How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans
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Updated 16 October 2021

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

The importance of the oceans to the future of our planet has never been as clear as it is today. The UN has declared 2021 the start of a “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” with the aim of sharing knowledge to protect and nurture this extraordinary natural resource for future generations. At Saudi Aramco, we believe that oceans are a shared inheritance: Covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, they connect every continent in a global ecosystem that is as complex as it is irreplaceable.

Long-term thinking

Aramco welcomes the UN drawing attention to the importance of marine environments and recognizes the need for action on multiple fronts to protect life and livelihoods. This is why we have long partnerships with scientists, researchers and other experts on a wide range of initiatives — including gathering a wealth of unique data, particularly on the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The projects Aramco has launched to protect marine ecosystems are global in scope — with a particular focus on coral-reef regeneration and mangrove restoration. Other projects include protecting endangered marine turtles and cultivating marine algae to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to reduce the impact of climate change. We have also set up community outreach and education programs to share knowledge with students and children, so they grow up understanding the importance and value of the oceans too.

Gathering data

Behind Aramco’s environmental work lies a valuable resource that we are keen to share with the world: Scientific data. To protect any marine environment, you have first to find out what is there, and we have been monitoring the waters in parts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf region for decades, frequently visiting the same reefs.

Our scientists and experts have been collecting valuable information regarding wave height, currents, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, clarity, salinity and the concentration of chlorophyll, the pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis. Aramco wants to help the global scientific community by giving free access to this data to support other environmental projects, and we are already partnering with several international organizations, such as the C4IR Ocean and its Ocean Data Platform, to further this aim.

Regenerating coral reefs

In terms of our projects, we have supported the regeneration of endangered coral reefs. Around the world, these precious and fragile ecosystems — which provide a habitat for hundreds of marine species while also forming a natural barrier against coastal erosion —have become degraded. This damage has multiple causes, including coastal and offshore development, illegal fishing practices, pollution, and the rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change.

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, Aramco took action through a series of initiatives in the Arabian Gulf, Florida, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Caribbean. In the Arabian Gulf, for example, most coral communities are in the vicinity of offshore islands, and we realized one of the factors preventing damaged reefs from regenerating was a lack of hard ground on which the coral could reform. We, therefore, designed and built a series of strong and stable artificial reef structures on the seabed, which the coral could then recolonize, providing a new habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms. Our scientists closely monitor these regenerated reefs, which have been a great success: fish are thriving and the variety of marine life has increased, while the reefs are more resilient.

Seeding mangroves

A second area in which Aramco is playing a prominent role is the planting of millions of mangrove trees in coastal regions. Restoring degraded mangrove forests in this way has great benefits for both biodiversity and carbon capture, through which trees and plants extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere. Research shows that mangrove trees are about five times more effective at sequestering CO2 than terrestrial rainforest trees, making them an effective nature-based solution for combatting climate change. We know these projects are having a significant impact and, building on this success, Aramco aims to plant more mangrove trees in Saudi Arabia and around the world, in partnership with global leaders, through projects in South East Asia, Australasia, South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, and South Asia. It is a truly global undertaking.

Commitment to environment

Aramco also recently developed a new corporate biodiversity protection policy, which requires that all new Aramco projects have a net positive impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The great benefit of this approach is that the diversity of living things in any area in which Aramco is operating — whether terrestrial, coastal, or marine — is taken into consideration before any new project can begin. If a negative impact on biodiversity is identified, then it must be avoided, mitigated, or offset as a last resort. This environmental approach is now mandatory across all our projects and operations.

The company’s first environmental protection policy was introduced as long ago as 1964 and we recently published a book documenting The Ecosystem and Biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf, summarizing 50 years of scientific research between Aramco and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Our recently published Marine Atlas of the Western Arabian Gulf provides a baseline of marine ecosystems and their locations. Both books illustrate the beauty and biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf’s marine ecosystems, their sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Our environmental partners include global organizations, regional working groups and local universities, such as KFUPM and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Our commitment to the world’s oceans is clear: We intend to protect and support them with care, investment and expertise; always working to ensure that Aramco operations don’t adversely impact the marine environment, and enhancing it wherever we can.

 

  • Dr Khaled Asfahani is head of Marine Environment Protection at Aramco & Dr Loughland is an environment consultant at Aramco.

Over 170 companies delisted from major US stock exchanges in a year, says report

Over 170 companies delisted from major US stock exchanges in a year, says report
Updated 07 December 2021

Over 170 companies delisted from major US stock exchanges in a year, says report

Over 170 companies delisted from major US stock exchanges in a year, says report

RIYADH: Major US stock exchanges delisted 179 companies between 2020 and 2021, according to a report carried by Finbold.com.

Citing data the report said in 2021, the number of companies on Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange stands at 6,000, dropping 2.89 percent from last year’s figure of 6,179. In 2019, the listed companies stood at 5,454.

“NYSE recorded the highest delisting with companies on the platform, dropping 15.28 percent year-over-year from 2,873 to 2,434. Elsewhere, Nasdaq listed companies grew 7.86 percent from 3,306 to 3,566,” it added.

As of 2021, it said, Nasdaq had 2,819 listed domestic companies, while foreign entities stood at 747. NYSE accounts for 1,848 domestic companies, with the foreign entities standing at 586.

The report attributed the delisting to the emergence of alternative markets.

"Furthermore, the delisting on US major exchanges might be due to the emergence of new alternative markets, especially in Asia. China and Hong Kong markets have become more appealing, with regulators making local listings more attractive. Over the years, exchanges in the region have strived to emerge as key players amid dominance by US equity markets."

It, however, said the number of foreign companies listing on US exchanges also surged. 


Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%
Updated 07 December 2021

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar has approved its budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the country’s Minister of Finance Ali Al Kuwari said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Revenues are expected to amount to 196 billion riyals ($53.8 billion), a 22.4 percent rise compared to last year’s budget estimates, Asharq reported. 

Estimates for the budget were made while assuming oil prices to be $55 per barrel during the year on the back of healthier global energy prices.

Additionally, expenditures are predicted to hit 204.3 billion riyals, growing by an annual rate of 4.9 percent.

This will lead to a budget deficit of 8.3 billion riyals. Al Kuwari added that this deficit will be addressed through current monetary balances and the issuance of local and foreign debt instruments if needed.

EU’s economy

Output in the EU expanded by a quarterly rate of 2.1 percent in this year’s third quarter, according to preliminary estimates by Eurostat. 

Austria experienced the highest rise in activity, recording an economic growth rate of 3.9 percent. France and Portugal came next, as their economies widened by 3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Household consumption mainly drove the production’s rise in the region, going up by 4 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter’s 3.7 percent expansion. 

Government final consumption expenditure climbed by 0.3 percent while gross fixed capital formation declined by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, employment growth reached 0.9 percent in the third quarter of 2021 when compared to the previous quarter.

In addition, the euro area’s Indicator of Economic Sentiment improved by 0.9 points in December to hit 26.8 points, Zew, a Germany economic policy institute, said. 

However, the outlook was different for Germany, as its sentiment indicator fell by 1.8 points to reach 29.9 points. Deteriorations caused by the pandemic, as well as supply chain disruptions, are dragging the German economy down, the Mannheim-based firm noted.

Economic expectations also fell, signalling that forecasts about healthy short-term growth are not gaining momentum.

Moreover, the country’s industrial production went up by a monthly rate of 2.8 percent in October, preliminary estimates by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed.

In particular, production of capital goods widened by 8.2 percent while output of intermediate goods dropped by 0.4 percent.

Japan’s household spending

Household spending in Japan continued to fall, on an annual basis, for the third month in a row. This was attributed to weak consumer sentiment that is still recovering from the pandemic.

Spending by the sector dropped by a yearly rate of 0.6 percent in October, compared to a 1.9 percent fall in the previous month.

The country’s government recently introduced a $490 billion stimulus package to boost the economy, unlike other countries that are starting to roll back on their spending programs, Reuters reported.

Australia’s monetary policy

Australia’s central bank maintained its monetary policy and interest rate unchanged. The decision was driven by concerns over omicron, the new coronavirus variant.

The country’s interest rate remained at 0.1 percent, according to Bloomberg. The bank noted that it will raise interest rates when inflation reaches its target of 2-3 percent.

The bank added that the labor market and economy are experiencing upturns.

China’s trade

Exports and imports in China grew annually by 22 percent and 32 percent in November when compared to a year earlier, reaching all-time records.

Yet, exports growth slowed down due to a thinning demand and a rise in costs.


Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured
Updated 07 December 2021

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni rial recovered on Tuesday by roughly 30 percent hours after the Yemeni president reshuffled the country’s central bank board in a bid to rein in the rapid currency devaluation. 

Local moneychangers told Arab News that the Yemeni rial began bouncing back on Monday night when President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed the governor of the Aden-based central bank and his deputy. 

By Tuesday morning, the Yemeni currency rose from 1,700 to 1,100 against the dollar before dropping again to 1,250 in the afternoon. 

The rial has rapidly tumbled during the past couple of weeks, reaching a historic record low of 1,750 this week, compared to 215 in early 2015. 

Yemen’s president appointed Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb as the new governor and head of the central bank’s administrative board. Mohammed Omer Banaja was appointed his deputy. 

The official news agency reported that the president authorized the Central Agency for Control and Accountability to monitor the bank’s current and previous financial activities. 

Four previous central bank chiefs, all appointed Hadi, failed to prevent the rial’s plunge despite their expertise and strong educational backgrounds.

The central bank had closed dozens of exchange firms and shops that violated the bank’s monetary rules and were involved in speculative activities on foreign currency. The central bank also ordered banks in the Houthi-controlled areas to move offices and operations to Aden, or face punitive measures and provided fuel and food importers with dollars. The rial continued losing value against the dollar, as several blacklisted firms and banks continued operations  in the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

Mustafa Nasr, director of the Economic Media Center, has urged local and international support to the bank’s new administration to succeed in putting into place economic policies and also demanded resuming the flow of oil and gas exports and reviving money-generating state bodies. “

Richard Oppenheim, British ambassador to Yemen, said the reshuffle of the bank’s administrative board would help the Yemeni government carry out vital reforms to steady the economy.


Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 
Updated 07 December 2021

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

JEDDAH: Jeff Bezos has handed over $443 million to climate organizations as part of his $10 billion commitment to tackle global warming.

About $130 million is allocated to help the Justice40 initiative, an environmentally focused effort by President Joe Biden’s administration, according to Bloomberg.

Another $261 million will fund a plan to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, concentrating on the Congo Basin and tropical Andes. 

The world’s second-richest person gave out $791 million to 16 organizations last year, promising to distribute the full $10 billion amount by 2030, Bloomberg reported.


UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

RIYADH: Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has announced a $100 million deal with Abu Dhabi’s Chimera for investment in Egypt’s real estate.

Through its subsidiary, Chimera subscribed to a capital increase in Egypt’s Gemini Global Development in return for acquiring a minority stake in the company, Asharq reported.

This capital increase aims to develop and expand the real estate activities of Gemini Global Development Egypt through Ora Developers.

Naguib Sawiris said Ora Developers has always aimed to search for opportunities that expand their offerings to a larger base of customers in various markets, while partnering with global investors, contractors and retailers. 

“Through this partnership, Chimera continues to grow and further enhance its global portfolio by investing in a prominent player operating in a high growth sector in Egypt,” Chimera Chairman Syed Basar Shueb said.