DUBAI: UAE-based Metarverse Technology Holdings has committed 200 million dirhams ($54.5 million) for the global deployment of their metaverse platform — with Dubai and Abu Dhabi set to be the first cities in the project.
Metarverse Holdings is currently developing the world’s first virtual world that replicates real life experience.
The decision came after the Dubai government established the Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy, which will oversee Dubai’s efforts to become a major global hub for metaverse technology adoption.
Metarverse Holdings’ cutting-edge virtual environment will match real-life events and locations, with a Beta version expected to go live during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s most iconic attractions and landmarks, along with real-world utilities, will be accessible from the comfort of users’ homes.
Metarverse Holdings CEO Priven Reddy said: “After carefully examining other leading regions, the decision was made for Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be the very first simulated cities within our new metaverse.”
Unlike existing virtual reality applications that build small-scale, digital fantasy worlds, the new platform introduces a real-world utility-based metaverse that’s multi-device compatible.
The options are browsing and shopping from the major retail brands and stores, buying advertising space in the virtual city, attending simulated lectures, and applying for residency visas and business licenses.
“This vision establishes the UAE as pioneers in the adoption of innovative concepts and disruptive economic and technical models, thus there was only one place for us to debut,” he added.
RIYADH: Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim will lead a senior Saudi delegation at the G20 Development Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
The two-day high-level forum, on the island of Belitung, is described as offering a platform for development ministers from G20 nations to reinvigorate the spirit of multilateralism and renew the momentum behind the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
They will also review the progress that has been made on plans and commitments agreed during the first Development Ministerial Meeting in Matera, Italy, last year.
“Saudi Arabia remains committed to advancing practical and collaborative solutions that would enable developed and developing economies alike to make tangible progress toward achieving the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda,” Alibrahim said ahead of the meeting.
The G20 Development Ministerial Meeting (DMM) and High-Level Side Events will be held on 7–9 September 2022 in Belitung. The Meeting will invite G20 ministers to discuss the ongoing development challenges from their perspectives. #G20Indonesia #RecoverTogetherRecoverStronger pic.twitter.com/fAlmqDUFiu
“We must take this moment to raise the bar on our sustainable development and strengthen global systems by improving public health care infrastructure, enabling inclusive digital transformations, and safeguarding global food and energy security, as well as protecting the environment, investing in the energy system of today and exploring greener, cleaner fuels for the future.”
The Kingdom’s delegation will highlight Saudi Arabia’s unwavering commitment to driving sustainable development, locally and globally, through its agile approach to policy-making across all economic, social and environmental sectors.
With less than a decade left during which to achieve the aims of the UN’s SDGs, Alibrahim will showcase Saudi Arabia’s progress so far in achieving sustainable economic growth, social welfare and prosperity, environmental protection, and an inclusive digital transformation as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 national development and diversification agenda.
He will also stress the importance of safeguarding global energy security by ensuring access to reliable and sustainable sources of power.
He praised the efforts of the Indonesian government, which holds the presidency of the G20 for 2022, in organizing the group’s meetings this year and added: “We look forward to deepening relations with our partners to enhance global cooperation in our endeavors to achieve the SDGs.”
Apple Inc. introduced new iPhone 14 models capable of using satellites to send emergency messages and an adventure-focused Ultra Watch for sports like diving and triathlons.
The outdoor-focused products will test whether Apple’s relatively affluent customer base will keep spending in the face of rising inflation.
Prices of the high-end iPhone 14s are the same as last year’s iPhone 13 models. But Apple dropped its cheapest option, the iPhone mini, meaning the cheapest model now costs $100 more than last year.
The iPhone 14 will start at $799 and the iPhone Plus at $899 and be available for preorder starting Sept. 9. The iPhone Pro will cost $999 and the iPhone Pro Max $1,099 and be available Sept. 16.
“It’s interesting that they decided to essentially maintain pricing despite inflationary pressure,” said D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte. “The decision or the strategy is Apple believes that it can sustain margins by discontinuing a lower-priced device in the lineup.”
Apple said its satellite SOS will work with emergency responders. It also said that in some situations, users will be able to use its FindMy app to share their location via satellite when they have no other connectivity.
The service will be free for two years with the iPhone 14. Apple did not say what would happen after that period.
Shares in Globalstar Inc. jumped 20 percent on Wednesday after the satellite services firm announced it will be the satellite operator for Apple’s emergency SOS service.
Apple will pay for 95 percent of the approved capital expenditure for the new satellites that would be needed to support the service, but Globalstar said it will still need to raise additional debt to construct and deploy the satellites.
The stock had gained almost 70 percent from mid-June to Tuesday’s close, following speculation of working with Apple.
Other companies are working on similar functions. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said last month it is working with T-Mobile to use its Starlink satellites to connect phones directly to the Internet.
Apple’s iPhone 14 Plus model will have a larger screen like Apple’s iPhone Pro models but an A15 processor chip like the previous iPhone 13.
The Cupertino, California-based company also showed a trio of new Apple Watches, including a new Watch Ultra model aimed at extreme sports and diving and designed to challenge sportswatch specialists such as Garmin and Polar.
“Apple is competing for a consumer segment that already has high loyalty toward their existing products and vendors, and it will need to prove itself over time,” said Runar Bjorhovde, an analyst at Canalys.
The Ultra has a bigger battery to last through events like triathlons and better waterproofing and temperature resistance to operate in outdoor environments, as well as better GPS tracking for sports.
The new Watches include an upgraded budget model called the SE and a Series 8 Watch with crash detection and low-power mode for 36 hours of battery life.
The Series 8 with cellular will start at $499 and the SE will start at $299 with cellular. The Ultra, which includes cellular in its base model, will start at $799 and be available Sept. 23.
Apple said the new Series 8 watch has a temperature sensor that will work in conjunction with its previously released cycle tracking app to retroactively detect ovulation. The company emphasized the privacy approach of its cycle tracking. Privacy and reproductive health data has become a focus for tech companies in the wake of a US Supreme Court decision that ended a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
Apple said it does not have the key to decrypt health data such as cycle tracking.
Apple also touted that its second-generation AirPods Pro will double the amount of noise cancelation over the original version.
But while accessories like the Apple Watch have driven incremental sales from Apple’s existing user base, the iPhone remains the bedrock of its business with 52.4 percent of sales in its most recent fiscal year.
Apple’s stock was up 0.8 percent after the presentation, lagging the S&P 500’s gain of 1.8 percent for the session.
Apple did not give any hints or a preview of its mixed-reality headset on Wednesday. The device is expected to have cameras that pass-through view of the outside world to the wearer while overlaying digital objects on the physical world. Analysts do not expect the device to go on sale until next year at the earliest.
A rival headset called Project Cambria is in the works from Meta Platforms Inc, which is spending billions of dollars on the project.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)
NEW YORK: Global investors, leading entrepreneurs and influential policymakers are set to meet in Manhattan on Monday for the latest installment of the SALT New York conference, of which Arab News is a media partner.
This year’s event, which will run from Sept. 12-14, will focus on themes including alternative investments, financial technology, digital assets, healthcare, infrastructure, sustainability, environmental, social and governance criteria for companies and more.
Among the speakers at the conference are UAE’s Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and Mohammed Ali Al-Shorafa Al-Hammadi, a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development. The full list of speakers can be found here.
Panel sessions include “The Future of Bitcoin: Growing the Network Sustainably,” “UAE Rising: Building a New Investment Ecosystem” and “The Democratization of Lending and ESG on the Blockchain,” among others found in the full agenda here.
With over 2,500 investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers and industry leaders set to flock to the Javits Center Expansion, the who’s who of the investment world will discuss the ever-changing global investment market with a focus on fintech.
“After hosting our flagship event for the first time ever in New York last year, we’re happy to be back and can’t wait to host some of the world’s foremost investors, creators and thinkers for discussions across a robust agenda, networking and experiences next week,” John Darsie, managing director of SALT, told Arab News.
Founded in 2009 by SkyBridge, a global alternative investments firm, SALT brings together 2,000 of the world’s foremost investors and thinkers for three days of high-level collaboration and networking. SALT has also hosted major events in Singapore, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi.
Previous SALT speakers include US President Joe Biden, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and UAE Minister of State Ahmed Ali Al-Sayegh.
RIYADH: More than 90 percent of female undergraduates in STEM courses in the Middle East would consider pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, according to a worldwide study focusing on the gender divide in the industry.
Women currently make up only 25 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce, while more than half of organizations report unfulfilled positions within the industry, according to the survey, a collaboration between the Boston Consulting Group and Global Cybersecurity Forum.
The report, titled “Empowering Women to Work in Cybersecurity is a Win-Win,” focused on key actions to counter the industry’s growing gender gap.
The study targeted female undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses across six regions and 26 countries. It aims to provide insights into the challenges facing women entering STEM studies, as well as their long-term career prospects in cybersecurity.
A total of 70 percent of those surveyed said that a key driver in choosing a degree in cybersecurity was a role model encouraging them to enter the field and learn more about the industry.
Alaa Al-Faadhel, initiatives and partnerships lead at GCF, said that the report shows women are prepared to fill the talent gap in the cybersecurity workforce.
A total of 94 percent of respondents from the Middle East expressed an interest in pursuing a cybersecurity degree — the highest percentage across all six regions globally.
“With the right encouragement from a young age, women can not only begin to enter the industry, but also become leaders in their field. By bringing together the leading voices and minds of the cyberspace at the GCF, we are confident that we can bridge this gap.”
A total of 94 percent of respondents from the Middle East expressed an interest in pursuing a cybersecurity degree — the highest percentage across all six regions globally.
The region also leads in cybersecurity awareness, with 88 percent of women sharing they are aware of cybersecurity programs offered in their institution.
European respondents also presented strong results, with 89 percent of those surveyed expressing an interest in pursuing a cybersecurity degree and 82 percent already active in cybersecurity courses.
However, European respondents ranked the highest globally in terms of perception of STEM, with an overwhelming 77 percent believing the industry is male-dominated and 48 percent perceiving the industry as a difficult field for women to achieve work-life balance.
Only 35 percent of those surveyed in the Asia-Pacific felt the industry was male dominated, a stark difference compared with markets such as Europe. A total of 41 percent of Asia-Pacific respondents said that woman who work in the field are perceived positively.
Respondents from North America, a hub for many leading cybersecurity firms, rated surprisingly low with regards to prospects in the industry. Only 45 percent of North American women were aware of cybersecurity programs at their institution and only 61 percent expressed a desire to pursue a degree in cybersecurity.
Latin America showed the most drastic differences. Although ranking highest in terms of having some knowledge of cybersecurity at 70 percent, only 9 percent were able to say they had pursued any further study.
RIYADH: Top Saudi officials on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the “strong” economic recovery of the Kingdom following the COVID-19-induced global economic slowdown and highlighted the initiatives to transform the country into a global hub of innovation and investment.
They spoke at the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference held on Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh in partnership with the Financial Sector Conference. Over 1,500 people from 30 countries were registered to attend the event, which sought to analyze the Kingdom’s economic performance and its future strategies.
Focused on “The Institutionalization of Investment and Finance,” the event provided a platform for senior policymakers, financiers and investors to network and exchange ideas while addressing a range of issues.
Experts discussed topics such as: “Saudi Arabia’s economy in the context of the global macro outlook”, “ESG and climate change: Does ESG matter in Saudi?,” “The institutionalization of the real estate market – housing, logistics, tourism, hospitality and revitalization of REITS,” “The digitalization of financial services and what Saudi’s banking sector might look like in three years’ time,” and “The development of venture capital in the Kingdom.”
In his opening remarks, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “Hosting this important event comes in conjunction with continuing to reap more positive results from the comprehensive reforms that our country has witnessed over the past years achieving the objectives of the programs of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”
He noted that “in spite of the several challenges the world has faced over the past few years, the Saudi economy has emerged stronger than ever, as the non-oil economy grew by 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2022 in real terms compared to the same period in the previous year.”
Mohammed ElKuwaiz, chairman of the Capital Market Authority, which is Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference’s supporting body, said: “Saudi Arabia has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with better and more improved performance than most countries. While the world’s economies are witnessing a decline in their economic activity, Saudi Arabia is witnessing major economic growth as projections indicate that the Kingdom’s economy will expand at a rate of 7.6 percent, making it among the top 10 growing economies during 2022.
“This is a great indication that the Kingdom is on track with its plans, as this swift economic development will enable Saudi Arabia in achieving its vision of being within the 15 largest economies in the world by 2030.”
He said to achieve these ambitious goals, it is necessary to build new sectors, which require intensifying investment rates in the national economy.
For the first time, we are witnessing the transformation of the Kingdom from an exporter of funds to an importer of funds, the CMA chief added.
He said the Kingdom has launched various national programs and initiatives to promote investment in the local economy. “This coincided with the opening of the Saudi stock market to foreign investors and its inclusion in global indices.”
Minister of Municipality, Rural Affairs, and Housing Majed Al-Hogail said: “Our main goal is to provide the necessary supply to the market, we intend to tackle such challenge by offering large numbers of new housing projects from government land.”