Three Cultural Destinations to Look Out for in the Middle East in 2015
The Middle East and North Africa region is awash with popular and upcoming tourist destinations, boasting stunning scenery and hospitality of the highest calibre.
Regional hotel chain Rotana has predicted 2015’s top three cultural destinations which are likely to be hot spots visited by UK tourists in the upcoming year.
The vibrant city of Istanbul has been deemed the ‘world’s hippest and most popular capital’ offering an array of historic landmarks, brand new art galleries, a selection of delectable restaurants and a choice of many chic nightclubs.
The eagerly anticipated five-star Burgu Arjaan and Tango Arjaan, are Rotana’s first two properties to open in Europe and will be welcoming guests early next year.
Situated in the Southern Province of Oman, visitors can experience the historical city of Salalah where shimmering coastlines, white sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons await.
With an exciting vision in place from the local tourism board, Salalah is set to be a popular destination with those seeking a luxurious beach getaway.
Located off the coast of Bahrain in the azure waters of the Persian Gulf, the impressive man made Amwaj Islands, are an idyllic destination for a weekend city getaway or relaxed beach holiday.
Often referred to as the ‘floating city’, the islands boast a variety of attractions including golden beaches, lush botanical gardens, a tropical bird sanctuary, and a themed water park.
Some of the best architects, engineers and designers from all over the world have developed the islands and their attractions.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”