Environmentalist suggests ways to preserve Saudi Arabia’s forests

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, in affiliation with the Ministry of Interior, is protecting forests, farms and pastures with special patrols. (SPA)
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, in affiliation with the Ministry of Interior, is protecting forests, farms and pastures with special patrols. (SPA)
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Updated 11 December 2020

Environmentalist suggests ways to preserve Saudi Arabia’s forests

Environmentalist suggests ways to preserve Saudi Arabia’s forests
  • Only 0.5% of Saudi Arabia is forested land and excess logging has become a serious concern for eco warriors

MAKKAH: In an interview with Arab News on Thursday, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sogair, a founding member of the Environmental Green Horizons Society — a group of Saudi-based environmentalists — suggested eight proposals that the group hopes will reduce deforestation in the Kingdom.
Excess logging in the Kingdom has become a serious concern for environmentalists over recent decades. Only 0.5 percent of Saudi Arabia is forested land, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, while 95 percent is sandy desert — leaving a delicately balanced ecosystem that is now severely threatened by often-illegal logging.
Al-Sogair said that nearly 120,000 hectares of wild trees are lost annually. “The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture confirmed that 80 percent of the Kingdom’s natural vegetation has deteriorated over the past four decades,” he added.
Al-Sogair underlined the importance of natural vegetation for the ecosystem, as it protects soil from erosion and landslides, provides food and medicinal value to humans and animals, promotes biodiversity, and reduces the effects of climate change.
“The poor handling of trees and vegetation in general is a major cause of many of the difficulties related to the increase in dust storms, a phenomenon that is particularly acute in dry areas of the world — including the Kingdom — and has led to many environmental, health and economic problems,” he noted.
Al-Sogair proposed eight solutions to reduce environmental degradation and to preserve wild trees and stop excess logging and said that any successful campaign must start with raising awareness among local communities of illegal logging and the dangers it poses to the environment, including humans. Among his other solutions were the provision of imported wood and coal at appropriate prices; tighter controls over the sale of local firewood and coal; and the cooperation of all relevant authorities throughout the Kingdom.
Retired Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Asmari, an adviser at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, noted that the ministry has made serious attempts to prevent illegal logging of local wild trees in line with its “Let’s Make it Green” campaign and its afforestation campaign.
Al-Asmari told Arab News that both campaigns are aimed at preventing deforestation and suggested that many people who cut down trees may not realize their importance to the local environment.
He explained that the ministry is protecting forests, farms and pastures with special patrols. “The ministry has established a new force — the Special Forces for Environmental Security, in affiliation with the Ministry of Interior — to apprehend violators,” Al-Asmari said. He also praised citizens who are cooperating with the authorities by reporting those who cut down local wild trees.
Under the Pastures and Forests Law, violators found cutting down trees or moving them for local use can be fined a maximum of SR50,000 ($13,328).
Al-Sogair welcomed the establishment of the Special Forces, calling it “an important achievement in protecting the environment and biodiversity and applying penalties to loggers and local firewood traffickers.”
He went on to suggest that the Kingdom could “take advantage of untapped agricultural areas by encouraging and motivating farmers to plant wood-producing trees in marginal areas of farms.”
“This would lead to several benefits, including reducing storm and wind hazards, improving soil properties, enhancing soil fertility, enhancing biodiversity, feeding farm animals, and contributing to the provision of nectar and bee pollen to boost honey production in the region, which would add millions of useful trees to the Kingdom’s afforestation system,” he said.


Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience
Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes. (Photos: Instgram/ @mysloppyadventures)
Updated 01 March 2021

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience

Picture perfect: Saudi Arabia’s ancient beauty finds a new audience
  • Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country

JEDDAH: A new generation of Saudi photographers is relying on the power of social media to showcase the Kingdom’s vast beauty.

Online platforms have become a melting pot of images taken by photographers who travel the country — from the sandy beaches of the east and west, to the mountains of the north and south, and the green oases of the deserts — discovering the beauty of each region one picture at a time.

Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s “hidden wonders” to a growing tourist market.

“I wanted to be part of the future somehow — that’s why I started Saudi Gate and this is what has motivated me to go on,” he told Arab News.

Many other photographers who travel the country share the same outlook.

Faisal Fahad Binzarah, 41, said: “I had to work on a few projects and went to places I had never been before. I remember thinking, where has this been all my life? I never thought I would find such gems in Saudi Arabia.”

Binzarah said that he looks for dramatic landscapes and tries to “capture the overall feeling of the place.”

He said: “The pictures I take are not unique, the uniqueness comes from the places. I am just the conveyer of the beauty and nothing else.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Fahad Al-Mutairi, 22, started @thesaudigate on Twitter to promote Saudi Arabia’s ‘hidden wonders’ to a growing tourist market.

• Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“As a photographer, I try to capture the right objects at the right time, but often I feel like the beauty is not represented,” he said.

Al-Mutairi said that about a third of @thesaudigate’s followers are international, and they are usually surprised by what they see.

“Often they are amazed but also very happy because after going through the pictures they know that there is a part of the world that they must explore.”

Hadi Farah, 28, a Lebanese photographer who now lives in the Kingdom, said that he had traveled widely in Saudi Arabia and “always felt a sense of welcome and ease.”

“I think tourism is directly influenced by photographers. Whenever I upload something, I receive questions with people asking if this is really in Saudi Arabia or have I accidentally put the wrong name.

“Unfortunately, people think that it is just a desert and nothing else. So by posting pictures of these places we are educating them about possibilities and attractions they thought never existed,” he said.

Binzarah agreed, saying: “Undiscovered places are of interest for professional photographers, because they are always looking for challenges, and I think this ignites their interests to go to these places and explore.”

he added that “while the desert might be nothing new to a Saudi resident, it will be of interest to people who live in greener countries.”

Saudi Arabia, as a land of ancient civilizations, is extremely appealing for archaeologists and tourists interested in history, Binzara said.

Farah described the beauty of nature in different places, saying: “We associate beauty with life, and in our minds where there is green there is life, but we forget that there is also life in rocks and sand, and they are rich in history. So, we need to keep in mind that the beauty of AlUla is different from other areas.”

Technology is also having a major influence. Photographers now use drones to reach places that once were too dangerous or remote, and the resulting images shed new light on the power of photography and the beauty of landscapes.

“Being on social media gives us the drive to do better,” Binzarah said. “If there is no community or people to engage with, it gets dull.”

He added: “It is a personal journey and one for everyone to discover Saudi Arabia one picture at a time.”

 


Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah. (SPA)
Updated 01 March 2021

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts

Al-Rabeeah, EU envoy discuss relief efforts
  • Simonnet praised KSrelief’s professional mechanisms, its preparation and coordination of humanitarian and relief programs, and its support for the needy around the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian efforts have been hailed as “professional” in a meeting between the head of KSrelief and the EU’s ambassador to the Kingdom.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), met Patrick Simonnet, head of the EU delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.
During the talks in Riyadh, the two discussed issues of mutual interest related to relief and humanitarian affairs.
Simonnet praised KSrelief’s professional mechanisms, its preparation and coordination of humanitarian and relief programs, and its support for the needy around the world.
KSrelief has implemented 1,536 projects worth almost $5 billion across 59 countries.
According to a recent report, the countries and territories that have benefited the most from the projects include Yemen ($3.47 billion), Palestine ($363 million), Syria ($304 million) and Somalia ($202 million).


Family affair: Saudi siblings inherit father’s law legacy

Family affair: Saudi siblings inherit father’s law legacy
Having seen their father work while growing up, the three eldest children, Osama, Jawaher and Haya, are all now practicing lawyers. (Supplied)
Updated 01 March 2021

Family affair: Saudi siblings inherit father’s law legacy

Family affair: Saudi siblings inherit father’s law legacy
  • Veteran lawyer Musaad Al-Saleh feels ‘sense of pride’ over children’s path

MAKKAH: Law firms in Saudi Arabia are very much a dime a dozen, but one law firm in Tabuk is showing their power through family unity.

Following one career path, three young lawyers are following their father’s footsteps in the legal profession.

Musaad Al-Saleh, 50, told Arab News that his children chose the profession without any pressure because they saw a career that meets their abilities, adding that they will be “a family that will be difficult to approach.”

Having seen their father work while growing up, the three eldest children, 29-year-old Osama, 25-year-old Jawaher and 23-year-old Haya, are all now practicing lawyers.

“It’s common to find families that inherit the medical, business, trade, carpentry and other professions. Women did not enter the legal profession until recently, and the first license for a woman to practice law was offered about five years ago,” said Al-Saleh.

“My children have followed my line of work. Some of them have specialized in commercial law and the others in criminal law, allowing for diversity in dealing with legal issues in the law firm.”

He said that many families follow older generations into a profession, and that now, through women’s empowerment in the Kingdom, women in the family have been able to play the societal roles assigned to them, adding that he worked in the legal field for more than 25 years until retirement.

HIGHLIGHT

Musaad Al-Saleh, 50, told Arab News that his children chose the profession without any pressure because they saw a career that meets their abilities, adding that they will be ‘a family that will be difficult to approach.’

Al-Saleh said that his two daughters graduated from the University of Tabuk’s law department, while his son graduated from Al-Jouf University. Years ago, Al-Saleh had graduated from Al-Madinah University. He stressed that he did not force any of his children to enter the field of law. Rather, it was a choice for each of them. “I only introduced them to the new opportunities awaiting Saudi female lawyers in the sector.”

Family or not, Al-Saleh said that it is business as usual, and that every member of their legal team takes their duties seriously by upholding a professional manner inside the workplace, discussing and analyzing cases, and expressing professional opinions regarding each case they receive.

Complacency, laxity or delay is unacceptable, Al-Saleh added, noting that family bonds should not interfere in the work process to ensure a healthy system.

He said that a common sentiment in the legal community is that a law firm will die with its owner. “But I wanted to change the accepted model, and I tried my best to have my children lead this law firm after me, and maintain its momentum and ensure longevity.

“Being from one family will give them the chance to learn from each other and deal with the issues more professionally.”

As a veteran lawyer, Al-Saleh said he is mostly interested in personal interviews when young men and women apply for work or training at his law firm, adding that a personal touch is important to the formation of a lawyer’s approach.

He said that female lawyers must be attentive, able to present a clear case and communicate information without ambiguity. They will face judges and members of the trial committee and disciplinary bodies — some of whom will be tough. “She must be strong, firm, voice loud and clear and make her case without hesitation.”

Al-Saleh said that he retired after 22 years of service following several positions in the Public Prosecution, and after his young children began to show interest in the legal profession.

First-generation lawyers carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, he said, adding that he “feels a sense of pride” as his children follow his path and pave their own way into the world of law.

 


Amaala, Saudi cybersecurity federation sign MoU

Amaala, Saudi cybersecurity federation sign MoU
The MoU was signed virtually in the presence of Amaala CEO John Pagano and his counterpart at SAFCSP, Muteb Alqany. (SPA)
Updated 01 March 2021

Amaala, Saudi cybersecurity federation sign MoU

Amaala, Saudi cybersecurity federation sign MoU
  • The agreement constitutes an important step toward developing the electronic services’ programs and promoting knowledge and expertise in the cybersecurity field

RIYADH: Amaala, the ultra-luxury destination on the Kingdom’s northwestern coast, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP).
The MoU will pave the way for the adoption of innovative techniques in the field of drones, programming and artificial intelligence (AI) at Amaala.
The agreement constitutes an important step toward developing the electronic services’ programs and promoting knowledge and expertise in the cybersecurity field.
The MoU was signed virtually in the presence of Amaala CEO John Pagano and his counterpart at SAFCSP, Muteb Alqany.
Pagano said: “Amaala is strongly committed to developing an exceptional luxurious destination for the most special travelers seeking unique and inspiring experiences. Therefore, using technology is essential to achieve Amaala’s aspirations and the Saudi Vision 2030, which is considered a bold reflection of the people’s ambitions, through providing new job opportunities in sectors such as technology and innovation.
“This agreement marks an important cooperation initiative between Amaala and SAFCSP that reflects our commitment to determining and adopting pioneering techniques, including AI and the Internet of Things, to ensure Amaala’s full readiness for the future.”


Saudi Arabia records 43,428 COVID-19 violations

Saudi Arabia records 43,428 COVID-19 violations
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 17,789 violations. (SPA)
Updated 01 March 2021

Saudi Arabia records 43,428 COVID-19 violations

Saudi Arabia records 43,428 COVID-19 violations
  • The ministry called on citizens and residents to keep abiding by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard

RIYADH: Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
They recorded 43,428 violations of the regulations within one week, according to recent statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 17,789 violations, followed by Makkah (10,388), the Eastern Province (4,819), Qassim (2,513), Madinah (1,748), Tabuk (1402), Jouf (1,332), Baha (888), Hail (852), Asir (739), the Northern Borders (488), Jazan (315) and Najran (155).
The ministry called on citizens and residents to keep abiding by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.