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Arabic press review: Iraqi radio uses AI newsreaders to cut costs

Meanwhile, Morocco braces for a new Covid variant, and the UAE carries out hundreds of arrests on money laundering charges
A technician follows the broadcasting of a programme on One FM, a radio station in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (AFP)

Not so paranoid about androids: Iraqi radio lauds AI

A local Iraqi radio station based in the city of Mosul has resorted to using artificial intelligence in an effort to reduce costs. 

After struggling to pay journalists their wages and faced with the threat of shutting down, the director of the Mosul Times radio station, Hassan Kilawi, decided to experiment with using artificial intelligence.

Kilawi told local media that the decision has paid off.

“Using artificial intelligence has allowed us to cover the monthly costs of the radio station and the wages of four employees,” he said. 

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Costs have been reduced by allowing electronic programmes to read news bulletins, provide advertisement breaks, record audio reports and proofread texts. 

Kilawi anticipates that many others in the journalism field will follow suit and also use similar technologies.

The director said that the use of AI proves that they are “independent in their decision making, and free from the control of politicians who try to cover up their corruption and negligence”.

New Covid-19 variant causes panic in Morocco

A new dominant Covid-19 variant called Eris that has recently spread in the United States has caused alarm in Morocco, forcing the Ministry of Health to make contingency plans to fight potential cases, according to local reports.

According to the World Health Organisation, the variant has genetic characteristics that give it an advantage, allowing it to become more prevalent. 

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While Morocco is yet to record any new cases of the variant, authorities are laying the groundwork and preparing for a potential outbreak in cases if it hits the north African country.

Earlier this month, the ministry issued a press release raising concerns over the variant. 

“There is the possibility of recording some serious cases, or even deaths, especially among elderly people, those with immune fragility, or those with chronic diseases,” it read. 

The ministry has also commenced consultations with a board of doctors to advise it on Covid-19 policy.

UAE arrests hundreds of money laundering suspects 

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have arrested 387 people accused of money laundering over the past two years, according to the Gulf Online. 

According to reports, authorities have made confiscations worth over one billion dollars.

The UAE’s Ministry of Interior said that it has dealt with over 500 reports of money laundering related crimes that have resulted in these arrests.

Deputy prime minister and interior minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, responded to the staggering figures by saying that his country "continues with confidence and competence in strengthening its pioneering position and global presence, so that the UAE will be an oasis of security and safety and a beacon of wellbeing and prosperity".

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The UAE has worked with a number of countries and law enforcement agencies around the world to gather intelligence on the individuals involved and carry out the arrests. 

The UAE has previously pledged to take "significant measures" to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, after it was placed on a grey list of countries subject to intense scrutiny.

Since 2020, the UAE has been asked over 3,000 times to assist in either the extradition of criminals or thwarting criminal activities in relation to money laundering and terrorism financing.

UAE authorities have extradited 899 criminals since 2020, of which 43 were involved in money-laundering crimes.

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.