Petrol stations in Saudi Arabia soon to start accepting e-payments

Petrol stations in Saudi Arabia soon to accept e-payments. (AN file photo)
Updated 12 July 2019

Petrol stations in Saudi Arabia soon to start accepting e-payments

  • Banks are ready to provide machines upon requests from operators, and that those who do not fulfil this obligation will be dealth with by inspectors

RIYADH: Petrol stations in the Kingdom will start accepting e-payments via the Saudi Payments Network (MADA) from July 17.

Ziad Al-Yousef, managing director of MADA, said it has provided 4,000 e-payment machines to petrol stations and services stores.

He added that banks are ready to provide machines upon requests from operators, and that those who do not fulfil this obligation will be dealt with by inspectors from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MoCI).

Abdulaziz Al-Barrak, deputy head of the national committee for petrol stations, said all 12,000 of them in the Kingdom will have to implement the initiative or face a fine.

Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz told Arab News that the initiative is in line with the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), which is striving for a cashless society and to reach an e-payment target across the Kingdom of 70 percent by 2030.

He said customers will be entitled to file a complaint of non-availability of service via the ministry’s various channels.

“The fuel station sector is required to provide the terminals and electronic payment at its stations and service facilities,” Hafiz added.

Saudi banks have been asked to be ready to receive requests from the petrol sector and respond to them through all the different banking channels such as branches as well as internet banking and telephone banking.

“Objections can also be submitted to banks that have not complied with, either by delaying the process or not providing the necessary maintenance for devices,” he said.

On possible challenges, Hafiz said that the most important challenges that may face the initiative in the coming period is the lack of commitment of the target sector to request and provide devices to their locations during the period following the ministerial decision, as the announcement was made more than three months ago.

He added that the customers will be entitled to file a complaint of non-availability of service after the target date through the different channels of the MoCI.


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.