Hima forum concludes following conservation discussions in Riyadh

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The organization focuses on building resilient community conservation regions that transform lives and help the natural environment. (SPA)
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The organization focuses on building resilient community conservation regions that transform lives and help the natural environment. (SPA)
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Updated 23 April 2024
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Hima forum concludes following conservation discussions in Riyadh

  • Local and international experts shared their expertise at event

RIYADH: Local and foreign companies said their farewells following the Hima protected areas forum.

The forum, which was organized by the National Center for Wildlife, took place in Riyadh from April 21-24.

The event showcased topics related to efforts made by the Kingdom in the conservation field, and included various discussions, workshops, and presentations.

The concept of protecting and preserving natural habitats and wildlife dates back to the pre-Islamic era, when Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula would cultivate land and claim ownership.

Those who cultivated plants on a specific piece of land could eventually claim ownership of that land.

Hasan Nasser Salman Al-Nasser, an agricultural specialist at the Environment Agency, said: “It is an area of special interest, designated by a legislature to be used for agriculture. This concept dates back to the pre-Islamic era.”

Al-Nasser explained the concept of “hima,” which means a protected area, and how it evolved over time, ultimately reaching its current understanding in Saudi Arabia.

He said: “The first hima protected during the time of Islam by the Prophet was a natural reserve used for horses.

“During the time of Khalifah Omar, there were the hima of Al-Sur and Alrabathah. After that, each tribe was responsible for protecting their natural reserves.”

The forum featured the participation of several official entities and projects, including NEOM, Red Sea Global, and Catmosphere. A community-led organization, the Northern Rangelands Trust, was also present.

Issa Ismail Gedi, chief programs officer at the Kenya-based Northern Rangelands Trust, said: “When I was in primary school, I used to help my family. Wildlife has been thriving on our land, alongside our livestock.”

The organization focuses on building resilient community conservation regions that transform lives and help the natural environment.

The body has safeguarded a number of areas, including national parks in Kenya. Gedi said the organization is also supporting 50 to 60 percent of wildlife located outside protected areas.

The forum was the first of its kind, and hosted by the National Center for Wildlife and supported by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The event provided an opportunity for local and international experts to share their expertise, with the aim of exchanging information and discussing outcomes to develop strategies for better preserving and protecting Saudi Arabia’s nature and wildlife.

 

 


Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

Updated 9 sec ago
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Sync Summit returns with digital call to action

  • US activist urges children’s online safety regulations in sobering discussion
  • Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World”

DHAHRAN: “We have become more concerned with burnt toast than frying our brains,” Abdullah Al-Rashid, director of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, told the attentive crowd at the opening of the Sync Summit, the two-day event which opened on Wednesday.
Sync Summit, first held in 2022, returned to Ithra with more sobering reminders of why now, more than ever, we need to reset our relationship with the digital world.
Well-known Emirati interviewer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash returned to the Sync stage where he moderated a talk titled “Turning Tides: Recalling Humanity in a Digital World.” He offered insights as someone who owes his career to the power of the Internet but also recognizes many of its negative aspects.
“A knife can slice bread or stab someone,” Bukhash said, noting technology’s ability to be a tool to build or injure, depending on how one uses it.
His panel included Kristin Bride from the US, an activist focused on children’s safety regulations on social media, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“Four years ago was the worst day of my life,” Bride told the stunned crowd. Her son, who was in high school, was seemingly thriving, having just landed a summer job at a pizza parlor.
Bride recalled telling her son how proud she was. Her son described how much he was looking forward to the future, but just hours later, he died by suicide during the night.
The activist later found out that her son had been severely bullied on Snapchat by anonymous users. The hundreds of messages she saw when she opened her late son’s account were every mother’s worst nightmare.
Bride fears that young people today lack the tools or the coping mechanisms to deal with online bullying. For the last three years, she has worked tirelessly to advocate for stronger regulations for young users, seeking stricter rules against anonymous users and asking for accountability from Snapchat and Meta.
“I feel sorry for my role,” said Wozniak, mentioning how he holds some guilt in building what has become a tangled World Wide Web.
Social media algorithms track a user’s activity to tailor content, which can sometimes limit the human or organic aspect of social interactions online.
“It’s not just a ‘like’ … you trigger a hundred advertisers,” Wozniak said.
Meanwhile, in a fireside chat, Arab News reporter Lama Alhamawi spoke to legendary football manager Jose Mourinho, who offered his philosophy on the social media usage of football players, describing the role that technology plays in the world of sport.
The summit also included a panel on utilizing technological advancements and finding ways to enhance the accuracy of fake news detection, along with other sessions dedicated to AI and wellness in the digital realm.
Ithra offered other events in the main plaza as well as programs curated for diverse audiences at the Ithra Theater and Ithra Cinema.
The Sync Summit is livestreamed and can be accessed on the Ithra website and social media channels.


Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx

Updated 23 min 31 sec ago
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Allam platform included in IBM’s watsonx

  • Watsonx is IBM’s commercial generative AI and scientific data platform based on the cloud
  • The director of the National Information Center at the SDAIA commended the watsonx platform’s exceptional technical capabilities

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority announced Wednesday that Allam, the AI generative platform serving Saudi Arabia and Arabic speakers around the world, was included in IBM’s watsonx data platform at the IBM Think 2024 conference in its pilot phase as one of the best generative models in Arabic in the world.
Watsonx is IBM’s commercial generative AI and scientific data platform based on the cloud.
In a speech at the annual conference, the director of the National Information Center at the SDAIA, Essam Al-Waqeet, commended the watsonx platform’s exceptional technical capabilities in enabling large language models and simplifying machine learning, as well as enhancing AI governance, compliance and hybrid cloud deployment flexibility, and praised the inclusion of Allam for global use, which significantly strengthens SDAIA’s position as a leader in the field of AI.
“It is acknowledged that large linguistic models trained on high-quality data are the basis for the successful implementation of generative AI, and Allam has been trained on more than 500 billion linguistic units in Arabic. We will seek to expand the addition of high-quality data and work to improve the accuracy of its models,” Al-Waqeet said.
He also reaffirmed the SDAIA’s commitment to make Allam the best generative AI model in the Arabic language in the world.
Al-Waqeet also invited the participants at the IBM Think 2024 to join the third Global Artificial Intelligence Summit, to be organized by the SDAIA in Riyadh from Sept. 10-12 later this year.


Speedy and secure, Haramain High Speed Railway enhances Hajj experience

Umrah pilgrims wearing ihram walk at a Haramain High Speed Railway station. (SPA)
Updated 54 min 11 sec ago
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Speedy and secure, Haramain High Speed Railway enhances Hajj experience

  • The Haramain High Speed Railway plays a crucial role in the Hajj season’s transportation system
  • Its operational plan incorporates more than 3,800 trips, offering more than 1.6 million seats to serve pilgrims and visitors in Madinah

RIYADH: The Haramain High Speed Railway offers pilgrims and travelers a safe and efficient way to navigate between holy sites.

The Saudi Press Agency recently witnessed the smooth operations at the Madinah station, the punctual arrivals and departures of trains carrying hundreds of pilgrims, Umrah performers, citizens and residents.

The train travels with regularity and is easy to use. At the station, SPA witnessed a streamlined process — travelers verify their reservations, head to the departure hall and board the train. The 13 rail cars offer ample seating. One car is dedicated to food and beverages.

Yahya Al-Sharqawi, from Egypt, expressed satisfaction with the ease and safety of the journey, highlighting the convenience of traveling directly from Jeddah airport to Madinah. He commended the Kingdom’s commitment to facilitating pilgrims’ movement.

Anwar Badr, another Egyptian visitor, was pleased with the many transportation options available, and the ease with which the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque can be reached, and expressed gratitude for the exceptional services provided to pilgrims.

Ali Rajabi, from Iran, echoed these sentiments, praising the comfort and convenience offered by the Haramain High Speed Railway. He said that the project serves pilgrims from all corners of the globe.

The Madinah station caters to travelers’ needs with a variety of amenities. Parking is available below the station, and self-service kiosks handle reservations and ticketing.

Information and assistance offices help to navigate the facilities. Multiple arrival and departure halls ensure smooth passenger flow, with seasonal halls specifically dedicated to serving pilgrims during peak periods.

For added convenience, the station boasts retail outlets selling food and beverages, as well as companies offering housing and car rental services. A permanent health center provides on-site medical care.

The Haramain High Speed Railway plays a crucial role in the Hajj season’s transportation system. Its operational plan incorporates more than 3,800 trips, offering more than 1.6 million seats to serve pilgrims and visitors in Madinah.

This efficient and modern railway system is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s dedication to ensuring a smooth and fulfilling Hajj experience for all, SPA reported.


Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

  • The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information is participating in the annual Conference of the International Federation of Surveyors in Accra, Ghana, from May 19-24.

The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities, aiming for a flexible environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

Attendees will exchange expertise and learn best practices in the field.

The Saudi authority delivered a technical presentation, “Surveying and Geospatial Information in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present, and Future Aspirations,” during the event, attended by FIG President Diane Dumashie, vice presidents and experts.

Saudi ambassador to Ghana and Togo, Sultan Al-Dakhil, visited the authority’s booth, appreciating its efforts to strengthen partnerships with international organizations.

With more than 1,500 participants from 80 countries, the conference facilitates international collaborations among government bodies, the private sector, academia, and global expertise centers through 70 scientific sessions.


Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

RIYADH: The Cultural Development Fund, a vital financial engine for Saudi Arabia’s culture sector, along with partners from the Kingdom’s film industry, are presenting film financing and investment opportunities at the 77th annual Cannes International Film Festival, held from May 14 to 25.

The fund is present at the festival for the third year, in line with its mission of nurturing the domestic film scene and strengthening its role as a key enabler of cultural growth.

The fund highlights its Film Sector Financing Program at the Saudi pavilion, led by the Film Commission. The program offers comprehensive financial packages that support the entire filmmaking process, from creation and production to distribution, for both local and foreign companies working on film and TV series in Saudi Arabia.

It also provides an opportunity for companies and investment funds to participate in the Kingdom’s film industry and contribute to its development.

Its participation in the Cannes event aligns with its continuous efforts to attract filmmakers and investment.

The fund aims to be a leader in the Saudi film industry and collaborates with other stakeholders to build a sustainable film sector that contributes to the national gross domestic product.

Established under the National Development Fund in 2021, the fund aims to invigorate Saudi Arabia’s cultural scene. By supporting a range of cultural endeavors and facilitating investment, the fund fosters a thriving domestic cultural sector, aligning with the National Culture Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030.