UN officials following Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives ‘with great interest’

UN officials following Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives ‘with great interest’
Saudi Arabia's Green Initiative includes planting 10 billion trees in the Kingdom. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 31 March 2021

UN officials following Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives ‘with great interest’

UN officials following Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives ‘with great interest’
  • Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent
  • UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said they look forward to hearing more about the projects

NEW YORK: The UN is following “with great interest” the Kingdom’s Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, which call for regional cooperation to tackle the environmental challenges facing Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

Unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday, the initiatives include a number of ambitious projects designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent. This will be achieved mainly through the use of clean hydrocarbon technologies and the planting of 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom. Claimed to be the world’s largest afforestation project, it will also help to revive millions of hectares of deteriorated land.

In addition, the initiatives aim to 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 Saudi initiatives stress the importance of partnerships between neighboring countries in efforts to address environmental challenges and improve the quality of life for people in the region.

“We’re following with great interest the efforts made by countries like Saudi Arabia to step up their climate ambitions,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“We very much look forward to hearing more from the Kingdom and other G20 members on April 22 at the meeting being organized by the US, and which will be the next milestone.”

This meeting is a Leaders’ Climate Summit that will take place on Earth Day, which is also the fifth anniversary of the day the Paris Agreement on climate change was opened for signature.

The UN believes 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal, make-or-break year in the climate crisis. In a recent interview with Arab News, Marcel Alers, the head of energy at the UN Development Program (UNDP), said that the UN Climate Change Conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November might be the last chance for the political will to tackle the issue to emerge convincingly and translate into real action.

He highlighted Saudi Arabia as a country that is already taking the lead on climate change. As a nation that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming because of its hot climate, the Kingdom finds itself caught in a vicious circle, Alers said: as climate change raises temperatures, there is a greater demand for electricity to power air conditioning systems, which requires more fossil fuel to be burned, which increases carbon emissions and speeds up global warming.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are looking to the future, Alers said, and repositioning the country as a pioneer in the adoption of new technologies.

“The Saudis could be the leaders for the energy revolution of tomorrow,” he added.

As he launched the green initiatives on Saturday, Prince Mohammed said: “As a leading global oil producer, we are fully aware of our responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis, and that just as we played a leading role in stabilizing energy markets during the oil and gas era, we will work to lead the coming green era.”

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Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 2 min 13 sec ago

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes

Saudi passengers flock to airports as foreign travel resumes
  • About 385 flights to international destinations took off from nine airports in the Kingdom on Monday

JEDDAH: The terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah were once again bustling with passengers on Monday, as international travel resumed more than a year after it was suspended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Arrivals and departures resumed at the Kingdom’s air, land and sea ports at 1 a.m., with Saudi citizens who have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, free to travel.
As passengers flocked to the airport from early Monday morning, the flow of traffic was well-organized and smooth. Entry to terminals was restricted to people with valid tickets and helpers accompanying disabled travelers.
As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy, approved by the Saudi Central Bank, that will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 in other countries.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation also issued updated travel guidelines, including requirements for the use of the country’s Tawakkalna COVID-19 tracking app. The conditions apply to all travelers, regardless of whether their trip is for leisure, study, work or to receive medical treatment.
About 385 international flights took off from nine Saudi airports on Monday, including 225 departures from Riyadh, 75 from Jeddah, 66 from Dammam, and 19 from the other airports. In addition, about 300 vehicles crossed land borders into Qatar during the morning.
The Kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries. It said it will operate 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.

As part of the latest rules implemented by authorities, Saudis younger than 18 must also provide proof that they have a health insurance policy.

Ibrahim Al-Omar, the airline’s director general, said that Saudia has implemented more than 50 precautionary measures throughout all stages of the flight process, and has been ranked among the Top-10 safest airlines in the world by the Airline Passenger Experience Association. He added that since the pandemic began, the airline has operated more than 100,000 flights, transporting more than 10 million passengers.
The destination of the first international flight to depart from Riyadh on Monday was Hyderabad in India, while the first flight of the day from Jeddah was bound for Dhaka in Bangladesh. The first international flight to land in Riyadh on Monday was from Cairo, and the first arrival in Jeddah was from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

INNUMBERS

More than 18,000 people traveled from King Abdulaziz Airport on Monday.

More than 47 flights operated from the Kingdom within 6.

Despite the resumption of international flights, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a ban remains on direct or indirect travel to 13 countries without prior permission to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The countries this applies to are: Libya, Yemen, Armenia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Belarus, India, Lebanon, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Venezuela.
In addition, the ministry said travelers heading to Bahrain must have received two doses of a vaccine, and children under the age of 18 are not eligible to travel there. Diplomats and individuals accompanying them, air navigation and ship crews, workers in companies that are part of the health supply chain, and truck drivers are exempt from these rules. People who arrived at the King Fahd Causeway, on the border with Bahrain, but did not meet the requirements were turned away on Monday.
Travelers returning to the Kingdom after visiting a foreign country will be required to quarantine at home for seven days. However foreign visitors, including members of diplomatic missions arriving by air from most countries, will no longer need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Those who are not vaccinated must provide proof of a negative PCR test, issued by an approved laboratory within 72 hours of flying to the Kingdom, otherwise they will not be allowed to board the plane.
With the exception of Saudi citizens, resident expats and GCC citizens, all people arriving in Saudi Arabia must have medical insurance that will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals.
On Jan. 29, Saudi authorities postponed the reopening of air, sea and land ports and extended the travel ban from Mar. 31 to May 17. Further information about international travel, including the rules and requirements, is available at www.saudia.com.


Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
Hundreds of individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in different part of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 35 min 57 sec ago

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred

JEDDAH: More than 250 individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in the last 24 hours, including 72 women attending a wedding where authorities imposed fines on both guests and the host.
For the fourth day in a row, the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Saudi Arabia remained below 1,000 with a significant rise in recoveries.
A total of 886 new cases of the cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday, meaning 433,980 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
In addition, 1,127 new recovered cases were also announced, taking the total number of recoveries to 418,914, meaning the Kingdom’s recovery rate has increased to 96.5 percent, marking a significant decline in the epidemiological curve.
There were 7,892 active cases, 1,377 of them critical, an increase of just one patient in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• A total of 886 new cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday.

• The highest number of cases was recorded in the Riyadh region.

• More than 250 individuals fined for violating health protocols.

The regions with the highest number of infections were Riyadh with 281 cases and Makkah with 250. Twelve new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 7,174.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred. Of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million people, 33.6 percent have now been vaccinated with at least one jab.
On Monday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs closed nine mosques temporarily in six regions, after cases of COVID-19 were detected among worshipers.
The ministry stated that the total number of mosques that had been closed now amounted to 1,210, with 1,188 subsequently reopened after the completion of disinfection.


GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
Travelers must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met. (SPA)
Updated 47 min 14 sec ago

GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
  • King Fahd Causeway Passports raises operational capacity

RIYADH: Using a national ID as a document for traveling to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remains suspended, a spokesman for the Eastern Province Passports said.

Citizens wishing to travel must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met, Mualla Al-Otaibi added.
In February last year, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend GCC citizens’ use of national identity cards for travel to and from the Kingdom, coinciding with the onset of precautionary measures to combat COVID-19.
Al-Otaibi said the border points of the Eastern Region Passports had resumed work after the lifting of travel suspensions through all air, land and sea ports on May 17.
“Preventive maintenance work was carried out for all border backup devices and systems,” said Al-Otaibi.
A further 10 lanes have been installed in the departure area, bringing the total number of lanes to 27, with 36 lanes in the arrival area.
King Fahd Causeway Passports increased its operational capacity by 30 percent to facilitate passenger travel.
The spokesman said that meetings and workshops were held with port authorities to ensure speedy and smooth travel, while applying all precautions.
The movement of passengers leaving for Bahrain had decreased sharply since Monday morning, he said. The director general of Saudi Customs at the King Fahd Causeway, Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, told Arab News they were ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway, and to provide customs services to travelers of all categories.
Customs at the causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain strived to enhance customs procedures, he added.

We are ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway.

Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, DG Saudi Customs

He confirmed the continued cooperation and coordination between all parties operating at the border crossing, and that port authorities were all working as one business system to provide the best services.
“Customs (the land link between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) continues to take precautionary measures, (which are) more intense with the start of travel between the two countries to ensure the maximum levels of safety recommended to protect travelers and arrivals, in addition to protecting the employees of the port,” he added.
Customs at the King Fahd Causeway continued working on freight traffic since the suspension of personal travel between the two countries last year, he said.
Causeway customs statistics said that procedures for about 272,000 trucks entering and leaving the Kingdom had been completed between March 2020 until the end of April 2021, while about 325,000 vehicles had crossed the causeway in both directions since the beginning of this year.


Saudi envoy attends virtual meeting on Palestine

Saudi envoy attends virtual meeting on Palestine
Ambassador Abdullah bin Yahya Al-Muallami, the permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, attends a meeting of the Arab Group in New York. (SPA)
Updated 15 min 58 sec ago

Saudi envoy attends virtual meeting on Palestine

Saudi envoy attends virtual meeting on Palestine
  • The meeting discussed ways to stop Israeli violations and reviewed strategies to take up the issue in the UN

NEW YORK: Ambassador Abdullah bin Yahya Al-Muallami, the permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, took part in an online meeting of the Arab Group in New York on Monday to discuss the situation in Palestine.
The meeting discussed ways to stop Israeli violations and reviewed strategies to take up the issue in the UN. The participants of the meeting stressed the need for a coordinated plan of action to urge the UN to make Israel stop committing atrocities against Palestinian civilians.
The meeting also called on the international community to carry out its duties to protect innocent civilians.


Over 26k Saudis get jobs through Hadaf in April

Over 26k Saudis get jobs through Hadaf in April
Thousands of young Saudi men and women got jobs in 8,682 companies. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 30 min 22 sec ago

Over 26k Saudis get jobs through Hadaf in April

Over 26k Saudis get jobs through Hadaf in April
  • The Riyadh region topped with 10,354 beneficiaries

RIYADH: A total of 26,311 young Saudi men and women got jobs in 8,682 companies in the private sector during April through the placement services offered by the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf).
The number of male beneficiaries of the program was 12,141 while 14,170 women found jobs in the private sector. The Riyadh region topped with 10,354 beneficiaries.
The number of the program’s beneficiaries is rising due to a new strategy used by Hadaf to ensure jobs for the qualified Saudi youth by forging partnership with the private sector.