DUBAI: Streaming service OSN+ is working with Google Cloud to integrate the latter’s Vertex AI system on its platform. The system allows businesses to make use of generative artificial intelligence technology for a variety of purposes, including searches and conversations.
OSN+ plans to use Vertex AI Search for Media Recommendations, a next-generation large language model, to enhance content discovery and viewing recommendations.
The aim is to “redefine the way users interact with our platform, making it more engaging and dynamic,” said Joe Kawkabani, the CEO of OSN Group.
Tarek Khalil, Google Cloud’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, added that the Vertex AI system will benefit “consumers who want assistance in discovering relevant content in a highly personalized and conversational way.”
Once the technology is integrated, the companies said, users will be able to interact with a virtual assistant that will provide more accurate, personalized recommendations.
The AI collaboration, announced during the annual Google Media Summit last week, is the first of its kind between the tech giant and an entertainment streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa region.
RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development and the Saudi Broadcasting Authority on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in a number fields.
Under the agreement, the broadcasting authority will provide media coverage and documentation for development projects financed by the fund in developing nations. The organizations will also exchange knowledge and data, and organize joint training courses.
The agreement was signed by Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, the head of the broadcasting authority, and Sultan Al-Murshid, the CEO of the development fund, Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel reported.
Al-Murshid said that the organizations were already working together before the agreement was signed to publicize the work of the development fund in beneficiary countries.
Al-Harthi said: “We are proud of this partnership with the SFD, which is in line with our policy to build partnerships with bodies whose work complements ours.”
He also highlighted comments by Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, head of Saudi aid agency KSrelief, who said in December 2022 that the Kingdom ranked first among global donor states in terms of development assistance, based on figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The huge and diverse range of development projects the fund has been involved with include the construction of hospitals in more than 100 countries around the world, Al-Harthi said.
“This reflects the true image of Saudi Arabia, which provides humanitarian aid and supports (other nations),” he added, and his organization wants to help reveal this image to the rest of the world.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning said in September that the Kingdom has contributed more than $87 billion in international aid to help support development projects and combat poverty.
LONDON: The vital role of governments and the media in highlighting the world’s climate change crisis was becoming paramount, experts told the Global Media Congress on Tuesday.
On the sidelines of the opening day dedicated to media and sustainability, Mustafa Al-Rawi, the acting managing director at CNN Business Arabic, discussed the importance of collaboration in promoting the message of climate change to a wider audience.
He said: “The government needs the media, and the private sector and activists need media to really take an interest in the story.”
Al-Rawi noted that particularly post-coronavirus pandemic, rising prices and inflation had shifted attention away from the issue.
“Raising awareness and helping to communicate what needs to be done (within the climate change realm) is going to be an ongoing journey, particularly because we’re looking medium and long term,” he added.
The panel discussion session, titled “Government communication tools for sensitizing audiences on climate change: views and experiences,” brought together representatives from Costa Rica, Serbia, and China to share their insights and experiences in navigating the complex subject.
H.E. Wang Yibiao, deputy editor-in-chief of China’s People’s Daily newspaper, pointed out the transformative power of media in shaping public perception.
Echoing the words of the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, Yibiao highlighted the importance of leadership and strategic planning in addressing climate challenges.
He called for “proper reporting and better quality of work” that showcased positive actions that inspired resilience.
Media adviser to Serbia’s president, Suzana Vasiljevic, noted that by incentivizing citizens to adopt eco-friendly practices and engaging the media, Serbia had successfully raised awareness and empowered its people to take the initiative in proposing solutions.
She said that a strong media delegation from the Balkan country was set to attend the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, starting later this month, to serve as both “the source and conduit.”
The responsibility of the media to transmit a “very important message” was also highlighted by Costa Rica’s Minister of Communications Jorge Rodriguez Vives, who spoke of the Central American country’s success in environmental conservation.
He said Costa Rica’s investment in people, culture, and robust environmental policies, supported by media coverage, resulted in a significant reduction in deforestation and success in conveying the government’s commitment to sustainability while raising public interest in climate change issues.
RIYADH: Saudi content creator Ahmed Aljar said that patience and consistency have been key factors in his journey from being a YouTuber to becoming the CEO of his media agency, Vito.
He shared insights into his success during a fireside chat titled “Influencers in Saudi Arabia, Best Practices for Brands” at the Saudi Festival of Creativity, Athar, in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The session was moderated by Karl Mapstone, the head of Vamp Middle East marketing agency.
The panel discussion highlighted various strategies for influencers to achieve success, using the story of Aljar, who went from being an engineering graduate to a successful content creator.
Aljar said: “In my third year of college, it just hit me that I don’t think in an engineering way, and it was too late for me to switch majors. I graduated, and during that period, I started my YouTube channel because it was always in the back of my head. I knew that I wanted to document my life and my experience in the US.”
Continuing his YouTube career and relocating to Saudi Arabia, Aljar witnessed a peak in engagement like never before. He mentioned that sharing content about travels and family attracted a large audience that soon became a loyal following.
Aljar said: “The people who use the platforms are just supportive. They like to see good content. They appreciate influencers. If you’re authentic and real and you present something special and creative, you will have a great chance.”
After amassing 2.2 million subscribers and producing 620 videos, Aljar decided to leave YouTube a year and a half ago to focus on other social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram.
Today, he is CEO of Vito and is thriving with almost 1 million followers on TikTok and over 300,000 on Instagram.
Aljar’s success stems from paying attention to detail and ensuring his expectations are met.
He said: “We check the videos after the campaign, considering how we can step up in other collaborations. So, I take it very seriously. We have our own way of creating content.
“I know how to talk to my audience, and we are very detailed in creating content. You know, the lenses, the small details … we study the room before we get in.”
He added: “I started as a content creator all the way to the CEO of a creative agency, Vito. So, patience, patience, patience, and consistency. I spent a year without making any money in this field, without reaching a thousand subscribers. But, you know, I was just charged up. I wanted to create and put myself on the social media map.”
Through owning a business, AlJar said he has learned how to be a content creator while “building relationships, networking, and enhancing communication.”
He advised the young Saudi community to “be creative, learn how to delegate, hire people, invest in equipment and a team to help build your ideas and storyboards, present yourself in the best way possible, and be genuine about it on a business level.”
The Athar festival, running until Nov. 16, unites Saudi Arabia’s creative and marketing sectors for recognition and celebration. It features workshops, coaching, training, roundtables, C-suite sessions, young talent competitions, and an awards ceremony.
BEIRUT: Journalists in southern Lebanon said they were targeted Monday in Israeli strikes, which Al Jazeera network said lightly wounded its photographer.
A local mayor and Lebanese state media corroborated the journalists’ account of the cross-border incident, which came exactly a month after deadly strikes blamed on Israel hit a press group near Alma Al-Shaab in southern Lebanon.
Contacted by AFP, the Israeli army did not immediately comment on the latest strikes.
Around a dozen journalists from several media outlets were on a tour to inspect damage from Israeli bombardments and had been providing coverage from the border town of Yarun when the strikes hit.
Al-Jazeera said its photographer Issam Mawasi was “lightly wounded as a result of Israeli bombing.”
“Al-Jazeera’s broadcast vehicle was also damaged during the attack. The strike occurred as a group of journalists toured the area,” a report on the Qatari broadcaster’s website said.
Al-Jazeera’s Lebanon bureau chief Mazen Ibrahim accused Israel of “directly targeting” the group, adding that the journalists were in an open area.
“Israeli occupation forces don’t hesitate to directly target journalists,” he charged.
On October 13, Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six other journalists from AFP, Al Jazeera and Reuters were wounded while covering the cross-border fighting in southern Lebanon.
Lebanese authorities have accused Israel of being behind the strikes. The Israeli army had said it was looking into the circumstance of the fatal strike.
Yarun mayor Ali Qassem Tahfah said two successive Israeli strikes on Monday “targeted the group of journalists,” hitting several meters (yards) from the teams’ vehicles and causing damage.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency also said two Israeli strikes “targeted a media team” who were working in Yarun.
Local broadcaster Al-Jadeed posted video on X, formerly Twitter, showing one of its correspondents, in a protective vest and helmet marked press, conducting a live broadcast when one strike hit, and a subsequent blaze nearby.
Other video footage showed civilian vehicles including at least one marked “press” on the road adjacent to the blaze.
“We were on a tour to inspect damaged houses,” journalist Amal Khalil from local newspaper Al-Akhbar told AFP.
“Around 15 minutes after we were near a damaged house, the first strike hit the wall of the bombed house, and a second one hit the road,” she said.
Israeli surveillance drones had been flying over the town at the time of the attack, she added.
Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon’s southern border has seen intensifying tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian group, stoking fears of a broader conflagration.
At least 87 people have been killed in Lebanon since hostilities began: more than 60 Hezbollah fighters, 12 other combatants including from Palestinian groups, and 11 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Cross-border violence since October 7 has killed nine people in northern Israel including six soldiers, according to official figures.
Another seven Hezbollah fighters have been killed in Syria in strikes attributed to Israel.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday that at least 40 journalists and media workers have been killed during the Israel-Hamas conflict — 35 Palestinian, four Israeli and one Lebanese.
LONDON: Exiled Egyptian TV presenter Moataz Matar has become the first foreign national to have their visa revoked by the UK’s Home Office for allegedly supporting Hamas, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.
Matar has been placed on a watch list and his visa has been revoked for comments in support of the militants — which the UK considers a “terrorist” group — and taking part in pro-Palestine protests in London.
The former TV sports presenter, who has 4.2 million YouTube subscribers, interviewed Abdelhakim Hanini recently, a co-founder of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank in the 1990s.
Hanini said that those who supported the “neo-Nazi Zionist enemy” should be made to feel there is “no safety for them.”
He added that all Muslims were obliged to “take to the streets” in support of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, which he called “a heroic act that our Muslim and Arab world has never seen before, and the enemy has never seen before since the Holocaust of Hitler.”
Matar, who fled Egypt in 2013, regularly visits the UK but is currently out of the country. He will not be allowed back in by the UK’s Border Force, The Telegraph reported.
The expulsion comes as part of the UK government’s efforts to crack down on foreign nationals for alleged “antisemitic” behavior in the wake of the attack on Oct. 7, a move spearheaded by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.
Israel’s airstrikes and violence in retaliation have killed more than 11,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians and many of them children.
According to The Telegraph, Matar is one of at least half a dozen foreign nationals whose visas may be revoked by the Home Office.
Jenrick said: “There can be zero tolerance for visitors to the UK who abuse the privilege of a visa and endorse evil terrorist acts.
“To any individuals considering following suit in the coming days and weeks, be in no doubt that we will continue to revoke visas wherever required. We will not tolerate extremism on our streets.”