Saudi Arabia calls on citizens to leave Lebanon immediately

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir during an interview with American broadcaster CNBC on Thursday.
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Updated 10 November 2017

Saudi Arabia calls on citizens to leave Lebanon immediately

BEIRUT/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday urged its citizens to leave Lebanon "as soon as possible."

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foriegn Affairs was quoted by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as calling on Saudis not to travel to Lebanon.

"Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the Kingdom asks its nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations," the official source said.

Minutes later, Kuwait's Foreign Ministry also ordered its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately, according to a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The Saudi and Kuwaiti positions come six days after the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri. He announced his resignation from Riyadh on Saturday.

Al-Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, of “controlling the Lebanese state,” and pointed out that he sensed that something was being plotted covertly to target his life.

Bahrain already asked its citizens on Sunday to avoid travelling to Lebanon and advised those already in the country to leave immediately for their safety.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Thursday accused Hezbollah of "hijacking the system" and putting "roadblocks in front of Al-Hariri" at every opportunity.

In an interview to CNBC's Hadley Gamble, he said: "Hezbollah put roadblocks in front of every initiative that Prime Minister Hariri tried to implement. Hezbollah has pretty much hijacked the Lebanese system. It has been the instrument that Iran used to dominate Lebanon, the instrument that Iran used to interfere with Syria, with Hamas, and with the Houthis. We see Hezbollah’s mischief all over the region. Hezbollah has been responsible for smuggling weapons into Bahrain. Hezbollah is involved in criminal activity, such as drug dealing and money laundering."

He urged the international community to take a firm stand against Hezbollah.

"We are saying that the world has to make sure that we designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. There can be no difference between a political wing and a militant wing. The world needs to take action in terms of curtailing Hezbollah's activities, and the world needs to push back against Hezbollah wherever they operate. We cannot allow Lebanon to be a platform from which harm comes to Saudi Arabia."

Al-Jubeir described the Lebanese people as innocent.

"The Lebanese people have been dominated by Hezbollah and we need to find a way to help the Lebanese people come out from under the thumb of Hezbollah," he said. "We cannot allow Lebanon to be a base from which attacks against Saudi Arabia can take place and we are urging the Lebanese government in particular to take firm and resolute action against Hezbollah."

On possible Saudi measures against Hezbollah, he said: "We are looking at various options and in consultations with our friends and allies around the world to see what is the most effective way of dealing with the menace called Hezbollah."

He said there was no difference in the positions of Saudi Arabia and the US vis-a-vis Hezbollah.

"The US wants the Lebanese government to be strong and independent; so do we. The US wants to curtail Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon; so do we. The US wants to push back hard against Hezbollah, its terrorist activities, and its criminal activities, and so do we. So I don’t see a difference between the positions of our two governments," he said.

In Beirut, for the third consecutive day, Lebanese President Michel Aoun carried on consultations with Lebanese leaders.

Aoun's press office said: “The president is still adhering to his position, announced on Saturday, stating that he will wait for Al-Hariri’s return to discuss with him the reasons behind his resignation in order to take the proper actions.

“Our main concern should be the preservation of national unity. The measures taken to maintain security and financial stability are still effective and have so far achieved their objectives.”

The head of the Maronite Catholic church, Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai, visited Aoun at the Presidential Palace on Thursday evening. A source at the Patriarchate’s headquarters said: “The patriarch’s visit to Saudi Arabia is still on as scheduled, at the beginning of next week.”

The Future Movement Bloc and Political Bureau held a joint meeting, headed by former Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, at the residence of Prime Minister Al-Hariri in Beirut. In the statement that was delivered at the end of the meeting, Siniora said: “The Future Movement trusts and fully supports Saad Al-Hariri and his leadership. The movement will support and abide by any decision taken by Al-Hariri under any circumstances.”

The Future Movement said: “The return of Al-Hariri, head of the Future Movement, is a necessity to restore the internal and external balance of powers in Lebanon and respect Lebanese legitimacy represented by the constitution and the Taif Agreement. Al-Hariri’s return is also imperative to preserve Arab and international legitimacy.”

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, representing the Lebanese president, said: “We have already said, and we will keep on saying, that we paid a high price so that we would get a president and a premier who represent us; we chose them and we are the ones to decide if they should be removed from their posts or not.”

In Riyadh, Al-Hariri met the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Al-Hariri's office said in a statement.

Al-Hariri also met diplomats from the EU, Britain and the US in the past two days.


Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Updated 4 min 10 sec ago

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

  • Government plans to invest up to $50bn in renewable energy projects by 2023
  • Demand for electricity in the Kingdom is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leaders in the race to use renewable energy, according to a new study.

The Solar Outlook Report 2020 was launched at the Solar Forum of the World Future Energy Summit, a highlight of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Jan. 11-18).
The report, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the largest regional body of its kind, said Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.
“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.
Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.
“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”
Upcoming solar projects in the Kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.
Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to data provided by market researchers Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.
Under its Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom aims to reduce its dependency on oil revenues, diversify its energy mix and tap its renewable energy potential.

Saudi Acwa power-generating windmills that have been erected in Jbel Sendouq, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco. (Reuters)

After the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was set up within the Ministry of Energy, the goals for the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) were revised upwards in 2018, resulting in a five-year target of 27.3 GW and a 12-year target of 58.7 GW.
The Saudi government plans to invest up to $50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
“At MESIA, we are excited to see solar developments in the MENA region accelerating and reaching attractive tariffs, while lowering the carbon footprint of regional economies,” Mamlouk said.
“The total investment in renewables in MENA between 2019 and 2023 is expected to be $71.4 billion, representing a 34 percent share of the total investment in the power sector, which is valued at $210 billion.”
Changes introduced by Saudi Arabia include a focus on local developers and easing of regulations for local manufacturers of solar panels.
A Local Content and Government Procurement Authority has been established to oversee and audit local content compliance.
Separately, a Renewable Energy Financing package has been launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to support the growth of utility and distributed-generation sectors.
After solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of a mosque in Riyadh, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center recommended a similar move at other mosques.
Meanwhile, plans for the use of solar panels in the Saudi agro-industry have led to burgeoning interest in the technology, with several industrial facilities expected to have their own units in the not-too-distant future.
For good measure, a regulatory framework to allow exchanges with the power grid is being studied by the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority.
Flexible storage solutions, such as hydrogen, will give intermittent renewable energy a greater share in the energy system, Mamlouk said. “It may enable present-day oil and gas exporters to become key renewable energy exporters tomorrow. The solar industry is thrilled and proud to participate in this profound transformation of Saudi Arabia’s energy system.”
In the past year solar tariffs have fallen to record low levels in the MENA region, mainly due to tremendous cost declines that have brought the goal of grid parity within reach.
With installed solar electricity capacity worldwide standing at 617.9 GW, MENA governments are staying focused on energy diversification with the help of large-scale projects.
In the UAE, Dubai is targeting the completion of a 5 GW facility by 2030 at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park. Abu Dhabi has “engaged” its second-largest solar project and is considering the roll-out of more units by 2025.

INNUMBER

62.7GW - Demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2019

Morocco aims to reach 52 percent contribution by renewables in its energy mix by 2030. The figures for Tunisia and Egypt are 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by 2022.
Oman expects solar-power plants totaling 1.5 GW to come on stream by the end of 2022. Even Iraq, with all its political troubles and administrative paralysis, has not ignored solar power in drawing up plans for its future energy mix.
“Investments in renewable energy have reached billions in all Arab countries,” Mohammed Al-Taani, secretary-general of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, said.
“Jordan is spending more on renewable energy, and we encourage people to have more independence with renewables by generating their own electricity to reduce their bills.”


Nevertheless challenges remain when it comes to implementing projects in rural and isolated areas, according to Mustapha Taoumi, a technology expert at the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network. “With regard to issues of power grid and access to the people, we have to prepare for everything and be ready to receive new technology because there are communities with little income and education,” he said.
“Then there is the challenge of implementation on the part of different actors and sectors. Social acceptance is also important as we come with new technologies and (information on) how to use them.
“We have to be innovative when it comes to financing the facilitation process. We have to be fair and democratic,” he said.
Although this is an exciting time for the region, governments will have to step up their efforts since they are still subsidizing the cost of power, Taoumi said.
“Technologies are evolving quickly, so decision-making must keep pace,” he said. “We could end up having smart meters in rural and isolated areas in two to three years.”