Robot Olympiad kicks off in Riyadh

Photo/World Robot Olympiad Twitter
Updated 02 October 2019

Robot Olympiad kicks off in Riyadh

  • Saudi Arabia today is using robots in all sectors, including Hajj and Umrah

JEDDAH: The World Robot Olympiad (WRO) in Saudi Arabia opens tomorrow at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh.
The tournament is organized by Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in partnership with a number of government and private entities, including the Ministry of Education, the Saudi Federation of Cyber Security and Programming, King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology and the Saudi Wireless and Remote Control Sports Federation.
WRO 2019 in Saudi Arabia is sponsored by ThinkTech, an initiative launched by MCIT that explores technology developments, achieving sustainable development and building an innovative and informed generation, all integrated with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It aims to enhance the role of the ICT sector in building a digital society, digital government and a thriving digital economy throughout the Kingdom.
ThinkTech is linked to the STEAM approach, an educational method which focuses on the use of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as access points for youth in robotics and artificial intelligence applications. Eight hundred trainees have benefited from the ThinkTech platform, paving the way for the local, regional and international WRO competitions.
Three hundred contenders will compete in the 2019 competition in four categories and four age groups. The Regular Category, where teams design, construct and program their robots to solve specific challenges in a field for four age groups — up to 10 years, Elementary (up to 12 years). Junior (13-15 years) and Senior (16-19 years); the Open Category where participants create their own intelligent robotics solution relating to the current theme of the season, which is for two age groups (13-15 years and 16-19 years); the Football Category of autonomous robots playing football, which is for one age category (10-19 years old); and the Advanced Robotics Challenge, where games are designed to test older and more experienced students’ engineering and programming skills to the limit, and is for one age group (17-25 years old).
The winners will qualify for the first time for the WRO 2019 International Final to be held in Gyor, Hungary, on Nov. 8-10.  


• 300 contenders will compete in the 2019 competition in four categories and four age groups.

• The winners will qualify for the first time for the WRO International Final in Gyor, Hungary from Nov. 8-10.

The Kingdom today is using robots in all sectors, including Hajj and Umrah. For example, “robot” technology has been used for medical consultations during Hajj season in August.
The Saudi Health Ministry launched robot technology to offer diagnoses to patients and offer medical consultations at hospitals in Mina, and in medical caravans.
The technology includes tools such as specialized cameras to check eyes and ears, as well as cameras to inspect the skin, to enable doctors to make a diagnosis and offer consultations.
In June, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) became the first hospital in Saudi Arabia to perform a robotic-assisted hysterectomy using fluorescent dye.
JHAH’s robotic surgery program began in December 2016 when Dr. Tareq M. Al-Tartir, JHAH sub-specialist surgeon, and his team collaborated with Dr. Mohamad Allaf, professor of urology, oncology and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (JHSoM) and director of minimally invasive urology, and his team. They jointly conducted the first surgeries in the Kingdom using the da Vinci Xi robotic surgical system. The program has since expanded and includes gynecological and bariatric surgeries.
It should also be noted that Saudi Arabia is the first and perhaps the only country in the world that has granted citizenship to a robot, in this case one named Sophia.
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an unprecedented economic, social, and development-accelerated transformation, all in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Saudis head out as coronavirus lockdown eases

Updated 29 May 2020

Saudis head out as coronavirus lockdown eases

  • First day of phased reopening sees visitors flock to waterfronts and malls

JEDDAH/RIYADH: As the 24-hour-curfew period ended, residents of Saudi Arabia headed back outside on the first day of the government’s three-phase plan to transition back to normality after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as people rushed to take advantage of the newly relaxed measures, streets quickly became crowded and several observers noticed that many were failing to observe social-distancing measures.

Prince Abdulrahman bin Mosaad tweeted: “For there to be traffic in the streets is natural after canceling the 24-hour curfew, but what’s abnormal and unbelievable is the amount of people underestimating the necessity of putting on a face mask and a pair of gloves and keeping a two-meter space between people crowding at stores. This is only the first day. Unfortunately, I don’t think Shawwal 29 (June 21) will be the day we go back to normal.”

In a follow-up tweet, Prince Abdulrahman reminded people that the pandemic does not have a cure or a vaccine yet, and wondered whether people would need to lose a loved one before they came to appreciate the severity of the situation.

University lecturer, Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani (@fattah53), agreed, tweeting: “Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. It’s very simple; don’t go out unless it’s necessary. If you absolutely have to, follow precautionary measures from wearing a mask to keeping an acceptable distance between you and others.”

Abdulaziz Al-Omar (@11a_alomar) also replied with suggestions. “It’s important to monitor and penalize facilities and shops that do not follow precautionary regulations, as well as fines against those who don’t wear a mask and don’t keep their distance from others,” he tweeted.

The hashtag #JeddahNow was quickly trending on Twitter in response to the number of people leaving their homes unnecessarily.

A number of users suggested that individuals neglecting social distancing and going out in public without a mask and gloves would be “more afraid of a SR10,000 fine than they are of the pandemic.”

However, many thought that people were overreacting to the traffic around the city’s corniche.

Sa’ad Mughram (@saad_mghrm) tweeted: “Don’t blame people for traffic. There are families that have been pressed together for three months in small apartments and reef houses. It’s their right to go out and see the sky on a short car ride.”

He added: “Overcrowding stores needs to be addressed, but things can be dealt with calmly, without overreacting and perfectionism from some.”

Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. 

Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani , University lecturer

Some hailed the efforts made by several popular stores around the Kingdom that are enforcing social distancing, such as Madinah’s Starbucks, where a photo circulating on social media showed people lined up with the recommended space between them, demonstrating what was described as “classy behavior.”

Abdullah Al-Humaid, (@abn_humaid) commented: “It’s wonderful to see such awareness displayed in our society. These are people maintaining social distancing while wearing gloves and face masks.”

Meanwhile, many headed onto the streets of Riyadh looking to regain a sense of normality. “Of course, I went out. I took my mom and sister and drove to the nearest mall to run some errands,” 26-year-old Sarah Al-Jasser told Arab News.

However, Al-Jasser said she was unable to enter the shops inside the mall because of long queues. “I was surprised that people were out this early. We were at the mall by 9:30 a.m. and didn’t expect it to be this crowded,” she said.

By 2:30 p.m. most shops and malls were already closed and empty of customers and shopkeepers, abiding by the 3 p.m. curfew.

Rayed Mustafa, 33, told Arab News he believes the situation is still unsafe: “Just because the country is opening up doesn’t mean it’s safe to go out.”  However, that did not stop him from leaving  the house. “I pulled an all-nighter, put on my face mask and gloves and hit the streets at 6:30 a.m. to cruise the city.”

He added that he stayed in his car and was merely hoping to get some fresh air for his mental well-being. “I’ve been confined in a very small apartment for over a month,” he said. “I needed that change of scenery.” 

He said he made sure to abide by the safety and health measures put in place by the Ministry of Health, and refrained from mingling with people.

Mustafa was taken aback by the number of people he saw on the streets. 

“One of the main streets in Riyadh was filled to the brim — some celebrating, others going out for coffee,” he added.

Billboards have been placed around the Kingdom reminding people to comply with the recommended precautions in order to ensure their safety.