Energy chiefs sign deal to locate hi-tech MENA test lab in Saudi Arabia

GCC Lab CEO Saleh Al-Amri and Domenico Villani, CESI’s testing and certification division director, during the signing of the agreement on Wednesday. (Photo/ Supplied)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Energy chiefs sign deal to locate hi-tech MENA test lab in Saudi Arabia

  • Project to put Kingdom at the global center of sustainable energy market

JEDDAH: Energy chiefs on Wednesday signed a deal to set up the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s first specialized equipment test lab in Saudi Arabia.

Once completed, the project is expected to put the Kingdom at the center of the global sustainable energy market sector.

The accord was inked during a ceremony at the start of the ninth Saudi Arabia Smart Grid (SASG 2019) conference held at Jeddah’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Global technical consulting and engineering company CESI, and GCC Electrical Testing Laboratory (GCC Lab) agreed to establish the Gulf Electrical Power Laboratories (CESI/GEPL) as the first and largest independent entity of its kind in the MENA region.

Mohammed Al-Muaili, CESI/GEPL’s acting CEO, told Arab News: “Our partnership with CESI includes an exclusive agreement to serve the Middle East and North Africa.”

GEPL is a state-of-the-art semi-governmental electromechanical testing facility that provides localized and technical services from Saudi Arabia to the wider GCC and MENA region, and the testing platform will provide engineering and consultancy services from its soon-to-be-built lab in Dammam.

Services offered will include asset management, upgrading assets and maintenance procedures, training and certifications for engineers and technicians, research and development, as well as quality assurance and control. “We aim to end the prevalence of sub-quality materials,” said Saleh Al-Amri, GCC Lab CEO. “Our venture will provide the tools to enable our stakeholders to stop flooding the industry and ensure that all power components that they use are compliant with the highest international standards.

“The lab will be a key asset to support the policies that will sustain the electrical industry in the region. Localizing electromechanical testing is a great milestone for Saudi.”

Al-Muaili said the idea behind the project was first formed in 2014 and it started to be implemented at the beginning of 2016. “In the meantime, our renewable energy and calibration laboratories are 100 percent active. However, in light of this agreement, other labs such as the high-voltage and high-power labs are planned to be 100 percent ready by mid-2021 at most.”

Based in Milan, CESI is a world-leading technical consulting and engineering company operating in more than 40 countries around the world, providing testing and certification services to the electromechanical industry as well as consulting and engineering services to the energy sector.

It is one of the few notified bodies in the world for testing and certification of energy components from low, up to the highest, voltage.

Floris Schulze, managing director and CEO at CESI Middle East, said that the project would contribute to bridging a long-standing gap in the region not only for its unique services but its strategic location.

“The Kingdom is very well-geographically located and looking at all the developments in the Kingdom and the GCC, there will be a lot of different interactions between the continents and countries including energy exchange,” Schulze added.

A growing regional need to move away from a reliance on an oil and gas-based energy sector to more sustainable clean energy, would require different technologies and components and an ability to ensure quality was aligned with international standards.

Schulze, who is also the chief operating officer of the new laboratory company in Dammam, said: “I think it is the right time to have such a laboratory established in the Kingdom providing the quality assurance and control services to make sure that the manufacturers are committed to international standards once they begin providing their components; otherwise cheap and low-quality products will flood the GCC market causing many problems in the region’s energy sector.”

The CESI/GEPL will also train local experts and engineers to localize knowledge and expertise, helping to achieve Vision 2030’s goal of creating a sustainable knowledge economy and benefitting from global experience. “Once the project is complete, Saudi Arabia will earn its place on the map among the most important global mega labs and will play a leading role in the regional scene,” said Al-Muaili.

The conference signing ceremony was also attended by Dr. Khalid bin Saleh Al-Sultan, chairman of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, and Stefano Stucci, Italy’s consul general in Jeddah.

SASG 2019, which ends on Dec. 12, is an annual event held under the auspices of the ministries of energy, industry, and mineral resources, and offers a platform for different local participants to share their visions and achievements in the field of emerging technologies.

Saudi customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

Saudi Health Ministry officials distribute roses to people following precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus. (Supplied)
Updated 05 August 2020

Saudi customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

  • 1,983 critical cases reported, death toll reaches 2,984

JEDDAH: Saudi Customs officials are taking the lead in identifying air travelers harboring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) — by using specially trained sniffer dogs.

The canine virus detectors are being drafted in at airports throughout the Kingdom to help pick up the scent of infected passengers.
Following the resumption of international flights, customs staff in Saudi Arabia are to use the animals as part of their efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
The customs authority, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been training Jack Russell terriers and other breeds to recognize the odor of COVID-19.
“The training has been 80 percent successful,” said Mohammed Al-Salloum, director of the National Center for Living Means at Saudi Customs, adding that final preparations were being put in place for the dog teams to start work in airport terminals throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Ministry of Health on Tuesday announced 1,342 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the total number in the Kingdom to 281,435.
Of the latest cases, 97 were recorded in Riyadh, 56 in Makkah, 53 in Madinah and Hafr Al-Batin, and 51 in Dammam, with 40 percent of them women. There were 34,763 active cases, with most patients in a stable condition, and 1,983 critical.
The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 243,688 with 1,635 of those being in the latest 24-hour period. The Kingdom reported 35 new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the overall toll to 2,984.
The ministry said it had carried out 54,325 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests over 24 hours taking the total number of checks conducted since the outbreak to 3,528,040.