Beauty, heritage of Fifa mountains offer ideal tourist destination

The old cylindrical mountain houses and the agricultural terraces of the Fifa mountains reflect the heritage and authenticity of the area. (SPA)
Updated 04 July 2019

Beauty, heritage of Fifa mountains offer ideal tourist destination

  • The stunning mountains in Jazan remain one of Saudi Arabia’s most popular tourist attractions

FIFA, Saudi Arabia: The Fifa mountains, which rise more than 1,800 meters above sea level, are about 100 km from the southern Saudi city of Jazan and offer an idyllic tourist destination.

The governorate of Fifa looks like a modern city with its tall buildings that touch the clouds. This mountainous region in southwest Saudi Arabia enjoys generally mild weather during summer and cold temperatures in winter.

The mountains, part of the Sarawat range, are known for their parks and high tops, most notably Al-Absiyya, Al-Laghtha, Al-Kidra, Buqa’at Al-Washl, Al-Surra, Qardha and Al-Sima’a.

Neighboring governorates can all be seen from the pinnacles of this mountain group, including Al-Daer Bani Malik, Al-Aidabi and Al-Ardhah, in addition to the valleys of Jawra and Dhamd.

The old cylindrical mountain houses and the agricultural terraces of the Fifa mountains reflect the heritage and authenticity of the area.

The people of Fifa estimate there to be millions of agricultural terraces, and the fertile soils are protected from erosion by an elaborate system that collects water from the mountaintops and roofs of houses in specially built reservoirs to be used for irrigation during dry seasons.

The inhabitants of Fifa rely on agriculture and livestock as sources of income. They plant aromatic trees and grains of all kinds, in addition to pomegranates, Annona, coffee, cocoa, guava, tamarind and other fruits and vegetables. They also rely on beekeeping, with the Fifa mountains now well-known for the quality of its honey products.

Tourists visiting Fifa can enjoy the local heritage found in Al-Nafi’a souq, which is one of the first markets to be established in the governorate and preserves its traditional character and simplicity of its shops.

Alternatively, the Haqou Fifa market was established by the municipality of Fifa in a modern architectural style and provides municipal services to the market’s visitors and the large public squares, where local events are held.


Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 21 January 2020

Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

 

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.