Young Saudi converts date palm trees waste into coal, firewood

Updated 22 July 2013
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Young Saudi converts date palm trees waste into coal, firewood

A young Saudi has successfully implemented a plan to convert remnants of date palm trees into firewood and coal, optimizing the use of the fruit through an environmentally friendly initiative.
Muqbil Al-Khalaf, CEO and founder of the project, was recently awarded the prize for the Industrial Innovation Award, receiving SR500,000 from Tawfiq Al-Rabia, minister of commerce and industry, for his innovative project.
The project was sponsored and funded by the Badir Program for technology incubators at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
The event was organized by the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon), which aims to promote the local industrial sector and encourage Saudi innovators to convert their ideas into promising industrial projects.
Al-Khalaf graduated from King Fahad University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and entered the labor market as a banker. He later engaged in the wholesale clothing business in Riyadh and Dubai. He entered the market when the stock market was booming but incurred heavy losses, which prompted him to shift to the date palm business.
Al-Khalaf said he noted that date palm waste was thrown away or burned in farms. He wanted to find a way to re-use this colossal waste. He said he was inspired by an article written by a Malaysian scientist regarding the Malaysian experience in transforming natural waste to paper.
In 2011, he began establishing the plant with the intent of converting date palm remnants. The following year, he began setting up the plant in Zulfi, which became the first plant of its kind in the Kingdom and the Middle East.
He finally obtained funding from the Kafala Program, which promised to cover 30 percent of the cost with an interest rate of 13 percent, after being turned down for funding by the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF). He had also consulted the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), but was told that they only fund projects worth more than SR8 million.
Al-Khalaf said he initially faced challenges when the Chinese company that he had initially hired to work on the project left without completing the project. He has since received a $100,000 compensation package.
The experimental operation of the plant began in December 2012 and has so far produced 60 tons of firewood and 40 tons of charcoal, using 190 tons of date palm tree remnants. The products were sold at competitive prices, Al-Khalaf said.
He said the plant is operating at only 15 percent design capacity and projected to reach about a 40-percent production capacity with the approach of winter. Upon reaching its maximum capacity, the plant will require 12,000 tons of date tree waste to produce 3,500 tons of firewood and coal per year, he said. There are 600,000 date palm trees in the Zulfi area alone, which is sufficient to feed the plant with its required raw material throughout the year, he said.


Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

Updated 21 May 2019
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Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

  • Iran-backed militias have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, says analyst
  • This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed two missiles launched from Yemen by Iran-aligned Houthi militias on Monday. 

The missiles were reported to have been heading toward Makkah and Jeddah. 

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition said that the missiles were destroyed over Taif in the early morning, and that fragments from the first projectile had landed in Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends toward Makkah.

Residents in Jeddah told Arab News that they heard a loud blast early on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017.

Videos circulating on social media reportedly show the second missile being intercepted and destroyed in the skies over King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Houthi attack and commended the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces for their vigilance. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said: “This isn’t the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have fired missiles close to the holy city of Makkah.” 

They have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, he added. 

“They care nothing for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan. What they did today, and what they did in the past, clearly reveal their sinister designs to strike at the heart of the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

“Now is the time for all Muslim nations in the world to come to the defense of the holy land. Our sacred places are under attack from Iran, the Houthis and their militias,” he added.

“Mere condemnation won’t do. Iran and the Houthis have crossed a red line, and this calls for deterrent action against Tehran,” he said.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government also condemned the Houthis’ attempt to target Makkah, calling it “a full-fledged terrorist attack.”

Monday’s aggression came as Saudi Arabia warned that recent drone attacks against its oil-pumping stations by the Houthis will jeopardize UN peace efforts in Yemen and lead to further escalation in the region.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, said “seven explosive drones” directed by the Houthis attacked pumping stations on May 14 in the cities of Dawadmi and Afif “on the east-west oil pipeline that transfers Saudi oil to Yanbu port and to the rest of the world.”

He urged UN Security Council members, in a letter circulated on Monday, “to disarm this terrorist militia in order to prevent the escalation of these attacks which increase regional tensions and raise the risks of a broader regional confrontation.”

Al-Shehri said Monday’s attack is a reminder to Muslim nations about the clear and present danger from Iran.  “Tehran timed the attack just as King Salman has called for a meeting in Makkah to discuss the threat from Iran to the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis at the Kingdom since 2015.