US denies banning dates from Saudi Arabia

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied that it banned the import of dates from Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied that it banned the import of dates from Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 February 2020

US denies banning dates from Saudi Arabia

  • There has been no FDA ban on dates from Saudi Arabia, the administration told Arab News

RIYADH: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied that it banned the import of dates from Saudi Arabia, following media reports that it had done so earlier this week.

“There has been no FDA ban on dates from Saudi Arabia,” the administration told Arab News. The Saudi National Center for Palms & Dates (NCPD) also denied the reports.

The NCPD pointed out that reports published mentioned the finding of pesticide residues in date samples from a Saudi company dating back to 2009.

In a statement on Sunday, the NCPD said that the US FDA published on its website a list of all the companies “classified by country” which did not meet US standards.

It added that the FDA required companies to update their information with it as and when that changed.

Bashar Al-Quraya, deputy chairman of the Dates Committee of Al-Qassim Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News that the information did not come from reliable sources. “We did not see any real official statements,” he said.

The center stressed that they work with the relevant authorities to raise the level of date safety in general for products sold in local or export markets.

“Saudi Arabia is considered number one in date quality,” Al-Quraya said, adding that when they export dates to Germany and the UK, the entry procedures go very smoothly. “There are no problems and the procedures are very simple and clear.”

Al-Quraya also pointed out that for the last two months of growth before harvesting the crop, no pesticides are sprayed on Saudi dates, and the exported fruits are subjected to tests before shipping.

“The rumors did not affect the market. I am now at the food fair in Dubai, there is a great demand for Saudi dates from European countries,” he said.

“If there was a problem with our dates the news should come from the UK or Germany, as the number of dates we export (there) are much bigger than what we export to the US,” he added.


Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.