Saudi Arabia’s crown prince announces 7 solar projects as Sakaka plant opens

Time: 09 April 2021

Seven future solar plant projects revealed for the Kingdom
Mohammed bin Salman says Kingdom will achieve leadership in the field of renewable energy
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the opening of the Sakaka solar power plant on Thursday.

The crown prince also said agreements have been signed for seven new solar power projects across the country.

The projects are part of a push towards renewable energy under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“During the past weeks, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative have been announced, which showed that we, as a leading global oil producer, are fully aware of our share of the responsibility in advancing the fight against climate change,” the crown prince said.

“As part of our pioneering role in stabilizing energy markets, we will continue this role to achieve leadership in the field of renewable energy.”

The launch of the Sakaka plant in Jouf represents the Kingdom’s “first steps to utilize renewable energy in the Kingdom,” the crown prince added.

He said construction of the Dumat Al-Jandal wind energy plant was also nearly complete.

The seven planned solar plants, in addition to the Sakaka and Dumat Al-Jandal projects, would produce more than 3,600 megawatts. They would power more than 600,000 homes, and reduce more than 7 million tons of greenhouse emissions.

“Some of these projects have achieved new records, where we registered the lowest cost of purchasing electricity produced from solar energy in the world,” he said.

The crown prince last month announced the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives to tackle climate change.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who inaugurated the Sakaka plant during a ceremony in Jouf, said the new projects “will contribute to … shifting from liquid fuels consumption to gas and renewable energy, which makes them milestones in the development of the energy sector.”
The seven new solar projects will be located in Madinah, Sudair, Qurayyat, Shuaiba, Jeddah, Rabigh and Rafha.
They will be financed by five investment alliances made up of 12 Saudi and international companies.
Prince Abdulaziz praised the private sector’s “fundamental role” in the projects.
The Sakaka plant was developed by ACWA Power, which is 50 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
He said 97 percent of the staff operating the Sakaka plant are Saudis, and 90 percent from the Jouf region.
“The completion of these projects, and others, and linking them to the national network, will contribute to strengthening the Kingdom’s capabilities in producing electricity to meet the national need, enhance the reliability of the electrical grid, and support the Kingdom’s ambitious plans to become one of the main countries in the field of producing and exporting electricity using renewable energy,” he said.

PIF said the Sudair project would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world and the largest in the Kingdom.
A consortium supported by the fund signed an agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company for 25 years for the project.
Construction of the plant, located about 130 kilomters north of Riyadh, is expected to start during the second half of 2022, and when complete, will have a production capacity of 1,500 megawatts. It will power 185,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 2.9 tons per year.
PIF Governor Yasser Al-Rumayyan said the project “embodies our commitment to invest in the sectors that will shape the future of the global economy.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Crown Prince launches ‘Journey Through Time’ vision for AlUla development

Time: 07 April 2021

The Journey Through Time master plan was developed under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AFP/File Photo)

Project aims to “responsibly and sustainably” restore and rehabilitate the main archaeological area in AlUla
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday launched a new design vision for AlUla to turn it into a leading global destination for arts, heritage, culture and nature.

The project, entitled “A Journey Through Time,” is a major milestone and aims to “responsibly and sustainably” restore and rehabilitate the main archaeological area in AlUla that has a unique cultural and natural environment in the northwest of the Kingdom, as part of the goals of the Vision 2030.

The project is being led by the crown prince, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, and followed up by the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, also governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“Today, we embark on a journey to preserve the world’s largest cultural oasis and advance our understanding of 200,000 years of heritage,” the crown prince said. “The Journey Through Time master plan is a leap forward to sustainably and responsibly develop AlUla, and share our cultural legacy with the world.”

READ MORE
Over the next 15 years, AlUla valley, home to Hegra and a multitude of other historical sites, will be transformed into a living museum designed to immerse visitors in 200,000 years of natural and human history. Read more here.

It consists of three main stages, and the first stages are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and is part of a comprehensive development program for AlUla supervised by the royal commission.

It will also include establishing five centers that extend along 20 kilometers from the heart of AlUla and in inspiring and essential stops along the “Journey Through Time” route inspired by the nature and heritage of the old historic city. The centers start from the old town center to the south, through the Dadan and Jabal Ikma Nabataean oasis trails, and the ancient city of Hajjar in the north.

Each of these centers will be a cultural landmark in its own right, and reflect the nature and terrain unique to this geographical region, with cultural centers and facilities to provide a unique experience for visitors to explore the ancient history of the region.

The development strategy, upon completion in 2035, aims to provide 38,000 new job opportunities, in addition to contributing SR120 billion ($32 billion) to the Kingdom’s GDP.

The program will provide a distinctive historical map of the civilizations that settled in the various oases of AlUla over more than 7,000 years of human history, a Saudi Press Agency statement said.

The plan involves investing in the heritage, cultural, natural and geological richness of the region, through community participation in the development process, to preserve AlUla’s legacy, and open new possibilities “to discover its undiscovered history and build a future to be proud of.”

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Saudi crown prince announces Green Saudi Initiative, Green Middle East Initiative

Time: 27 March 2021

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince announced two new initiatives to tackle climate change on Saturday. (File/@Riyadh_Green)

The initiatives aim to clearly define a road map that will protect the planet
Prince Mohammed said that the Kingdom and the region face significant climate challenges such as desertification

JEDDAH: The Kingdom is opting for a more sustainable future with the launch of the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives.

Announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the initiatives are set to apply a number of ambitious programs that will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region and plant 50 billion trees in the world’s biggest afforestation project.

The tree-planting project will be double the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region, the second-biggest regional afforestation initiative.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “As a leading global oil producer, we are fully aware of our responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis, and that just as we played a leading role in stabilizing energy markets during the oil and gas era, we will work to lead the coming green era.”

While economic and social development may be at the forefront of the agenda in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has been committed to applying new environmental policies, including the preservation of marine and desert habitats and greenifying its urban areas.

Many of the Kingdom’s programs are aiming to raise the value of natural resources to ensure economic and ecological sustainability while considering the environment.

The initiative will also work to increase the percentage of protected land to more than 30 percent, exceeding the global target at 17 percent per country. It will reduce carbon emissions by more than four percent of global contributions through renewable energy projects that will provide 50 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity production by 2030.

The initiative is expected to eliminate more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions by using clean hydrocarbon technologies.

HIGHLIGHT
The initiative is expected to eliminate more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions by using clean hydrocarbon technologies.

The crown prince said: “The share of clean energy production in the Middle East does not exceed seven percent today and technologies used in oil production are not efficient.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will work with these countries to transfer knowledge and share experiences which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions by more than 60 percent,” adding that the joint effort will achieve a reduction of more than 10 percent of global contributions.

The two initiatives come in support of the existing environmental efforts the Kingdom has supported in previous years as it continues to face its own challenges at home from desertification, low rainfall, and debilitating dust storms.

He also emphasized that the initiatives stem from the Kingdom’s leading role towards common international issues, and as a continuation of its efforts to protect the planet during its 2020 G20 presidency, which result in a special declaration on the environment, the adoption of the concept of a circular carbon economy, and the launch of two initiatives to reduce land degradation and protect coral reefs.

“This is just the beginning. The Kingdom, the region, and the world at large need to move forward at an accelerated pace in the fight against climate change.”

He added that the details of the Saudi Arabia Green Initiative will be announced in the coming months, and work will commence towards launching a regional gathering in the presence of the international partners of the Middle East Green Initiative in the second quarter of 2022.

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

26/12/20

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 25, 2020. (SPA)
  • The Kingdom’s health minister said the government has worked to provide a safe vaccine in record time
  • Al-Rabiah thanked the crown prince for his keenness to provide vaccines to citizens and residents

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, as part of the national inoculation plan implemented by the Ministry of Health, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

Minister of Health, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, thanked the crown prince for “his keenness and continuous follow-up to provide vaccines to citizens and residents.”

“What we are seeing today regarding the gains that have been achieved by the Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic are an extension of one of the most important policies within Vision 2030 that prevention is better than cure,” Al-Rabiah said.

He added that this was brought about by stepping up precautionary measures, while putting people’s health first.

Al-Rabiah said the government has worked to provide a safe and internationally approved vaccine in record time to give to citizens and residents, “which made the Kingdom one of the best countries in the world in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Over 500,000 people have already registered to take the COVID-19 vaccine in in Saudi Arabia since its launch last Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

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Crown prince thanks ‘brilliant’ health workers battling virus

19/12/20

 

Crown prince commended workers in Saudi health and pharmaceutical sectors
Minister of Health thanked the crown prince for his support and care that workers receive
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his thanks and appreciation on Friday to all workers in the health and pharmaceutical sectors, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The crown prince commended the “health team who worked in a professional and brilliant manner in confronting the new coronavirus pandemic during the last period,” the statement said.
Minister of Health, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, said he appreciated the support and care that the workers in the health and pharmaceutical sectors receive from the crown prince, and the meticulous and continuous follow-up that the prince does out of concern for human health in the Kingdom.

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Saudi crown prince suggests two G20 extraordinary leaders’ meetings to take place yearly

23/11/20

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on November 22, 2020, shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addressing a remote press conference at the G20 summit, in the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia will continue to answer the global call to address modern challenges, together with G20 members, says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
  • Under Saudi Arabia’s presidency, the G20 held an extraordinary G20 summit last March to tackle the COVID-20 crisis
  • Saudi Arabia then hosted the G20 Leaders’ Summit virtually on Nov. 21-22, 2020

RIYADH:  Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recommended that going forward, the Group of Twenty (G20) organization should hold two annual summits, a virtual one in the middle of the year, and a physical summit at the end.

Minutes before the closing remarks of the Kingdom’s G20 presidency, the crown prince said: “I would like to thank all of our ministers and officials for their active participation during many meetings, and the succession of this year’s programs despite the difficult circumstances.”

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) represented an unprecedented global threat, prompting the Kingdom to hold two summits during its presidential year, which has not happened in any previous presidency since the group’s founding in 1999.

The crown prince said that based on the success of the Saudi experience in holding an extraordinary G20 summit last March, and the success of the Riyadh summit, he proposed that going forward, two annual summits be held instead.

“We hope that Italy will crystallize this idea with the aim of supporting joint international coordination and intensifying the role, to come up with policies and initiatives to meet any challenges and determine the economic and well-being of our peoples,” he said.

As this year is an extraordinary year for the whole world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia was honored to host the G20 Leaders’ Summit virtually over two days, on Nov. 21-22, 2020.

After King Salman’s closing remarks and the handing over of the presidency to Italy, Crown Prince Mohammed ended the summit by highlighting the G20’s achievements since its foundation.

“(The G20) has been an essential link among our countries. It has demonstrated the vitality of its role, over the years, to deal with economic, financial, social, and environmental issues,” he said.

The crown prince emphasized the importance of cooperation in light of the outbreak of COVID-19 , and its health, economic, and social repercussions.

“Together we have addressed this challenge with seriousness necessitated by the responsibility to preserve human life, protect livelihoods, mitigate the ensuing damage of this pandemic, and raise readiness to face any future crises, God forbid,” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 was exceptional in that it adopted the slogan of “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All” to empower people, safeguard the planet and shape new frontiers, and to address the professional interaction led by the Kingdom to unite efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We stand today at the end of an exceptional year in which we had the privilege and responsibility of the G20 presidency,” he said. “This year, the G20 adopted priorities that we worked on together to implement, top of which is addressing the health care, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic.”

He mentioned that the G20 had demonstrated that “together, our strength lies in our unity. This is exactly what the G20 was created for — to bring countries from every continent together to address collectively the greatest challenges of the day and implement joint and effective solutions.

“We fully realize the importance of better protection from future pandemics, and we must draw lessons from this crisis. To ensure that, the Saudi G20 presidency proposed an initiative to enhance access to pandemic tools.”

He said that this initiative would work to achieve three goals: First, to promote research and development, and distribution of diagnostic tools, therapeutics, and vaccines for all infectious diseases. Second, to encourage and facilitate international funding for global pandemic preparedness, and third, to support the training of epidemiologists all over the world.

Throughout its presidency of the G20, the Kingdom has dedicated its efforts to building a stronger and more sustainable world, in parallel with its significant economic and social transformation based on Vision 2030.

“We conclude this summit determined to take action and to continue working together until we overcome the pandemic, giving hope and reassurance to our nations and to the world. We are proud of what we have accomplished this year, and we know that plenty still needs to be done,” the crown prince said,

“Saudi Arabia will continue to support the international efforts related to providing equitable and affordable COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines for all, once they become available. I know many join us in this commitment.

“We will work together with our international partners and the Italian G20 presidency next year to achieve this. The Kingdom will continue to answer the global call to address the challenges of the 21st century, together with the G20 members. We wish all the best for Italy,” he concluded.

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Saudi crown prince, Brazil’s Bolsonaro discuss G20 coordination

21/11/20

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (Photo by Jacques Witt / POOL / AFP)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka. (File/AFP)
  • They also discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them
  • Riyadh will host 15 G20 Summit on Nov. 21 and 22

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman telephoned Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the call, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them, as well as ways to coordinate efforts made within the activities of the G20 leaders’ summit that the Kingdom will host from Saturday.

Saudi Arabia assumed presidency of the G20 on Dec 1, 2019 and is set to host the 15th two-day annual summit in the capital Riyadh on Nov. 21-22.

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Crown prince salutes ‘unprecedented’ Saudi achievements

Time: 13 November 2020

  • The prince said the government has undertaken extensive restructuring to boost non-oil revenues and is working hard to diversify the economy
  • Prince Mohammed: The Kingdom is one of the best 10 countries globally in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has been able to achieve unprecedented economic and social advances in a short period of time, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Thursday.

Commenting on King Salman’s address to the Shoura Council, the crown prince said that the Kingdom has experienced exponential economic growth in the past three years and he is optimistic that this will accelerate after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Non-oil revenues contributed an estimated SR 1.8 billion ($480 million) to the economy in 2016, he said. Plans were made to increase this contribution, resulting in rapid growth over the past three years, he added.

The crown prince said that authorities in the Kingdom are also working to reduce the unemployment rate as a matter of priority. He said that women account for 64 percent of the total unemployment rate, but a number of reforms have created opportunities that led to an increase in the participation of women in the workforce, from 17 percent to 31 percent in the past year alone.

Prince Mohammed said that although corruption was once rife in the country and had spread like “cancer,” a campaign to tackle this has been very successful, resulting in settlements amounting to SR 247 billion riyals in three years.

After investing more than SR 55 million in digital infrastructure in the past three years, the nation now ranks first among G20 member states in terms of digital competitiveness, and has climbed 40 places on the Digital Infrastructure Index.

During his speech, the prince praised the Public Investment Fund (PIF) for becoming one of the main engines of growth for the Saudi economy.

“We managed to double the size of the PIF from SR 560 billion to more than SR 1.3 trillion,” he said. “We have investments with returns that exceeded 70 percent, and others that exceeded 140 percent.”

He added that the PIF has created more than 190,000 jobs over the past four years.

Turning to the issues of terrorism and extremism, the crown prince said that Saudi Arabia rejects any attempt to associate Islam with terrorism and asserted that intellectual freedom is a means of respect and tolerance.

Speaking a day after a cemetery was attacked in Jeddah, and hours after a shooting at the Saudi embassy in the Netherlands, he vowed that the Kingdom will continue to strike back with an “iron fist” against those who threaten its security and stability. He also reiterated his promise to eradicate any and all forms of extremism in Saudi Arabia.

“In 2017, I pledged to eradicate extremism immediately, and we have actually launched a serious campaign to address its causes and deal with the phenomena,” he said. “Within a year, we eliminated an ideology that took 40 years to create.

“Islam criminalizes these terrorist operations, prohibits bloodshed, and forbids the deception and killing of peaceful people. We promise a deterrent, painful and very severe punishment for anyone who might wish to carry out a terrorist act and employ hate speech.

“We hope that the world will rid itself of contempt for religions and stop attacking religious and national symbols under the pretext of freedom of expression, as this will create fertile grounds for extremism and terrorism.”

Regarding the environment, he said, the amount of conservation land in the Kingdom has been increased from 4 percent to more than 14 percent, the crown prince said, and the Special Forces for Environmental Security was established.

The Ministry of Culture has established 11 organizations to develop the country’s cultural sectors, he said, which has created jobs, contributed to an increasingly thriving economy and improved the overall quality of life.

The Saudi economy is one of the largest and most important in the world, the prince said, and the government has implemented a number of reforms to improve the quality of the labor market for citizens and residents.

“With regard to the rights of expatriates, we have taken numerous measures to restructure the contractual relationship so as to preserve their rights and contribute to increasing maturity in the labor market,” he added.

“Work is underway, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to reform the labor market and provide more jobs for citizens. One of the Vision’s goals is to reach an unemployment rate of 7 percent by the year 2030.

“The unemployment rate nearly reached 13 percent in 2018. We were able to witness a continuous decrease to 11.8 percent at the beginning of 2020, by increasing the efficiency of government agencies, the investments of the PIF and other government programs and initiatives.”

He added: “Our next goal will be improving citizens’ income.”

The government has also carried out wide-ranging restructuring processes in a number of sectors, in accordance with the goals of Vision 2030, designed to further enhance non-oil revenues.

“If we had not raised non-oil revenues to nearly SR 360 billion this year, but had maintained the same revenue as was earned in 2015 which was estimated at nearly SR100 billion, we would have been forced to reduce the salaries of public-sector employees by more than 30 percent,” the crown prince said.

“Despite cutting the cost-of-living allowance, we have succeeded in preserving citizens’ salaries, as well as most of their allowances and bonuses, maintaining a capital expenditure of SR 137 billion, increasing spending on operations and maintenance, and bearing the high costs of health care due to the pandemic, which have amounted to SR 188 billion.

“Revenue diversification is important and vital for the Kingdom’s sustainability. We are seriously working on this issue through the investments of the PIF, and by supporting new sectors such as tourism, sports, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, space, mining and much more, in addition to working with the private sector.”

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Saudi crown prince calls for global collaboration to unlock benefits of AI for all

Time: 22 October 2020  

October 2020
  • The COVID-19 crisis has provided an extraordinary opportunity to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, he says

RIYADH: As the world faces unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year offers the perfect opportunity to test the potential of artificial intelligence, according to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a speech on Wednesday on the opening day of the two-day Global AI Summit hosted by Riyadh — which was delivered on his behalf by Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, president of Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence — the crown prince also called for the nations of the world to work together to develop the capabilities of AI so that its benefits are available to all.

He began by highlighting the Kingdom’s desire to play a prominent part in the global development of AI to “unleash its potential for the good of all humanity.”

He said: “2020, undoubtedly, has been an extraordinary year to test the potential of AI, as we witness the formation of a new global normal that is redefining our ways of life, working and learning.

“This requires all of us to think and work hard to take advantage of artificial intelligence and unleash its full potential to advance our societies and economies.”

In recognition of the importance of the technology, the crown prince announced the launch of a national strategy for data and AI, with the aim of positioning Saudi Arabia at the forefront of AI research and development.

“I hereby invite all dreamers, innovators, investors and thinkers to join us, here in the Kingdom, to achieve our ambitions together and to build a pioneering model; to unlock the value of data and AI in order to build knowledge-based economies and advance our present and future generations,” he added.

Acknowledging the digital gap that exists between developed and developing countries, which has widened as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the crown prince said that the Kingdom is working to close this gap so that all nations can benefit from the potential of AI.

“I invite you all to work in a spirit of cooperation to shape the future of artificial intelligence in a way that serves all societies, prioritizes collaboration over competition, and focuses on reliable and responsible uses and applications of AI to serve humanity.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss global oil markets

Time: 14 October 2020  

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
During the call, they reviewed world oil markets, and the efforts made to achieve and maintain stability, support the growth of the global economy, Saudi Press Agency reported.

They also agreed on the importance of all oil-producing countries continuing to cooperate on and abide by the OPEC+ agreement to cut oil production.

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