Saudi Arabia reviews areas of cooperation with allies

King Salman. (SPA)
Updated 30 October 2019

Saudi Arabia reviews areas of cooperation with allies

  • Cabinet underlines Saudi efforts to combat terror

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet has been briefed by King Salman on the results of his talks with Swiss President Ueli Maurer. Opportunities for cooperation between the Kingdom and Switzerland were reviewed as well as ways of enhancing and developing relations between the two countries.
King Salman also briefed the Cabinet’s session at Al-Yamamah Palace on the results of his meetings with King Abdullah of Jordan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reviewing cooperation with the Kingdom and regional and international developments.
The Cabinet expressed appreciation for the patronage by King Salman of the third Future Investment Initiative 2019.
Minister of Media Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabanah said that the Cabinet reviewed the National Competitiveness Center report containing the results of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, which ranked the Kingdom first in the world in the number of reforms achieved and the most progress made among the (190) countries measured.
The Cabinet appreciated the role of government agencies involved in the implementation of economic reforms as well as the contribution of the private sector, which enhances the ability of the Kingdom to be among the most competitive countries in the world.
The Cabinet reiterated Saudi Arabia’s appreciation of the US administration’s efforts in eliminating Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, stressing the Kingdom’s continued efforts with its allies, led by the US, to combat terrorism.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Cabinet appreciated the role of government agencies involved in the implementation of economic reforms as well as the contribution of the private sector.

• The Cabinet reiterated Saudi Arabia’s appreciation of the US administration’s efforts in eliminating Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

He pointed to the announcement of the Arab Coalition Forces Command repositioning the coalition forces in Aden, to be led by Saudi Arabia. The move was within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts to coordinate military and security operations in Yemen, and to enhance humanitarian and relief efforts and achieve security and stability there.
The Cabinet also welcomed the agreement reached between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to resume the work of the Technical Committee on the Renaissance Dam, to reach a final vision on the rules of filling and operating the dam, ensuring the interests of all parties and achieving sustainable development.
It also referred to the final resolutions of the Arab ministers responsible for environment, in its 31st session in Cairo, calling on Arab and regional organizations to continue exposing the systematic sabotage of the Arab environment in the occupied territories by the Israeli occupying forces and the need to mobilize international and Arab support for Arab causes.
The Cabinet also commended the efforts of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency in studying the potential effects of border and transboundary reactors on the Arab region and its environment, in particular the Israeli Dimona and Iranian Bushehr reactors, and follow up the monitoring of radioactive contamination in the Arab regions bordering Israel.
The Cabinet approved the Arab protocol to prevent and combat human trafficking and its protocol for prevention and combating maritime piracy and armed robbery, supplementing and completing the Arab convention against transnational organized crime. A royal decree was prepared in this regard.


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.