Saudi crown prince allocates $1 million as marriage grants

Time: 19 July 2021

Young Saudis also received a training course in financial awareness
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed SR3.74 million ($997,080) to be distributed as marriage grants to 200 young men and women across the Kingdom.
The money comes out of his “keenness to support orphans with special circumstances and people with disabilities, as they are among the priority groups of the ‘SNAD Mohammed bin Salman’ program,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
In 2019, the crown prince provided SR520 million to more than 26,000 people across the Kingdom under the same scheme. They also received a training course in financial awareness.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Crown prince’s four years of outstanding performance

Time: 24 June 2021


Author
TALAT ZAKI HAFIZ
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the pledge of allegiance to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia and its citizens recall the ambitious achievements made during the past four years, which have been the catalyst for the Kingdom to progress in all aspects of life.
During the past four years, the crown prince has demonstrated strong leadership in finding successful and distinct solutions to many of the difficult issues that were assigned to him. These issues included combating corruption, solving the longstanding housing problem in the Kingdom, empowering women and reducing unemployment, etc.
The strategic vision and farsightedness of the crown prince have helped him manage and lead the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 brilliantly. This is very clear when one looks at the gigantic achievements made during the first years of the vision’s life since its launch in April 2016. For example, on the economic front, non-oil revenue has increased by almost 122 percent in the past five years, from SR166 billion ($44.3 billion) in 2015 to SR369 billion in 2020. This remarkable progress is due to the increase in revenues generated from industries and services-related activities, such as tourism and entertainment, and also due to controlling government spending and revenue collection.
The Saudi stock market has witnessed significant development by joining several global financial indices, such as MSCI, S&P’s Dow Jones, and FTSE Russell for emerging markets. This has contributed to many positive developments related to the goals and objectives of the Financial Sector Development Program.
It is worth mentioning that the Public Investment Fund (PIF), chaired by the crown prince, won the “Fund of the Year 2020” award from Global SWF. PIF’s award was based on its global impact, coupled with its contribution to the development of the Saudi economy through its investments in promising and innovative sectors.
During the past four years, significant steps were taken under the Vision 2030 program to reduce the unemployment rate, to reach 7 percent or better by 2030. To achieve this target, a work platform was launched, which was designed to help reduce joblessness by providing work opportunities and increasing the participation of women workers in the private sector.
The business environment in the Kingdom has witnessed significant improvements in the past four years. The Kingdom is ranked first in the world for business environment reforms, according to the World Bank’s report on the ease of doing business.
In the area of combating money laundering, Saudi Arabia has succeeded in introducing a wide range of anti-money laundering initiatives, and in recognition of its efforts, it was granted permanent membership of the Financial Action Task Force during its session in Orlando in June 2019. This was the first membership granted to an Arab country.
Last but not least, the Kingdom has achieved first place in digital competitiveness at the G20 level during the past three years. Additionally, it has achieved a ranking of nine in the digital capabilities index, according to “The Competitiveness Report” issued by the World Economic Forum.
I believe that during the past four years, the Kingdom has witnessed many achievements that were guided and orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
These achievements have placed Saudi Arabia among the fastest-growing countries in the world and the first in terms of the rapid pace of reforms. This, in turn, has reflected positively on the quality of life for both the citizens and the residents living in the country.

This article was first published in Arab News

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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.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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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.

This article was first published in Arab News

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