“The Saudi ICT market is grappling with a wave of new digital transformation realities. The growth we are seeing in ICT spending is primarily being driven by an increased focus on giga projects and smart governance. These initiatives are spurring the adoption of artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, cloud, blockchain, and a host of other emerging technologies as both the public and private sectors look to create synergies, cut costs, increase safety, and optimize processes across verticals in a whole new way.”

-Hamza Naqshbandi, International Data Corporation (IDC) country manager for Saudi Arabia, discusses Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector at the recent IDC Directions 2020 conference in Riyadh.  IDC forecasts ICT spending to top $37b in 2020, up over 4% on the previous year. [IDC.com]



Al-Ula Planners, Developers Keen to Keep Historic Beauty of Site Intact with Millions Expected Annually

Elephant Rock near Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.

Planners and developers working on making Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula UNESCO heritage site easier and more enjoyable to visit are keen to keep intact the natural beauty and wonder of the site, the UAE-based The National reports, citing an interview with Francesca Arici, the site’s chief planning officer. [more]




Saudi Aramco Sees Increased Number of Cyberattacks since Late 2019

Jafurah deposits are estimated to hold 200 trillion cubic feet of wet gas, Reuters reports.

Saudi Aramco has seen an increase in attempted cyber attacks since the final quarter of 2019 and has successfully repelled all of them so far, according to a Reuters report, which cited comments from an interview with chief information security officer Khalid al-Harbi. [more]



Coronavirus: China logs most deaths in a day as total surpasses 1,000

Via John Bacon in usatoday.com : All but two of the 1,018 deaths attributed to the outbreak that emerged in December have taken place in mainland China. The virus is continuing to spread into other countries, with almost 500 of the 43,138 now confirmed cases elsewhere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week reported the 13th case in the U.S.

Saudi Wealth Fund Leads Fundraising for Online Used Car Trader

Via Matthew Martin and Nicolas Parasie in bloomberg.com : SellAnyCar.com, an online marketplace for used cars, has seen a pick up in activity after a regional economic slowdown led to a drop in new car sales. The company is already profitable, Yalcin said, declining to give details.

Saudi-Qatar Talks to End Lengthy Gulf Dispute Falter: Sources

Via Alexander Cornwell in usnews.com : Talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to resolve a bitter Gulf dispute broke down soon after starting, six sources said, leaving in place a political and trade embargo of Doha.  The discussions that began in October were the first glimmer of a thaw in the row that saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt sever political, trade and transport ties with Qatar in mid-2017.



Netflix screening ‘big boost’ to Saudi filmmakers

“Six Windows in the Desert,” a series of short films created by Saudis, will make its Netflix debut on Thursday, streaming in 190 countries. After buying...[via arabnews.com]


Saudi Officials Hold Talks with US Special Envoy for Syria

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria Joel...[via aawsat.com]


More Than A Dozen Saudi Oil Firms Book Hefty Losses In 2019

A total of 14 Saudi companies in the energy sector booked hefty losses last year, Middle East Monitor reported on Wednesday, quoting analysts who had...[By Tsvetana Paraskova via oilprice.com]


Trekking to the Most Beautiful Wadi in the Middle East

Wadi Lejab is this magical spot somewhere on the map of the Al-Raith mountains in Saudi Arabia. After driving for 2 days from Riyadh, we...[By Eva zu Beck via youtube.com]


Inaugural Saudi Cup To Be Televised On FS1

Live coverage of the inaugural Saudi Cup airs Saturday, Feb. 29 at noon Eastern on FS1. The field for the Saudi Cup, the world's richest...[via paulickreport.com]


Can I Fly to Riyadh? Emirates Air to Limit Access to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia suspended entry for nationalities holding tourist visas and coming from: Greater China, Iran, Italy, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Philippines, Singapore,...[By Layan Odeh via bloomberg.com]


Sports minister launches Saudi Games, Kingdom’s largest sporting event

The event will feature 40 games with the participation of 35 sports federations in 18 venues within Riyadh....[via arabnews.com]


Aramco Is Said to Start Early Preparations for Overseas Listing

The world’s largest publicly traded company is in discussions with Wall Street banks to draw up scenarios for a second listing overseas, according to the...[By Matthew Martin, Dinesh Nair, and Ishika Mookerjee via bloomberg.com]


Saudi cuts March oil volumes to China by at least 500,000 bpd

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is reducing crude supplies to China in March by at least 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to...[By Alex Lawler via reuters.com]


Saudi Aramco Open to Share Sales Abroad to Fuel Economic Plans

Saudi Arabia is planning to sell more stakes in state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco as it looks to raise money to fuel an economic diversification...[By Matthew Martin via bloomberg.com]


Saudi Cup Could Change How Sires Are Ranked

If the winner of the Saudi Cup is by a U.S. sire and goes on to win the $12 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by...[By Eric Mitchell via bloodhorse.com]



Fresh clashes in Syria’s Idlib as rebels down helicopter

The shooting down of the helicopter came as government forces came closer to capturing the last rebel-held part of a strategic highway linking southern and...[via aljazeera.com]



Purge of reformists in Iran election could doom nuclear deal, say diplomats

Reformist candidates have been systematically purged from the elections due on 21 February after vetting by the Guardian Council, a 12-strong body of lawyers and...[By Patrick Wintour via theguardian.com]



More than 100 U.S. troops diagnosed with brain injuries from Iran attack

No U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury when Iran fired missiles at the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the...[By Idrees Ali via reuters.com]



Protesters clash with security forces in Lebanon ahead of Cabinet vote of confidence

Clashes broke out Tuesday between Lebanese protesters and security forces near the parliament building in central Beirut, where the new Cabinet is scheduled to submit...[via france24.com]


U.S. Military

US military budget request for Afghanistan lowest in a decade

With a $14 billion dollar budget request for fiscal year 2021, the U.S. military is set to spend its lowest amount on the 18-year long...[By Shawn Snow via militarytimes.com]


Yemen Civil War

Yemen aid effort threatened by Houthi ‘obstruction’

The massive aid operation for war-torn Yemen is under severe threat in the face of mounting obstruction from Huthi rebels, officials told AFP Tuesday ahead...[via france24.com]



UN warns of ‘major shock’ as Africa locust outbreak spreads

The swarms of billions of locusts have been destroying crops in Kenya, which hasn’t seen such an outbreak in 70 years, as well as Somalia...[By Cara Anna via apnews.com]


Trump Peace Plan

Palestinians delay vote at UNSC against Trump’s peace deal

Over the weekend, a number of changes already had been made to water down the text, to ensure its passage by at least nine members...[By Omri Nahmias, Lahav Harkov and Tovah Lazaroff via jpost.com]


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