Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity
Abdulaziz Al-Wasel. (SPA)
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Updated 22 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity

Saudi Arabia urges all nations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity
  • The Kingdom’s representative to the UN says this is particularly important given the role of cybersecurity in protecting vital national interests and security
  • He tells the UN Security Council the sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, and helped to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally

LONDON: The need for a safe and reliable cyberspace that can help enable growth and prosperity is more urgent than ever, Saudi Arabia said as it urged all nations to prioritize efforts to strengthen cybersecurity.

Abdulaziz Al-Wasel, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, said it was time for the international community to adopt a serious and practical approach, in collaboration with the UN, to unifying international efforts to combat threats. This is particularly important given the role cybersecurity plays in protecting the vital interests of countries and national security, he explained.

His comments came on Thursday during a UN Security Council debate about evolving cyberspace threats under the heading “maintenance of international peace and security,” the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

Al-Wasel highlighted the work and rapid progress of the Kingdom’s cybersecurity sector, which he said was established as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan for national development and diversification. The sector has developed rapidly and dynamically, he added, helping to advance the field domestically, regionally and globally.

The Kingdom began its transformative journey by developing a model for cybersecurity that is based on centralized governance and decentralized operability, he said, and falls under the responsibility of national authorities. The model is distinguished by its comprehensive framework for dealing with all aspects related to cybersecurity, whether legislative, security-focused, economic or developmental.

In 2017, Saudi authorities established the National Institute for Cybersecurity, and the Kingdom’s efforts in the field have resulted in several international achievements, one of the most most notable of which was earning second place globally, and first in the Arab world, the Middle East and Asia, in the International Telecommunication Union’s 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index.

And this week Saudi Arabia topped the global cybersecurity rankings in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2024, which is compiled by the World Competitiveness Center of the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. In the overall World Competitiveness Index for 2024, the country climbed to 16th place, having ranked 24th in 2022 and 17th last year.

Al-Wasel also noted the launch in 2020 of the Global Cybersecurity Forum in the Kingdom, an international platform that brings together decision-makers from around the world to discuss strategic issues related to cybersecurity. More than 120 countries attended the forum last year, during which the International Cybersecurity Forum Foundation was established, with its headquarters in Riyadh, to aid the enhancement of cybersecurity at an international level.

“The Kingdom is keen to unify regional efforts to cooperate in enhancing regional cybersecurity, which resulted in the establishment of a specialized ministerial committee for cybersecurity under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based on a proposal from the Kingdom,” Al-Wasel said.

Another proposal by the Kingdom led to the establishment in September last year of the Council of Arab Cybersecurity Ministers, under the aegis of the Arab League, with its general secretariat and executive offices in Riyadh.

The UN welcomed the work of the Kingdom in the sector and said: “Saudi Arabia also provides capacity-building exercises worldwide, with over 40 states and organizations participating in such training.”


Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
Updated 10 sec ago
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Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
  • Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Alibrahim met with Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy. They also looked into strengthening cooperation between the Kingdom and the IMF.

The meeting was attended by Ammar Nagadi, vice minister of economy and planning; Rakan Alsheikh, deputy minister for policies and economic planning at the Ministry of Economy and Planning; Yaser Faquih, general director for the economic research and insights department at MEP; Hattan Mounir bin Samman, general supervisor for international organizations at MEP; and Ismail Salloum, executive director of Saudi Arabia’s National Infrastructure Fund.

 

 


Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab. (Supplied)
Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab. (Supplied)
Updated 27 min 35 sec ago
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Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab. (Supplied)
  • From fashion to furniture, Ithra challenge seeks ideas to protect biodiversity

DHAHRAN: Promising designers from the MENA region are preparing to outline their solutions to some of the world’s most pressing nature-related problems as part of an annual creative competition hosted by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

As part of Tanween, Ithra’s Season of Creativity, Tanween Challenges selected 80 designers from a pool of applicants to take part in the six-day challenge, with a July 20 deadline to deliver a tangible product or solution.

Designers across a range of disciplines will be aiming “to harmonize human activities with the planet’s biodiversity in an era where nature is affected by elements such as technological advancements, growing inequalities, and urbanization,” Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab, said.

Each of the challenges will involve 20 participants, either as individuals or in teams. Competitors will also be offered workshops and talks with experts in their chosen disciplines to ensure they have the tools to tackle their challenge briefs.

Tanween Challenges asked designers to craft practical solutions in the key areas of urban development, graphic design, furniture, and fashion. Event partners include NYXO, Albawardi Group, AM Unique by NamtHajja, and Vanina.

Ithra said in a statement that the competition seeks solutions that “nurture all forms of life, supported by a cross-disciplinary blend of expertise to tackle these complex issues courageously and innovatively.”

The four categories are:

- Pavilion Design Challenge asks participants to reimagine how people can coexist with their environment — and each other — more harmoniously amid rapid urban development and industrial activities that have compromised air quality and contributed to pollution that affects people’s health and the health of natural habitats within their cities.
 
- Graphic Design Challenge asks designers to develop visual communication to transform complex data into insights that will lead to a sustainable future, countering current threats to biodiversity and ecological balance.
 
- Participants in the Furniture Design Challenge will design public spaces that prioritizes people without neglecting the needs of other species that share the environment. Designers have been asked to answer the question: How can we create urban spaces that promote cohabitation between humans and other species?
 
- Fashion Design Challenge looks to provide answers to problems associated with the fashion industry, such as overproduction, overconsumption and the dominance of fast fashion — issues that have not only harmed the environment but also erased much of the culture that was once celebrated in fabric form.
 
One winning project from each challenge will be selected for commercial production. Successful projects will be displayed as part of a design exhibition at the Tanween Conference in November at Ithra’s headquarters.


Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage
Updated 48 min 14 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 31 min 12 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 19 July 2024
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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.