Saudi properties receive green light to use solar panels

Saudi properties receive green light to use solar panels
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing announced this week that it began to implement the safety requirements necessary to install solar energy cells in residential buildings and facilities. (GettyImages)
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Updated 10 February 2021

Saudi properties receive green light to use solar panels

Saudi properties receive green light to use solar panels
  • Saudi Arabia’s vast and arid regions are considered a great hub for solar potential

JEDDAH: With sunlight lasting approximately nine hours a day in Saudi Arabia, properties in the Kingdom have been given the green light to install solar panels as an alternative form of electricity generation.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing announced this week that it began to implement the safety requirements necessary to install solar energy cells in residential buildings and facilities.

Participating entities in this project include the Ministry of Energy; the Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority; the Ministry of Commerce and Investment; the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy; and the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization.

This follows the Saudi Ministry of Energy’s announcement that small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems — one or more solar panels combined with an inverter and other electrical hardware — are ready to produce electricity for consumers’ houses and enterprises, which are to be later connected to the Kingdom’s electrical grid.

Saudi Arabia’s vast and arid regions are considered a great hub for solar potential. Rich in sunlight and gas, the Kingdom is moving toward diversifying its domestic power supply, and companies such as Saudi Aramco have been using PV panels as a renewable energy source since the 1980s. 

Some of the benefits of using PV systems are that they are environmentally friendly; efficient, as solar energy can be made available almost anywhere there is sunlight; cost-effective; low-maintenance; and silent.

PV systems represent a step forward in addressing the issue of climate change. To this end, Saudi Arabia has been promoting the concept of a circular carbon economy, a topic widely and repeatedly discussed during the Kingdom’s presidency of the 2020 G20. 

Designing and installing a PV power system requires strict attention to guidelines. Safety practices are critical to reducing or eliminating installation errors, electrical hazards, or injuries, Walid Al-Ghamdi, head of projects and engineering management at the Public Administration Institute in Makkah, explained to Arab News.

The ministry pointed out that all service users should be aware of these requirements, including inspectors, contractors, designers, engineering and consulting offices, and beneficiaries of the system.

Before receiving the green light to install PV systems on office buildings or residential structures, the relevant authority will review related documents and plans and examine the building’s construction.

“Our buildings have good rooftop spaces, which makes them suitable to install these systems, compared to houses in other regions in the world, like Europe, for example,” said Al-Ghamdi.

“However, since PV systems usually cover large areas, residential buildings can definitely benefit from this energy but cannot be dependent on it completely,” he added.

PV systems are thus best used in large buildings, like malls, and across vast areas, like car parking fields, he suggested. As for the cost-efficiency of solar energy, Al-Ghamdi explained that it is a relative matter. “In general, the energy generated by the electric wire is more affordable inside cities, but for remote areas, PV energy is more economical.” 

FASTFACT

Rich in sunlight and gas, the Kingdom is moving toward diversifying its domestic power supply.

The cost of solar energy systems decreases while efficiency increases at an approximate rate of 20 to 30 percent on an annual basis, according to Al-Ghamdi.

During the 11th session of the General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency earlier in January, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy President Khalid Al-Sultan said that Saudi Arabia aims to generate 50 percent of the nation’s power needs using renewable energy by 2030, with the remainder provided by gas.

Al-Sultan said the Kingdom is working to create a sustainable renewable energy sector that includes industries, services, the localization of technologies and the development of human resources.

“Saudi Arabia is heading in the right direction when it comes to renewable, clean energy and saving the environment,” said Al-Ghamdi. “It can play a pioneering role in this field.”

Al-Ghamdi highlighted the recently announced high-tech, environmentally friendly city, The Line, to be located in NEOM, as the best example of applied clean energy.


Saudi Arabia calls on world powers to prevent Iran from strengthening nuclear capabilities

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet held its weekly meeting, chaired by King Salman virtually from NEOM, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s cabinet held its weekly meeting, chaired by King Salman virtually from NEOM, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 22 September 2021

Saudi Arabia calls on world powers to prevent Iran from strengthening nuclear capabilities

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet held its weekly meeting, chaired by King Salman virtually from NEOM, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (SPA)
  • King Salman congratulates Kingdom on 91st National Day
  • Saudi cabinet was briefed on a number of meetings between the king and foreign leaders

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia supports international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, ministers said on Tuesday.
During its weekly meeting, chaired by King Salman from NEOM, the Saudi Cabinet restated the Kingdom’s position laid out at a recent International Atomic Energy Agency meeting.
During the meeting last week, Prince Abdullah bin Khaled bin Sultan, the Kingdom’s representative to the agency, called on Iran to fully comply with the IAEA’s safeguard agreements under the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Iran’s nuclear blackmail must be stopped,” he said.
At the start of the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, King Salman congratulated the Kingdom on the 91st National Day and said he looked forward to more accomplishments to achieve further progress and prosperity.
The cabinet was briefed on a number of meetings between the king and foreign leaders, including a message to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, about enhancing joint cooperation.


Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands: From ‘habitat hotspot’ to Red Sea sanctuary

The UNESCO listing will help the Saudi Ministry of Culture achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals as well as improve the quality of life on the islands. (SPA)
The UNESCO listing will help the Saudi Ministry of Culture achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals as well as improve the quality of life on the islands. (SPA)
Updated 25 min 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands: From ‘habitat hotspot’ to Red Sea sanctuary

The UNESCO listing will help the Saudi Ministry of Culture achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals as well as improve the quality of life on the islands. (SPA)
  • Farasan Islands’ listing as a UNESCO biosphere reserve adds to the wildlife haven’s enduring global appeal

JEDDAH/MAKKAH: With their spectacular coral reefs, pristine beaches and rare wildlife species, the Farasan Islands, located off the port city of Jazan in southwest Saudi Arabia, have long been a focus for investment in marine tourism as the Kingdom seeks to highlight its wealth of natural and heritage attractions.

The Farasan Islands Marine Sanctuary was established in the late 1980s and covers an area of about 350 square kilometers, its administrative supervisor, Issa Shuailan, told Arab News.
“It was established with the aim of preserving the biodiversity, especially Farasan’s antelopes, sea turtles, shura trees and mangroves, in addition to rationalizing the exploitation of its marine resources,” Shuailan added.
Now the Red Sea archipelago’s future as a key tourist destination and wildlife sanctuary has been given a major boost with its inclusion in a world network of biosphere reserves as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program.

FASTFACTS

● Now the Red Sea archipelago’s future as a key tourist destination and wildlife sanctuary has been given a major boost with its inclusion in a world network of biosphere reserves as part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program.

● The islands — described as a “habitat hotspot” and the first site in Saudi Arabia to be listed as a biosphere reserve — were among 20 new locations in 21 countries registered to ensure biodiversity conservation, environmental education, research and sustainable development.

The islands — described as a “habitat hotspot” and the first site in Saudi Arabia to be listed as a biosphere reserve — were among 20 new locations in 21 countries registered to ensure biodiversity conservation, environmental education, research and sustainable development.
Listing of the Farasan Islands under the UNESCO program follows extensive efforts by Saudi authorities to ensure the Kingdom’s cultural and heritage sites are recognized in regional and international forums. Inclusion in the UNESCO list will also ensure the islands’ natural and archaeological treasures receive global protection.
The archipelago includes 90 of the Jazan region’s 200 islands and islets with a total area of more than 600 square kilometers.
Three of the islands are inhabited: Farasan Al-Kubra, which houses government and services departments, along with a number of hotels and apartments that welcome visitors, and the islands of Sajid and Qummah, which make up Farasan Al-Soghra, or small Farasan. The islands are up to 70 km long and 20-40 km wide.
In the past, pearl-rich fisheries were among the primary sources of livelihood for the people of Farasan, in addition to fishing, which is still the main occupation.
The archipelago’s location near international shipping routes and its proximity to the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Horn of Africa have given it added significance.
A wealth of natural and archaeological resources, coral reefs and fish stocks has attracted the attention of visitors, tourists, financers, businessmen and fishermen.
Archaeological tourist sites include Wadi Matar, located in the south of Farasan Al-Kubra, which has large rocks with Himyaritic inscriptions dating back to the 10th century, and Al-Qassar village, where the much older site of Al-Kedmi includes stone remnants that resemble Roman columns. Another site, Mount Luqman, holds the ruins of an old fortress.
Saudi historian and journalist Ibrahim Muftah told Arab News that some people assume Farasan was uninhabited until very recently, but the historical evidence shows otherwise.

What attracts visitors the most to Farasan is the diversity of the 262 islands, and each island has its natural splendor and something that makes it special from the other.

Adel Al-Awani, Tour guide

“Recent studies have proven that it was inhabited thousands of years ago, since the Stone Age, as Zahi Hawass (an Egyptian archaeologist and former minister of state for antiquities affairs) wrote,” he said.
The residents of the islands were civilized, he added, and the archaeological evidence reveals they were adept at sailing and traveled by sea, east and west, to several other countries.
Ancient tombs are located near Jarmal House on Qamah island, along with historical buildings designed according to the unique architectural style of the time.
Al-Najdi Mosque, built in 1928, is among several historic buildings scattered across the archipelago.
The palatial Al-Rifai houses, built in 1922 at the height of the pearl trade, are considered major attractions because of the technical and architectural skills that went into their construction.
The houses were built using the island’s rocks and limestone from the coral reefs. Raw gypsum was also used, and gypsum mines can still be found on the islands today.
However, the Farasan Islands are best known for their extensive and unique biodiversity, which distinguishes them from other reserves in the Kingdom.
The islands are home to more than 230 species of fish, numerous endangered marine species and 50 types of coral reef. Rhizophora and mangrove forests are important incubators for young fish and crustaceans.
The archipelago is also a sanctuary for the Kingdom’s largest gathering of edmi gazelles and an important bird migration corridor, with about 165 bird species. It also has the largest concentration of pink-backed pelicans on the Red Sea and the largest concentration of ospreys in the Middle East.
A wildlife reserve offers shelter to deer and numerous bird species, in addition to parrotfish, which migrate to the islands once a year.
The archipelago contains more than 180 species of plants, four of which are found nowhere else in the Kingdom.
The islands’ unique appeal also stems from its historical significance and natural attractions — all of which qualifies it to be a world heritage site.
Tourists, visitors and those seeking natural beauty, sandy beaches, sea cruises, diving and fishing have turned the archipelago into one of Jazan’s most prominent tourist destinations as investment opportunities continue to grow.
“What attracts visitors the most to Farasan is the diversity of the 262 islands, and each island has its natural splendor and something that makes it special from the other,”Adel Al-Awani, who has been a Farasan Islands tour guide for more than seven years, told Arab News.
“Most importantly, there is the calmness of the islands, clear sea, coral reefs, wonderful diving areas, fishing, and joyous beaches that are approximately 200 km long.”
But there is much more to Farasan than its beautiful beaches, he added. Among other things it was a center of the pearl trade 200 years ago, he explained, and is rich in archaeological treasures with a history dating back more than 3,000 years.
“Farasan is meant to be a tourist attraction by its very nature; it attracts visitors from all over the world,” said Al-Awani. “When the Saudi tourism visa was launched (in 2019), we hosted many international tourists. “The approximate number of tourists during one month can reach 3,000, and it reaches 30,000 to 40,000 during the year.”
During the pandemic, he said, the islands proved to be a popular destination for people from within Saudi Arabia when lockdown restrictions allowed. Even while international flights were suspended, three ferries a day, each carrying about 600 visitors, would arrive, he added.
“Despite some shortage in hotels, resorts, and transportation, the number of tourists was outstanding,” said Al-Awani.
Major developments in terms of tourism-related projects and investments, infrastructure and services are planned in coming years, as the islands become a key tourist destination.
Muftah noted that the islands require investment in terms of infrastructure, in particular a fast and convenient transportation system instead of the existing ferries that no longer fit the spirit of the modern age.
Listing of the Farasan Islands in the Man and the Biosphere program was announced this month during a meeting of the 33rd session of the program’s coordinating committee, and follows three years of work by the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society to fulfill all criteria required for registration.
The UNESCO listing will help the Saudi Ministry of Culture achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals as well as improve the quality of life on the islands.


Herd immunity is priority not COVID elimination: Saudi official

Saudi Arabia is ranked second, equal with Hungary, on the latest Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index, released on Aug. 31. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia is ranked second, equal with Hungary, on the latest Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index, released on Aug. 31. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2021

Herd immunity is priority not COVID elimination: Saudi official

Saudi Arabia is ranked second, equal with Hungary, on the latest Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index, released on Aug. 31. (AFP)
  • Reassurance that the vaccines are safe have largely been successful

JEDDAH: The swift development and implementation of vaccination procedures by Saudi authorities have been key to the Kingdom’s success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one of the country’s leading health officials.

Hani Jokhdar, the deputy minister for public health, told Arab News that the immediate priority is not to eliminate the virus, but to ensure levels of immunization in the country are as high as possible so that the risk of severe illness or death is minimized.
He added that cooperation between different sections of the Saudi authorities from an early stage had helped to ensure success an effective response to the health crisis. Citizens and expatriates also played their part in the effort to minimize the effects of the pandemic by adhering to the precautionary measures implements by Saudi authorities, Jokhdar said.
Saudi Arabia is ranked second, equal with Hungary, on the latest Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index, released on Aug. 31. It rates more than 120 countries based on their performance in terms of infection management, vaccine rollout and social mobility. The Kingdom received a score of 72, just one point behind top-ranked China.
“The acceleration in administering the vaccines through more than 585 vaccination centers spread all over the country has greatly contributed to this classification,” said Jokhdar. “Individuals had the freedom to decide when and where to receive the vaccine.”
On Saturday, the southern Al-Baha region recorded no cases of COVID-19, and only one case during the last three days of last week. But Jokhdar stressed that achieving zero daily cases is not the priority in the global effort to contain the pandemic.

FASTFACT

The rapid development of the vaccination program has been a key part of the Kingdom’s response to the pandemic, according to deputy minister for public health.

“To completely eliminate the virus is not the main goal” for health authorities around the world, he said. “The top priority is to reach high community immunity levels. We in Saudi Arabia … follow the same strategy in confronting the pandemic: We believe that what is more important than the zero-cases level is the immunity against the virus.”
Despite misleading information and false claims about the vaccines that are circulating worldwide, especially on social media, Saudi health authorities report that efforts to reassure citizens and residents that the vaccines are safe have largely been successful.
Abdullah Assiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive health, said that the only people who continue to refuse to receive the vaccines are “the deceived or the opinionated.”
“If the vaccines were meant to exterminate the poor and the middle class, as some have claimed, then why did the rich countries monopolize the vaccines, leaving Africa to struggle against COVID-19?” he said. He also pointed out that in many countries, politicians and other leaders, the rich and scientists were among the first to sign up for vaccination.
Meanwhile, the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation has sent a memo to all airlines operating at the Kingdom’s airports, including private aviation companies, detailing the procedures to be followed when verifying the immunization status of expatriates before they fly to the Kingdom.
And the Ministry of Islamic Affairs has reopened 2,027 mosques after sterilization procedures were completed.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, nearly 41 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia, and more than 28 million PCR tests have been carried out.
World Health Organization figures reveal that there have been more than 228 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and the global death toll from the disease stands at about 4.7 million.


Registration for International AI Artathon launched in Saudi Arabia

Twitter: (@globalaisummit)
Twitter: (@globalaisummit)
Updated 21 September 2021

Registration for International AI Artathon launched in Saudi Arabia

Twitter: (@globalaisummit)
  • Saudi Arabia is creating an AI-friendly ecosystem, supporting big data concepts and solutions through its smart city programs such as NEOM

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority has announced the opening of registration for the second edition of the International AI Artathon 2021.
Applications to take part in the event, that will run until Sept. 26, can be made online. The artathon is expected to attract those interested in AI music, interactive art, wall art, volumetric art, and data, and participants will compete and create artworks using AI technologies.
Interactive arts, paintings, volumetric art, and music will make up the AI-based categories for the event.
In August, a report showed that Saudi Arabia’s big data and artificial intelligence could reach $891.7 million in five years, a new report showed.
The market reached $162.5 million in 2020, according to Reporterlink.com, and it could grow at an annual rate of 32.6 percent until 2026.
The pandemic, the report said, has led to innovative solutions that supported Saudi Arabia’s response to the global health crisis.
These include the Tawakkalna mobile application that facilitated curfew permits electronically, among others.
The Kingdom is creating an AI-friendly ecosystem, supporting big data concepts and solutions through its smart city programs such as NEOM, the report said.

 


Saudi schools taking world literacy test

KSA schools taking world literacy test. (SPA)
KSA schools taking world literacy test. (SPA)
Updated 17 min 30 sec ago

Saudi schools taking world literacy test

KSA schools taking world literacy test. (SPA)
  • The ministry is aiming to develop study plans according to up-to-date internal standards, improve the results of students in international tests

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Education is preparing to apply the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study during the new school year that began last month.

The project is an international assessment and research study designed to measure reading achievement at the fourth-grade level, but will also include fifth graders this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry is aiming to develop study plans according to up-to-date internal standards, improve the results of students in international tests, assess the level of students and compare results among participating countries.

It comes as part of policies, projects and programs that are aimed at improving the level of Saudi students in line with the objectives of Vision 2030.

The ministry is scheduled to apply the project on fifth graders on Nov. 8-17 with the aim of assessing reading comprehension levels in tests held under the supervision of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

The Kingdom is taking part in the test for the third time after previously taking part in 2011 and 2016. All precautionary and preventative measures will be applied while the test is being conducted in schools.