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.
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.
• 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.”
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)
The news marks a significant step in the RCU’s breeding program
During the initial 12-week period of the newborn leopards’ lives, they successfully bonded with their 10-year-old mother Hamms
ALULA: 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.
The Saudi Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) revealed that the male and female cubs, born on April 26 at the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Wildlife Research Center in Taif, had now been vaccinated after passing a crucial 12-week developmental milestone.
The news marks a significant step in the RCU’s breeding program to help preserve and eventually reintroduce the subspecies into the north-west of the Kingdom as part of its portfolio of Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI).
The commission’s charter aims to deliver a sensitive and responsible transformation of the AlUla region and protect its nature and wildlife.
During the initial 12-week period of the newborn leopards’ lives, they successfully bonded with their 10-year-old mother Hamms (which means “whisper” in Arabic), learned important behaviors and grew stronger in the seclusion of their den. The cubs will remain with their mother for the next 18 months to two years in line with global best practice for captive breeding programs.
Saudi Minister of Culture and RCU Gov. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, said: “This is a historic moment in our efforts to reintroduce the Arabian leopard to the AlUla region.
“With fewer than an estimated 200 Arabian leopards remaining in the wild globally, this is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, and these cubs represent a new beacon of hope for the renewal of a subspecies on the brink of extinction. It is our duty to protect, conserve and build population numbers to preserve the species from becoming a footnote of history.
“That is why the RCU is actively championing the revitalization of the Arabian leopard to support the future of this rare and majestic big cat that is native to AlUla,” the prince added.
“The birth of these two cubs will be the first of many as our specialized captive breeding program grows and develops – boosted by the support of local experts, as well as global partners like Panthera.”
The commission’s ALI combines several projects working toward the preservation of the subspecies including an extensive captive breeding and reintroduction program, and the establishment of the Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard.
As a center of excellence, the RCU is establishing a steering committee with leading experts from around the world to enhance and inform ALI’s captive breeding, husbandry, veterinary and reintroduction practices in the existing breeding facility located in Taif.
The committee will also help guide the design of a state-of-the-art breeding center to be constructed in AlUla county and consult on habitat revitalization projects in the Sharaan Nature Reserve.
It was announced in February that the newly created Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard will have an initial endowment of $25 million (SR94 million), making it the largest fund in the world wholly dedicated to safeguarding the Arabian leopard. Currently in the strategic planning and operational set-up phase, the fund will be fully mobilized by the end of this year.
The news of the leopard cubs’ birth follows the signing in June of a partnership agreement between the RCU governor and Dr. Thomas Kaplan, chairman of the global wild cat conservation organization Panthera.
Saudi Arabia, through this partnership, has in turn joined the Global Alliance for Wild Cats, making a commitment to invest $20 million over the next 10 years.
‘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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
• 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.
The Red Sea Center is superbly equipped to study the Red Sea with its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class researchers. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
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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.”
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.”
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.
Jubail is home to a company that won the environmental initiative award after recycling 60,000 tons of waste in 2015. (SPA)
The commission had an initiative registered with the National Transformation Program 2020 to recycle 57 percent of the industrial waste
JUBAIL: The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu celebrated World Environment Day for the fifteenth time, with an event called “Beat Air Pollution,” organized at Al-Fanateer Cultural Center in Jubail’s industrial city.
The event included an environmental exhibition during which the commission recognized and rewarded companies with the best environmental performances in 2018.
“This event focuses on the environmental challenges facing industrial activities globally, which are considered a great source of pollution, as well as other factors that have a greater impact such as agriculture, transport, sand storms, volcanic eruptions and forest fires,” said the director of the Royal Commission’s Environmental Control Department, Owayed Al-Rashidi.
“The celebration aims at highlighting these experiences and spreading information regarding the role of industry in mitigating pollution,” he added, noting “corporations in Jubail’s industrial city have received numerous international prizes in the fields of sustainability and environmentalism.
“Jubail is home to a company that won the environmental initiative award after recycling 60,000 tons of waste in 2015. The commission values such companies and it will try to honor them and support sustainability in the city.
•The theme for 2019, ‘Beat Air Pollution,’ is a call to combat this global crisis.
• The celebration of this day provides an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct.
• Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.
“Companies with the best environmental performance are all on the right path. They are resorting to the best modern technologies and respecting the Kingdom’s environmental sustainability standards, which made it hard for us to reward some and not others.
“The commission has set environmental sustainability standards in order to improve technologies needed to recycle industrial waste, now considered a vital resource and a pillar of the national economy,” Al-Rashidi continued.
“Industrial waste is now being used in ‘downstream’ industries. We currently have 10 companies that recycle industrial waste in Jubail, where we reached a recycling capacity of 56 percent in 2018, and we are seeking to raise it to 58 percent.
“The commission had an initiative registered with the National Transformation Program 2020 to recycle 57 percent of the industrial waste. In fact, we will achieve almost 60 percent, and will go even higher after 2020.”
The Arabian leopard faces an extremely high risk of extinction. (Shutterstock)
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Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, has signed an agreement with the chairman of Panthera. (Photo/Supplied)
Royal Commission for Al-Ula committed to helping protect and develop wildlife in region
JEDDAH: A $20 million deal to save Arabian leopards has been signed between the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization.
The Arabian leopard population is critically endangered, meaning it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, according to the definition provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Panthera President Dr. Fred Launay said the Arabian leopard subspecies was estimated to number fewer than 200 in the wild, with its population driven down in recent years due to loss of habitat and prey, followed by persecution in livestock areas.
The signing ceremony was held at Ashar in Al-Ula county.
The RCU will join The Global Alliance for Wild Cats with a commitment to investing more than $20 million over the next 10 years to conservation measures, with a focus on the Arabian leopard, which is indigenous to Al-Ula.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the minister of culture and RCU governor, said: “The signing of the agreement is a major milestone in our shared ambitions to reintroduce the Arabian leopard population in the region and join global partners to support the preservation of these wild cat populations worldwide.
“It is our duty to protect, conserve and build the population numbers to preserve the species from becoming a footnote of history.
“Our partnership with Panthera will help ensure that populations in other countries around the world are preserved before they reach the levels of endangerment faced today by our precious native big cats.”
RCU CEO Amr Al-Madani said that Al-Ula was chosen as the venue for signing the deal because the conservation of the Arabian leopard was a major part of the commission’s commitment to helping protect, enhance and develop wildlife in the region.
• The Royal Commission for Al-Ula will join The Global Alliance for Wild Cats with a commitment to investing more than $20 million over the next 10 years to conservation measures, with a focus on the Arabian leopard, which is indigenous to Al-Ula.
• Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems.
• Both the royal commission and Panthera share a deep-rooted passion for conservation.
“Arabian leopards were native to the Al-Ula area in the recent past alongside other species and we are committed to investing in breeding programs to help increase their numbers with the aim of eventually being able to reintroduce them back into their natural habitat,” he told Arab News.
“The RCU has created the Sharaan Nature Reserve to provide a sanctuary for the protection, preservation and reintroduction of endangered species native to Saudi Arabia and plans to develop further protected areas in the county.
“Our ambition is to create thriving, ecologically rich environments that can support big cat species such as the Arabian leopard.
“Our partnership with Panthera — a global authority in the preservation of big cat species worldwide — will help us achieve this.”
There will be a global fund focused on the protection and enhancement of remaining wild populations, captive breeding programs, international collaborations, community-based conservation projects and scientific research to support the future of this rare species.
“Being able to create a future where magnificent Arabian leopards can once more roam freely within the Sharaan Nature Reserve we are developing is one that we cannot wait to see. Such a beautiful natural landscape as Al-Ula is a fitting home for some of the world’s most magnificent animals,” he added.
Panthera Chairman Dr. Thomas Kaplan said the launch of the Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI), announced by the RCU, was proof that individuals could alter the trajectory of a species away from extinction and toward rebirth.
“I am particularly grateful that the RCU has not only chosen to invest in bringing back the Kingdom’s own leopards, but has also joined — together with Indian, Chinese, Emirati, and American partners – in Panthera’s Global Alliance for Wild Cat,” he told Arab News.
A Saudi guide (C-bottom) leads a group of foreign tourists through the Al-Wahbah volcanic crater in the Al-Wahbah desert, some 360 kms northeast of Jeddah, on November 17, 2017. (AFP)
More than 30 volunteers took part in an SCTH “Leave No Trace” program at the Al-Shifa tourist center along with relevant authorities and community members
TAIF: Tourists visiting Taif are being urged to protect and preserve the local environment by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
More than 30 volunteers took part in an SCTH “Leave No Trace” program at the Al-Shifa tourist center along with relevant authorities and community members.
The initiative is part of SCTH efforts to support environmental tourism by urging visitors, including hikers, to cultivate positive attitudes to the environment at the center and its villages. Waste left by hikers was cleaned up by volunteers to promote the idea of maintaining a clean environment and protecting natural parks.
Saudi Assistant Minister for International Financial Affairs Abdul Aziz Al-Rasheed speaks at the Fourth Forum on Financing for Development in New York. (Twitter photo)
The Saudi Fund for Development has provided 688 loans to finance 656 projects across the developing world
NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed its support for the UN’s Addis Ababa Action Agenda for sustainable development, at the UN Economic and Social Council’s Forum on Financing for Development in New York.
The country’s assistant minister for international financial affairs, Abdul Aziz Al-Rasheed, stressed the importance of collective action to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries across various fields, focusing specifically on energy and infrastructure, and stated that the Kingdom remained a major international development donor, and was committed to increasing its role in the future.
The Saudi government is thought to have provided in excess of $116 billion to 95 developing countries since the agenda was agreed at a summit in the Ethiopian capital in 2015.
Al-Rasheed said: “The Saudi Fund for Development is considered one of the most important channels of foreign aid,” adding that it was responsible for 688 loans to finance 656 projects across the developing world, in transport, communications, social infrastructure, agriculture, energy, industry and mining.
He indicated that the Kingdom would also continue to play its role in stabilizing international energy markets, as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program to move away from fossil fuel toward a more sustainable and diverse local, and by extension, global economy, sharing its technological advances with other nations.
Bringing sustainability, he said, was crucial for developing economies less able to rely on natural resources, and that it was the Kingdom’s duty to continue the important work of enhancing access to clean energy for the world’s least developed communities.