How Saudi Arabia is aiding global action on climate change

Special Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
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Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
Special Alok Sharma, President of the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, poses for a photograph during his Bangladesh tour, in Dhaka. (AFP)
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Alok Sharma, President of the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, poses for a photograph during his Bangladesh tour, in Dhaka. (AFP)
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Updated 25 August 2021

How Saudi Arabia is aiding global action on climate change

Analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries. (Supplied)
  • Human activity over the past century has fundamentally altered the natural order, according to a recent UN report
  • Saudi Arabia is setting the pace for the Arab region with accelerated steps to meet global climate objectives

JEDDAH: It is now indisputable: The planet is getting hotter, and unless governments take immediate action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, dramatic changes to the climate will become irreversible. That was the verdict of the world’s foremost climate scientists in a report published earlier this month.

Dubbed “code red for humanity” by UN chief Antonio Guterres, the report issued by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says human activity over the past century has already fundamentally altered the natural order.

To prevent a global temperature rise of more than 2 C by the year 2030, scientists believe governments must substantially cut their carbon emissions — and fast.

The effects of climate change are especially clear in the Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa region, where drought and temperatures in excess of 50 C have now become the norm.

 

Over the past 40 years alone, average temperatures in Saudi Arabia have risen by more than 2 C — three times the current global average.

“Global average temperatures can be misleading because they hide local temperature increases,” Natalia Odnoletkova, a Ph.D. student at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology majoring in earth sciences, told Arab News.

“Based on research, we concluded that the rate of temperature increase in Saudi Arabia is drastic. This is what people often misunderstand. When we speak in the context of just 1 degree, we should understand that global average temperature can be misleading.”

Perhaps the biggest environmental challenge facing the Kingdom and other MENA countries is water scarcity. Underground aquifers are not replenishing fast enough to meet commercial and industrial demand, while desalination techniques and foreign imports are damaging and unsustainable.

In response to mounting calls on all governments to act, the Kingdom ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2015 and communicated to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change its intention to cut up to 130 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030.

Early last year, analysis by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi Arabia has become the third-fastest reducer of emission from fuel consumption among G20 countries.

It found that CO2 emissions in the Kingdom had fallen by 26 million tons — down some 4.4 percent over the previous year.

Even if societies move away from fossil fuels, there is no guarantee temperatures will remain stable enough for the planet to cool. Governments will also have to invest in restoration to repair the damage inflicted on the environment over many decades.




Saudis work at a solar panel factory in Uyayna, north of Riyadh. (AFP/File Photo)

This year’s record-breaking summer temperatures, flash flooding across China, central Europe and the US — and simultaneous forest fires on almost every continent — have been cited as the latest destructive manifestations of accelerating climate change.

The burning of fossil fuels, the clearing of forests to make way for agriculture and industry, and the ravaging of vulnerable ocean ecosystems by chemical pollutants have rapidly increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

After the first Industrial Revolution began in the 1750s, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gradually rose to about 5 billion tons per year by the mid-20th century, before skyrocketing to more than 35 billion tons by the end of the century.

“An all-hands-on-deck approach is needed in order to meet our shared climate goals,” Carlos Duarte, a professor of marine science at KAUST and an internationally renowned marine biologist, told Arab News.




This NASA image obtained October 6, 2014 shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (AFP via NASA/File Photo)

“This requires global collaboration and activating all options, even those that do not seem to currently have a sufficient scale.

“Once we achieve these goals, the world needs to embrace a program of atmospheric restoration, as holding CO2 levels at the threshold may lead to unpleasant and catastrophic surprises if events, either natural or anthropogenic but unanticipated, lead to a release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

INNUMBERS

* 137m MWH - Electricity consumption in KSA residential sector in 2020.

* 144m MWH - Electricity consumption in KSA residential sector in 2015.

That is why, in the lead-up to November’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Saudi Arabia has joined the club of countries and associations that have launched bold efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, restore ecosystems and reduce their environmental footprint.

Saudi Arabia has pioneered the framework of the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) as a way of tackling the climate change challenge. This approach was endorsed unanimously last year at the G20 summit of world leaders under the Saudi presidency.

CCE advocates the reduction, recycling and reuse of carbon emissions across industrial processes, which are goals that are now familiar and accepted across the world as a way of mitigating harmful emissions.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage are essential if greenhouse gases are to be gradually eliminated as a threat to the atmosphere and the environment.

The Kingdom is also leading the way in the GCC with the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, which aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent with the help of clean hydrocarbon technologies and by planting 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom.

“Afforestation projects can indeed contribute to removing CO2, increasing biodiversity and avoiding land degradation,” said Duarte.

“They need to be very carefully planned, monitored and protected. Achieving the very ambitious goals of afforestation under the Saudi Green initiative will be indeed very challenging, but will generate major benefits to the Kingdom and the planet.”

These positive steps were recently acknowledged by John Kerry, the US climate envoy, who also lauded Riyadh’s plan to invest $5 billion in the world’s largest green hydrogen plant in NEOM — the smart city under construction on the Red Sea coast.  




Saudi Arabia has ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2015 and communicated to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change its intention to cut up to 130 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030. (AFP/File Photo)

As part of the framework for local action on climate change, NEOM is exploring several potential initiatives to combat rising temperatures as well as restore ecosystems, including one critical marine discovery that could benefit other coastal habitats.

Researchers claim that many coral species found off the Red Sea coast of NEOM appear to be preconditioned to survive in higher sea-surface temperatures.

“This natural resilience provides an opportunity for NEOM to grow corals that can be used for reef-restoration activities and it is planning the world’s largest coral garden from nursery-grown corals,” Damien Trinder, Acting Chief Environment Officer at NEOM, told Arab News.

“This program may also help offset the impacts of climate change already reported in other parts of the world by providing resilient coral strains for export globally.”

Another innovation championed by NEOM is a plan to increase the use of locally and regionally grown native plants in gardens and public spaces.

“These species are naturally adapted to hot, dry conditions, use significantly less water than non-native species and provide additional habitats for birds, insects, and other fauna,” said Trinder.

Indeed, while governments are busy looking for ways to prevent the further warming of the planet, they are also searching for ways to adapt to already fast-evolving habitats. But that is not to say the world should sit on its hands and accept climate change is inevitable, say scientists.

“Our choices today can make a real positive difference,” said Trinder. “In the same way, we can make choices, such as making sure we minimize electricity use in offices and homes and selecting local produce over imported, which can help both the climate as well as the local economy.”

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Twitter: @Rawanradwan8


Summer’s arrived so Boulevard Riyadh is the place to be

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 24 June 2022

Summer’s arrived so Boulevard Riyadh is the place to be

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 24 June 2022

Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss deal to join digital network

RIYADH: Bahrain is set to become the first country to sign up with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital, the largest network of its kind in the world.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel recently met his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, for talks on an agreement that will link Bahrain with the virtual hospital.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post- vaccine complications.

• The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

The hospital was launched in February this year as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to digitalize its healthcare sector.

Al-Jalajel outlined the functions of the Seha Virtual Hospital and its command and control center, and welcomed the prospect of Bahrain becoming the first country to be linked with the facility.

The ministers also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post-vaccine complications.

Al-Sayed highlighted the importance of cooperation in the fields of genetic diseases and genes, telemedicine and clinical trials.

The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

Later, the Bahraini minister toured the Seha Virtual Hospital and was given a detailed explanation of the facility’s services. She also visited the command and control center.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.

 


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.


Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport
Updated 24 June 2022

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

Saudi Arabia, Djibouti sign joint cooperation agreement on maritime transport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, represented by the Transport General Authority (TGA), has signed a joint maritime transport cooperation agreement with the Department of Maritime Affairs in Djibouti, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The agreement was signed by the TGA Vice-President for the Regulatory Sector, Fawaz Al-Sahli and the ambassador of Djibouti to the Kingdom, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mohammad Ali Hassan, in the presence of a number of transport sector officials in the two countries.

The agreement aims to strengthen relations between the Kingdom and Djibouti at a strategic level and open new horizons for cooperation in various fields, especially maritime transport, one of the pillars of economic development in the world. 

It also looks to encourage trade exchange, facilitate the requirements and procedures for accessing the ports of both countries with their ships, and promote the exchange of experiences and technologies between companies, institutions and maritime institutes in this field.

The agreement includes a mechanism for treating the ships of the two countries with regard to access to their ports, docking and departure, and in cases of emergency and maritime accidents in the territorial waters.


Jeddah’s Village zone turns education into child’s play

(Twitter @TheVillageJED)
(Twitter @TheVillageJED)
Updated 24 June 2022

Jeddah’s Village zone turns education into child’s play

(Twitter @TheVillageJED)
  • The kids driving school teaches children how to drive on miniature roads, with each child given a driving license

JEDDAH: With its relaxed family atmosphere, Jeddah Season’s The Village zone offers entertainment and education in equal measure.

Children can participate in a variety of educational and recreational activities, such as the Al-Jahez experience, kids driving school and live shows, in a spirit of fun and happiness for family members.

The Village provides free parking space and a wide range of services, with seven areas full of fun and recreational education, including the Al-Jahez experience, which introduces children to the oldest Arabic manuscripts detailing the animal kingdom through an educational and interactive exhibition.

Robots also teach children about artificial intelligence and the development of robotics.

The kids driving school teaches children how to drive on miniature roads, with each child given a driving license.

The Village includes several recreational areas, such as the balloon ride and sports activities, as well as rock climbing, zip-lining and an obstacle course.

Children can also visit the petting zoo, where they can play and take photos with the animals, and enjoy carnival skill games that offer challenges and prizes.

Held under the slogan “Our Lovely Days,” the second Jeddah Season follows on from the success of Riyadh Season, which recorded more than 15 million visits over five months.

The annual Jeddah Season festival aims to highlight the city’s rich heritage and culture through a total of 2,800 activities in nine zones over the event period.

The festival season offers 70 interactive experiences, more than 60 recreational activities, seven Arab and two international plays, marine events, a circus, four international exhibitions and a host of other services for families.