Ways Saudi Arabia is looking to save water

Ways Saudi Arabia is looking to save water
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With Saudi Arabia ranking among the top five countries in the world in terms of water scarcity, the Kingdom is changing the way it produces, uses and distributes water to ensure sustainable growth. (Shutterstock)
Ways Saudi Arabia is looking to save water
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With Saudi Arabia ranking among the top five countries in the world in terms of water scarcity, the Kingdom is changing the way it produces, uses and distributes water to ensure sustainable growth. (Supplied)
Updated 16 January 2019

Ways Saudi Arabia is looking to save water

Ways Saudi Arabia is looking to save water
  • Saudi officials tell forum of new ways of conservation, including building micro-grids and sewage treatment plants related to renewable energy
  • There are also plans for the Red Sea Project to set a new standard for sustainable development

ABU DHABI: With Saudi Arabia ranking among the top five countries in the world in terms of water scarcity, the Kingdom is changing the way it produces, uses and distributes water to ensure sustainable growth.

One of its key initiatives is the Red Sea Project, a luxury tourism destination with islands, nature and culture, which aims to set a new standard of sustainable development by optimizing its power, potable and sewage water, as well as solid waste. 

Spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the project is set to welcome around 1 million visitors by 2030. “We have islands, coastal areas, desert, and more than 100 mountains with over 50 volcanoes located 550 km north of Jeddah,” Martin Stahl, infrastructure director at the Red Sea Development Co., said on Monday at the Water Forum, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. 

“At 28,000 sq. km, it’s nearly the size of Belgium, with 90 unspoiled islands, 200 km of coastline, and nearly 50 hotels to be built.”

The company plans to operate the largest battery plant in the world, producing 250 megawatts of diversified power, fully renewable, including wind and solar energy, and 56,000 cubic meters of water per day. “We’re trying to optimize water demand,” Stahl said. “We’ll have two plants, a photovoltaic one south of the development, one in the north, and a pilot plant for brine treatment, a wind energy plant, as well as our own nursery in agriculture and contracted wetland.”

The objective is a net positive environmental impact, maximal climate resilience, carbon neutrality, zero discharge, zero waste to landfill and zero single-use plastic. “Our sustainability goals are very challenging,” Stahl said. 

“We launched an international university competition, supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, that challenges young scientists and engineers to come up with new solutions in 12 months to reduce the environmental impact and create value from brine, to actively promote sustainable responsibility toward the Kingdom’s natural resources. The winner will be awarded $10,000.” The project uses a micro-grid, which entails smaller grids of water while keeping with environmental goals. 

The practice is becoming more common in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where hundreds of kilometers of pipes bring water to various areas. 

“Because water is such a scarce resource and so vital in the area, water utility companies tend to cover large areas,” said Emmanuel Gayan, CEO and managing director of UAE-based water-treatment company Osmoflo. 

“But today there’s a tendency to do things locally, and a new school of thought says maybe we should do things smaller because it brings more efficiency and fewer losses.”

Regional developers and industries are increasingly looking at producing and treating water locally through micro-grids of water. 

Dr. Najib Dandachi, CEO of UAE-based consultancy Al-Usul, said: “Water, traditionally and historically, is unlike electricity and oil and gas. It’s a resource locally produced and distributed. Micro-grids existed in some shape or form because of the need for greater access to water and for water quality.” With a change in technology for water production and treatment, larger networks were then built. “But the same drivers that pushed toward enlarging that water network in water services are now driving more and more parts of the world to look into the smaller grid,” Dandachi said. 

“The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) model of transferring water across hundreds of kilometers doesn’t really exist in many parts of the world. But what’s driving this zonal shrinking of the network is the technology across the value chain, from the production through the transmission, distribution and even customer services, that’s making the micro-grid more viable, and more attractive from a technical, commercial and quality-of-service point of view.” 

The clean and renewable energy revolution is expected to strongly impact the water sector and help minimize climate change. 

Leon Awerbuch, president of US-based Leading Edge Technologies, said significant efforts are being made in research and development to introduce renewable energy to the high-intensity energy desalination process.

“We’re helping to create a low-carbon future in clean water production,” he said. “A transformation in the energy and water sectors has begun, and fossil fuel domination will fade for desalination.” Saudi Arabia is working to build sewage-treatment plants related to renewable energy, with the private sector, in the cities of Taif, Jubail and Yanbu. The aim is to generate 1.45 million cubic meters of water. 

Khalid bin Zwaid Al-Quershi, CEO of the Saudi Water and Electricity Co., said: “We expect $1.7 million to be saved per year with renewables in sewage-treatment plants. Renewables offer attractive features because you avoid volatile fuel prices, and it’s more stable compared to different energy supplies. These are areas we need to focus on.”

As such, the Kingdom is embarking on ambitious water projects. Julio de la Rosa, Middle East business development director at Spain-based Acciona Agua, said: “Water is our daily concern, as well as to provide the most efficient technology solutions for our clients.” 

Acciona Agua, a leading company in water treatment and desalination technology, will help build the Al-Khobar desalination plant with the Saudi government’s Saline Water Conversion Corp. on the east coast, generating a production capacity of 210,000 cubic meters per day, making it one of the largest in the country. 

“We believe that cooperation between the public and private sectors will be valuable to public authorities,” said de la Rosa. 

Saudi Arabia is increasingly following this collaboration process. Faisal Rashid, director of demand-side management at the Supreme Council of Energy in Dubai, said: “To have a healthy private-public partnership, it has to have a win-win situation. We also have huge projects in Dubai, with the engagement of the private sector, to build infrastructure. But more needs to be done on regulation.”

As well as technological advances helping to create clean water production, water is front and center in the exploration and generation of energy. Hani Khalifa, senior operations advisor at Saudi Aramco, said GCC oil and gas companies produce energy to the world, while simultaneously consuming a substantial amount of groundwater and freshwater. 

“We also produce a lot of water. The global oil and gas industry produces 50 million cubic meters per day of a wide variety of water chemistry,” he said. “What we need is to work with technology providers and other industry partners to investigate how to turn this into a resource we can use instead of relying on a scarce resource, which puts more burden on water resources globally.”

Five to six barrels of water come with every barrel of oil. Robert Owens, business development operations manager at construction company Bechtel, said: “Historically, more than 90 percent of the water produced in that area (the oil and gas industry) is reinjected. That’s going to have to change.” He added: “We’re working with many international companies, which are expecting their water production to exceed 1 million barrels per day, which is a massive amount of water, some of which can be reused.” He said the real issue is the cost of treatment. “A series of projects to centralize water-treatment facilities for water that can be reused in other sectors is taking place,” he added. 

“There’s a critical need in upstream oil and gas, and we think it will be a model for other places in the world to do something similar, like in Argentina and Poland.”

But Khalifa said this will require a change in the mindset of industries such as oil and gas, technology and regulation. “Water contains contaminants, which are difficult to treat. But if you look at the holistic approach to the challenge, it makes an economical difference,” he added. “Technology is improving rapidly, and we need more of it to be able to look at produced water. It’s not economical yet but we’re getting there. With some encouragement from regulation, we could make that move faster than ever.”


Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait
Updated 09 March 2021

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

The Saudi-led Arab coalition said it intercepted a Houthi drone headed toward Khamis Mushait in the southern region in Saudi Arabia, Saudi state channel Al-Ekhbariya reported on Tuesday.

The coalition said that “the Houthi militia commits grave mistakes and horrific violations of international humanitarian law,” adding that it is “dealing with these violation in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Meanwhile, the Houthis faced international condemnation on Monday after attacking Saudi oil facilities.

The US said the Houthis needed to show seriousness about US-backed peace efforts.
“We condemn the egregious Houthi drone and missile attack against Saudi Aramco facilities,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.


8 Saudi mosques close after 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19

8 Saudi mosques close after 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19
Updated 09 March 2021

8 Saudi mosques close after 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19

8 Saudi mosques close after 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • 236 mosques have closed temporarily in last 29 days
  • 224 of them have so far reopened after sterilization

RIYADH: Saudi authorities temporarily closed eight mosques in three regions of Saudi Arabia on Monday, after 10 worshipers tested positive for COVID-19.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance said that 236 mosques have been closed in the past 29 days. Of those, 224 reopened after they were sterilized and steps were taken to ensure public safety.
Six of the mosques closed on Monday are in Riyadh, one is in Madinah and one in Tabuk, the ministry said. It added that six previously closed mosques have reopened in Makkah, Qassim and the Eastern Province after precautionary sterilization and maintenance.
The ministry called on worshipers and mosque officials to abide by all precautionary measures and report any violations or problems applying health protocols.


Saudi Arabia beats Silicon Valley on women’s tech roles

Saudi Arabia beats Silicon Valley on women’s tech roles
Participants including Saudi women attend a hackathon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 1, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2021

Saudi Arabia beats Silicon Valley on women’s tech roles

Saudi Arabia beats Silicon Valley on women’s tech roles
  • Saudi Arabia's investment in cybersecurity has led to its recognition as a pioneer, rated number one regionally and 13 internationally by the International Telecommunication Union

JEDDAH: Saudi women’s participation rate in the communications and IT sector rose from 11 percent in 2017 to 24 percent in 2021, an official at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) said.
“Due to several initiatives, that percentage has surpassed that of Silicon Valley, which is currently at 17 percent,” Bandar Al-Duwais, MCIT’s director of future recruitments, said during the Women Enablement Summit.
After a recent surge in spending on women’s training, Saudi women currently make up 40 percent of digital entrepreneurs, he added.
Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri, head of G20 Women’s Empowerment team, said that during the Kingdom’s presidency, Saudi Arabia had three central focuses: Human empowerment, the earth’s sustainability and implementing new horizons.
“Women’s empowerment was at the core of all of them,” she said.
The Kingdom’s investment in cybersecurity has led to its recognition as a pioneer, rated number one regionally and 13 internationally by the International Telecommunication Union.

FASTFACT

• Saudi women’s participation rate in the IT sector rose from 11 percent in 2017 to 24 percent in 2021.

Basmah Al-Jedai, general manager of the Center of Strategic Studies at the National Cybersecurity Authority, said that women took greater advantage of the authority’s training programs than men did.
The National Academy for Cybersecurity’s scholarship program, which offered students scholarships to esteemed institutes globally, has attracted 67 percent of female applicants.
Another initiative, Cyber Pro, which focuses on building a cybersecurity workforce in the Kingdom, has seen 62 percent of female participants.
Based on the Kingdom’s goal of increasing women’s participation in the labor market and the ministry’s strategy, which gives priority to enhancing the role of women in the sector, MCIT developed an integrated program to empower women in the communications and information technology sector.


Saudi Arabia launches women’s accountancy program

Saudi Arabia launches women’s accountancy program
Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi. (SPA)
Updated 09 March 2021

Saudi Arabia launches women’s accountancy program

Saudi Arabia launches women’s accountancy program
  • Al-Qasabi says initiative will help achieve Vision 2030 goals

RIYADH: A program to encourage Saudi women to join the accounting profession was launched on Monday by Saudi Commerce Minister Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi.

The program is organized by the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA).
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi was also present at the launch event.
Describing the accounting profession as the “backbone of any company,” Al-Qasabi said the industry is “instrumental” in the national economy.
The program includes training, qualification, entrepreneurship and employment streams. It is part of Saudi government efforts to empower women and increase their participation in the national economy.
“Women today have strong will, determination and ambition to succeed in all fields, especially accounting, which requires precision, analysis and vitality. Saudi women possess all these qualities,” Al-Qasabi said.
“The program will enhance women’s role in improving the profession and help achieve the goals of Vision 2030.”
The minister said that there are 140 SOCPA-certified female accountants in the Kingdom. He added that SOCPA has cooperated with Saudi universities to help more than 10,000 accounting students benefit from programs and initiatives.
SOCPA Secretary-General Dr. Ahmed Al-Maghamis told Arab News that the organization will sign multiple agreements with the private sector to help promote accounting as a profession for Saudis.
He said that SOCPA aims to fill 20,000 auditing and accounting jobs by 2022.
The new women’s accounting program also doubles up as an initiative to increase the number of Saudi accountants and enable economic sectors to receive better access accounting and auditing services, he added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The program includes training, qualification, entrepreneurship and employment streams.

• It is organized by the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants.

“The program aims to develop the skills of Saudi women and allow them to participate in SOCPA council and committees,” Al-Maghamis said.
SOCPA is also working to establish a center to support small and medium enterprises. The women’s program includes several initiatives, such as a volunteer club and accounting leaderships, the empowerment platform and the women’s council, he said.
Dr. Ghuraibah Al-Twaiher, chairperson of the Future Women Society, said that promoting women and helping them achieve professional success is necessary for future economic growth.
“Vision 2030 recognizes the key role of women in the development process and calls for greater participation of women to build a vital society,” she said.
In line with the Future Women Society’s mission to enhance women’s integrated economic value locally and internationally, the society recently signed an agreement with the Saudi Financials Association (SFA), Al-Twaiher said.
“The society aims to enable, develop and empower women’s career and professional skills. The SFA increases public awareness of the financial and accounting industries and also contributes to the development of a national cadre that is specialized in finance and accounting,” she added.
Al-Twaiher said the memorandum of understanding with the SFA includes joint cooperation in organizing and implementing awareness campaigns..
As part of this, the two organizations will design training programs for women interested in the fields of accounting and finance.
Razan Al-Sehaibani, a certified accountant, said that women are naturally suited to accounting. She added that she chose the profession because she had the capabilities to be an active member in society and contribute to building the national economy.
She praised the future of the accounting industry as “promising,” adding that the addition of more women accountants will benefit the field.


Saudi Arabia approves incentives for Hajj and Umrah businesses

Saudi Arabia approves incentives for Hajj and Umrah businesses
Updated 09 March 2021

Saudi Arabia approves incentives for Hajj and Umrah businesses

Saudi Arabia approves incentives for Hajj and Umrah businesses
  • Incentives intended to mitigate the financial and economic repercussions of COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approved a number of incentive initiatives for establishments operating in the Hajj and Umrah sectors, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
The move comes as part of the king’s keenness to mitigate the financial and economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals, private sector businesses and investors.
“These initiatives come as an extension of the Kingdom’s efforts to confront the financial and economic impacts on the sectors operating in the Hajj and Umrah field and the economic activities most affected by the repercussions of the pandemic,” a statement on SPA said.
The initiatives include:
1. Accommodation facilities would be exempt of annual fees for licenses for municipal commercial activities for one year in Makkah and Madinah.
2. Hajj and Umrah sector establishments will be exempt from paying the fee for employed expats for six months.
3. Licenses for accommodation facilities from the Ministry of Tourism may be renewed free of charge for one year in Makkah and Madinah, which can be extended.
4. Collection of residency renewal fees for expatriates working in activities related to the Hajj and Umrah sector will be postponed for six months, and the amounts are to be paid in installments over a period of one year.
5. The validity of licenses (application forms) for buses operating in facilities that transport pilgrims would be extended without charge for one year.
6. Collection of customs duties for new buses for this year’s Hajj season will be postponed for three months, and to be paid in installments over a period of four months starting from the due date.
The Saudi government has launched more than 150 initiatives, the allocations of which exceeded SR180 billion ($47.9 billion), with the aim of confronting the repercussions of pandemic and mitigating its effects on individuals, the private sector and investors.