Saudi Arabia to Establish a Leadership, National Sustainable Development Center


Riyadh – Saudi Arabia announced plans to establishing a center for leadership, discipline and building up national sustainable capacities. The news came in light of launching a committee for digital transformation, in hopes of investing comprehensive strategy and international exchange of expertise in the Kingdom’s future.

Digital transformation is the core strategy of Saudi Vision 2030, with Saudi companies increasingly adapting themselves to be part of the vision program.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sponsored the 2nd International Conference on C4I Solutions on Wednesday in hopes of boosting this trend.

These systems combine a variety of technologies including: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), remote control and autonomous systems that decision-makers rely upon to supply and process accurate analytical data, as well as collect and display information in the most timely, context-appropriate and format-suitable manner, using smart technologies and state-of-the-art sensors.

This is not to mention their vital role in connected battlespace management and in monitoring and protecting critical infrastructures.

The concept of leadership and control requires the availability of human resources, advanced infrastructure, ability and efficiency in carrying out missions, said Chief of General Staff of Royal Saudi Armed Forces General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan.

Gen. Al-Bunyan said that investment in command and control is no longer an option as much as it is a national demand, requiring radical changes across many levels.

Gen. Al-Bunyan believes that this approach will contribute to keeping up with the latest standards, such as moving from C4I to C5 and integrating combat operations into a modern system.

He noted the importance of the 2nd International Conference on C4I Solutions in keeping track with rapid developments in this field, which the Defense Ministry has dedicated efforts to through its fruitful cooperation with King Saud University, benefiting from modern technologies.

The conference is set to shed light on the role of command and control centers in combating conventional and unconventional terrorism, and their alliances relying on advanced integration systems for complex operations and command, control, communications, cyber security (C4I). In addition, the conference will address all aspects of C4I in military as well as civilian arenas.

The chairman of the conference’s organizing committee, Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, announced that the conference was held under the theme of “coalition against terrorism”, for the importance of this issue at the present time, and the pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia in confronting terrorism and extremism in the region and the world.

“Command and control systems are now the vital nerve of the armed forces in confronting terrorism, both through field operations and technical confrontation through cyberspace,” he said.

The conference’s panels and working papers by international experts discuss the importance of strengthening international alliances, achieving integration in the armed forces’ command and control systems and providing them with proactive capabilities to monitor and respond to terrorist operations in its various shapes and locations.

“The conference focuses on transferring technology knowledge and the localization of specialized expertise in command and control systems as one of its main themes, in line with the Saudi 2030 vision,” Dr. Al-Ghamdi added.

The conference targeted major industrial and financial sectors, which are also vulnerable to terrorist assaults through hacking attacks on their information systems which pose a direct threat to the highest interests of the countries.

This is in addition to strengthening the partnership between the various relevant sectors, especially security and defense, with research centers specialized in command and control systems, aiming to move towards a new and more secure generation of cybersecurity, communication, command and control systems.

The conference brought together more than 700 participants including senior military officers from Saudi Armed Forces as well as from other armed forces members of the International Alliance against Terrorism.

Modi’s Visit to Israel, Arabs Going Green with Envy


Arabs find themselves envious when they encounter the developed world. A friend of mine sought a better life in London after having had enough with reign of oppression back home. He purchased a house in his wait for the war to end.

One day he was disturbed by a tree in his small garden. He made the decision to take it down. He then asked his native neighbor if he knew a worker who could do the job.

The neighbor laughed and explained that he has no right to cut down trees even if they are rooted within private property.

“You must first apply to the local council and convince him of the reasons,” the neighbor told my friend.

“The law here protects trees– it is necessary to get the council’s approval– and then comes the chopping,” he went on saying.

My friend was short to stunned, he had come from a world in which a city could be leveled or have its people uprooted without a flicker on an eye. A citizen can be taken away without the right for families, friends or relatives to demand for an explanation.

In the United Kingdom the law protects trees, while the memory of my friend’s cousin lingers of him returning with plied nails, bloodied gums and fallen teeth after being summoned to a mysterious interrogation.

A tree in London enjoys more rights than a citizen in countries where torture and suffering has become the status quo.

Nevertheless, jealousy is not a virtue and rather only fosters feelings of hatred and bitterness.

But for Arabs to feel envious is not inexplicable or odd. Envy can also become a constant concern.

When an Arab visits a museum in a developed country a thought occurs to him as he wonders what fate did legacies and historical artifacts in Iraq, Syria and other Arab countries face.

As Vienna nourishes and preserves its trees, bulldozers raze whole natural landscapes in Lebanon. While Oslo continues to pay attention to perfecting its healthcare plans and sustaining a sanitary environment, sewage in Arab countries flow without accountability.

Arabs sometimes try to mitigate the disappointment, seek justifications for this wide gap separating them from the developed world. We now stand at a very decisive and unique time in history.

Developed countries now reap the fruits of struggles and major events that were witnessed by The Old Continent– the French Revolution, the industrial revolution, the Renaissance, the separation of church and state, German philosophy, and the ever-changing revolution of women’s rights all of which are factors who helped shape the developed world today.

Europeans have experienced all sorts of wars that destroyed the continent and the world along with it. Nevertheless they finally arrived at a constructive conclusion.

Despite the horrendous account that Adolf Hitler left behind, Germany now thrives under Angela Merkel’s chairmanship and the institutions. Fallen empires have become nothing more than shelves at museums and written lines in history books. Border became bridges, not walls.

Communities eventually recognized the right to difference, and minorities are no longer viewed as a threat to be neutralized. The constitution protects variety and prevents the majority from erasing it.

These countries no longer search for leaders who speak in the language of bloodshed. Instead, they are looking for governments that are concerned with fighting unemployment, developing the economy, encouraging investment, taking care of the environment and tackling climate change. All of which leaves the visiting Arab is envious.

Setting aside trees and museums aside, there is something worse. Arabs took close note to Benjamin Netanyahu freeing up his day to attend his visiting guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

That was the first time a sitting Indian prime minister visits Israel. What is even more remarkable is that the Modi did not feel the need to visit the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. A move that saw to Israel’s liking.

It is worth remembering that India was a pioneer in understanding the aspirations of the people of Palestinian and did not hesitate to take their side in international arenas.

Arabs kept a close eye to each step of the visit, especially after the warm welcome Modi received in Israel and which exceeded in hospitality that which was afforded United States President Donald Trump.

Modi then said that true cooperation between Israel and India would change the face of the world. Netanyahu also said that Israel welcomed Modi in a manner befitting a president of leading the world’s largest democracy, and the only democratic state in the Middle East.

What turned around heads is that Modi viewed Israel as a prevalent beacon in technology and him clearly speaking of his country’s tremendous need to benefit from Israel’s capabilities in this field.

The visit resulted in the signing of an agreement between Netanyahu and Modi, under which India will secure its very own Israel’s signature Iron Dome Weapon System worth two billion dollars. Memorandums of understanding were also signed on establishing an Indian-Israeli fund for innovation in research and development in the domain of technology.
Other agreements included water and agricultural development in India, as well as a partnership in economic projects in Africa and third world countries.

Saying that Modi belongs to a hard-line Hindu nationalist movement or that the influence of rising “jihadist” terrorism is not enough to elaborate on Modi being swayed into a stronger relationship with Israel. What is more dangerous is that a country the size of Israel can offer the Indian army such a large-scale weapons deal, which goes beyond its previous role in developing ex-Soviet and Russian weapons owned by India. Ever more threatening is that Israel now has managed to develop an advanced strategic, military, security and economic relationship with a country the size of and with geopolitical significance of India.

Arabs were disturbed by the arrogance which characterized Netanyahu’s speeches during Modi’s visit.

But when reading in-between the lines and closely reviewing the Middle East, Arabs discovered that in recent years, Israel had achieved a series of victories without firing a bullet.

States, armies and economies around the occupying state have eroded to its benefit. Waves of extremism in the Arab world have caused untold calamities, creating a long bullet-list of issues and conflicts in which the Palestinian cause is a mere one of many.

This time Arabs did not feel envy alone, but sensed utter defeat for those who for failing to catch up with the developing world.

London Exhibition Charts 500 Years of Evolution of Robots

London- When you step into a huge robots’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London, you feel like it’s a pure technical exhibition that deals with innovations. However, this impression changes once you find out it’s about a “500-year quest to make machines human.”

The “Robots” exhibition will feature over 100 models in what the museum calls the most significant collection of humanoid robots ever displayed.

The exhibition starts with the sample of a new-born child that moves his hands and makes voices. It is among the new possessions of the exhibition and stimulates the emotions of visitors with some programmed movements like moving hands, breathing and sneezing.

This robot is usually used in movies instead of real children as it looks like a real human being.

The exhibition is composed of five pavilions with one of them featuring how robots were created based on religious beliefs; this pavilion exhibits an automaton monk made in 1560 that hides its hands under its robe, while showing simple movements of hands and lips in sign of prayer.

Among the most amazing pieces at the London show is a mechanical silver swan on loan from the Bowes Museum that will remain part of the exhibition until March 23. The wind-up bird dates back to around 1773 and performs a 37-second routine to music in which it preens its own neck before plucking a fish from a flowing filigree stream and swallowing it.

A pavilion at the museum was dedicated for dreams and future predictions in the field of robots which usually appear in movies. Ben Russell, the lead curator of the exhibition, said that robots have always been present in the popular culture since people used the term “robot” in 1920. The exhibition also shows the T-Terminator Robot used in “Terminator Salvation” starred by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Visitors can also meet the first robot developed in the UK known as “Erik.”

Roadmap for Stability in the Mediterranean

Barcelona- Amid remarkable concerns on the survival of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the meeting of the union’s ministers of foreign affairs or their representatives in Barcelona came to adopt a roadmap for the sake of the region.

The roadmap stressed three main goals: contributing to the regional stability, enhancing the Mediterranean integration, and investing in human development.

The meeting also included a two-day forum entitled “Youth to serve stability and growth in the Mediterranean”, which hosted 500 people from all the Mediterranean countries to partake in dozens of symposiums and workshops.

In his opening speech, Fathallah Sijilmass, secretary general of the union asserted that all the convening parties in Barcelona have agreed on the importance of reaching regional solutions to confront current challenges.

He added that security requires growth and that all parties have to work hard to reach effective solutions for their serious challenges including illegal migrations, terrorism, and fundamentalism, by enhancing economic and social development, providing work opportunities for youths and by encouraging dialogue and mutual understanding.

The Union, which joins conflicting parties, faced many threatening challenges like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Gaza wars, and the Arab Spring, but succeeded in coping with them; the Union has launched projects of humanitarian and economic growth, and maintained its main mission as a platform for the regional dialogue.

During the meeting, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini considered that only greater regional integration can reduce the instability of the Mediterranean region and solve conflicts.

The Mediterranean parties have agreed that the Union’s projects of human and economic development have been the perfect response to the security challenges and the migration waves.

Mogherini said that the Union has adopted 47 regional projects with a budget of EUR5.5 including 25 projects, which were already launched. Till date, the Union’s budget has been covered by the European Union and the member states.
However, ministers who gathered in Barcelona have agreed to open doors for external funding, which reflect the member states’ will in expanding the General Secretariat’s efforts.

A diplomatic source that attended the meeting told Asharq Al-Awsat that this Union cannot solve the region’s crises and that it is not assigned to. However, he considered that the Union can efficiently contribute to solutions as it is the only platform that maintained dialogue and communication lines among parties despite the major obstacles.

The European source added that the region has faced a phase of uncertainty because of the unclear policies of the new U.S. administration. He concluded that while waiting for the regional and international solutions for the region’s crises, the Union will maintain its efforts in implementing projects to help women and youths in the east and south Mediterranean in cooperation with the regions’ governments.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi: Turning Strategic Agreements with India into Action

Abu Dhabi- Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, stated that UAE-India relations are not only economic or political but have a profound national and popular dimension.

“The fact that UAE-India relations have made it to this strategic level is evidence that these ties are backed by a strong political will from both nations. Therefore, I am certain that the upcoming period will witness a breakthrough in turning our strategic agreements into action programs that serve the interests of both nations,” he said.

Sheikh Mohammed arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday, as part of his visit to attend the 68th Republic Day celebrations of India as a chief guest.Sheikh Mohammed and his accompanying delegation were received by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and a number of senior government officials.

”I am pleased to be in this great country for the second time in less than a year, and I would like to seize this opportunity to deliver the best wishes of Emirates to Indians. I thank India’s people and government for their hospitable reception,” Sheikh Mohamed said upon his arrival.

Sheikh Mohamed added: “UAE-India relations enjoy a deep history that extends to hundreds of years. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, cemented this relationship when he carried out a historic visit to India in 1975, laying the founding stone of modern relations.”

“Today, the UAE, under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, considers ties with India a priority and views India as a pillar of stability in Asia and a major partner in the global efforts towards stability, development and in the battle against terrorism,” he continued.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week: Platform for Development, Renewable Energy

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi- Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) addresses interconnected challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, renewable energy and water security – it is expected to receive 38,000 attendees representing 175 countries, including five heads of state, more than 80 government ministers and 880 exhibiting companies from 40 countries.

Taking place on the theme “Practical Steps towards a Sustainable Future”, under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the week began with two key events: the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum on January 12 and13, held in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Energy, and the 5th General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

ADSW opening ceremony is immediately followed by the Awards Ceremony of the 9th edition of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. The afternoon programme is dedicated to Abu Dhabi Global Action Day, a high-level conference aimed at turning the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into practical and innovative solutions in policy, investment, technology and partnerships with a focus on the steps to be taken by both government and business.

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive officer of Masdar, said: “ADSW 2017 is one of the first global platforms to debate the outcomes of COP22 in Marrakech and to take further action to adopt renewable energy, clean technologies and sustainable development following the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

“It is also a gateway to the opportunities of the Middle East & North Africa, today one of the fastest growing and most cost-competitive markets for renewable energy and clean technology,” he added.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week hosts the World Future Energy Summit, which this year marks its 10th anniversary, the 5th International Water Summit and EcoWaste.

More than half of the exhibiting companies are small and medium sized business (SMEs) from leading clean-tech nations including Germany, France, Japan, the U.S. and the UK, further illustrating the commercial dynamism and growing maturity of the sector.

Saudi King: Citizens are Welcome to Give Remarks

Dammam- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman inaugurated on Monday several development projects in the Eastern Province. The launching ceremony was held at Aziziyah Palace in Al-Khobar.

“I am delighted to be with you to celebrate the event of launching these projects that serve our nation and citizens,” the King said.

“I praise Allah for giving us this wealth and security and stability for this nation, which is the land of the Two Holy Mosques. We all are honored to serve this nation,” the King added.

King Salman also urged citizens to provide him with their remarks.

Minister of Health Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the new ministry projects included 500-bed Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Dammam, 500-bed Al-Amal Health and Mental Health Complex in Dammam, 300-bed Saud Bin Jalawi Hospital in Al-Ahsa, 200-bed King Faisal General Hospital in Al-Ahsa and 100-bed Al-Omran Hospital.

King Salman watched a video presentation about the projects of the Ministry of Health in the region.

Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli showcased the ministry’s water and sewage projects, as well as the project to expand the wheat mills at King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam, the wheat stock and flour production mills in Al-Ahsa and fishing harbors in Qatif, Al-Khobar, Al-Zour and Darain.

Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Faleh explained the ministry’s projects in the region including two projects in the field of electricity generating and three projects in the field of transportation.

Minister of Education Ahmad Al Essa announced that the King approved changing the name of Dammam University into Imam Abdurahman Al-Faisal University to honor Imam Abdurahman Al-Faisal, father of King Abdul Aziz.

The reception was attended by Prince Khaled bin Fahd bin Khaled; Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; Prince Mansour bin Saud bin Abdulaziz; Prince Talal bin Saud bin Abdulaziz; Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Dr. Mansour bin Meteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of the State, Member of the Cabinet and Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Prince Meteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Minister of National Guard; and other officials.

SAMA Injects USD5.3 Billion into Banks

Riyadh- The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) revealed on Sunday that it will be giving banks about SRA20 billion (USD5.3 billion) of time deposits on behalf of government entities.

SAMA revealed in its statement that it will continue to adopt its supportive monetary policy through the available mechanisms.

“This policy aims at supporting the domestic financial stability, noting that the banking sector’s non-performing loans did not exceed 1.3% of total loans while coverage exceeded 165% of total non-performing loans and regulatory capital adequacy exceeded 18%,” added the statement.

SAMA is also introducing seven-day and 28-day repurchase agreements.

Reliable sources told Asharq al-Awsat they are certain that the Saudi banking sector will move towards an effective contribution to the economy, at a time when the domestic economy is expected to achieve a new average growth despite the oil sector’s huge losses.

Amid these updates, the Saudi monetary policy, which is aimed at assuring the stability of the Saudi financial regime, is considered the main reason behind the remarkable sustainable growth rates achieved by the country every year.

As a strategic goal, Ahmed Al-Khulaifi, governor of SAMA, continued to apply the monetary policies aimed at promoting financial stability.

“In the framework of the rapid development in the economic activities, SAMA has conducted a comprehensive study for payment systems in the kingdom, which resulted in designing a strategy for payment systems for the coming years in order to achieve the visions and aspirations to promote monetary and financial stability, as well as to meet the current and future needs of the domestic market,” said the governor.

According to the governor, the strategy includes four areas: Developing the network system for Saudi payments, providing prepaid cards, setting a development plan for SADAD system and developing the financial transfers system to low-value payments.

New Liberalism, Fate of Development in the Arab World


Riyadh- Economic development is a decisive topic for Arab countries and communities, especially given the current tough conditions. The success of development is the key for a promising future and the failure of development has disastrous consequences.

Most Arab countries have followed through four decades the new liberalism policies in their economic and development plans. Although these policies failed, Arabs seem to stick to them with great enthusiasm.

The new liberalism launches from its belief that reducing the government’s role and increasing that of the private sector in economic activity is the way to achieve qualified performance and economic growth. New liberalism development modal adopts a package of economic and political policies that aim at liberating the economy and increasing competition plus limiting the government’s interference along with increasing its revenues and decreasing its expenses.

Supporters of these strategies see that they urge growth of economy and stability of the balance of payments. Critics, however, believe that these policies are biased to extreme capitalism.

Development is an urgent topic in the Arab world and it should not remain dependent on the new liberalism policies especially that the mandatory implementation of these policies led to the deterioration of Arab communities and countries’ conditions.

The main problem of current liberalism is that it rejects revision and criticism and this is actually hurdling its progress.

New liberalism always blames circumstances and reality but never considers modifying its policies to go along with these circumstances. Hence, the best way to accomplish Arab development is to resist the new liberalism pressure and temptation and to think out of the box to pave the way for new development viewpoints, through restless efforts to develop comprehensive development models that fit in the Arab world and serve its interests.