Cabinet hails commonalities between China’s BRI and Saudi Vision 2030

The Cabinet meeting, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 01 May 2019

Cabinet hails commonalities between China’s BRI and Saudi Vision 2030

  • Saudi Arabia rejects interference in Bahrain’s internal matters
  • Cabinet announced a collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the UK on strategic partnerships

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet has welcomed what it describes as common ground between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The move follows Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last week.
Both programs focus on the sustainable development of their respective countries based on emerging technologies, according to the Cabinet.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, also highlighted the Kingdom’s contribution to regional prosperity by developing its logistics and industrial capabilities.
According to a report from the Saudi Press Agency, Media Minister Turki Al-Shabanah stressed the statement issued following a meeting of the Quartet Committee on Yemen in London to discuss the latest developments in Yemen and ways to support the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen.
The Cabinet warned against interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain, and said it wanted to see relations between Bahrain and Iraq develop in a spirit of mutual respect.
The Cabinet also discussed the latest developments in Yemen, a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation and the French Civil Aviation Authority, and a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Transport Ministry and the US Department of Transportation. It also announced a collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the UK on strategic partnerships.


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.