COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka labor minister is visiting Saudi Arabia to seek employment opportunities for the crisis-hit nation’s workers in the Kingdom’s labor market.
Labor and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara arrived in the Kingdom for a four-day official visit on Tuesday to meet his Saudi counterpart, Human Resources and Social Development Minister Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Riyadh Packeer Mohideen Amza, who is accompanying the labor minister, told Arab News on Thursday that the trip has “all the ingredients to be a fruitful visit.”
The visit has several objectives, he said: “One is to enhance the existing labor relations arrangements between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka and to find employment opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled workers, as well as for professionals in the ongoing giga-projects.”
Another aim of the minister’s trip, Amza added, is to enhance foreign remittances to Sri Lanka.
Foreign inflows are crucial for Sri Lanka, where the devastating economic crisis — the worst since independence in 1948 — has left people struggling with daily power cuts and shortages of basic commodities.
The island nation of 22 million officially defaulted in April, and without foreign currency reserves has been left unable to pay for the most basic imports.
Remittances from overseas Sri Lankan workers have long been a key source of foreign exchange for the country. They used to bring in about $7 billion a year before the pandemic-imposed lockdowns in 2020.
During the pandemic, the inflows dropped to $5 billion in 2021, and as the country went bankrupt, no more than $3 billion was expected this year.
The most important source of foreign remittances has historically been the Middle East, which is home to more than 1 million Sri Lankan nationals — 66 percent of the country’s migrant workers.
On Thursday, the labor minister visited NEOM, a $500-billion giga-project in the northwestern Saudi province of Tabuk, where Amza said he would look for opportunities for Sri Lankan professionals in the fields of engineering, architecture and design.
RIYADH: King Salman visited on Thursday the Qasr Al-Hukm district which includes the headquarters of the Riyadh region and Masmak Palace.
On his arrival, the king was received by the governor of Riyadh region Prince Faisal bin Bandar and other officials.
He then toured the headquarters during which he reviewed the many achievements made during his time as governor of the Riyadh region.
The king then visited Masmak Palace, its surroundings, mosque, seating area, and main courtyard.
A vast clay and mud-brick building that witnessed the birth of the Kingdom, the palace serves as a proud reminder of Saudi Arabia’s history.
In 1902, King Abdulaziz captured the fortress and took control of Riyadh (his ancestral home) after having lived in exile in Kuwait.
From this fortress, King Abdulaziz conquered and united the different kingdoms and provinces that make up the Saudi nation as we know it today.
The word “masmak” means a high and strong building.
RIYADH: The two-day Misk Global Forum here saw some of the world’s leading intellectuals, officials, academics, influencers, sports people and artists gather to discuss how to boost the knowledge economy by bridging the gap between young and older people, developing new leaders and empowering communities.
The MGF, the flagship global platform of the Misk Foundation, established in 2016, has extended Misk’s mission to young people across the globe through international events, research and global initiatives. The forum ran from Nov. 9 to 10.
The event “brings together emerging and established leaders, innovators, and creators to explore, experience and experiment with ways to meet the challenge of change,” according to the forum’s website.
Hosted at King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in Riyadh, the forum began on Wednesday with the theme of “Multigenerational dialogue to break barriers and inspire change.”
One of the most well-attended sessions of the first day was titled “Generations of the Future,” which featured a conversation between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi minister of energy, and Omar Al-Jeraisy, the founder of the Socrates podcast. The two discussed ways to enable and empower young people to build society.
“To empower the youth, you have to enable an economic environment that gives them ownership,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
“Change is a journey, not a destination. It cannot be achieved unless there is a leadership that enables youth,” Al-Jeraisy said.
Another discussion on day one was led by Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa, the co-founder and CEO of Chill Food Center, who focused on ways to leverage intergenerational dialogue to raise awareness and destigmatize mental health.
She stressed the importance of these conversations during a UN Sustainable Development Goals circle discussion titled “Good Health and Wellbeing.”
“I am speaking about mental health and how the young and older generations can work together to create solutions that we can come up with for depression and anxiety. We discussed the idea of implementing a platform for the younger and older generation(s) to collaborate on finding new ways of addressing mental health,” Kaliisa told Arab News.
“These conversations are very important because if you are depressed, it is going to affect what you are going to do,” she added.
Intellectual and influencer Jay Shetty hosted a session focusing on how millennials and Gen Z can create and implement a unique purpose in the world. He then answered several questions from the audience on what it means to have success, how to handle pressure, and develop satisfaction and happiness in the workplace and in personal life.
“A lot of people think their profession has to be their purpose and the truth is that not every single hobby or purpose or passion can be turned into a career,” Shetty said.
“So if you are someone who has to go to work every day to make money and to pay the bills to take care of your family and you use your spare time in the evenings and the weekends to do what you’re passionate about, that’s a beautiful balance,” he added.
In the afternoon, Palestinian American standup comedian, Mo Amer, took to the stage in a fireside chat to discuss his journey, the power of comedy, and the importance of staying grounded while looking into the future.
“It’s important to understand your art form and tip the hat to those before you. Otherwise, all that hard work of the generations before you is lost. We have to keep the connection to the past alive,” Amer said.
The cities of the future were discussed in a session led by Alaa Al-Ban, chair of the interior design department and assistant professor at Dar Al-Hekma University, featuring Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and David Henry, CEO of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City.
“The cities of the future are generally expansions of existing cities. Proximity, living, and employment are what is important for the cities of the future,” Henry said.
In a session titled “We are Family,” Maha Al-Juffali, director and acting trustee at the Help Center, Daniah Ghandour, board member at the Help Center, and Marilyn Zakhour, CEO of Cosmic Centaurs, discussed philanthropy in Saudi Arabia. They also touched on the importance of family as an anchor to uphold intergenerational values, and address societal changes and transformations.
The second day of the forum saw participants discuss an array of topics including podcasting, e-sports broadcasting, intercultural communication, and innovation skills.
LONDON: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority took part in this year’s World Travel Market Exhibition in London from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9.
The exhibition, regarded as one of the most important international events in the travel industry, drew nearly 5,000 exhibitors from 182 countries.
At its booth, “Diriyah, The City of Earth,” the DGDA highlighted the vast advances made in establishing the historically rich location as a top travel destination, as well as its efforts to preserve and celebrate the Kingdom’s heritage and culture.
The authority showcased two of its most exciting upcoming openings, the UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage site, the At-Turaif district and the neighboring Bujairi Terrace, a hub for luxury dining and lifestyle amenities.
DGDA CEO Jerry Inzerillo also participated in a special panel discussion at the event focusing on “The Mission to Sustainability.”
“We were beyond excited to once again bring Diriyah to the world, this time at London’s — ExCeL exhibition center,” Inzerillo said.
“WTM London has served as a genuine benchmark for our industry’s event circuit since its inception over four decades ago, and once again provided an outstanding platform to showcase our tremendous progress across the last year to a truly distinguished global audience,” he said.
RIYADH: The world needs a new approach to protect itself from emerging cyber threats, Saudi Arabia’s minister of communication and information technology told the Global Cybersecurity Forum on Wednesday in Riyadh.
Abdullah Al-Swaha added his voice to calls for reform in the face of increasing threats from hackers and rapidly advancing technology, such as AI and quantum computers, that has the potential to subvert even the best cybersecurity available today.
He said that the Kingdom had risen to second place globally in its ranking for cybersecurity but added that it must “reskill” to maintain that position. “We need to shift from conventional IT to secure everything,” he said.
The dangers posed by advancing technology were flagged at another panel by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, who said that the computers of the near future would make modern devices seem little more than abacuses.
He called for education on dealing with artificial intelligence and quantum computers, and warned that several AI programs could already mimic human behavior.
“We need quantum to fight quantum. We have to rethink the whole thing. We will in fact become obsolete when quantum computers get rolled out,” he said.
“People used to say it was impossible to create a quantum computer that can compete with a digital supercomputer. Three years ago, the impossible happened: Quantum computers from the US and China exceeded the ability of a super digital computer.”
He said that the Chinese quantum computer exceeded the capability of a modern-day digital device by 100 trillion times.
“These quantum computers are initiating a new era of insecurity. These quantum computers can evade every single known security protocol. This is called chaos. Realizing that we are entering a new era, the age of Silicon Valley is coming to a close, as quantum computers begin to take over.”
He said that while the shift to the quantum era may be gradual, it was nevertheless unavoidable.
Kaku added that humans should create advanced trapdoor functions to make it difficult for a criminal to penetrate security apparatus.
The forum has gathered international experts under the theme ‘Rethinking the Global Cyber Order.’
4,500 attendees from more than 110 countries are discussing a wide range of cyber issues.
Speaking at the same panel Shyam Saran, a former foreign secretary of India, said that global collaboration and a healthy diplomatic framework were necessary to ensure cybersecurity.
“We are living in a very difficult geopolitical situation. Countries that could lead (cybersecurity) collaboration are actually confronting each other. If they are not going to lead, who will?” he said.
He said that decision-makers should be educated on cyber threats to help them create the right regulatory policies and create safe online space.
Doreen Martin, secretary-general-elect of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, insisted that world leaders were paying attention to cybersecurity concerns.
She told the event: “The UN secretary general put cybersecurity as core and in the common agenda that he launched last year, and it’s also core to the new agenda for peace that’s being discussed.”
Martin did accept that the world needed to be better prepared for the wave of technical innovations on the horizon.
“I think each of us has to do more because as we increase the cyberworld moves faster, and quantum is coming faster, and of course the metaverse is almost here, so we do have to do more,” she said.
Martin said that the ITU was helping countries to benchmark themselves, identify gaps in their defenses and look to others in terms of best practices.
“Overall we’re seeing positive trends and we have a number of countries that have introduced new laws, and we’re seeing increased training for law enforcement, which is encouraging.”
Robert Putman, a cybersecurity products and services manager at the ABB multinational, said that it was not just technology that needed to evolve to protect against cyberattacks, but also the behavior of people.
“People do not understand what the risk is. They do not understand how to address it. Complacency is one of the root causes of the risks and exposure we have right now,” he said.
He said that the market had undergone a transition, which, like insurance, involved the modeling of risks. Using such models would enable them to understand the impact of that risk on operational assets, he added.
Interpol’s president Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi told the event that the world needed a better exchange of information and ideas to beat global threats.
“When we have a base to exchange information, even when there are no diplomatic relations between countries, it is important to protect citizens,” he said.
Al-Raisi said that the estimated yearly losses to cybercrimes had doubled to $6 trillion since 2015, and were expected to reach $10.5 trillion in 2025.
“This number is more than natural disasters that occur in a year, in addition to profits made by all drug dealers around the world,” he said.
As the whole world is becoming a village with a vast space of the internet, a large field for all criminal operations in cyberattacks has emerged, he said.
“My past experience with smart transformation has led me to have my first strategy in the organization (Interpol) and to prioritize cybercrime,” he told the gathering.
This move has led to ensuring the 195 member states have systems and capabilities of competencies that can not only respond to a cyberattack but also to prevent them, he added.
Christopher Blassiau, senior vice president of Cybersecurity & Global CISO Schneider Electric, said the changing nature and fracturing of the global energy market made the sector vulnerable to hackers. “There is a big amount of risk,” he said.
Blassiau added that owing to the absolute necessity for a green agenda, digitalization is going at a fast pace and is bringing a complete visibility of asset performance and a better dialogue between human and machine.
Mary Aiken, an expert in cyberpsychology — the study of the impact of technology on human behavior — meanwhile said that the unanimity of the internet was one of the main threats faced by the modern world.
“The internet was created on the principle that all users are equal. This is not true. Some users are vulnerable, especially children and women,” she said. “Young people take risks online that they will not do in the real world.”
There has been a surge in cyberattacks in the Middle East and North African region in recent years, with many companies suffering larger losses than in other parts of the world. The problem is compounded by the fact that 57 percent of organizations report unfilled cybersecurity positions.
A weak line of defense increases a company’s vulnerability to major damage, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Global Cybersecurity Forum.
The report also said that around 94 percent of women in the Middle East would be interested in studying cybersecurity, although only a small percentage of women worldwide were active in that field.
Speaking to Arab News, Laila bin Hareb Al-Mheiri, founder and president of Alive Group, Alive Medical, Alive Labs, and Alive consulting and education, said women have a high level of emotional intelligence and a unique perspective on problems and cybersecurity benefits from this extra flair.
Al-Mheiri said there is a misconception that women are not qualified to succeed in a male-dominated society.
“I have received praise and support from my male counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It’s been nothing but positivity for me,” she said.
Mary O’Brien, general manager of IBM, said that throughout her journey, she has met with opportunity, respect and inclusion. However, as a woman, she said, “I am very aware of the lack of women around the table and the lack of diverse thought that comes with that.”
Role models and allies are critical to creating change, she told Arab News.
The report quotes more than 70 percent of respondents as saying that a role model encouraged them to learn more about the industry and pursue a degree in cybersecurity.
Many women feel more confident about pushing forward when they see another woman moving through the ranks, she said.
Ultimately, O’Brien suggested engaging young females in STEM early on and helping break some of the stigmas that limit their progress.
RIYADH: Cybercrime is set to play havoc with companies’ top lines, speakers at the Global Cybersecurity Forum warned on Wednesday as calls were sounded for greater resources to police the online world.
Attendees at the event, being held in Riyadh, heard how damage caused by hackers was expected to amount to $10.5 trillion by 2025, and that firms were experiencing soaring operational costs because of increases in real-time losses owing to theft, network downtime, and rising insurance premiums.
Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh, acting chief executive officer of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said warnings were getting louder as firms battled against an increasing number of attacks.
“At an organizational level, it affects revenue and costs. For example, revenue in organizations has been reduced by five to 10 percent due to cyberattacks.
“The downtime to resolve cyberattacks can take up to 45 days. In addition, costs are becoming unpredictable as insurance costs are increasing significantly,” he added.
Khaled Al-Dhaher, deputy governor for control and technology at the Saudi Central Bank, urged companies to invest in technology wisely.
He pointed out that investment in firewalls and security middleware, with the proper governance approach and capability, could go a long way in detecting and troubleshooting the growing menace.
“It will create the right impact for the cybersecurity strategy. There has to be a continuous investment in innovation to address these evolving landscapes, and it is critical to have some threat intelligence,” Al-Dhaher said.
And he noted that businesses could not fight in isolation.
“A collaboration between different entities is a must because this is a war against criminals trying to damage us,” he added.
The forum heard that one of the worst-affected industries in cyberspace was the financial sector, especially the crypto community, which had been at the receiving end of cybersecurity problems.
According to speakers at the event, there was an increasing need for innovation in the financial sector, which had recently introduced user-friendly measures such as open banking.
Al-Dhaher said: “There is no doubt that innovation is critical to enabling and continuing trust in this sector. Artificial intelligence can help predict, protect, and minimize the impact.”
Saudi Arabia had recognized the threat and was gearing up to combat cybercrime, according to Alex Liu, managing partner and chairman of global management consulting firm Kearney.
He said the Kingdom had made huge progress in its commitment to combating cyberattacks, with Saudi Arabia ranking second on the Global Cybersecurity Index among nations committed to cybersecurity.
“I’m inspired by the fact that in just two short years, the Kingdom has become No. 2, and I think that comes from urgency and proactivity,” he added.
Liu noted that cybersecurity was one of the top three risks facing countries and companies and the urgency to counter it needed to be increased.
During a separate panel session, Isa Ali Ibrahim, Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy, suggested that the world needed 3.4 million more cybersecurity professionals to combat the rise in online crime.
He said: “In July, a report suggested that we need 8.1 million cybersecurity professionals globally this year. Today, we have around 4.7 million professionals, and still, we have a vacancy of 3.4 million.” He added that malware was being released every 4.2 seconds.
“If you compute this 4.2 seconds for one week, you will discover that every week, 144,000 malware applications are being released. It is the responsibility of the government to set standards and guidelines to ensure that there is no compromise to cybersecurity.”
Citing a UN report, the minister noted that the world population would hit 8 billion by Nov. 15 and that the population boom was demanding a rise in funds for cybersecurity initiatives by governments.
He said: “According to Accenture, by 2023, the total amount that will be lost through cybercrime could be more than $5.3 trillion, and it is more than 35 percent of the entire gross domestic product of a country like China with a population of 1.44 billion. It is more than 173 percent of the entire gross domestic product of Africa with 53 countries.”
Ibrahim added that by 2025, the total amount lost to cybercrime would reach $10.5 trillion.
Highlighting the findings of an Accenture report, he said that a cyberattack took place somewhere in the world in every 39 seconds.
“These attacks may be either targeting individuals, sometimes private sectors, or public sectors. Because of this, governments are spending a huge percentage of their wealth on cybersecurity.
“In addition, what I think is critical here is the need to attain cybersecurity maturity, and most importantly to attain cybersecurity immunity.
“We must be in a situation, where people, even when they attack, what they are going to lose from the attack is even higher than the damage or costs to the institution which they attacked,” Ibrahim added.
Cybersecurity methods, he said, required a proactive approach as technology was advancing every day.
Craig Jones, the cybercrime director of global policing organization Interpol, said that law enforcement was not currently equipped to deal effectively with transnational crime such as cybercrime.
He pointed out that Interpol found it easier to deal with commodity-based crimes such as drugs and human trafficking, because it fitted into the police model of a particular jurisdiction, unlike cybercrime.
“The legislation is different country to country. We see the European Union, you have 27 member countries with joint laws, joint inputs, joint political initiatives, to deal with and combat cybercrime.
“But once you spread that out across the globe, there are different priorities. Some countries don’t even have the requisite laws. So, if it appears criminals are operating from one country, another country then tries to come in and identify these criminals and look to prosecute them and extradite them,” Jones added.
He also discussed the role of the police in combating cybercrime.
“The role of police is to protect communities; police are drawn from their communities. The policing model essentially was set up to deal with a local problem; a crime scene being local, the offender being local, and the victim being local.
“We could then develop legislation and laws, which could then be carried out by law enforcement in their country.”
In terms of law enforcement, he highlighted Interpol’s role in its 195 member countries.
Jones said: “What we’re seeking to do is to reduce the global impact of cybercrime and protect communities for a safer world and the model we’re following as a policing model.
“We’re looking from a global to local perspective. How can Interpol support and coordinate activities and operations, and we do it with people, process, and technology.”
Participating in the same panel, Marco Gercke, an international expert in the field of law related to cybercrime, said financial interest was often a driving factor, and criminals were taking advantage of increased digitalization.
“They’re realizing that they can make a lot of money by getting involved in this. The business models have changed. But it’s quite lucrative and it’s rather easy to set up. You don’t need to be an organized crime business that is in the market for a long period of time to get involved in cybercrime.
“And we have to be smart on the other side, through having the appropriate laws in place and having self-defense measures as companies, and as countries in place, changing our behavior, how we use devices, and how we protect ourselves, to respond to this increasing threat,” Gercke added.