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 water agency wins global award at Madrid summit

Saudi water agency wins global award at Madrid summit
Updated 58 min 30 sec ago

Saudi water agency wins global award at Madrid summit

Saudi water agency wins global award at Madrid summit
  • MEWA won the Public Water Agency of the Year Award at the Global Water Summit in Madrid
  • DM for Economic Affairs and Privatization Abdulrahman Alzughaibi and DM for Water Abdul Aziz Al-Shaibani accepted the award

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has gained international recognition by winning the Public Water Agency of the Year Award, announced during the Global Water Summit in Madrid.

Deputy Minister for Water Abdul Aziz Al-Shaibani and Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs and Privatization Abdulrahman Alzughaibi accepted the award on Wednesday.

Al-Shaibani told Arab News that the award was given in recognition of the Kingdom’s efforts in implementing a national water strategy, reforming the sector, enacting a new water law, integrating management of water resources, and engaging the private sector.

The Global Water Summit in Spain allows leaders and decision-makers to exchange ideas, and share information on progress and trends in the industry.

Industry leaders and investors from around the world, as well as government representatives, took part in the forum, considered among the most prominent events for the water industry worldwide.

Since 2006, the UK-based consultancy Global Water Intelligence has presented awards at the summit, recognizing achievements by water companies, high-tech firms, public agencies and project developers.

During the conference, leaders of the Kingdom’s water sector highlighted its initiatives and solutions in support of innovation and development in the industry.

They also discussed the summit themes aimed at achieving zero carbon emissions, ensuring the sustainability and reliability of freshwater resources worldwide, mitigating the impact of climate change, and increasing job opportunities and growth in the industry.

Conference sessions included extensive discussions on global best practices for ensuring efficient water use, the latest technologies for desalinating and reusing water, and the role of artificial intelligence in the sustainability of the water sector.

The conference also shed light on the next generation of water technologies and how to accelerate the reuse of treated wastewater to contribute to global water security.


Saudi, Algerian foreign ministers chair political consultation committee session

Saudi, Algerian foreign ministers chair political consultation committee session
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi, Algerian foreign ministers chair political consultation committee session

Saudi, Algerian foreign ministers chair political consultation committee session
  • Prince Faisal was hosted by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune at the El Mouradia Palace
  • Algerian FM hosted a dinner in honor of the Kingdom’s FM and his accompanying delegation on Wednesday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Algerian counterpart chaired the third session of the Saudi-Algerian Political Consultation Committee in Algiers on Thursday.

Prince Faisal and Ramtane Lamamra also noted the consensus of their views on regional and international issues of common concern, and reviewed bilateral relations, Arab, regional and international issues, and ways to support security, stability and prosperity.

They also discussed ways to confront challenges in order to achieve progress in their countries and support international peace and security.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hosts Prince Faisal bin Farhan at the El-Mouradia Palace in Algiers on Thursday. (SPA)

Later, Prince Faisal was hosted by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune at the El-Mouradia Palace and the two officials reviewed the close relations between the Kingdom and Algeria and ways to strengthen them in all fields.

They also discussed current Arab and regional issues.

Prince Faisal conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Tebboune, and the Algerian president in turn sent his greetings to the Saudi leadership.

Lamamra hosted a dinner in honor of the Kingdom’s foreign minister and his accompanying delegation on Wednesday.


Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji said the KSA’s foreign policy attaches great importance to enhancing security and stability

RIYADH: A Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs official confirmed Wednesday that the Kingdom had taken crucial steps to enhance food security, put forward strategies to promote food growth and face climate change and water scarcity. 

Waleed Al-Khuraiji, Saudi deputy minister of foreign affairs, said these measures contributed to improving food security indicators in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the Global Food Security Call to Action meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday, Al-Khuraiji said that the food security challenge proves that sustainable recovery depends on international cooperation.

He said despite progress in the development process, achieving the 2030 SDG (social development goals) had become extremely difficult, as global expectations and indicators show a deviation in the path towards achieving the second goal of the program, which includes the eradication of hunger.

“Among the global health challenges are the spread of pandemics, as the spread of the COVID-19 revealed to us the fragility of the international system in combating a virus that is not visible to the naked eye, which led to severe consequences that affected societies and economies,” Al-Khuraiji said, adding  that this affected people’s lives, their livelihood and declining economic indicators.

He said Saudi Arabia led a global response to the pandemic that accompanied the Kingdom’s G20 presidency, as it supported global efforts to confront this pandemic with $500 million, in addition to providing $300 million to help countries’ efforts to address the pandemic.

“The Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 focused within sustainable development efforts on building a sustainable agricultural sector, strengthening sectors that support food systems, developing systems and improving agricultural productivity, and worked to strengthen research and innovation capabilities to ensure sustainable progress in food security,” Al-Khuraiji said.

In this regard, he said Saudi Arabia presented crucial initiatives to the region and the world, and had created a road map for facing environmental challenges. These intuitive include the Saudi Green Initiative the Middle East Green Initiative, and the circular carbon economy initiative.

Al-Khuraiji said the  Kingdom’s foreign policy attached great importance to enhancing security and stability, supporting dialogue and peaceful solutions, and providing conditions that support development and achieve people’s aspirations for a better tomorrow, weather in the Middle East or the world.

He added Saudi Arabia had always reiterated its commitment to helping the disadvantaged and countries hit by natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

“The Kingdom is the largest donor of humanitarian and development aid at the Arab and Islamic levels, and is one of the top three donors at the international level,” he said. 


Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
  • Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid says the meeting was organized upon Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives

RIYADH: Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of defense, on Wednesday met the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The pair reviewed the Saudi-US partnership, and ongoing and future strategic military and defense cooperation between the Kingdom and US.

Prince Khalid expressed Saudi Arabia’s appreciation for the close cooperation between the two countries' defense bodies to achieve the two sides’ common interests and enhance security and peace regionally and internationally.

 

 

He also said that the meeting was organized based on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives.

Prince Khalid and US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, then, co-headed the Saudi-US joint strategic planning committee meeting.

The Saudi and US defense delegations join a photo session after their meeting in Washington on May 18, 2022. (SPA)

The meeting discussed regional and international developments, and a number of issues on defending common interests and global security and stability.

The meeting was attended by Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Saudi Chief of General Staff, and other Saudi and US senior officials.


Saudi foreign minister meets Algerian counterpart during official visit

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi foreign minister meets Algerian counterpart during official visit

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra on Wednesday evening, during his official visit to Algeria.
During the meeting, they reviewed the solid historical relations linking the two countries and ways of developing them in all fields.
The two sides also discussed enhancing joint cooperation in many aspects, the latest regional and international developments, and issues of common interest.
Lamamra hosted a dinner in honor of Prince Faisal and his accompanying delegation.
The foreign minister had arrived in the Algerian capital earlier on Wednesday.