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.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 1 min 18 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.