5 million trees to be planted in Saudi Arabia by 2030

22/10/19

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the Saline Water Conversion Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding. (SPA)

JEDDAH: A deal has been signed to plant 5 million local wild trees in Saudi Arabia by the end of 2030 using treated renewed wastewater.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the Saline Water Conversion Corp. (SWCC) signed a memorandum of understanding to support the initiative, which is aimed at reducing the degradation of rangelands and forests, combating desertification, restoring natural habitats, raising environmental awareness and promoting adaptation to climate changes through the cultivation of local wild trees.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Time: October 20, 2019  

The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

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Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

22/09/19

Debris major cause of death for marine life
Disintegration of plastic waste threaten human food resources
JEDDAH: A beach cleanup program targeting marine waste has been launched by the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The firm, which is behind the development of a luxury seafront tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, is already developing a range of environment-friendly policies such as zero-waste-to-landfill, zero-discharge-to-the-sea, zero-single-use plastics, and achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality. On Saturday it launched the Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program as part of the Red Sea Project. “Eliminating marine debris is receiving increasing attention from the media that it has become a global cause, urging us to participate in protecting our virgin environment for which our seafront is known,” said TRSDC CEO John Pagano.
“The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. It will also shed light on the importance of reducing the use of nonrecyclable plastics, in addition to encouraging the disposing of these substances in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The TRSDC will continue to explore ways for recycled materials to be a source of employment opportunities for the area’s residents, he added.
TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

HIGHLIGHTS
• TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land.

• It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

• Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach cleanup program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

Dr. Rusty Brainard, chief environment officer at TRSDC, said: “Marine debris causes significant damage to the environment and is a major cause of death for many marine organism species, which may ingest these substances. Moreover, the disintegration of plastic waste into small pieces that penetrate into the food web base may also threaten human food resources. Our program for eliminating marine litter is a long-term project that includes ongoing monitoring of environmental health, as well as periodic intervention to clean up any waste in the Red Sea Project.”
TRSDC has teamed up with leading academic institutions in the Kingdom, such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk, on a number of educational initiatives, added Brainard.
The partnership between TRSDC and KAUST has led to an international competition — “Brains for Brine” — that encourages academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to find solutions for managing the disposal of brine, which is a waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable way.
KAUST has also helped TRSDC with marine spatial planning for the Red Sea Project.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves around 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach clean-up program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

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Aramco CEO in call for ‘ultra clean energy’

11/09/19

“We must continuously remind all our stakeholders that we are a global industry at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and logistics, supported by a complex global supply chain,” Nasser said. (AFP)

Oil giant chief takes aim at climate change deniers during global oil industry gathering in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI: There is no limit to the oil industry’s potential if it can meet society’s demand for “ultra clean” energy, Amin Nasser, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, told delegates at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi.

“The world faces an incredible climate challenge and we need a bold response to match. In my view, that means the entire industry must come together around a new mission beyond our gates of making oil and gas much cleaner across the full spectrum of end-use applications,” Nasser said.

His comments were seen against the background of Aramco’s long term strategy to be regarded not just as a pumper of crude oil, but as a diversified high technology energy group with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Nasser spoke recently of a “crisis of perception” in the oil industry.

“We must continuously remind all our stakeholders that we are a global industry at the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and logistics, supported by a complex global supply chain,” Nasser said.

In an apparent swipe at climate-change deniers, he hit out at those who do not recognize the need for alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels to meet rising global energy demand.

“Many governments are adopting policies that do not appear to consider all the complex aspects of global technology, the long term nature of our business, and the need for orderly transitions — policies that seem to assume there are quick and easy answers to the many challenges that alternatives face,” he said.

Nasser added that throughout Aramco’s history, it had a competitive edge in four key areas: Resource abundance, safe production, reliable supply and affordability. “But meeting society’s expectations requires a fifth. Quite simply, our products need to be much cleaner,” he said.

He added that the world was “at a turning point” in the search for cleaner forms of energy. “The good news is that we are not starting from scratch,” he said, highlighting Aramco’s halt to gas flaring, its low upstream carbon intensity, and low methane levels by industry standards.

He also underlined Aramco’s commitment to a range of technologies with transformative potential for the whole global oil industry, like advanced integrated engine fuel systems and carbon capture techniques.

“This is the latest turning point in our history, and we must, once again, lead the turn,” Nasser said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi farmers swap grass for gas

Time: August 02, 2019  

Saudi Arabia and Denmark are developing a patented process to convert natural gas into high protein livestock feed. (File/AFP)
  • Unibio plans to develop a facility in the Kingdom that will utilize its patented fermentation process, which converts natural gas into high-protein livestock feed
  • The project aims to decouple protein production from farming and fishing while instead using abundant natural gas

LONDON: Saudi Arabia and Denmark are developing a patented process to convert natural gas into high protein livestock feed.
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Denmark’s Unibio have struck an initial agreement worth $200 million to develop the concept.
Unibio plans to develop a facility in the Kingdom that will utilize its patented fermentation process, which converts natural gas into high-protein livestock feed.
“With a growing population, this project represents an important step toward achieving food security for the Kingdom by providing a sustainable and economically viable source of animal feed products,” said SAGIA Governor Ibrahim Al-Omar.

“The importance of this project is that it uses a clean and abundant natural source in the Kingdom, and produces a high-quality protein supplements to feed fish, poultry and livestock, in addition to the transfer of advanced technology to the Kingdom.”
The project aims to decouple protein production from farming and fishing while instead using abundant natural gas.
Research into developing synthetic proteins as alternative food sources is being driven by a rapidly expanding global population which is expected to rise by a third to 9.8 billion by 2050. Rising wealth levels also produces a corresponding rise in protein consumption.
Unibio claims its technology also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to the practice of gas flaring in the energy industry.
It estimates that nearly 140 billion cubic meters (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas are being flared and vented annually by the oil industry.
That is the equivalent of about a quarter of total US gas consumption.

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Blowin’ in the wind: Saudi Arabia’s energy future

Time: July 31, 2019  

Road to renewables: The 400 MW Dumat Al-Jandal wind farm project is part of Saudi Arabia’s shift away from economic dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production. (Photo courtesy of Masdar)
  • The Middle East’s largest wind farm will be constructed in the Kingdom’s northwestern Al-Jouf region
  • Dumat Al-Jandal wind project will generate enough electricity to power 70,000 homes in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Until now few people outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Dumat Al-Jandal.

But with construction due to begin there on the Middle East’s largest — and Saudi Arabia’s first — wind farm, the historical capital of the Kingdom’s northwestern Al-Jouf region will soon be firmly on the world’s renewable-energy map.

Launched as a part of Saudi Arabia’s planned shift away from fossil fuels as a source of electricity, the $500 million wind farm will have an installed capacity of 400 megawatts (MW), enough to power 70,000 homes in the Kingdom and reduce carbon emissions by up to 880,000 tons every year. Commercial operations are due to start in the first quarter of 2022.

Last week, a consortium led by EDF Renewables and Masdar reached a deal with Saudi and international banks to finance the utility-scale wind project, which will be located 560 miles north of Riyadh.

“We are delighted to see the project progress to the construction stage,” said Osama bin Abdul Wahab Khawandanah, CEO of the Saudi Power Procurement Co., a subsidiary of the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC).

In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy, the Saudi government is planning to develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next nine years as part of a $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut oil consumption. It is seeking to use more natural gas and renewable energy for power generation so that the nearly 600,000 barrels of oil that are currently burnt each day for the purpose can be freed up for export.

As part of an effort to reduce economic dependence on sales of crude, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is investing in industrial units to manufacture components for solar and wind farms and in renewable-energy facilities.

To this end, the Renewable Energy Project Development Office of the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources had awarded the Dumat Al-Jandal wind-farm project in January following a call for tenders in August 2017.

EDF Renewables and Masdar — which are, respectively, the renewable-energy units of Electricite de France SA and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. — had submitted the most cost-competitive bid of $21.3 per MW hour.

“Saudi Arabia is a large country that has different atmospheres from north to south,” Yousif Al-Ali, acting executive director of clean energy at Masdar, told Arab News.

“Particularly in the north- western side, they have very high wind resources, so you can build wind projects at an attractive cost. That area, close to Egypt and north of the Red Sea, has a lot of wind resources.”

Al-Ali said the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain lacked Saudi Arabia’s advantages when it comes to viable wind projects.

FASTFACTS

• Wind power involves the conversion of kinetic (wind) energy into electrical energy.

• Wind makes a wind turbine’s rotor spin; the rotor blades’ movement drives a generator that produces electricity.

• Average wind speeds must be above 18 km per hour to make installing a wind turbine worthwhile.

• Ideal locations for wind turbines are the countryside, farms and coastline.

Nevertheless, in the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, the northwestern and southern parts of Oman have good wind resources.

“In the Gulf region, the potential for wind is specifically in the northwestern side of Saudi Arabia and the southern side of Oman,” Al-Ali said.

“The area on the Egyptian side opposite the Dumat Al-Jandal project location has a lot of wind resources. There is also very good wind potential in Tunisia and Morocco,” he added. “I foresee more wind projects in Saudi Arabia, especially as they have a plan to have 27.3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy in their total energy mix by 2024. A large portion of this amount will be coming from wind.”

As for the Dumat Al-Jandal project, the contracted wind- turbine technology provider Vestas will be responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction contract.

Spanish industrial group TSK will be in charge of the rest of the plant, while Belgian company CG Holdings will provide substations and high-voltage solutions.

The wind farm is expected to supply electricity according to a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Co.

“The plant will be connected to the Kingdom’s grid, generating 400 MW of clean power,” Al-Ali said. “We had a world record with the pricing of $21.3 per kilowatt hour.”

During construction, the wind farm will employ 1,000 people, which will drop to between 30 and 50 when the site becomes fully operational.

“We are delighted to take part in the first wind project in (Saudi Arabia), which is set to be the most powerful wind farm in the Middle East,” said Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group senior executive president responsible for renewable energies, and chairman and CEO of EDF Renewables.

“This new step reflects the quality of our partnership with Masdar, which enabled us to jointly submit the most competitive bid. Wind power is now representing a renewable and economical solution in the energy mix.”

He said that Dumat Al-Jandal represents another step forward under the EDF Group’s Cap 2030 strategy, which aims to double its renewable energy capacity by 2030 — both in France and worldwide — to 50 GW.

Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi said that winning the contract for Saudi Arabia’s first wind farm during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January was a momentous event in the history of the company.

“It illustrated the depth of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to realizing its bold strategy to substantially increase the contribution of renewables in its total energy mix to 27.3 GW by 2024, from wind as well as solar energy,” he added.

“The oversubscribed financing of the Dumat Al-Jandal project further illustrates the confidence of local and international lenders, and the investment community, in the economy of the Kingdom, and its potential as a hub for highly cost-effective renewable energy development.”

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Successful birth of Arabian leopard cubs ‘new beacon of hope’ in Saudi bid to save species from extinction: Culture minister

31/07/19

The birth of two Arabian leopard cubs has been hailed as a “new beacon of hope” in Saudia Arabia’s bid to reintroduce the critically endangered big cat back into the wild. (SPA)

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Saudi invention holds immense promise for a water-scarce world

Time: July 24, 2019  

‘Sun-rich’ countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE stand to reap the greatest benefits from the KAUST breakthrough in sustainable desalination technology. (Shutterstock)
  • Device built by KAUST researchers can turn seawater into potable water using solar power
  • Technology uses waste heat recovered from solar panels to power desalination process

DUBAI: The use of solar power to produce plentiful supplies of safe drinking water has long been seen as an answer to many of the Middle East’s pressing challenges relating to water and energy. Now a project at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has raised hopes of just such a solution.

Researchers at the university’s Water Desalination and Reuse Center in Jeddah say they have developed a technology that uses waste heat recovered from solar panels to power a desalination process that produces clean water from seawater.

“The global solar panel installed capacity is huge, so the quantity of waste heat produced is enormous,” said Dr. Peng Wang, a professor at the center.

“We can use this to give us fresh water and also show us a very attractive future.”

Few regions in the world stand to benefit from such an invention as much as the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia, for example, is one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of water resources per inhabitant, according to UN data.


IN NUMBERS

 9% – Saudi Arabia’s electricity used for desalination of seawater

 38% – Middle East and North Africa’s share of global water-desalination capacity

40% – Saudi Arabia’s electricity from burning oil (2016)

40% – Saudi electricity demand rise expected over 2019-2030

40 gigawatts – Saudi solar PV energy capacity target for 2030

$100 billion – Investments needed globally by 2030 for solar applications


“Saudi Arabia produced close to 2 billion cubic meters of desalinated water in 2018, and it is estimated that by 2030, 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s local oil and gas will solely be used to meet the domestic demand for fresh water,” Peng said.

“The production of drinking water in Saudi Arabia consumes a lot of fossil fuels, which is not sustainable. The solar potential that the Kingdom has is massive. We say it has the best solar energy in the world, but we are not using it. We have the energy, but on the other hand we don’t have fresh water. So if you can use this energy to give you fresh water, it’s the best solution,” he said.

For two years, Peng has been working on developing a new, more sustainable desalination system. “We know that solar panels have a big problem of wasted heat,” he said, referring to photovoltaic (PV) modules that convert sunlight directly into electricity. “We decided to combine these two together — the heat coming from the solar panel and our desalination process.”

Thanks to advancements in technology, modern solar panels are increasingly effective in harvesting solar energy. According to Peng, solar panels can absorb more than 90 percent of incoming solar radiation. However, only 10 to 20 percent of this energy can be converted by most commercial solar panels into electricity.

“This means that about 80 to 90 percent of the harvested solar energy is actually converted to heat,” he said. “It is also the reason commercial solar panels get very hot in the daytime.”

In fact, solar panels across the Kingdom are known to record levels of up to 40C above the ambient air temperature during summer months. “If it’s 30C (ambient temperature), the panel can be as hot as 80C,” Peng said. “This means the solar panel suffers from some kind of drawback.”

Put another way, there are limits to the amount of sun’s heat that can be converted by a solar panel into electricity. “People have been working on various ways of cooling down solar panels, but so far it hasn’t been very successful,” he said. “At this stage, our device utilizes the waste heat (from solar panels) to give us something useful, which is drinking water.”

The device built by the research team can make both seawater and contaminated groundwater into drinking water. As of now, it can produce almost four liters of drinking water per hour using the heat from solar panels. “We believe this is a significant number, especially when you think of all the solar panels you have installed in the entire world,” he said.

‘Sun-rich’ countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE stand to reap the greatest benefits from the KAUST breakthrough in sustainable desalination technology. (Shutterstock)

“The calculation we have is also very attractive. It tells us that if every solar panel uses our device, we can have at least 10 percent of the world’s drinking water in about six years’ time — and this is a conservative estimate.”

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the wider Gulf region are among the 122 “sun-rich” countries that lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In theory, at least, the amount of potable water production available to these countries could be doubled if sufficient numbers of solar installations were set up.

“You should expect drinking water coming out of these devices for the entire country,” Peng said, referring to Saudi Arabia, which has set ambitious renewable energy production goals for itself. According to the National Renewable Energy Program’s website, the target for energy from solar photovoltaics alone is 40 GW in 2030. “If by that time every panel in the Kingdom (includes) our device, by our conservative calculation is that they will produce more than 50 percent of the drinking water for Saudi Arabia.”

The research center’s breakthrough looks even more promising if the technology is adopted on a large scale. To this end, the scientists behind the device will have to carry out more work to enhance the system’s scalability and stability.

A scientific paper published on July 10 said the largest device the team was able to build so far measured 10 sq. cm. “At this point, we can double that size, but our target is to make it one square meter within the next 12 months,” Peng said. “This is the next step in our project.”

Stability is of equal importance since desalinating seawater is no easy matter given the harmful impact of high salt concentrations on the device. Scale formation due to salt precipitation inside the device is a problem that scientists are currently trying to solve, with answers including a system that can operate for long periods without major maintenance.

Prof. Peng Wang

“It’s a very attractive drinking-water production system, especially in decentralized facilities,” Peng said. “By decentralization, we mean producing drinking water in places where you have low-to-medium population density, such as off-grid small villages, small tribes, islands, all kinds of maritime activity and small towns with populations of about 10,000. Our technology is attractive to places in need of niche applications.”

Once the device is able to produce fresh water on such a scale, the next step could include dryland agriculture to grow plants or grass for sheep. “Farmers see an opportunity there,” he told Arab News. “With our device, you can have significantly more water. When you have water in a dry place and in arid to semi-arid regions, you can do many things that were once challenging.”

However, keeping the device’s manufacturing cost as low as possible will be critical if it to be affordable for impoverished areas. Although research is still in its early stages, the research scientists will have a clearer idea of the costs when they are able to build large-scale devices.

“Hopefully by next year, we will have a pilot-scale demonstration to show the world,” Peng said. “One branch under Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy has already contacted us to express interest and they are talking about the possibility of granting us funds to help speed up the process. We are in negotiations with the government and other companies that are also interested in helping us.”

Looking to the future, Peng sees vast scope for the device, which has drawn attention to KAUST’s research expertise in water desalination and reuse.

“We will all run out of oil reserves at some point and solar is easily the most renewable energy known to us,” he said. “There are more than 800 million people in the world who have no access to clean water. Living in rural areas in underdeveloped countries, where the best infrastructure isn’t available, they look for decentralized drinking water solutions. Our technology should match this need very nicely.”

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Recycling plan aims to solve Riyadh rubble trouble

Time: July 15, 2019  

Authorities across the world are struggling to deal with domestic waste following moves by China and other Asian nations to stop accepting exported waste from Europe and North America. (Reuters)
  • City chiefs aim to slash landfill waste and make compost from rubbish

LONDON: Riyadh is set to get a citywide recycling plan to tackle more than 20 million tons of building rubble on eyesore vacant plots while turning household waste into compost.
Demolition waste will be removed from sites around the city and turned into construction aggregate while at the same time residents will be encouraged to start separating their waste for recycling into two bins instead of one.
Saudi Investment Recycling Co., a unit of the Public Investment Fund, has teamed up with the National Waste Management Center and the Riyadh Municipality to drive through the changes as city chiefs aim to recycle 81 percent of the 3.4 million tons of waste produced in the capital each year. They have also set a target to recycle almost half of the 5 million tons of construction and demolition waste.
Saudi Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadli and Riyadh Mayor Tariq bin Abdul Aziz Al-Faris revealed details of the plan on Sunday.
“The main thing is convincing society that recycling is needed but that it also costs money,” Saudi Investment Recycling Co. CEO Jeroen Vincent told Arab News in an interview ahead of the official launch of the scheme.
“It is important to convince the Saudi people about the purpose of this. With all countries that introduced such schemes, it has always been with a combination of regulation and enforcement and a good awareness program.”
Currently most waste in the city ends up in landfill sites and earlier attempts to introduce the segregation of waste have not gained traction. However, Vincent said with the proper combination of financing, enforcement and infrastructure, the new recycling initiative should meet with more success.

FASTFACT

• Riyadh produces more than 3.4 million tons of waste each year.

• Civic authorities plan to recycle 81 percent of the waste produced annually in the capital city.

• 5 million tons of construction and demolition waste is produced in the Saudi capital.

He sees increased public awareness of global warming and the Kingdom’s more environmentally aware younger generation as other important factors.
“I was quite surprised that a lot of the 50-plus generation keep telling me ‘we are not in the Netherlands, we are not in Germany, we do things differently,’ but with having such a young population in Saudi Arabia, people are banging on the door to work with us because they see that ecology needs to go hand in hand with economy.”
Riyadh has already started to roll out a two-bin system of waste collection in two districts of the city and now the scheme is being rolled out through the rest of the capital and around the Kingdom.
Residents will be given two bins — a green one for recyclable and residual waste and a black one for food waste. They will be collected on alternate days.
In May, the Saudi Environment Ministry signed an agreement with the UN to boost environmental protection and safeguard natural resources in the Kingdom.
City chiefs worldwide are struggling to deal with domestic waste following moves by China and other Asian nations to stop accepting exported waste from Europe and North America.

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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea exhibition aims to protect region’s vital marine environment

Time: June 18, 2019  

1 / 15
(AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
  • KAUST scientists and researchers introduce adults and children to the sea’s vast array of wildlife

JEDDAH: Visitors were plunged into the fascinating underwater world of the Red Sea at an awareness exhibition aimed at helping to protect the unique marine environment.
The Red Sea Research Center, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), has been staging an interactive display at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah to highlight the importance of the marine ecosystem to the entire region.
The exhibition, which runs until June 24 and is part of the 41-day Jeddah Season summer festival, is designed to raise awareness of Red Sea conservation projects.
KAUST scientists and researchers were on hand to guide adults and children through the exhibition and introduce them to the Red Sea’s vast array of wildlife.
Children had the chance to feel and hold sea creatures in special tanks and were asked to sign a pledge to contribute to the preservation of the Red Sea by helping prevent pollution of the marine environment.
Micheal Berumen, director of the Red Sea Research Center, told Arab News of its mission to educate not only KAUST students, but also the public.
“The Red Sea is a resource that needs to be protected, appreciated, and celebrated by everybody living by the coast.
“It has a big impact to see a model of a whale shark, and it has a big impact to see creatures in the tank, but it is another level when you actually get to hold it,” said Berumen.
“And if you watch, it is actually the kids who are most excited about the exhibit.”
Berumen added that by targeting children, the center aimed to get them passionate about nature and hopefully spawn the marine biologists of the future.
“We really want to be sure that the people here understand how special the Red Sea is, and the unique resources we have right in our backyard.”

Whale shark
A life-size model of a whale shark, situated at the entrance to the exhibition, represented one of the most important creatures living in the Red Sea, said Berumen. “There are very few places in the world where you can study whale sharks, but the Red Sea is one of them.”
Burton Jones, a professor of marine science and a member of the Red Sea Research Center, said that as researchers they were trying to work out how the Red Sea worked while helping people to “understand that the Red Sea is extremely important for everybody’s life here.”
He added: “The Red Sea is what makes life better in Jeddah. It helps to keep the climate cooler, and oceans are very important to the climate of an area.”
Lina Eyouni, a Ph.D. student at KAUST, said the exhibition aimed to create a relationship between the visitors and the creatures of the sea. “We want to keep people engaged in what we are doing and spread knowledge about the importance of the environment and how can we protect it.”

Pollution threats
Sea pollution is mainly caused by coastal farming, rivers, sewage, and litter.
Fertilizers used in farming often get washed into the sea by rain, and although this is not a serious problem in the Red Sea, sewage and littering are major pollution threats, Berumen said.
The Red Sea Research Center has previously run several public events in Riyadh and Jeddah, but its latest exhibition is the biggest to date.
It has been a key department since the opening of KAUST in 2009 and is well-positioned and superbly equipped to study the Red Sea with its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class researchers.
The center also works closely with many government agencies to maintain the health of the Red Sea’s marine environment.

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