Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power

Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power
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King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power
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Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power
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Barakah, the UAE’s first nuclear power plant.
Updated 05 August 2018

Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power

Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear power
  • Saudi Arabia has to find ways to diversify and increase its power production capacity for economic growth and development
  • Saudi Arabia is selecting finalists from five countries — the US, China, Russia, France and South Korea

DUBAI: Faced with surging energy demand for economic growth, Saudi Arabia is turning to nuclear power to meet a twin challenge — how to diversify its electricity-generating mix while reducing reliance on fossil fuels. And with electricity demand in the country growing by 8 to 10 percent annually, compared with less than 1 percent in Europe, experts say the move is timely. Last week, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts concluded a 12-day mission to the Kingdom to review its development of infrastructure for a nuclear power program. The review, which ended on July 24, was carried out at the invitation of the Saudi government. “Nuclear is an important way to meet the fast-growing demand for energy in the region, taking into consideration a wish to diversify the energy sources and not rely solely on oil and gas,” said John Bernhard, former Danish ambassador to the IAEA.
“Besides, the use of nuclear power is a significant element in an energy strategy which considers the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and implement commitments concerning climate change. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are beneficial from a climate change point of view, but will often not be sufficient to cover large energy demands.”
The Kingdom plans to build two large nuclear power reactors as part of a program delivering as many as 16 nuclear power plants over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. It has projected 17 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032 to provide 15 percent of the power then, along with more than 40 GW of solar capacity.
So far, Saudi Arabia has identified two possible sites for power stations, on the Gulf coast at Umm Huwayd and Khor Duweihin.
Plans for small reactors for desalination are also well advanced. “IAEA missions are of crucial importance when preparing for the introduction of nuclear power programs, especially in so-called newcomer states — those with little or no experience regarding nuclear power,” Bernhard said.
“IAEA experts can provide useful advice technically and with regard to nuclear safety and security.
This is of great value both for the nuclear newcomer and the international community.”cSaudi Arabia is selecting finalists from five countries — the US, China, Russia, France and South Korea —that it invited earlier this year to bid on a project to build the two plants. The selection of a winning bid and the signing of contracts are expected by the end of 2018.
“Saudis have recognized that it is important for them to develop a nuclear power program,” said Lady Barbara Judge, former head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. “The days of oil and gas are waning, and it is not appropriate for any country to rely on one source of energy — more and more of the world’s population is worrying about climate change.”
Nuclear is a carbon-free techno-logy that provides continuous generation. “Even if a country is investing heavily in renewables, they have the problem of only being available when the sun shines and the wind blows,” said Judge, who is a member of the International Advisory Board for the development of nuclear energy in the UAE.
“Accordingly, back-up generation is needed to assure a continuous supply of energy. To me, it seems the Saudis, like Abu Dhabi, are perfectly situated to build a new nuclear power plant — they have the backing of the government and the funds to build a first-class plant, and they understand that it is inappropriate today to rely solely on oil.
“They also have the resources to bring in international experts and to conduct an effective public outreach program to educate the population about the benefits of nuclear energy.”
Judge said that IAEA missions provide an assurance that the construction, operation and safety culture will be of the highest standard. “The IAEA is an independent appraiser and adviser, and it helps countries to appropriately plan and design their new project.”
The move falls in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is based on diversifying its economy away from oil and gas. And with desalination and residential cooling set as the two largest uses of power, and desalinated water demand expected to double in the next decade, experts say that it is more profitable for the country to sell oil and gas while using alternative resources, such as nuclear, for water desalination.
Environmentally, nuclear is also expected to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“Saudi Arabia has to find ways to diversify and increase its power production capacity for economic growth and development,” said Dr. Peter Bode, former associate professor in nuclear science and technology at the Delft University in the Netherlands.
“Nuclear power is one of the options in the power mix that could also contain wind energy and solar, but these systems cannot take over the major role in the power mix. Moreover, these are also somehow much more vulnerable to damage, like sabotage, and even the effects of climate change.”
He said nuclear power is a proven technology with high reliability and safety — a nuclear power plant typically operates for about 60 to 70 years, and provides jobs for about 1,000 people over that period. “Wind and solar energy are options for local and domestic energy production, but not to provide the needs of industry.”
In 2010, a Saudi royal decree said that the development of atomic energy is essential to meet the Kingdom’s growing requirements for energy. The country formed the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE).
In July last year, the Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Project for Atomic Energy, and new financial and administrative regulations for KA-CARE, which was set up in Riyadh.
Several years ago, a study by the IAEA explored the economics of nuclear power in the Middle East.
“As long as the future international oil market price was above $60 to $65 per barrel, nuclear power made sense,” said Holger Rogner, an Atomic Reporters director, energy economist and former head of the IAEA’s energy planning section.
“The domestic price of oil used for electricity generation and desalination is highly subsidized, so if they replace electricity generation with nuclear power, and sell this oil at market prices abroad, the difference in revenue would basically pay for the nuclear power plant. There are clear thresholds when things make sense,” he said.


Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 June 2021

Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
  • Adel Al-Shehri turns handmade sidr pieces into online phenomenon using local talent, materials

MAKKAH: A young Saudi in the south of the Kingdom is bringing back the timeless craft of hand carving wooden canes with a new look to suit modern tastes, driving demand from Hajj pilgrims and online customers from around the world.

Walking canes have always been associated with the elderly and ill, and usually comprise simple designs that focus more on function rather than appearance.
That association has prompted Adel Al-Shehri to give the concept a new life by bringing back an old craft and turning canes into famous statement pieces used by Saudis.
Through his work, he can convey the cultural and historical essence of Saudi Arabia by engraving cultural designs on sidr wood.
Al-Shehri grew up in the southern mountain ranges of the Kingdom and uses the old indigenous tree to create unique intricately designed canes just as his forefathers once did.
The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

FASTFACT

The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

He told Arab News that he inherited from his ancestors a love of artifacts, such as shiny swords and jambiyas, a type of dagger with a curved blade. Growing up surrounded by architecture adorned in stones and wood, Al-Shehri said that he wanted to bring the rich history of design back using a product found right in his backyard.


“Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs, swords, or canes. However, shipping swords is a real problem, because they are considered white weapons. Meanwhile, some items lose quality or are damaged during shipping. This is why I shifted my entire focus to making canes,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that while carrying out his Hajj pilgrimage, he used his cane as a “crutch,” engraving his name on it. Soon after, he decided to use the phrase “Made in Saudi Arabia” and focus on the Umrah and Hajj seasons to introduce the product as a souvenir that could be carried back home by pilgrims. Al-Shehri said that some Hajj institutions even reached out to give out his canes as gifts at the end of pilgrimage tours.

The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.

Adel Al-Shehri

He said that many people from across the world have requested their canes through Hajj institutions or on social media.
Most recently, he added, a German citizen requested four canes with different designs inspired by Saudi culture, but some customers request personalized canes or ones that are specifically customized to illustrate a memory.
Al-Shehri said that the canes he designs are delivered in handmade luxurious boxes that serve as a masterpiece to be displayed in a customer’s home. He described the cane as a “sign of prestige, warmth, and hospitality.”
The first thing that caught his attention as a child was how his family stores their ancient swords, guns, and jambiyas — all wrapped in ornate fabrics and stored in old boxes.

I inherited the love of artifacts from my ancestors.
Adel Al-Shehri

Al-Shehri had always wanted to put this heritage in the limelight and share it with other Saudi cities. The public’s broad praise of his initial work was the first building block in his dream toward producing his canes. He stressed that he often uses sidr wood for the canes because the diameter must be more than 40 centimeters.
For the wood fibers to grow, the sidr must also be dried for six months. “The handle is made from the core of sidr wood so that it could bear the grafting, which sometimes may reach a thousand grafts inside,” Al-Shehri said. With no educational experience, his drive to create such masterpieces taught him to push through and learn the craft with time and patience. “The manufacturing stages became an inspiration and taught me the ins and outs of this creative craftsmanship, which shaped the features of my personality and led me towards worlds of magic and beauty,” he said.
“I was first concerned with the metal lathe and mastering its unique way of manufacturing accessories and adding wood to them. I then focused on the element of touch and adding luster in the absence of real manufacturers in this field. I insisted on mastering the metal lathe myself so I would not have to depend on anyone else. My workshop, filled with nickel, chrome, stainless steel, and brass, along with the metal and wood lathes, became my best friend.
“I work for hours on end to meet the various requests, especially if a customer places an order for a special occasion with a tight deadline,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that what he and many other craftsmen in the Kingdom do promotes the Saudi culture and is a sign of pride in the Saudi identity. “The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.”


Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region
Updated 22 June 2021

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region
  • He was caught violating the border security system in Balqarn Governorate
  • Initial legal measures have been taken against him

RIYADH: Saudi security officials arrested an Ethiopian national in Asir region who was accused of distributing hashish and was found with a large quantity of amphetamine tablets in his possession.
Spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control Capt. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi said that during a “proactive security follow-up of the activities of criminal networks that smuggle narcotic drugs into the Kingdom,” an Ethiopian was caught violating the border security system in Balqarn Governorate, in the Asir region.
He was arrested for selling a quantity of cannabis while 1,096 amphetamine pills were found in his possession, he added.
Capt. Al-Nujaidi said that initial legal measures have been taken against him, and he has been referred to a branch of the Public Prosecution.


16 Saudi companies join Arab Health Exhibition under ‘Made in Saudi Arabia’ program in Dubai

The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
Updated 22 June 2021

16 Saudi companies join Arab Health Exhibition under ‘Made in Saudi Arabia’ program in Dubai

The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
  • Saudi companies in the health, pharmaceutical and specialized medical equipment fields took part
  • The program also aims to expand regionally and globally through actively participating in international exhibitions and conferences

RIYADH: The “Made in Saudi Arabia” program is participating in the Arab Health Exhibition 2021 in Dubai, UAE, from June 21 to 24.
A total of 16 Saudi companies in the health, pharmaceutical and specialized medical equipment fields have signed up for the exhibition.
The “Made in Saudi Arabia” program is part of an initiative to promote Saudi national products and services locally, regionally and globally.

The program seeks to market national products to raise the private sector’s contribution to GDP to 65 percent and raise the percentage of non-oil exports in non-oil GDP to about 50 percent by 2030.
The program also aims to expand by participating in international exhibitions and conferences with member partners. It will provide a package of opportunities for member companies enabling them to use the program’s logo “Made in Saudi Arabia” on their products to ensure commitment to a recognized quality.
A total of 66 countries are participating in the exhibition in Dubai, with more than 3,500 participants, and the number of visitors to the exhibition is expected to reach nearly 52,000.


Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
Updated 22 June 2021

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
  • Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts according to the institute’s vision
  • The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching the traditional arts

RIYADH: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture and chairman of the institute’s board of trustees, made the announcement, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.
Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts according to the institute’s vision.
She is one of the top academic experts in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University and held a number of administrative and advisory positions there. She also worked as a consultant and was a member of advisory committees inside and outside the university.
Al-Yahya holds a master’s degree in art education and a PhD in educational technology, as well as a PhD in educational policies and leadership from the University of Northern Colorado, USA.
She has published research in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.
The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching the traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness and preserving the assets of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the traditional arts field.
The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector and develop it through education and knowledge, as the institute will provide advanced educational programs for national skills to ensure.


Red Sea Development Company, KAUST sign research agreement

The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
Updated 22 June 2021

Red Sea Development Company, KAUST sign research agreement

The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
  • The agreement will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security and energy conservation

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company signed a research agreement with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on Monday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“There is a growing realization that tourism must be more sustainable and renewable, and the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast is among the purest ecosystems in the world, so our collaboration with KAUST helps go beyond just conservation. on the environment to enhance this unique ecological treasure for future generations,” John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, said.

The agreement will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security and energy conservation.

Pagano pointed out that the first task within the framework of the new research agreement is the continuous scientific monitoring of environmental changes over time, as this helps the Red Sea Development Company to fulfil its commitment to achieve an increase in the value of biodiversity in the project area by 30% by year 2040.

The head of Environmental Sustainability at the Red Sea Development Company, Dr. Rusty Brainard, explained that achieving carbon neutrality and improving biodiversity at the site is a difficult task, but  is extremely important for the company.

He reported that 11 of the current employees in the Environment and Sustainability Department of the Red Sea Development Company have previous professional experiences at KAUST, including seven employees who obtained a doctorate degree, and two who completed an associate's degree at the same university.

A joint working group between the Red Sea Development Company and King Abdullah University of Technology and Science is currently planning to establish a joint center for marine research and the protection of coral reefs on the Red Sea coast, which will become a permanent base for marine research and monitoring, and will open its doors in the future for visitors to learn about the natural environment and wildlife in this area.