Saudi Neom megacity will have world’s first ‘solar dome’ desalination plant

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Updated 30 January 2020

Saudi Neom megacity will have world’s first ‘solar dome’ desalination plant

  • Facility will be completely sustainable, carbon neutral and greatly reduce environmental impact of water extraction
  • Construction is due to begin in the next month and is expected to be complete by end of 2020

TABUK: The Neom smart-city project will use cutting-edge solar technology to power a desalination plant that produces clean, low-cost, environmentally friendly fresh water.

The decision aims to enhance megacity’s position as a new global tourism destination, a center of innovation and environmental conservation, and as an accelerator of human progress.

Neom signed an agreement with UK business Solar Water Limited to build a desalination plant in the northwest of the Kingdom that uses the newly developed “solar dome” technology. It is hoped the first-of-its-kind, completely sustainable and carbon-neutral facility will shape the future of desalination in Neom, the Kingdom and throughout the world.

Work on the solar dome project will begin in February and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The technology it employs will significantly reduce the environmental impact of the desalination process by producing less saline solution, a byproduct that can harm natural ecosystems.

The pioneering and innovative approach from Solar Water Limited, which was developed at Cranfield University in the UK, represents the first widespread use of concentrated solar power technology in desalination, Neom said. Seawater is pumped into a hydrological solar dome made of glass and steel, where it is heated and evaporated to remove the salt. The process can continue at night thanks to the storage of solar energy generated throughout the day. The technology helps to prevent any damage to marine life as it does not dump saline solution created by the process back into the sea.

“Neom’s adoption of the experimental version of this program supports the sustainability goals set by the Ministry in the Kingdom, as shown in the National Water Strategy 2030, and is fully in line with the sustainable-development goals set by the United Nations,” said Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.

Neom CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said that the megacity project has easy access to abundant amounts of seawater and completely renewable energy resources, which puts it in the ideal position to produce low-cost and sustainable fresh water using solar-powered desalination.

He added that the adoption of this type of technology reflects Neom’s commitment to supporting innovation, protecting the environment and preserving its purity to provide a comfortable and exceptional life. It also raises the possibility of using the technology in other parts of Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

David Reavley, the CEO of Solar Water Ltd, said: “Currently, thousands of desalination plants around the world rely heavily on burning fossil fuels for water extraction, and we have the technology to desalinate water in a way that is completely sustainable and 100 percent carbon neutral.

“We are happy to partner with Neom, which has a strong vision of what the new future looks like in harmony and integration with nature.”

Work begins on project to document all aspects of Saudi art and culture across the Kingdom

Updated 26 February 2020

Work begins on project to document all aspects of Saudi art and culture across the Kingdom

  • The project is believed to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom in terms of exhaustiveness and diversity

RIYADH: Work has started on an ambitious initiative to document all aspects of Saudi culture across the Kingdom’s 13 regions. With its “13/16” project, the Ministry of Culture aims to highlight the nation’s cultural diversity and rich heritage by constructing a record of all forms of local art and culture.

The project, which includes the establishment of a visual library of cultural activity recorded in photographs and videos, is believed to be the first of its kind in the Kingdom in terms of exhaustiveness and diversity.

Teams of researchers familiar with 16 identified aspects of Saudi culture will visit all 13 regions — hence the name of the project — to photograph and film artists and creators and their work. The art forms and cultural activities in each distinct society that will be documented include theater, music, film, performing arts, literature, visual arts, architectural design, heritage and language.

The ministry has drawn up a year-long research plan covering all Saudi regions. It will begin in Riyadh region and end in the Eastern Province, passing through Jizan, Makkah, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders, Qassim, Hail, Asir, Al-Baha, Najran and Madinah along the way.