Looking after the environment in 18th-century Najd

Wadi Hanifa is a wadi in the Najd region, Riyadh Province in central Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Wadi Hanifa is a wadi in the Najd region, Riyadh Province in central Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 22 September 2021

Looking after the environment in 18th-century Najd

Wadi Hanifa is a wadi in the Najd region, Riyadh Province in central Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
  • ESG — environmental, social and governance factors — have been adopted across the Vision 2030 range of projects

DUBAI: Environmental sustainability has been hot-wired into the structure of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) from the very beginning, making it a true blend of historic tradition, high technology and modern investment theory.

The mission statement of the $50.6 billion project is: “To create a world-class destination for visitors and locals alike within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that is renowned for being resilient to climate change, promotes cultural heritage, ensures thriving vibrant and healthy communities, provides a high quality of life, and promotes equity.”

ESG — environmental, social and governance factors — have been adopted across the Vision 2030 range of projects, of which Diriyah is one of the most prominent. 

But the task of accommodating millions of visitors wanting modern comfort and convenience in a setting as faithful as possible to its roots in 18th-century Najd was a challenge the architects and designers of Diriyah took into account from the outset.

“Drawing on the Kingdom’s rich past, the masterplan will reflect the Najdi architecture of 300 years past, newly adapted for 21st-century living. With its mud brick walls, locally sourced materials, historic palm groves and farms coupled with an array of world-class cultural, entertainment, retail, hospitality, educational, office and residential areas — this is the perfect amalgamation and a powerhouse of Saudi culture and commerce,” DGDA told Arab News.

Among the measures incorporated into designs are the extensive use of native plant species, “drip irrigation” techniques to reduce water consumption, and the use of recycled waste water for all Diriyah projects at build-out.

There is also a state-of-the-art sewage plant and stormwater infrastructure to avoid flooding during extreme weather.

There will be an abundance of greenery in the project on completion, with parks and open areas set among the environmentally sound buildings and community facilities, giving what the experts call “improved outdoor thermal comfort,” even at the height of the Riyadh summer.

“Through the application of the vernacular architectural style across the development, the community will embody a contextualized approach to both social and environmental sustainability, resonating with the anthropological history of the site while passively responding to the local climatic conditions,” DGDA said.

The site and plans for the development were inspected and approved in 2020 by the National Center for Environmental Compliance, the Kingdom’s environmental watchdog. “The environmental authority recognized and praised DGDA on the efforts for environmental compliance and applying best standards to all our projects,” the center said.

In addition, environmental impact assessments have been conducted on the projects and on the associated Wadi Safar master plans, and have been approved as complying with the highest environmental standards.

An environmental monitoring consultant was appointed to ensure the project adheres to the environmental rules, and that on-site contractors also observe best practice.

The whole project has been designed with environmental standards at the top of the agenda, while seeking to preserve the best of traditional design.

“Through the inward-looking design, tending toward building around central courtyards, the extreme climate experienced in the region is tempered by a cooler, shaded and enclosed internal environment,” DGDA said.

DGDA’s environmental and sustainability initiatives surpass environmental compliance, by embedding international best practices, innovative technologies, and sustainability certification targets in all our projects. We aim to enhance our environmental performance and sustainability credentials at the community and building levels,” it said.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history

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154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
Updated 07 December 2021

154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
  • KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), inaugurated the launch of 154 relief trucks from Saudi Arabia on Monday. 

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates.

The food aid is the first to be sent by KSrelief to Yemen as part of the comprehensive “Yemen Food Security Support Project”, which will continue into 2022.

In comments to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Al-Rabeeah stated that this convoy comes as an extension of the commitment of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide ongoing assistance to the Yemeni people and to support them during their current humanitarian crisis.

Al-Rabeeah added that Monday’s convoy from KSrelief is part of the center’s impartial, comprehensive assistance to people in need in all parts of Yemen, and that all aid is provided according solely to need and without any other motive.

He added that the 154-vehicle convoy is the first in what will amount to a total of 973 trucks carrying more than 192,000 food baskets (20.540 tons) for a total cost of $29,978,000. The goal of the massive food aid delivery project is to alleviate the suffering of crisis-affected families across Yemen.

Al-Rabeeah said the aid will help to increase food security and improve the quality of life of Yemenis, adding that this aid is particularly important in light of the additional challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He stressed that KSrelief was keen to ensure that all aid reaches its targeted beneficiaries, and that the food baskets would be distributed through United Nations organizations and local partners in coordination with Yemen’s High Relief Committee.

KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen covering all key humanitarian sectors.


Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of the board at the Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2021

Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of the board at the Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)

Fahad Almutlaq has served as CEO of the board at the Sharqia Development Authority since September 2019.
He has more than 20 years of experience in managing comprehensive development strategies, urban planning, building integrated development, legislation and empowerment initiatives. Almutlaq served as chief strategy officer at the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, which took part in the national strategy of Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, between 2017 and 2019.
Before that, he served as CEO of the Arabian Industry and Services Group from June 2014 to August 2018. Almutlaq led significant mergers and acquisitions, and directed strategies and plans to accommodate social changes in the region.
He has held several positions in the Saudi Ministry of Defense, building international experience through working with one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense contractors, BAE Systems.
Almutlaq also worked with major science and technology companies and oversaw the construction and operations of the largest aerospace and industrial facility in the Middle East between 2011 and 2014. Within the ministry, he served as head of business development and future support and planning in 2010, and as program manager, based in the UK, between 2007 until 2010.
He held several positions in the Saudi Electricity Company, including head of the project management and planning division. Almutlaq also worked on civil, urban and electromechanical projects between 2004 and 2008, served as senior project engineer between 2003 and 2004, and before that worked as a planning engineer in the department of facilities planning and land use from 2001 to 2003.
He now serves on the board of several organizations.
Almutlaq holds two master’s degrees and an MBA in project and construction management. He has completed several practical and executive programs, covering strategic planning and leadership training.


Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
  • Among the arrested are illegal firewood traders

RIYADH: The Saudi Special Forces for Environmental Security have apprehended dozens of offenders for environmental violations as part of a recent crackdown.

The forces, under the command of the Ministry of Interior, arrested individuals who illegally moved sand and soil in Jeddah and Tabuk. People who illegally entered the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve in northeast Riyadh and hunted wildlife in restricted areas were also detained.

Others were arrested while transporting local firewood and trafficking endangered fungi in Al-Muzahmiyya Governorate. Several other citizens were also caught selling local firewood in other regions of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources across its vast territory. The Saudi environment law focuses on conservation, protection, development, pollution prevention, public health protection and the rational use of natural resources.

It also aims to make environmental planning an integral part of comprehensive development in industrial, agricultural and urban areas.

One practice that harms the Saudi environment is illegal dredging. Talal S. Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, warned that dredging and similar practices can negatively impact the environment and economy if studies are not conducted beforehand. Reduced fish stocks and damage to coral reefs are major consequences of poorly planned and illegal dredging.

Al-Rasheed added that taking sand and soil without a license is a “major disaster” because it changes the nature of the land by creating deep pits that cause accidents and endanger the lives of road users.

“Because the marine environment is sensitive to its habitat, when anything changes in nature, creatures begin to shift to other locations. Some of these habitats might not suitable for living. Because of the availability of suitable places for marine organisms, every species in the marine environment has a designated place to adapt to,” Al-Rasheed said.

Nasser M. Al-Hamidi, an environmental activist, said that burning or cutting trees in natural forests for wood is harmful to the environment and local communities due to smoke pollution.

He added that any attack on the environment, including dredging and stealing natural materials such as mountain rock deposits, poses a severe threat to the Kingdom’s natural beauty, which should be preserved for future generations.


Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 December 2021

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
  • The tips highlight ways in which caregivers can better prepare accommodation to suit the needs of elderly residents

RIYADH: The Gulf Health Council on Monday shared advice for care of older people.
The “seven important tips for caregivers of the elderly to adopt” stress, for example, the importance of maintaining a daily hygiene routine for seniors, to help ensure overall health and well-being. The council said that comprehensive, periodic examinations of oral health, sight and hearing are crucial for safeguarding against infections that can cause discomfort and irritability.
The tips also highlight ways in which caregivers can better prepare accommodation to suit the needs of elderly residents, for example by installing nonslip carpets and grab bars to prevent injuries and accidents.

In addition, proper heating or cooling facilities in and out of the house are important to ensure older people remain comfortable.
In addition, caregivers are urged to encourage seniors to exercise regularly to help improve quality of sleep and reduce the risk of certain ailments, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The council has also uploaded a video to YouTube focusing on care for the elderly.  

 


Social distancing, masks essential in Saudi mosques

In this file photo taken on May 31, 2020, Muslim worshippers observe a safe distance as they perform noon prayer at Al-Rajhi mosque in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 31, 2020, Muslim worshippers observe a safe distance as they perform noon prayer at Al-Rajhi mosque in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2021

Social distancing, masks essential in Saudi mosques

In this file photo taken on May 31, 2020, Muslim worshippers observe a safe distance as they perform noon prayer at Al-Rajhi mosque in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
  • The ministry called on worshippers who witness any failure to implement the instructions to report it to the services center on 1933

RIYADH: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance has stressed the need to take precautionary measures in mosques, including social distancing and the wearing of face masks, to protect worshippers from the COVID-19 virus and its variants.
The ministry said it constantly updates its health guidance and works to implement it, calling on imams and preachers to educate society about the importance of maintaining public health and adherence to the regulations.
The ministry called on worshippers who witness any failure to implement the instructions to report it to the services center on 1933.