Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital
The animals are believed to be natives of the western region’s Sarawat Mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 July 2021

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

MAKKAH: Baboon appearances in several Saudi urban areas have become a concern recently, with sightings of the primates strolling and jumping around deep in the heart of cities. The question is: What next?

In recent days, baboons have appeared in several neighborhoods in the capital city of Riyadh. The animals are believed to be natives of the Western Region’s Sarawat mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. The sightings in the Central Region, however, are new.

Arab News spoke to Ahmed Al-Bouq, supervisor of the national launch program and the research and breeding centers of the National Center for Wildlife, to understand more about herd migrations and what seems to be the domestication of the wild animals.

“There are two files on the center’s table that will see the light soon. One of them evaluates the size and numbers of the monkey population in the Kingdom, the types of problems they cause, and their locations. This large study will include an experimental application of several solutions in two locations, one of which is within the city and the other in an agricultural area,” he said, adding that the results of the study would be followed by applied work to reduce these problems and that the files would be presented this year.

The other file, he explained, addresses the problems of monkeys in Makkah, the holy sites, Jabal Al-Nour, Al-Adel, Duqm Al-Wabr and Jabal Al-Rahma. It focuses on where they were domesticated, what the size of their population is, and the role of people in increasing their numbers, especially since they are located in historical areas and interact with visitors.

Hamadryas baboons are powerful and aggressive animals, though they will more often than not show their friendlier side when they need food. Officials in the area have warned residents to not feed the animals. The baboons swarm in the hundreds and steal food as a result of direct and indirect human activity, dumping food and remains in public parks. Cooking in undesignated areas has attracted the baboon populations and allowed them to enter cities in search of food.

With the baboons boldly walking into cities and farmlands more often as of late, citizens have erected scarecrows in the shape of wild animals to frighten them off. “They think they have come up with a brilliant and unprecedented idea, but they don’t know that they are dealing with very intelligent animals that can anticipate each move,” said Al-Bouq.

According to Al-Bouq, the center has tried all kinds of techniques for the past three decades to steer the baboons away from city limits, including exposing them to scarecrows and the sounds and scents of predators, but he stressed that they are very intelligent creatures. “These methods may succeed for a short period, but it is very difficult to influence the baboons through such primitive ways in the long term.

“These animals have existed for thousands of years in Arabia and cannot be completely detached from the region,” he said.

Periods of development and economic boom have meant that the baboons’ natural habitat has often been invaded. This continuous sabotage over the course of many years — excessive logging, destruction of forests, and the killing of natural predators such as tigers, hyenas, wolves, and lynxes — led to the rise of the “monkey phenomenon” in different regions of the Kingdom. They began to flee from the natural areas in which they lived to agricultural areas, attacking the livelihood of farmers.

Al-Bouq said that killing the animals was not a viable solution, stressing the important issue of maintaining ecological balance.

Environmental expert Dr. Ali Eshki agrees, also attributing the presence of the monkeys in Saudi cities to “a kind of environmental imbalance.”

Meanwhile, citizens are trying to keep the monkeys away from their homes, farms and children as best they can, which is what Naji Al-Abdali told Arab News, describing the situation as a daily struggle.

“They vandalize the farm in just three hours, overturning years of work cultivating coffee, millet, and barley.”


Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 38 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 38 new infections
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 38 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 38 new infections
  • The health ministry says 52 patients have recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours
  • Municipalities close 35 businesses and issue fines to 72 others for violating precautionary measures

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed two new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,765.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 38 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 547,969 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 100 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 14, followed by Jeddah with six, Makkah with three, and Buraidah and Dammam confirmed two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 52 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 536,999.
Over 44.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 20.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.


Meanwhile, Saudi municipalities have ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of the Eastern Province carried out 1,222 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities on Sunday, and found 72 businesses in violation of the precautionary measures.
Hail Municipality also carried out 635 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past week and authorities closed 35 commercial outlets for breaching protocols.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 241 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.91 million.


Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan on bilateral relations

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan on bilateral relations

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received the letter during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, in Riyadh, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (SPA)
  • The message dealt with the strong and solid bilateral relations, and ways to enhance them in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a written message from Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, regarding the strong and solid relations between the two countries and peoples, and ways to support and enhance them in various fields and at all levels.
The message was received by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi, where he welcomed the Omani minister and his delegation accompanying to their second country, Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in various fields, in addition to exchanging views on regional and international issues of common interest.


3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia
Updated 18 October 2021

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia

3 Italians killed in car crash in Saudi Arabia
  • The dancers were in Saudi Arabia to inaugurate a theater
  • Their vehicles crashed while on an excursion in the desert

ROME: Three Italian dancers and another person died in a car crash in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Italy’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The dancers, all in their early 30s, were identified as Antonio Caggianelli, Giampiero Giarri and Nicolas Esposto. The fourth victim has not been named.

The dancers were in the Kingdom with a 10-strong all-Italian troupe to inaugurate a theater. Sunday was their day off and they had decided to go on an excursion in the desert.

For reasons as yet unknown, their vehicles crashed into a gully and overturned. Another three Italians were involved in the accident. One is in serious condition while the other two were unhurt.

Caggianelli had a leading role in the latest edition of the Notte della Taranta, one of the most prestigious summer dancing events in southern Italy.


Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers

Saudi air force joins UAE combat maneuvers
  • The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries

ABU DHABI: The Saudi Royal Air Force took part in the Missile Air War Center 2021 maneuvers on Sunday in Al-Dhafra Airbase in the UAE.

The exercise also included air forces from other friendly countries.

The exercise commander, Col. Pilot Ayedh Bin Saeed Al-Qahtani, said that the exercises kicked off with the highest levels of professionalism and safety measures.

The Saudi armed forces took advantage of previous experiences in similar exercises, he said, adding that the exercise included several stages and was preceded by the formation of working groups and preparatory meetings.

Al-Qahtani added that the drill aimed to raise the combat readiness level of the Saudi Royal Air Force, as well as enhance the operational ties between the SRAF and the participating counterparts.

He added that the drill included activities ranging from targeting enemy air defenses to tactical air operations, striking hostile targets, detecting and destroying enemy radar sites, intercepting enemy aircraft, and conducting strategic attack operations and air support operations for ground forces.

He noted that the participation of air forces from multiple countries in the drill helped develop scenarios that mimic what can happen on the ground, as it enables the participants to communicate and enhance their practical experiences.


Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
Updated 18 October 2021

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day

Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes 23,000 visitors in one day
  • Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has received 23,000 visitors in one day, bringing the total number of visits to over 200,000, state news agency SPA reported.

The Commissioner-General of the Saudi Pavilion, Eng. Hussein Hanbaza, said the pavilion has attracted the attention of visitors through its sections and activities that reflect the humanitarian wealth and civil and development components of the Kingdom.

The pavilion has provided visitors with diversified content based on four main pillars: nature, heritage, bio-community, and the economic opportunities that the country offers to the world.

Popular folklore shows also took place at the second biggest pavilion on the expo site.

Meanwhile, Dr. Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, visited the Saudi and UAE pavilions. 

He was received by the Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil and the Saudi pavilion chief Eng. Hanbaza.