Saudi Arabia’s nature reserves thrive in bid to replenish numbers of threatened animals

Saudi Arabia’s nature reserves thrive in bid to replenish numbers of threatened animals
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Updated 16 November 2020

Saudi Arabia’s nature reserves thrive in bid to replenish numbers of threatened animals

Saudi Arabia’s nature reserves thrive in bid to replenish numbers of threatened animals
  • Peninsula’s landscape, home to many species, needs protection

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is increasing the number of its protected lands and nature reserves to replenish the dwindling number of indigenous species.

The peninsula’s diverse and unique landscape, home to many species, is in need of protection and a number of conservation projects and funds have been initiated to address the issue. Several projects spearheaded by the Kingdom and neighboring countries are attempting to stop dwindling numbers but there is a long way to go. Natural forces can strain an animal population but years of increasing human activity in the region, urbanization, poaching and habitat loss have resulted in native animals being placed on the endangered list. From the Arabian leopard, Arabian oryx and Rhim gazelle to the Lappet-faced vulture and the Asian Houbara that uses the northeastern region of the Kingdom as a migratory pit stop, more needs to be done.
Last Thursday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the Kingdom has experienced exponential economic growth in the past three years. In his speech to the Shoura Council, he highlighted that conservation in the Kingdom has risen 14 percent in the past three years from just 4 percent. A Special Forces for Environmental Security had been established with the sole purpose of protect the environment, wildlife and biodiversity and enforcing the law.
From Harrat Al-Harrah, the first nature reserve established in the Kingdom in 1987 to the Sharaan, inaugurated by the crown prince in 2019, 15 nature reserves and protected lands are supervised by the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWF) in coordination with different funds, agencies, royal commissions and relevant bodies that build up a self-sustaining population.
The 15 nature reserves, established over more than 30 years, have revealed the importance of protecting animals on the verge of extinction in the Kingdom and beyond. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology noted that captive breeding is not a solution unless animals in the wild are protected. Nevertheless, experts have not ruled it out and are hopeful that captive breeding can help to replenish numbers.
Working with partners, Saudi Arabia is replenishing populations that are on the brink of extinction if they do not receive attention now.
The Arabian ostrich was declared extinct in the wild in the late 1930s due to overhunting and commercial exploitation. A red-necked similar breed found in northeastern Africa was brought to the Kingdom in 1988-89 from Sudan to reintroduce them to the land.
The Arabian oryx, classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species, has received much-needed attention by the Kingdom and the UAE and has seen a surge in its numbers, currently around 1,000 due to the combined effort and strict laws prohibiting hunting and poaching the animal. Speaking to Arab News last year, experts at IUCN said that they categorize the number of species that are of reproductive age: “For the oryx to move to the ‘near-threatened’ category, we’d need to get figures to about 1,400 of these animals, so about half as many again. Considering where we were and where we are now, this is an achievable feat.”
In June, the first generation of native-born gazelles was placed in the wild at AlUla’s Sharaan nature reserve. Last week, the Royal Commission for AlUla launched the second phase of its plan to resettle local species that included the release of 25 Nubian ibexes, 20 mountain gazelles, 50 Rhim gazelles and 10 Arabian oryx.
Head of the Reserve, Dr. Ahmed Al-Malki said: “As water and food were secured temporarily for the animals that will be released, a team of rangers, with the support of the Special Forces for Environmental Security, will monitor the wild animals throughout the duration of the program to ensure the safety of the animals and their adaptation to their new environment.”
“We aim to ensure the biodiversity’s sustainability and prosperity of the natural habitats in the region, which in return will enhance the preservation of wildlife,” he said. Not many animals are so lucky and due to small populations, conservation prospects could take a long time: 200 Arabian leopards, the world’s smallest leopard, are believed to be the only surviving population in the peninsula. Most are held in captivity across the Kingdom, the UAE, Oman and Yemen. Classified as critically endangered, reintroducing them to the wild could be risky.
In a bid to save the native cats, a $20 million deal was struck between the Royal Commission of AlUla and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization that aims to help preserve big cats internationally and focus on the protection of local species.
Two cubs were born at the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Wildlife Research Center in Taif last year, a significant moment for the RCU. There is still hope yet.


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s  Jazan, Khamis Mushait
Updated 06 March 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s  Jazan, Khamis Mushait
  • Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the coalition destroyed eight drones in the past 24 hours
  • The recent Houthi attacks received multiple condemnations from Arab countries

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Saturday intercepted and destroyed two Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia’s Jazan and Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the coalition destroyed eight drones in the past 24 hours.
He added that the Iranian-backed militia’s attempts to attack civilians in a deliberate and systematic manner constituted war crimes.
Al-Maliki said the coalition had put in place measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Earlier on Friday, the coalition intercepted and destroyed six Houthi drones targeting the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt.
The recent Houthi attacks received multiple condemnations from countries including the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan where they stated their full support for the Kingdom in its fight against the militia.
Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also said that the continuation of these crimes confirms the militia’s dangerous escalations and its intent to harm the security of Saudi Arabia and undermine the stability of the region.


Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques
Updated 06 March 2021

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

Ministry campaign checks COVID-19 measures in Riyadh mosques

RIYADH: The Riyadh branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance on Friday organized an awareness and monitoring campaign to ensure mosques were implementing COVID-19 precautionary and preventive measures, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The campaign was carried out in cooperation with the General Directorate of Health Affairs in Riyadh and a number of volunteer associations.
Healthcare volunteers and mosque supervisors took part in the campaign. Participants told worshippers to comply with social distancing measures, use their own prayer mats, and wear a face mask at all times.
They also organized the entry and exit of worshippers, in addition to distributing masks and prayer mats among them.
The director general of the ministry’s branch in Riyadh, Ahmed Al-Fares, said the campaign aimed to help raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention methods.
He added that the campaign was in line with the efforts of various state agencies to fight the pandemic and also promote a culture of volunteering among government bodies.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan
‘The Journey’ tells a historical story from the Arabian Peninsula where a potter with a mysterious past, Aws, takes part in an epic battle to defend his city. (Supplied)
Updated 06 March 2021

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan

Saudis behind ‘The Journey’ anime trained in Japan
  • The film’s promotional video has already received support from Saudi entertainment officials, ministries and young people

JEDDAH: The 300 young Saudis who went to Japan to receive training in the art of manga will be able to see their new anime film on the cinematic big screen this summer.
The term manga is used in Japan to refer to both comics and cartooning, as the famous art form has been gaining popularity in the Kingdom for years.
That is why the Manga Productions Company recruited hundreds of young Saudis to come to the Toei Animation Studios to work on the first Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey.”
The company’s CEO Essam Bukhary, who is also the executive producer for the film, described the project as “the result of Saudi creative content production in cooperation with high-level international partners.”
Directed by the renowned Shizuno Kobun, the anime film took two-and-a-half years to make as the Saudi and Japanese staff succeeded in creating a blend of each country’s culture.
“Those young men and women worked along with the Japanese team on all the phases of the work, starting from writing the story, designing the characters, backgrounds, storyboard, editing, reviewing and others,” Bukhary told the YaHala TV show on Rotana Khalijia.
He said “The Journey” tells a historical story from the Arabian Peninsula where a potter with a mysterious past, Aws, takes part in an epic battle to defend his city.
Bukhary said the film will be displayed in both Arabic and Japanese.

HIGHLIGHT

Directed by the renowned Shizuno Kobun, the anime film took two-and-a-half years to make as the Saudi and Japanese staff succeeded in creating a blend of each country’s culture.

The film’s promotional video has already received support from Saudi entertainment officials, ministries and young people.
Saudi Royal Court adviser Turki Al-Sheikh, who is also the General Entertainment Authority chairman, tweeted: “I am ready to help with anything I can do.”
In another tweet, the Saudi Media Ministry posted: “The Journey, which will be displayed in the Middle East and North Africa this summer, represents a big cinematic step based on the Saudi Arabian heritage.”
The Japanese Embassy in Riyadh is excited for the film’s debut this summer and also praised both countries for their cooperation on the project.
Khaled Ibrahim, a Saudi digital illustrator, said the Kingdom is full of talented young men and women who just need studios where they can make similar animations and cartoons.
“The work that Manga Production has done, in collaboration with the famous Japanese Toei Animation, is a source of pride to us all,” he told Arab News.
Ibrahim said he was thrilled to hear that the company insisted on giving Saudis the chance to take part in courses on animation making.
“This could become the cornerstone for a new local industry,” he said.


Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services
Updated 06 March 2021

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Who’s Who: Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services

Muhammad Ali Albakri has been appointed senior vice president for customer, financial and digital services at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Since January 2017, Albakri held the role of regional vice president for the Africa and Middle East region.

Succeeding Aleks Popovich, Albakri is now responsible for IATA’s financial settlement products and services. He will be expected to process more than $450 billion of industry every year.
His responsibilities also include strengthening IATA’s client and customer activities, along with the company’s digital transformation initiatives for the benefit of the aviation industry.
IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said Popovich left behind a great team with a clear focus on customer service that will continue to drive critical changes under Albakri’s capable leadership.
The company’s website described Albakri as “an agent of change,” who will transform the MENA team to better serve member needs and pioneer the work of IATA’s digital transformation advisory council.
“Albakri is well prepared to guide the development of IATA’s commercial offerings, settlement services and digital leadership,” de Juniac said in a statement. “In normal times, these are critical functions, even more so in the middle of an industry crisis.”
Albakri previously worked for Saudia, the Kingdom’s national flag carrier, and served as its vice president of information technology. From 2009 to 2016, he was in charge of strengthening the company’s technology infrastructure and modernizing its financial practices. Albakri earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.


Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 March 2021

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia

Cinemas, gyms and restaurants to reopen in Saudi Arabia
  • All events and parties will continue to be suspended until further notice
  • Social gatherings remain restricted to a maximum of 20 people

RIYADH: Cinemas, gyms and sports centers will be allowed to reopen in Saudi Arabia from Sunday.
Indoor dining can also resume in restaurants and cafes along with other recreational activities, the interior ministry said on Friday.
However, all events and parties will continue to be suspended until further notice. This includes weddings, corporate meetings, events in banquet halls and social events.
Social gatherings remain restricted to a maximum of 20 people.
The Kingdom suspended recreational events on Feb. 3 to halt the spread of COVID-19. The suspension was extended on Feb. 14 for 20 days.
The ministry urged people to adhere to measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and said there would be an increase in spot checks to ensure everyone followed the rules.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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