Neom could become the first ‘health tech’ capital of the world

20/07/20

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has catalyzed the digital transformation in the health care sector. As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, NEOM, the Kingdom’s futuristic smart city and Vision’s centerpiece, has an unprecedented opportunity to become the first health technology (health tech) capital of the world, and a global hub for innovation and cooperation in health and wellness technology.
This year will be recalled in the history of health tech as the equivalent of a decade of digital transformation, such is the speed with which the sector is responding to demand at every level. The COVID-19 pandemic has given health tech companies the chance to show what they are able to do, and accelerated the uptake of digital health solutions in ways hitherto unseen. The technologies being developed, tested and rolled out today are helping not only in the present, but will shape the future of health care across the world for years.
Even before COVID-19, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region’s young, digitally savvy population had already showed a readiness to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics for their health care needs. According to a 2017 PwC report titled “What doctor? Why AI and robotics will define New Health,” two-thirds of Middle Eastern and North African consumers said they were willing to replace human clinicians with AI and robots, with the highest proportion, 66 percent, in Saudi Arabia.
The region already fosters a number of homegrown champions, such as Saudi-born Nala, the region’s fastest-growing health tech company and the world’s first AI platform to offer instant access to medical diagnoses in Arabic. With health care being one of the strategic pillars of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program, Saudi Arabia has the opportunity to offer the world its first true health tech capital at NEOM.
From laboratories specializing in stem cell therapy to innovation centers studying the human genome project, NEOM is ushering in a new era of modern medicine, leading to countless effective treatments and therapies. From companies leading the way in remote monitoring and tele-health, to innovative AI-powered assessment apps and platforms, meanwhile, the world is witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of momentum in the health tech sector, which represents a unique opportunity for Saudi Arabia and NEOM’s model for the new future.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute, as a key forum for coordination of policy and action within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals, has a strategic role to play in shaping Saudi Arabia’s path toward becoming a global health tech hub. Initiatives such as the recent “Beyond The Crisis: Technology to the Rescue” series demonstrate its role as the curator of the global conversation on some of the most pressing issues of our time. Yet it is at NEOM where the Kingdom possesses an extraordinary platform to showcase global innovations that blend health care, well-being and technology together in a way that pushes the boundaries of what is possible.
NEOM’s futuristic model, that includes the presence of major tech-driven companies, represents a vast opportunity to host a major health tech hub and attract not only innovative entrepreneurs from across the GCC but also from across the world. It also offers the opportunity to showcase and scale-up the increasing number of domestic champions such as Sihatech, the Riyadh-based health care tech start-up that offers a cloud-based Hospital Information System to support the digitization efforts of the National Digital Transformation Unit and the Saudi Ministry of Health. NEOM is the key to cementing Saudi Arabia’s position as a health tech hub and provides a magnet for the talent needed to foster it.
The proposed NEOM HealthTech Hub will see year-long initiatives built around partnerships and collaboration agreements with other research institutions such as the Center of Excellence for NEOM Research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. FII, an annual conference which has now become an institute for innovation, had a strong message at last year’s global summit: We are open for innovation.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Digital library opens new chapter in Saudi Arabia

Time: 19 July, 2020

The library contains 446,044 digital books. (Shutterstock)
  • The library seeks to become the largest assembly of digital knowledge sources in the Middle East in terms of size and type of resources

RIYADH: The Saudi Digital Library at the Ministry of Education provides 169 databases in a range of academic fields to help researchers, students and others across the Kingdom.
Public and private universities, teachers and scholarship students are among those benefiting from the library’s digital services, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.
The library seeks to become the largest assembly of digital knowledge sources in the Middle East in terms of size and type of resources.
More than 65 entities have benefited from the service to date.
The library contains 446,044 digital books, 60,000 scientific journals, 6,548,350 research and conference papers, 5,224,410 university theses, and 3,061,669 scientific reports, in addition to 461,004 multimedia that includes images and scientific films in various disciplines, as well as more than 12,000,000 scientific subjects in information assets owned by the library.
Recent statistics show that there are more than 2.2 million beneficiaries of the library services.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Hyperloop One: The future of transit in Saudi Arabia

Time: 17 July, 2020

Under the initiative, Riyadh would become a transportation hub connecting cities such as Jeddah, and the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, with Hyperloop pods capable of carrying groups of 25 passengers comfortably at speeds of 1,000 km per hour. (Screenshot)
  • Riyadh would become a transportation hub connecting cities such as Jeddah, and the UAE capital Abu Dhabi

LOS ANGELES: American transportation technology company Hyperloop One is gearing up to bring the “future of transit” to Saudi Arabia via a partnership agreement with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Transport.

Under the initiative, Riyadh would become a transportation hub connecting cities such as Jeddah, and the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, with Hyperloop pods capable of carrying groups of 25 passengers comfortably at speeds of 1,000 km per hour.

Describing the technology, Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer of the Los Angeles-based firm, told Arab News: “Going from A to B, direct to destination at the speeds of an aircraft, but inside a tube.

“So, small vehicles direct to destination using electromagnetic propulsion and magnetic levitation.

“Being able to have breakfast in Riyadh, go to prayer in Makkah, come back all in time for lunch, do everything that you need to do really gives you a new type of way of being a logistics hub for the actual entire GCC region,” he said.

The system would also allow for safer social distancing, thanks to the small group sizes, lack of frequent stops, and adaptive artificial intelligence, which would allow for additional pods to be added, as necessary.

“You’re automating the fleet. That allows you, if you only need a 50 percent capacity in a single pod, to do that without having to tape off seats and other things like that,” Giegel added.

The partnership began in February, and Hyperloop technology is still in development with testing being conducted in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company anticipates Hyperloop will be ready for the public by the end of the decade.

This article was first published in Arab News

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$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

06/07/20

Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh. (Supplied)

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia will meet the environmental challenge — energy minister

Time: 25 June, 2020

Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation, and renewables. (Screengrab)
  • Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation, and renewables
  • He was speaking at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute from New York

Saudi Arabia will continue to use its vast oil reserves in an environmentally efficient way, Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman told an international audience of thought leaders on Thursday.
“I can assure you that Saudi Arabia will not only be the last producer, but Saudi Arabia will produce every molecule of hydrocarbon and it will put it to good use, and it will be done in a most environmentally sound and more sustainable way. I’m willing to say that by 2050, we’ll be the last and the biggest producer of hydrocarbon,” he said at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute.

“I love challenges … We’ll live up to the challenge of sitting on a huge amount of hydrocarbon, and we’ll make better use of it,” he added.
“You should come and see all the young boys and girls of Saudi Arabia, how they aspire to these challenges and how they’re inspired by them. We’ll be the pacesetter.”
The prince was speaking on a panel with other energy leaders on the subject of “the new sustainable energy equation,” discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the concept of the circular carbon economy, which seeks to remove harmful pollutants from the environment via a mixture of recycling and removing pollutants, as well as sophisticated technology to remove emissions from the industrial process. “We’re trying to lead by example, and we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” he said.

The prince highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation and renewables that aim to generate half of the Kingdom’s electricity from non-hydrocarbon sources by 2030. “We have a leadership that values sustainability,” he said.
The event — the second in a series of online gatherings leading up to the FII forum in Riyadh in October — was opened by the governor of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, who emphasized the need for a sustainable recovery from the economic shock of the pandemic.

“The recovery from the pandemic will give us the opportunity to hit the reset button,” the governor said, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s initiatives via public-private partnerships in recycling, energy efficiency, alternative energy sources and environmental protection.
The keynote speaker of the event was British anthropologist Jane Goodall, who said the response by governments to the pandemic had been “pretty good.” She added: “If only we’d responded in the same way to the climate crisis.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Top Saudi titles in catalogue of 44 Arab movies being released by Netflix

Time: 19 June, 2020

Netflix’s first Saudi thriller and drama series “Whispers”. (Netflix)
  • Several titles will stream globally to 183 million members worldwide

RIYADH: Leading internet entertainment service Netflix is releasing a new catalogue of 44 movies by Arab directors, including Youssef Chahine, Youssry Nasrallah, Nadine Labaki, Moustapha Akkad, Anne Marie Jacir, Laila Marrakchi and many more.
Among them are various Saudi titles that have made their debut this year on Netflix, such as the newly released and first Saudi thriller and drama series, “Whispers,” the award-winning short film collection “Six Windows in the Desert,” and the first Saudi animation movie, “Masameer.”
The new catalogue combines cinematic masterpieces with contemporary rising stars from the Arab world’s entertainment industry, providing Arab talent with a platform to gain more fans globally.
Netflix members will have the opportunity to rediscover movies that constitute an important part of Arab film heritage.
The stories come from the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Algeria and Sudan.
“We want more people around the world to have access to great stories and have the chance to see their lives represented on screen,” said Netflix MENAT Director of Content Acquisitions Nuha El-Tayeb.
“We also believe that great stories come from anywhere and can travel everywhere, connecting with audiences far beyond their place or language of origin,” El-Tayeb added.
“We’re honored to share these classic and contemporary films with our members in the Arab world and globally.”
Licensed from Front Row Filmed Entertainment, some of the films are already on the service and the majority will be available on Netflix starting
June 18.
Several titles will stream globally to 183 million members worldwide.
All the films will include subtitles relevant to those countries where they are streaming, in either English, Arabic or French.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi university ranks fourth on international list of educational establishments

Time: 04 June, 2020

The achievement is something the Kingdom can be proud of said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman. (AFP)
  • King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals rates highly based on number of utilities patents granted to it in the United States
  • University received 225 patents, topped only by the University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Texas

DHAHRAN: Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has been ranked fourth on a global list of 100 universities granted utility patents in the United States in 2019.
The annual list is compiled by the American organizations the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. KFUPM was granted 225 patents last year according to the list, which was topped by the University of California (631), followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (355) and the University of Texas (276).
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi minister of energy and chairman of KFUPM’s board of trustees, said the achievement reflects the university’s strategic methodology in the fields of research and innovation, and is something the Kingdom can be proud of.
He also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their great support for education.

This article was first published in Arab News

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YouTubers in Saudi Arabia attempt to set world record for largest virtual Iftar

Time: 18 May, 2020

Iraqi Noor Stars, American-Sudanese Omar Hussein, The Saudi Reporters and Saudi Mohamed Moshaya, Anasala Family and Asrar Aref are all taking part in the iftar. (YouTube)

DUBAI: Six Arab YouTubers in Saudi Arabia are set to host a virtual iftar from their homes on Tuesday, allowing friends, family and fans to connect online while adhering to social distancing restrictions in the Kingdom due to COVID-19.

The content creators —Iraqi Noor Stars, American-Sudanese Omar Hussein, The Saudi Reporters and Saudi Mohamed Moshaya, Anasala Family and Asrar Aref – will also attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for “Most Views for an Iftar YouTube Livestream Globally.”

The live stream, that will begin at 6 p.m. (Saudi time), is set to take place on Moshaya’s YouTube channel and will go on for an hour.

“Ramadan is usually a time where friends and family gather in mosques and homes to break the fast and pray together,” said Moshaya, who has been filming videos with his family since 2010, in a released statement.

“However with this global pandemic, Ramadan this year feels very different, which is why I decided to enlist a couple of my friends in the YouTube community to come together and turn this moment of isolation into celebration,” added Moshaya, the host of the virtual iftar.

For Abdullah and Abdulaziz Bakr, who make up The Saudi Reporters, YouTube “has always instilled the sense of togetherness in us.”

“As The Saudi Reporters we always love to make history and reach impossible goals, so we are very excited and honored to be a part of this experience,” the duo said.

“And as content creators and YouTubers we love entertaining people, and especially in these difficult times we feel it’s our duty to do whatever we can to help people get through this pandemic even with something as small as drawing a smile on people’s faces.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia ranks fourth globally for 5G technology use

10/05/20

Women sit in a 5G connected car simulator displayed at the Saudi Telecom Company stand during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2018. (REUTERS)

Saudi Arabia now controls more than 7,000 5G towers and the ministry has launched several training programs
MAKKAH: The Kingdom ranks fourth globally in the use of 5G technology and 10th in internet speed as a result of a nationwide digital transformation scheme.
The deputy minister for technology, industry and digital capacities at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Ahmed Al-Theneyan, presented the findings at the opening webinar of the “Digital Lanterns” event, which was launched on Friday by the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We are proud of the digital transformation and qualitative leaps we have accomplished in all fields,” he said. “The Kingdom jumped from 150th to 10th place globally in terms of internet speed, showcasing the durability of its infrastructure. This was also due to the increasing use of fiber optics that have reached more than three million Saudi households, accompanied by 5G technology that will be used in the health and industrial sectors among others.”
The Kingdom now controls more than 7,000 5G towers and the ministry has launched several training programs, he added. The sector’s localization rate is 52 percent and the ministry is also implementing programs that support job creation. Al-Theneyan highlighted the ministry’s “Digital Giving Initiative,” which is aimed at promoting technical and digital awareness.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia leads advance clinical studies for virus treatment

04/05/20

  • These drugs have anti-viral properties, or imitate some of the virus immunity responses

RIYADH: The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, has been conducting advanced clinical studies at hospitals across the Kingdom to combat the coronavirus, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The medical team, comprising physicians, pharmacists and researchers, aims to assess four remedy protocols that include hydroxychloroquine lopinavir/ritonavir remdesivir interferon.
These drugs have anti-viral properties, or imitate some of the virus immunity responses, and are given orally or through the veins. The study focuses on those showing medium to severe symptoms, and these drugs have shown preliminary effectiveness during laboratory studies.

This article was first published in Arab News

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