Satellites to monitor land encroachments in Saudi Arabia

Satellites to monitor land encroachments in Saudi Arabia
The system has been launched in cooperation with King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology. (Google Earth)
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Updated 26 August 2020

Satellites to monitor land encroachments in Saudi Arabia

Satellites to monitor land encroachments in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is taking measures to strengthen the mechanism to monitor encroachments on government land and for the protection of the environment by using satellites, Asharq Alawsat reported.
Madinah and Qassim regions have already launched the new electronic system.

The system has been launched in cooperation with King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology to monitor geographical alterations on government land, especially those falling within the scope of major projects.

In Qassim, the new system was launched under the title “Eye of the Falcon.” Through the system, images of any encroachments will be made available via satellites and drones and send notifications to the control center for action.

The system will also monitor any damage to the environment in valleys and flood passages, and work to stop them to prevent natural disasters caused by encroachments.


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.


Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 11 April 2021

Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
  • The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan

JEDDAH: Reconstruction and renovation projects are underway in six Islamic historical sites and museums in Makkah.
The Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites hosted a field visit from the Executive Committee for the Path of the Islamic Historical Sites and Museums.
The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan.
They also visited Bir Tuwa (the Well of Tuwa), Jabal Thawr, the 1,200-year-old water well and canal Ayn Zubaydah, the Mina site where the Al-Aqaba Pledge took place and Jabal Al-Nour, the Cave of Hira.
One of the most important projects is the Jabal Al-Nour Cultural Center.
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims because it is where the prophet is said to have had his first revelation and received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
  • These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world

MARIB: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched in Marib a project to distribute 9,880 Ramadan food baskets, benefiting thousands of needy and displaced families in six Yemeni governorates.
The director of the executive unit of the management of displaced people camps in Marib governorate, Saif Muthanna, said that he valued the humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief.
The center has also distributed 662 Ramadan food baskets in villages in Chad.
KSrelief, in cooperation with Mauritanian Red Crescent, launched the Ramadan food baskets distribution project.
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families.
The center also delivered Saudi Arabia’s gift to Mali, included 50 tons of dates.
On behalf of KSrelief, the aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Mali, Khaled bin Mabrouk Al-Khaled. These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world. 


Saudi environmental initiatives raise the bar for action ahead of climate summits

Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 3, the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent. (Supplied/Green Riyadh Project)
Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 3, the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent. (Supplied/Green Riyadh Project)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi environmental initiatives raise the bar for action ahead of climate summits

Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 3, the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent. (Supplied/Green Riyadh Project)
  • Saudi Green and Middle East Green schemes come as the UN gears up for three major climate conferences this year
  • UNDP regional team leader says the two initiatives are welcome approaches to problem of climate change mitigation

NEW YORK CITY: The recent announcement of the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives came as welcome news to UN officials in a year that has been described by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “make it or break it” for the planet.

Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 27, the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent through the use of clean hydrocarbon technologies and the planting of 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom.

Planners say it will help revive millions of hectares of deteriorated land, preserve marine and coastal environments, increase the proportion of natural reserves and protected land, improve the regulation of oil production, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and boost the amount of energy generated by renewables.

The initiatives come as the UN gears up for three major climate summits this year — considered by experts as the last chance for nations to “walk the talk” on their commitments to reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to clean energy.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is set to convene in Glasgow, Scotland, in November to bring parties together  to accelerate action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Before this, the High-Level Dialogue on Energy is due to take place in September to push forward implementation of the Paris Agreement — the first such global gathering under UN auspices since 1981.

The UN says the meeting presents a historic opportunity to raise ambitions and accelerate action toward the energy-related targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Planners say the Green Initiative will help revive millions of hectares of deteriorated land, preserve marine and coastal environments, increase the proportion of natural reserves and protected land. (Supplied/Riyadh Green Project)

Finally, there is the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.

Its aim will be to reverse the loss of ecosystems and conserve biodiversity in a way that contributes to “the nutrition, food security and livelihoods of people, especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative can mark a new era in Saudi Arabia’s role for advancing green solutions locally, and in partnering globally and regionally to achieve the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,” Kishan Khoday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) coordinator for nature, climate and energy in the Arab world, told Arab News.

“The Saudi Green Initiative sets a strong vision of expanding solar solutions in the Kingdom. The ambitious vision of reaching 50 percent of power from renewables by 2030 is an important step toward rethinking development pathways beyond the conventional carbon economy. It’s an important signal in the evolution of oil-exporting economies toward green goals.”

“The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative are welcome approaches in particular for mitigating climate change,” Khody said. (Supplied/Riyadh Green Project)

The UNDP is today the UN’s largest implementer of grant assistance for environmental sustainability in the Arab world.

Its grant initiatives — dedicated for countries across the region to combat climate change, expand solar solutions, restore ecosystems and improve land and water security — amount to more than $500 million.

Khoday describes Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula as “global hotspots of climate risk,” where temperatures are rising faster than the global average and faster than other areas of the Middle East.

“The last decade has seen more frequent and severe climatic disasters, floods and storms in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, impacting infrastructure, ecosystems and human security,” he said.

“The locust outbreaks in the Gulf and elsewhere in the broader region are one example of ways that climate change is disrupting communities and ecosystems.”

GREENINITIATIVE

* 50bn - Total trees to be planted across the Middle East.

* 60%+ - Reduction of carbon emissions regionwide.

* 50% - Saudi electricity production from renewables by 2030.

* 30%+ - Protected Saudi land, including coastal ecosystems.

Recent studies indicate that rising temperatures and evaporation rates could further diminish water resources.

More extreme flooding events, and increasing heat and humidity, could deal a blow to economic vitality and infrastructure.

Although broadly optimistic, Khoday says reaching the Saudi Green Initiative’s goal of procuring 50 percent of the Kingdom’s power from renewables (up from less than 1 percent at present), as well as the afforestation target in a water-scarce region, will be quite a challenge.

“To achieve this level of transformational change, one priority will be to innovate at the policy level, to de-risk renewable energy investments from the private sector, and to establish institutional capacities to advance sustainable energy pathways,” he said.

“The envisaged afforestation drive in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region will also face many challenges, not least growing levels of water insecurity owing to climate change.”

Kishan Khoday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) coordinator for nature, climate and energy in the Arab world. (Supplied)

Khoday added: “Rather than rely on high-carbon water-desalination processes, an opportunity exists to use nature-based solutions and select plant species that are best adapted to the dryland ecosystems of the region both today and into the future.

“An enhanced set of policies is needed to scale up private investments and partnerships on renewable energy, develop the capacity of national centers of excellence to catalyze new technology solutions, and build the local market ecosystem for renewable energy supply chains.

“Efforts should also build on past successes. For example, through the National Energy Efficiency Program, Saudi Arabia and the UNDP partnered over the past decade to scale up actions on energy efficiency, bringing together national agencies and leading companies to reduce energy intensity in key sectors.”

With regard to the Middle East Green Initiative, Khoday says its attempt to address the serious regional issue of land degradation and desertification is very important.

“Many communities in the region are dependent on local ecosystems for livelihoods, so afforestation and ecosystem restoration will be critical to achieving goals of climate resilience and sustainable use of biodiversity,” he said.

With regard to the Middle East Green Initiative, Khoday says its attempt to address the serious regional issue of land degradation and desertification is very important. (Supplied/Riyadh Green Project)

Although the MENA region has seen several successes in climate-change adaptation, low-carbon solar technology and nature-based solutions, it is still the world’s most water-scarce and food import-dependent region with the fastest rising temperatures.

Desertification continues to be one of the major environmental problems in the region, exacerbated by one of the world’s fastest-growing populations.

Changes in lifestyles and increasing food demand have led to overgrazing and overcultivation of land, overexploitation of water resources and widespread deforestation, which have collectively degraded soil quality.

“Climate change is now exacerbating resource insecurity, leading to greater social vulnerability, displacement and fragility across the Arab region,” Khoday said.

He added that climate action, such as the two Saudi initiatives, is critical to preventing further escalation of crises in the Arab region and achieving goals of peace and security.

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. (AFP/File Photo)

As climate change is proceeding at a relentless pace, its effects extend beyond the environment into the social and political realms. While it is rarely the primary cause of conflict, climate change can aggravate existing vulnerabilities.

Climate action is also key for “building back better from conflicts and the pandemic, through making recovery investments resilient to future climate risks, exploring debt-for-climate swaps and other mechanisms,” Khoday said.

As he pointed out, eco-friendly solutions have been rapidly climbing the policy agenda among Arab governments in recent years.

“In the decade 2008-18 following the last global economic crisis, for example, the region saw a 10-fold increase in renewable energy capacities,” Khoday said.

“Solar solutions became an important part of building back better from the last crisis, and they should again be prioritized as part of a green recovery from the pandemic and economic crisis facing the region today.

“The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative are welcome approaches in particular for mitigating climate change.”

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Twitter: @EphremKossaify