By Innovation-sa on March 26, 2018 in News

The Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming (SFCSP) inked Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman during Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s US visit, according to reports from Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The MoU signed with Lockheed Martin aims at creating a collaboration in cybersecurity and programming. The company will focus on developing and increasing the Kingdom’s proficiency in cybersecurity, programming, combatting viruses and cyber attacks by providing specialized training to Saudis.

Abdullah Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, Vice Chairman of SFCSP, co-signed the MoU on behalf of Saud bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, Chairman of SFCSP, along with Alan Chinoda, CEO of Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is a world-class aerospace, defense, and information security company that largely focusses on research, design, development and manufacturing sophisticated technologies and software systems.

“The agreement with Lockheed Martin will support the Kingdom’s youth, who are specialized in cybersecurity and programming, and will show them the seriousness and how these systems and infrastructure can be targeted, and learn how they can be protected through specialized and useful systems, which will contribute to raising awareness, protection, and realization”, said Al-Qahtani following the signing ceremony.

In another development, Al-Ghamdi co-signed a MoU with Northrop Grumman’s CEO and the National Commissioner of the Air Force Association.

The MoU signed with Northrop Grumman, another leading American global security company that provides innovative systems, products and solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide aims at cooperating on Cyber Security competitions and raising awareness in the cybersecurity and programming community.


By Innovation-sa on March 22, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman remarked that abayas are not a necessity for women, as long as they wear a “decent and respectful attire”. This historic statement signals a new progressive trend towards modernization in the deeply conservative Muslim nation.

Women in Saudi Arabia are currently required to wear abayas- the loose-fitting, full-length robes- which are a symbolic of Islamic culture. The Crown Prince’s remarks come amid moves to modernize the Kingdom and relax restrictions on women.

“The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men. This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear”, the Crown Prince said in an interview with CBS television.

Women who do not wear abaya in places where they may be seen by men who are not related to them face being chastised by the religious police. In 2016, a Saudi woman was detained for removing her abaya on the main street in the capital city of Riyadh.

However, Saudi Arabia is currently embracing a more open and tolerant interpretation of Islam and has begun to loosen social restrictions on women, who can now attend mixed public sports events and will soon be allowed to drive cars on the roads of the Kingdom.

Last month, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that women should dress modestly, but this did not necessitate wearing the abaya. However, it still remains unclear if these remarks indicate a change in the women’s dress code in the Kingdom.


By Innovation-sa on March 22, 2018 in News

As Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s ambitious drive to empower women is gaining momentum, over 40 Saudi women have taken up hospitality jobs in Makkah hotels.

Saudi women can now be seen adorning receptions as well as holding jobs in human resource, reservation, and cooking departments with ease and confidence.

“We are determined to be more professional and learn everything new in the hotel world,” said Sarrah Najjar, about her new career. “It is a pleasure and a passion to learn about many international cultures by dealing with visitors and pilgrims from different nationalities and countries”, added the excited receptionist.

Medical insurance coordinator Afaf Abdullah said the premise, privacy, professional development and training that she received is helping her do her job well.

Receptionist Reem Bakatain believes that opportunities become available to women when they are armed with knowledge and determination, and she is all set to work hard to develop her skills and gain knowledge about everything new in her career.

Women make up 56 percent of university graduates in Saudi Arabia and now women are bagging more jobs than ever in the private, public and government sectors.

The changing attitude of the age-old conservative Muslim country and its impressive measures to empower women socially, politically and economically is gaining applause and attention from the local and international community.

With the decision to grant the driving license to Saudi women and by allowing women to attend mixed public sporting events, Saudi Arabia is witnessing a massive social and economic change.


By Innovation-sa on March 22, 2018 in News

The high-speed Haramain Express train connecting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah will be ready to serve passengers this year, following final safety trails and operational readiness tests carried out for high-speed trains, announced Nabeel Al Amoudi, Minister of Transportation and Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organisation.

The Haramain rail project, better known as “Western railway” or “Makkah-Madinah high-speed railway”, is a 453 km long high-speed intercity rail transport system linking Madinah and Makkah via King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and King Abdul Aziz International Airport (KAIA) at Jeddah.

The $16 billion worth express train, which is expected to carry 60 million passengers per year, including millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims will use electric propulsion to attain an operating speed of 300kph.

The new service will reduce traffic congestion on highways as well as cut down traveling time between Makkah and Madinah to less than 2 hours, which otherwise would take 6 hours by any means of road transport.

The train service, which was initially scheduled to roll out in 2012, is one of the biggest public transport projects in the Middle East and is expected to play a vital role in realizing Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by harnessing its energies to serve pilgrims and guests.


By Innovation-sa on March 18, 2018 in News

Despite the anti-corruption probe that shook the nation, Goldman Sachs Group forecasted an unprecedented economic overhaul in the Kingdom and announced plans to invest in the Kingdom for the first time in its history.

Goldman Sachs Group, an American multinational finance company often seen involved in providing advice to companies and governments on takeovers and fundraising efforts in the region, has plans to hire veteran banker, Ammar Al-Khudairy, to identify more investment opportunities and further bolster Goldman’s presence in the Kingdom.

“With the exception of China, I have not witnessed in my 34-year career in the business a sovereign undergoing such massive economic and social transformation. We remain keen and continue to prospect for opportunities in the Kingdom to deploy and invest the firm’s own capital alongside our clients”, said Wassim Younan, Goldman’s chief executive for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Kingdom’s recent economic reforms focussing on investments in non-oil related sectors and its privatization plan, has opened several business opportunities and banks across the world like Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc. are also establishing their presence in the Kingdom.


By Innovation-sa on March 18, 2018 in News

In a move to revolutionize the capital city’s public transport system, Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) announced the launch of 3,500 buses to cover over 5,000 destinations in Riyadh. The announcement comes ahead of the inauguration of Riyadh Metro, one of the world’s largest urban transport ventures, in 2019.

Under the new bus network, modern city buses will entirely replace the Khat Al-Balad (downtown route) services by the end of 2018.

The bus fare will range from SR3 to SR5 to various destinations across Riyadh. To utilize bus services as well as metro trains, commuters will be issued a common pre-paid electronic card.

The new bus network will have buses starting from King Fahd Stadium, east of Riyadh, to the Diplomatic Quarters situated in the west of Riyadh and those operating from Aziziya, south of Riyadh, will have destinations in the north.

In addition to connecting to the new residential districts developing across Riyadh, bus services will also be available to and from metro stations.

The new bus system, which is a program under the King Abdulaziz Public Transport project in Riyadh, will also open four operation and maintenance centers, workshops and store for spare parts, administration office for employees and provide night parking facilities. Several operation control rooms, offices to deal with accidents and facilities to provide training to staff members will also be launched soon.

Over 3,500 SAPTCO buses will be available to cover 5,000 destinations on 300 lanes passing through 1,000 traffic intersections in the capital city. It will also have 750 onboard units, devices to count passengers, traffic signal control systems and 4,000-real time passenger information (RTPI).


By Innovation-sa on March 11, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed a $10 billion joint investment fund to develop NEOM, the mega-city planned in the north-western region of the Kingdom, as part of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s Egypt visit this week.

NEOM, a mega investment and business special zone unveiled by Prince Muhammed last October as part of plans to diversify the Kingdom’s oil dependent economy, will be the world’s first private zone to extend across three countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan.

NEOM targets nine investment sectors including energy and water, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, food, media, and entertainment. The focus on these industries is expected to reduce GDP leakage by providing fresh investment opportunities within the country.

The current deal is focussed on developing the Egyptian side of NEOM, which stretches over 1,000 square kilometers of land in the Southern Sinai.  “Saudi Arabia and Egypt have set up a joint fund of equal shares valued at more than $10 billion. The Egyptians share comprises a leased land for (the) long term”, quoted government sources.

As part of the deal, Saudi Arabia will build seven cities and tourism projects, while Egypt will contribute by developing the existing resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Moreover, officials have clarified that Saudi Arabia is currently involved in negotiation talks with more than seven tourism-related operators and the Kingdom is currently working in collaboration with Egypt and Jordan to attract more European cruise and tourism companies to operate in the Red Sea.

Another agreement, focussing on protecting the marine environment as well as maintaining coral reefs and beaches in the Red Sea was also signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the Crown Prince’s visit.

Separately, Saudi Arabia will start construction of the proposed luxury resorts on islands and other sites on the Red Sea in 2019 and the project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.


By Innovation-sa on March 11, 2018 in News

The Director General of Passports (Jawazat) reminded expatriates who haven’t documented their fingerprints to complete their registration process soon. Further, it called on expatriates to abide by residency-related regulations in the Kingdom.

Expatriates and their dependents who are six years of age or above must document their fingerprints at any of the fingerprinting centers set up across the Kingdom. The Jawazat also warned expatriates that if they did not hurry up and register their fingerprints, then they will be denied of various electronic services like issuance of exit/re-entry visas and their computer records will be blocked.


By Innovation-sa on March 5, 2018 in News

The General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) clarified on Twitter that dependent fee would not be refunded to expatriate family members if they leave the Kingdom before the expiry of their iqamas.

The General Directorate of Passports clarified through its official Twitter account that dependent fee will not be refunded to expat family members who have opted to leave the Kingdom on final exit before the expiry of their iqamas.

The dependent fee, introduced by Saudi Arabia in 2017, is linked with a renewal of iqama or issuance of exit and re-entry visa or final exit visa, whichever comes first. It is mandatory for expatriate families to settle the dependent fee amount for all its dependent members during iqama renewal. However, exit re-entry process can be done against single individual dependent by paying the fee till the date of the validity of iqama.


By Innovation-sa on March 5, 2018 in News

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) extended the license period for foreign investments from one year to a renewable period of up to five years.

The new efforts were designed to aid the Kingdom’s recent economic changes and promote foreign investment in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030, stated Ibrahim S Al-Suwayel, Deputy Governor for Investors’ Services and Consultancy.

Under the new rule, investors would be provided the option to reduce minimum license period to just one year as well.

Al-Suwayel said that the Ministry’s recent decision to reduce the time taken to issue business licenses from two days to just four hours by restructuring the processes, reducing the number of documents required from eight to two and training and certifying staff, has already shown a positive effect in attracting new investments to the Kingdom. The new decision to extend license period will also accelerate SAGIA’s efforts to attract foreign investments to the Kingdom, he added.