King Salman academy launches Saudi Voices Blog to document national dialects

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The King Salman International Academy for the Arabic Language (KSGAAL) has launched the Saudi Voices Blog project, and it plans to complete the Blog’s first phase by the end of 2024. (Supplied)
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Dr. Abdullah AlFifi, Head of the Linguistic Computing Department at the King Salman International Academy for the Arabic Language. (Supplied)
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Dr. Ibrahim Abanmi, Deputy Secretary-General of the King Salman International Academy for the Arabic Language. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 June 2024
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King Salman academy launches Saudi Voices Blog to document national dialects

  • Project features spoken and transcribed Arabic, including both eloquent and slang (local dialects)
  • Blog draws from various Arabic sources within Saudi Arabia, adhering to the latest scientific standards

RIYADH: The King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language has launched the Saudi Voices Blog project, aiming to complete its first phase by the end of 2024.

The project features spoken and transcribed Arabic, including both eloquent and slang (local dialects). According to the academy, the blog draws from various Arabic sources within Saudi Arabia, adhering to the latest scientific standards.

It aims to promote research in Arabic audio blogging, gather audio data on Saudi dialects, and build an audio blog using modern methodologies.

The Saudi Voices Blog represents different societal classes, documents their dialects phonetically, and uses modern technologies to provide phonetic data for the scientific community.

It also offers machine-readable audio material with morphological, syntactic, lexical and semantic analysis for AI models.

Saudi Voices Blog aims to engage lexicon authors, AI researchers and those studying comparative linguistic phenomena, age-related linguistic differences and Arabic language policy.

It uses the latest international standards such as CODA and TEI for structuring and managing audio language data. The blog encourages participation across age groups to accurately represent Saudi dialects and their diversity.

The blog targets Saudi dialects from more than 40 locations within the Kingdom. A designated recorder at each location will capture voices from various participant categories, including children, young adults and the elderly, both men and women. The recordings will be uploaded to the Falak platform, which covers topics such as storytelling, places, foods, customs, traditions, holidays, daily situations, and quotes.

Once completed, the Saudi Voices Blog will be available to researchers and stakeholders for studies, application development, and adding new geographical points.

It will also help AI developers to overcome the lack of data needed to study Arabic dialects, societal linguistic differences, and automatic voice identification or transcription.

The project aims to strengthen the global standing of Arabic, raise awareness and facilitate its teaching and learning inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Ibrahim Abanmi, deputy secretary-general of the academy, emphasized the importance of Arab audio blogs in enhancing the academy’s role as a reference for developing such blogs.

Abanmi highlighted the impact of Arabic audio blogs in supporting scientific research and preserving the heritage of Saudi dialects across different social classes.

Abanmi said that the blog was an unprecedented addition to phonetics and language research by providing audio material representing various Saudi dialects.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Fifi, head of the linguistic computing department at the academy, said that the first phase began with 50 individuals collecting data on 50 Saudi dialects.

He said that about 250 people, representing various age groups and both genders in Saudi Arabia, were participating in recording 2,500 audio hours for the blog.

After completing the high-quality recording and transcribing, the academy will implement a three-stage plan. The first stage involves labeling the audio data to enhance the podcast’s richness and usefulness.

The second phase will add new Saudi dialects not covered in the first phase, followed by expanding the blog’s geographical scope to include other countries.

Hajar Al-Shammari, a linguistic researcher in Saudi history, said that the Saudi Voices Blog was of international standing and offered many correlative products that stimulated research and studies, enriching the linguistic sector and its dialects.

The blog reflected the intellectual and cognitive richness of a region with diverse, intersecting dialects rooted in Arabic, a historical focal point connecting ancient civilizations in Asia, Africa and Europe, she added.

The blog allows linguistic and historical researchers to conduct specialized and interactive studies, contributing to significant outputs not only in the region but globally, given the Arabian Peninsula’s geopolitical and historical importance, Al-Shammari said.


Saudi Arabia welcomes statement on agreement between Yemeni parties to lift economic sanctions

Yemen’s government and Houthis agreed to increase the frequency of Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from 1 to 3 a day.
Updated 55 min 25 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia welcomes statement on agreement between Yemeni parties to lift economic sanctions

  • Yemen’s government and Houthis agreed to increase the frequency of Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from one to three a day and to introduce other flights

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia welcomed on Wednesday a statement issued by the UN’s special envoy for Yemen about an agreement between the country’s internationally recognized government and the Houthis to lift economic sanctions.

Hans Grundberg, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, said on Tuesday that both parties agreed to ease economic hostilities by canceling their most recent actions taken against banks in areas the other controls and pledged to halt all such measures in the future.

They also agreed to increase the frequency of national carrier Yemenia’s flights from Sanaa to Jordan from one to three a day and to introduce daily flights from the capital to Cairo and India. In addition, the two sides will hold discussions about administrative, technological and budgetary issues related to the airline.

The Kingdom affirmed its continued support for Yemen, its government, and people, and its keenness to encourage efforts to reduce escalation and maintain calm.

The Kingdom hopes the agreement will contribute to dialogue between the Yemeni parties under the auspices of the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen to discuss all economic and humanitarian issues in order to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis within the framework of the road map to support the peace process in Yemen.


Camel culture comes to life at Jeddah Season 

Updated 24 July 2024
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Camel culture comes to life at Jeddah Season 

  • Special pavilion highlights camels’ economic, cultural significance in Saudi society
  • Through illuminated murals and interactive touch screens, visitors are invited to delve into history

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Culture is bringing the “Year of the Camel” to life at Jeddah Season 2024 with a dedicated pavilion offering visitors an immersive experience of these iconic animals.

From life-size camel sculptures to interactive displays, the pavilion in City Walk, one of the Jeddah Season zones, showcases the camel’s enduring significance in society, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Through illuminated murals and interactive touch screens, visitors are invited to delve into history and understand why 2024 was designated as the “Year of the Camel.”

These displays offer insights into the objectives behind honoring camels, and are provided in Arabic and English to provide access for a global audience.

The pavilion provides historical inscriptions dedicated to the animal, and the vast camel-related vocabulary in the Arabic language, the SPA stated.

One of the highlights of the pavilion is audio of camel sounds, each with its own name. These hold special significance in the daily lives of those who have long cherished the companionship of these remarkable animals.

The displays showcase the economic importance of camels, their role in ensuring food security, and the unique capabilities that have cemented their place in Saudi Arabia culture.


Design program for architects wraps up in Riyadh

Updated 24 July 2024
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Design program for architects wraps up in Riyadh

  • A presentation showcased the journey of the participants during the program and highlighted the activities they took part in
  • Commission CEO Sumayah Al-Solaiman delivered a speech highlighting the commission’s “unwavering commitment” to investing in the development of Saudi architects and designers

RIYADH: The Architecture and Design Commission concluded the first Design Leadership Program with a ceremony in Riyadh attended by architecture and design experts, as well as program participants.

A presentation showcased the journey of the participants during the program and highlighted the activities they took part in, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Commission CEO Sumayah Al-Solaiman delivered a speech highlighting the commission’s “unwavering commitment” to investing in the development of Saudi architects and designers.

Improving the skills of Saudis in the industry will allow them to become influential leaders, she added.

The developer of the Creative Leadership Course at the Future London Academy, Matt Hexemer, said in a speech that the Saudi program is a “pioneering initiative” that nurtures the Kingdom’s talents and fosters creativity.

Dialogue sessions were held at the ceremony, led by prominent speakers including Sarah Fayad, strategy and urban design senior manager at The Line in NEOM; and Ali Al-Shuaibi, president and founder of BEEAH Planners, Architects and Engineers Co.

The commission launched the program in May to cultivate the leadership skills of architects and designers, bolster their capacity to lead projects, and foster an environment that promotes collaboration in the local architecture and design community.


Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy

Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Saud Al-Sati received in Riyadh on Wednesday representatives from the office of the UN special envoy for Syria.

Al-Sati discussed the latest developments in Syria in a meeting with Chief Political Affairs Officer Robert Dunn and Political Affairs Officer Marwa Fouad, the ministry said on its official account on X.


More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief

Updated 24 July 2024
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More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief

RIYADH: A water supply and environmental sanitation project in Yemen by Saudi aid agency KSrelief has continued to improve conditions for those living there.

From June 19-25, some 1,033,550 liters of drinking water and 10,849,000 liters of non-drinking water were provided in Hajjah. The project group worked in the Midi, Haradh, Hayran and Abs districts, as well as As-Ashour camp in the Razih area of Saada.

There were 38 trips to remove waste from displaced people’s camps, while in Saada 70,000 each of drinking and non-drinking water were pumped through, to the benefit of 30,100 people.

KSRelief pumps over 12 million liters of water into Yemen as part of water and sanitation project. (SPA)

KSrelief also launched a volunteer medical project for ear, nose, and throat surgeries and tumor removal in Mukalla, in the province of Hadhramaut.

The initiative, which started on July 20 for one week, involves 22 volunteers from various medical specialties. To date, the medical team has successfully performed 60 specialized surgeries.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, KSrelief concluded its project for urological surgeries in Port Sudan. The week-long scheme involved 11 volunteers with 119 successful specialized surgeries being carried out. 

KSrelief concluded the voluntary medical project for urological surgeries in Port Sudan. (SPA)