Saudi minister endorses Arab News-Facebook cooperation for Hajj coverage

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Mohammed Saleh Banten, minister for Hajj and Umrah, was briefed on Arab News’ preparations to cover Hajj. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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From Left: Arkan Al-Adnani, head of operations at Arab News; Mohammed Al-Kinani, Arab News reporter; Mohammed Al-Sulami, Arab News Jeddah bureau chief; Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News Editor in Chief; Salih Bentin, Minister of Hajj and Umrah; Dr. AbdulFattah Mashat, Hajj and Umrah deputy minister; Dr. Amr Almaddah, advisor to minister of Hajj and Umrah and director of project management; Aymen Al-Arfaj, media director at Hajj and Umrah ministry. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Updated 15 August 2018
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Saudi minister endorses Arab News-Facebook cooperation for Hajj coverage

  • Banten said the ministry is pleased to endorse the Arab News-Facebook cooperation as it enables news about the Hajj to reach a wider audience
  • Millions of people worldwide will be able to follow the pilgrimage via the official Arab News Facebook page

MAKKAH: The Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah has endorsed efforts between Arab News and Facebook to cooperate in covering the annual Muslim pilgrimage this year.

As almost 2 million people gather in Makkah for Hajj, this newspaper and the social media network will cooperate in the transmission of live broadcasts of the pilgrimage using 360-degree video technology.

This will allow millions of people worldwide to follow the pilgrimage via the official Arab News Facebook page.

Mohammed Saleh Banten, minister of Hajj and Umrah, was briefed on Arab News’ preparations to cover the pilgrimage, and met with members of its reporting team on Tuesday.

Banten said the ministry is pleased to endorse the Arab News-Facebook cooperation as it enables news about the Hajj to reach a wider audience.

People around the world will be able to see how Hajj is being performed, and the “array of services” provided by the Saudi government under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he added.

“Our endorsement of this cooperation comes out of our ministry’s belief in the importance of utilizing new technology … enabling us to show the world the blessed efforts (in serving pilgrims),” Banten said.

The minister was presented with an official Arab News press jacket, and saw the complementary umbrellas the newspaper is distributing to pilgrims as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts.

Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News Editor in Chief, briefed the minister, his deputy Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, and other members of the ministry about the newspaper’s ongoing plan for digital transformation.

“We thank the minister for receiving our delegation and his understanding of the role of both local and international media,” said Abbas.

“Our coverage will focus particularly on the humanitarian aspects of Hajj and follow the touching stories of hundreds of nationalities coming from around the world in this unparalleled gathering. 

“Our cooperation with Facebook will ensure that we are able to broadcast these stories to previously unattainable audiences thanks to new technology.”

Fares Akkad, head of regional media partnerships at Facebook, said that the collaboration follows the success of the live broadcasts of Taraweeh prayers on Arab News’ Facebook page during Ramadan, which he said was “very popular.”

“Hajj is a unique event, and we are aware of its importance to millions around the world. Therefore, we are delighted with this collaboration, which enables more people to participate in this blessed event. These efforts are part of our commitment to regional communication, particularly in Saudi Arabia,” Akkad said.

Starting today, Arab News publishes a series of special reports from the Kingdom and around the world on Hajj rituals, as well as offering 24-hour coverage through its digital platforms and Pakistan-focused website.


First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach

Updated 22 March 2019
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First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach

  • Google says the Doodle uses machine learning to “harmonize the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style”
  • Bach’s chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google is celebrating composer Johann Sebastian Bach with its first artificial intelligence-powered Doodle.
Thursday’s animated Google Doodle shows the composer playing an organ in celebration of his March 21, 1685, birthday under the old Julian calendar. It encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody.
Google says the Doodle uses machine learning to “harmonize the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style.” Bach’s chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line.
To develop the AI Doodle, Google teams created a machine-learning model that was trained on 306 of Bach’s chorale harmonizations. Another team worked to allow machine learning to occur within the web browser instead of on its servers.
The Doodle will prompt users who are unsure of how to interact with the animated graphic.