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Saudi, Qatari communications ministers discuss joint initiatives to support growth of digital economy

Saudi, Qatari communications ministers discuss joint initiatives to support growth of digital economy
Image: SPA
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Updated 28 February 2024

Saudi, Qatari communications ministers discuss joint initiatives to support growth of digital economy

Saudi, Qatari communications ministers discuss joint initiatives to support growth of digital economy
  • The parties discussed ways to expand the strategic partnership between the countries in digital government

RIYADH: ż’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha on Tuesday met his Qatari counterpart Mohammed Al-Mannai in Doha, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The parties discussed ways to expand the strategic partnership between the countries in digital government and the digital economy, and techniques to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship system.

“This is in line with the aspirations of the Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council to support and strengthen the partnership between the two brotherly countries,” the SPA’s statement said.

The meeting was attended by several leaders of national technology companies in the fields of business, digital transformation, and digital health solutions, along with other representatives from both parties.


First Hima forum discusses wildlife conservation in ż

First Hima forum discusses wildlife conservation in ż
Updated 27 min 54 sec ago

First Hima forum discusses wildlife conservation in ż

First Hima forum discusses wildlife conservation in ż
  • One of the center’s projects is an expedition to examine and study ż’s wildlife and landscapes across all regions, in collaboration with universities and educational centers in each area, Qurban told ż

RIYADH: The National Center for Wildlife organized the first Hima protected areas forum on Sunday to discuss conservation efforts for natural habitats and wildlife in ż.

The forum was inaugurated by the minister of environment, water, and agriculture and chairman of the board of the National Center for Wildlife, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.

The event, held from April 21-24, is the first of its kind in the region and attracts both local and international participants.

Red Sea Global, Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla, and the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority are among the companies and projects participating in the three-day forum. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Alnajim)

“We are talking about participation from Red Sea Global, AMAALA, and NEOM to work together and deliver conservation efforts,” said Mohammad Qurban, CEO of the National Center for Wildlife.

Qurban added that hosting Hima will bring knowledge, effort, and expertise together to preserve and protect natural resources.

In addition, the center will highlight some of the Kingdom’s sustainable practices related to environmental health, he added.

One of the center’s projects is an expedition to examine and study ż’s wildlife and landscapes across all regions, in collaboration with universities and educational centers in each area, Qurban told ż.

Institutions including the UK’s University of Oxford and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will take part in the program.

Major local companies and projects are attending the three-day forum, including Red Sea Global, Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority.

Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental protection and regeneration at Red Sea Global, said: “Red Sea Global, since the beginning of its development, kept the protection, enhancement and preservation of the environment as the main target. We have been working through the years to understand exactly what we are dealing with from both sides, terrestrial and marine.

“Based on a long time, which exceeded three years of assessment and establishing a baseline, we understand clearly our marine area, which led to the design of the marine protected area, a proposal that we will be working on with the National Center for Wildlife and the ministry.”

The forum offers a comprehensive program for visitors, featuring activities including panel discussions, presentations and workshops. All sessions are conducted by local and international experts focused on conserving nature and protecting biodiversity.

“In King Khalid Reserve, which we are also responsible for, we introduced the oryx. We started introducing it in the year 2021,” said Talal Al-Harigi, CEO of the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority.

“On the other side, we are increasing the number of plants. One month ago, we completed planting 1 million plants for both of the reserves.

“We are working with local communities to support handicrafts relating to honey bees. Bee grazing is now one of our new activities … for the second year, honey bees are producing Rudhat Khuraim honey,” Al-Harigi added.

Since its founding in 2019, the National Center for Wildlife has addressed challenges facing wildlife and marine ecosystems, aiming to protect the environment for future generations.

 


Experts discuss ż’s environmental achievements

Experts discuss ż’s environmental achievements
Updated 28 min 54 sec ago

Experts discuss ż’s environmental achievements

Experts discuss ż’s environmental achievements
  • Kingdom’s progress tracked at forum in Riyadh

RIYADH: Mohammed Qurban, the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, has said that ż has designated 18.10 percent of its land and 6.48 percent of its marine habitats as protected areas.

He made the comments at the first Hima protected areas forum in Riyadh on Sunday, where experts had gathered to discuss ż’s environmental progress during a panel called “Achieving the 30 percent by 2030 Target for Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas: Aligning International and National Efforts.”

ż is advancing its conservation initiatives and through the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched in 2021, the country aims to protect 30 percent of its terrestrial and marine areas, through protected areas, by 2030, with the help of the National Center for Wildlife.

Osama Faqeeha, deputy minister for environment at the Ministry of Environment ,Water and Agriculture, said that effective conservation required collaboration between the private and public sectors.

He said: “The National Environment Strategy outlines the necessary initiatives and resources to meet national environmental protection and development goals. It aims to engage all stakeholders to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability, ensuring a thriving natural environment for future generations.”

John Grainger, consultant at International Conservation Services, described ż as a “can-do society,” especially when it comes to tackling environmental conservation challenges.

He said: “Establishing protected areas is not about managing nature, it’s about managing people, and for that you will need a cadre of committed conservationists or those empowered to carry out the Kingdom’s conservation agenda.”

Grainger added that building connections between local communities and institutional capacity was important for achieving specific conservation goals and development objectives.

Neville Ash, the director of the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, said that the Kingdom’s progress in conservation aligned with the global understanding of sustainability.

He said: “The progress being made at the national level in ż is reflected in the global understanding of progress, both to showcase and champion the work that’s done in the Kingdom and because of that huge contribution to global progress that has been made.”

Ash pointed out the effective use of reporting mechanisms for tracking conservation progress through the platform Protected Planet.

He said: “This year we are producing the next version of the 2024 Protected Planet Report, which will be the first assessment of progress to target three of the global biodiversity framework.”

He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the UN Environment Programme, the WCMC, and the National Center for Wildlife to keep conservation data updated to ensure it was reflected in the reports.

Protected Planet is a resource for business, conservation, and aid investment planning, serving as a foundation for tracking and reporting on progress toward global environmental goals such as target three of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

 


Saudi Fund for Development signs $67m agreement to support Oman’s SMEs

Saudi Fund for Development signs $67m agreement to support Oman’s SMEs
Updated 21 April 2024

Saudi Fund for Development signs $67m agreement to support Oman’s SMEs

Saudi Fund for Development signs $67m agreement to support Oman’s SMEs
  • Agreement builds on a previous $53.33 million pact signed last September

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development signed a $67 million development financing agreement with the Oman Development Bank on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The investment aims to boost the bank’s initiatives focused on supporting medium and small enterprises, as well as enhancing social and economic growth and job creation across Oman’s governorates.

The agreement was signed by the co-chairs of the Saudi-Omani joint committee, with Saeed Al-Qahtani from the SFD, and Zahir Al-Abri and CEO of the Oman Development Bank Hussein Al Lawati representing the Omani side.

The Oman Development Bank is a key government entity dedicated to providing financial support to medium, small, and micro enterprises.

This agreement builds on a previous $53.33 million pact signed last September, reflecting a long-standing partnership that spans more than four decades between ż and Oman.
 


Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise
Updated 21 April 2024

Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise
  • The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise
  • INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Air Force took part in multinational air exercise INIOCHOS 2024, held at the Air Tactics Center in Greece, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Over the course of two weeks, air forces from several countries carried out a variety of simulated combat air operations, involving planning cells, command of air missions and campaigns, intelligence missions and forward air control tasks during close air support operations.

The commanding pilot of the Saudi contingent in the exercise, Lt. Col. Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, said that months of preparation led to achieving planned objectives at all levels.

He praised the efforts of the Saudi air, technical and support crews, who “demonstrated professionalism and high readiness.”

INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises. Deployment began on April 1 and continued until April 7, while the secondary execution phase started on April 8 and ended on April 18. The third phase of the drill, force redeployment, took place from April 19-21.

The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The RSAF members aimed to enhance readiness, exchange expertise, simulate a real war environment and plan complex air operations in an environment involving multinational forces, the ministry added.

Participating countries included Cyprus, France, Montenegro, Qatar, Romania, Spain, the UK and the US.


Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo
Updated 21 April 2024

Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo
  • Between them, the 26 Saudi universities that entered displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion
  • The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world

JEDDAH: King Abdulaziz University won 17 awards and medals for its innovations at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.

The 26 Saudi universities that entered — 19 public, two independent, and five private institutions — between them displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion, with applications in various scientific, theoretical, medical and other fields.

Mosab bin Faleh Al-Harbi, spokesperson and director of the KAU media center, said that the competition boosts the importance of scientific research and innovation in academia.

He highlighted the university’s commitment to fostering innovation and research among students, and said that the university’s contributions came from the colleges of computer science, information technology, medicine, and engineering.

Among the awards won by KAU were the National Research Society of Thailand Prize for a date classification application, and the Malaysian Organization for Research Scientists Prize for a continuous monitoring invention.

Jeddah University also took part in the exhibition, winning two bronze awards. These were for a computer-vision-based smart building health inspection system, and a tool for detecting and preventing distributed denial of service attacks (malicious attacks on a network or server).

Qassim University won a silver medal for its system for desalinating water using halophytic plants, developed by a research team from the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The university also received a bronze medal for a project to use date palm waste in the production of pharmaceutical excipients in nano-sized tablets, presented by another research team.

Jazan University was awarded two gold medals. Asim Najmi from the College of Pharmacy received a medal for his work on derivatives of benzylidene 4, 2 thiazolidinones, and their use in diabetes treatment. Mohammed Mashiki from the College of Dentistry, meanwhile, won gold for his modification of a dental crown used in endodontic retreatment.

The university’s acting president, Mohammed Abu Rasin, said these achievements show the institution’s dedication to fostering innovation and promoting a culture of invention through consistent support for inventors.

The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world. It was held from April 17 to 21, and attracted more than 1,000 innovations from over 50 countries.