team members were among 275 high-school students from 55 countries competing at the 5-day event in Georgia this week

RIYADH: The Saudi team won four international awards at the 2024 European Physics Olympiad this week in Georgia.

The team members were among 275 high-school students from 55 countries competing at the five-day event, which began on Monday and concluded on Friday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Their success brings the total number of academic Olympiad awards won by Saudi students to 21.

Mazen Al-Shakhs, from Al-Ahsa, won a silver medal, while Wissam Al-Qanbar, from the Eastern Province, and Ahmed Arif, from Jeddah, each won bronze. Ahmed Fadlallah, from Makkah, received a certificate of appreciation.

The students were participating in the contest with the support of the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, and the Ministry of Education.

Amal Al-Hazzaa, the secretary-general of Mawhiba, said she was proud of what the students accomplished, describing it as yet another achievement by talented Saudi individuals in international competitions.

“Mawhiba is dedicated to empowering talented Saudis by developing their skills and competencies using the latest global methods for discovering and nurturing talent,” she added. “This effort aligns with, and contributes to, the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

The Saudi team members competing at the event underwent intensive preparation, including tuition from an elite group of Saudi and international experts. They took regular tests and developed their higher-level thinking skills by carrying out physics experiments with which they were unfamiliar, that were designed specifically for such local and international competitions. They also used tools tailored to prepare them for the kinds of questions and tasks they would face, which included challenging ideas and puzzles.

The European Physics Olympiad is a competition in which high-school students are presented with problems that require creative solutions. It is open to countries in Europe and beyond, which can send five students and one leader. The inaugural event took place in Estonia in 2017. The concept behind the Olympiad is based on real-world research situations, with problems that allow space for creative solutions.

Mawhiba thanked its partners, including the Ministry of Education and other strategic collaborators, for their help to train and hone the skills of Saudi students for the event. This formed part of the Mawhiba International Olympiad Program which, in a strategic partnership with the ministry, offers students the chance to attend training camps throughout the year. It is one of 20 initiatives that offer advanced curricula and enrichment programs in subjects related to science, engineering and health.


Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations
Updated 19 July 2024
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Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations
  • Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized more than 137000 tablets

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Border Guard has thwarted several attempts by criminals to smuggle drugs into the country, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Thursday.

Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized 125,500 and 11,893 narcotic pills, respectively.

In Asir’s Dhahran Al-Janub area, three Ethiopian nationals were arrested for attempting to smuggle 27 kg of hashish into the country.

The authorities have urged citizens and residents to report any information related to drug smuggling or selling by calling 911 in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 in other regions of the Kingdom.

They can also call the General Directorate of Narcotics Control at 995 or contact via email at [email protected]. All reports will be treated with strict confidentiality.

 


How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy

How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy
Updated 19 July 2024
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How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy

How a Saudi startup is using AI to boost the efficiency and uptake of solar energy
  • OptimalPV addresses the high costs and inefficiency of solar PV systems by leveraging AI in the design phase
  • Its software uses algorithms to determine the optimal number and placement of solar panels on buildings 

RIYADH: Mindful of their carbon footprint, a growing number of people are opting to power their homes and businesses with solar photovoltaic systems rather than traditional energy sources. One Saudi startup is leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to help increase uptake.

Solar PV systems are a type of renewable energy technology that converts sunlight into electricity, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel-generated electricity. 

Despite the numerous benefits of transitioning to solar energy, including cost savings on electricity bills and greater environmental sustainability, the upfront investment required can be a significant barrier to wider adoption.

Abdulelah Habib, CEO and founder of OptimalPV, a distributive solar design startup founded in 2023, told Arab News that the high capital cost for solar systems is primarily due to the expensive materials required. 

“This includes high-quality solar panels, inverters, and other essential components,” he said.

With recent advances in technology, solar PV systems are becoming more efficient and cost-effective, making them a popular choice for homeowners and businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

From solar panels on rooftops to large-scale solar farms in the desert, Saudi Arabia has embraced renewable energy sources to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The country aims to install 50 GW of solar capacity by 2030. 

However, if the government wants to make good on its commitment to encourage the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, it will need to find ways to make the technology more affordable and accessible to the general population. 

“The company was founded to address the challenges of high costs and inefficiency in traditional solar PV system installations, aiming to make solar power more accessible and cost-effective through advanced artificial intelligence technology,” Habib said. 

An AI-equipped robot helps install solar panels. (Shutterstock image)

OptimalPV’s AI-powered software automates the design of solar PV systems by using 3D modeling and optimization algorithms to create the most efficient and cost-effective layout without needing a site visit.

“While the installation and warranty costs are comparatively low, the operation and maintenance costs can be negligible over the 25-year lifespan of the system,” Habib said.

Unlike traditional systems that require manual design and site inspections, OptimalPV’s AI software optimizes the design process to reduce costs

OptimalPV’s AI-powered software automates the design of solar PV systems by using 3D modeling and optimization algorithms. (Supplied)

“The software uses advanced algorithms to determine the optimal number and placement of panels, considering factors like shading, orientation and solar irradiation,” Habib said.

Supported by The Garage, a tech startup incubator hosted by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and the Royal Commission of Riyadh City, the company provides solutions for both residential and commercial buildings. 

By providing information, addressing concerns about cost and installation, and offering incentives for adopting solar energy, OptimalPV encourages more individuals to take advantage of this renewable energy source. 

Not only does it reduce installation costs. OptimalPV also maximizes the return on investment for homeowners. 

“The company’s advanced design optimizes the efficiency and capacity of rooftop solar systems, making them capable of meeting high electricity demands in urban areas like Riyadh,” Habib said.

A new startup, The Garage focuses on local and international startups, scouting and inviting them to join The Garage’s programs and events. (Supplied)

“By optimizing the system design for maximum efficiency, many houses can potentially meet their full electricity needs through PV systems designed by OptimalPV.”

Habib said that by reducing upfront costs and ensuring maximum efficiency, OptimalPV helps homeowners to save more on electricity bills and achieve a quicker payback period.

OptimalPV also supports homeowners, local governments and the private sector throughout the process, from the initial feasibility study to post-installation monitoring. 

“Customers can use an online tool to generate a feasibility report, including expected monthly savings and payback period,” Habib said.

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The company helps customers to find affordable financing options, where they are matched with trusted service providers for installation.

When it comes to post-installation monitoring, OptimalPV monitors the system’s performance to ensure it operates efficiently.

As Saudi Arabia continues to invest in solar energy infrastructure, it is start-ups such as these that are helping to pave the way for a cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy future.