Saudi crown prince winds down trip to Egypt with mosque visit

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inspect the Al-Azhar Mosque after the first phase of restoration, funded by Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 08 March 2018

Saudi crown prince winds down trip to Egypt with mosque visit

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince wound up his three-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday with a symbolically significant visit to Al-Azhar.
Accompanied by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was given a tour of the mosque at the heart of old Cairo to see the outcome of three years of restoration work financed by a Saudi grant. Also at hand was Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
The mosque, built in the 10th century, is now part of a sprawling university teaching Islam as well as secular subjects and a nationwide network of schools. It is perceived to be a bastion of moderation whose teaching counters radicalism and violence.
Al-Tayeb thanked Prince Mohammed profusely for the kingdom’s help.
“This is our duty and every Saudi hopes that he can contribute, even in a simple way, to the renovation and improvement of Al-Azhar,” the Saudi heir apparent said in reply to Al-Tayeb.
The prince was given a warm welcome in Egypt, whose government views Saudi aid and investment as key to reviving the country’s battered economy. Posters featuring the prince alongside el-Sisi lined major roads in central Cairo. Pro-government television networks broadcast promotional videos about Saudi Arabia and the prince’s efforts to modernize the kingdom.
In what is perhaps a first for a Saudi heir apparent, Prince Mohammed and El-Sisi watched a play on Monday night at Cairo’s Opera House. In another first, he visited the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox church, Pope Tawadros II, at the Cathedral of St. Mark in central Cairo.
He and el-Sisi traveled through one of several tunnels being built under the Suez Canal linking mainland Egypt with the Sinai peninsula. They later boarded a boat from a red-carpeted dock as an army band played marching music. The two countries have plans to build a causeway across the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba and to develop areas on both sides, including a multi-billion dollar city stretching across Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
The prince left later Tuesday for London where he would be visiting before he travels on to Washington.


Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

Awareness campaigns highlight the importance of trees. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 February 2020

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

  • The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and tree logging.
Trees help stop desertification because they are a stabilizer of soil. In the Arabian Peninsula, land threatened by desertification ranges from 70 to 90 percent. A national afforestation campaign was launched in Saudi Arabia last October, and there is a national plan set to run until this April.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that although natural vegetation across the country had suffered in the past four decades, modern technologies such as satellites and drones could be used to track down individuals or businesses harming the Kingdom’s vegetation.
“Harsh penalties should be imposed on violators such as the seizure or confiscation of transport and hefty fines,” Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sugair, chairman of the Environmental Green Horizons Society, told Arab News.
These were long-term solutions and they needed coordination with authorities to ensure warehouses and markets did not stock logs or firewood, he said. Another solution was sourcing an alternative product from overseas that was of high quality and at a reasonable price. A third was to provide support to firewood and coal suppliers.
“The general public needs to be more aware of the importance of trees and should have a strong sense of responsibility toward these trees,” Al-Sugair added.
“They should also stop buying firewood in the market. We can also encourage investment in wood production through agricultural holdings as well as implement huge afforestation projects and irrigate them from treated sewage water.”
The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000. These fines could not be implemented as they should be because there were no available staff to monitor and catch violators and, to make matters worse said Al-Sugair, there was a weak level of coordination between authorities.
Most of the Kingdom’s regions have suffered in some way from tree felling, and some places no longer have trees. These violations are rampant in the south and Madinah regions, as well as in Hail and Al-Nafud Desert.
Riyadh is the most active and the largest market for firewood. Many people in Al-Qassim use firewood as do restaurants in some parts of Saudi Arabia.
Omar Al-Nefaee, a microbiology professor at the Ministry of Education in Taif, said the reason behind the widescale destruction of the environment could be attributed to a supply shortage of imported firewood.
“Tree logging causes an environmental disequilibrium,” he told Arab News. “The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water has launched an initiative raising public awareness on the issue and is asking people not to use local firewood. Several awareness campaigns have been launched for the same purpose to educate people about the importance of using imported wood instead of the local wood in order to protect the Kingdom’s vegetation.”
Official reports warn that the Kingdom has lost 80 percent of its vegetation and that the drop will have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity, as well as causing great damage to the environment.
The general public should use other heating options during the winter and stop using firewood, Al-Nefaee said.
Some local studies have called for farms that can produce wood from plants that do not consume too much water and do not affect vegetation, while at the same time reducing the pressure on other regions in the Kingdom that are rich in animal resources.
Falih Aljuhani, who runs a business that imports wood from Georgia, encouraged Saudi firms to import wood from the Balkans because it was a competitive market and the trees had low carbon percentages.