New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
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The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment. (Photo/Supplied)
New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
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The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment. (Photo/Supplied)
New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
3 / 3
The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 23 October 2021

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
  • Campaign to use drones for seed distribution over an area of 2 million square meters launched

RIYADH: Birds have always been a significant factor in the lifecycle of plants through their ability to transport seeds to new locations by unintentionally carrying them on their wings or claws.  

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment.

“The afforestation campaign will use drones to spread seasonal seeds over an area of 2 million square meters, creating a qualitative leap in the path of afforestation used in the Kingdom,” the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve told Arab News in a statement on Friday. 

According to the reserve, the drones will distribute the seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally, and annually.  

The reserve is working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.  

According to the reserve’s statement: “The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks. 

“It will also follow up on the health of the soil and the conditions of agricultural areas. The utilization of artificial intelligence techniques will, additionally, serve to study and analyze seasonal patterns of plants through the use of unique algorithms and software.”

HIGHLIGHT

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Representatives from the local community, along with government agencies and volunteers also attended the launch, Eng. Mohammed Al Shaalan, the CEO of the Royal Natural Reserve, said.

“Today, the Kingdom is leading a global movement towards protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and launching continuous initiatives towards afforestation and the establishment of a green environment,” Al Shaalan said.

“We will strive to keep up with this goal publicized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are working hard to defy the obstacle of time by applying the best standards and techniques in developing the reserve and assisting the environment.”

Manzer H. Siddiqui, an associate professor at the botany department at King Saud University, also praised the campaign. 

“This is a much-appreciated campaign towards afforestation and green initiative for environment protection,” he told Arab News.

Siddiqui said the citizens’ participation in preserving the environment is one of the most successful ways to reach green sustainability. 

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, previously known as the Al Taysiyah Natural Reserve, was founded in 2018 by a royal order to provide an organized and systemic approach to preserving and maintaining the area.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the “Saudi Green” and the “Middle East Green” initiatives in April to help protect nature and overcome environmental challenges.

These Initiatives aim to chart a path for Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.

The Kingdom will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, preserve marine life, while also combating pollution and land degradation. The ambitious initiative includes the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades.

The Saudi Green Initiative also aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through a renewable energy program that will generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.


What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
  • After education minister said 83% of parents believe online education has been good for kids’ mental health, we talk those on both sides of the debate

JEDDAH: Distance learning was a necessity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the past 18 months there has been a great deal of debate, globally, about the merits or otherwise of remote education and how well its extended use has served students during these difficult times.

In Saudi Arabia, however, parents appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of distance learning, according to figures quoted by Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh. Speaking last month at the Saudi Family Forum, organized by the Family Affairs Council, he said 83 percent of parents believe that remote education has positively affected their children’s mental and psychological health. He added that it is here to stay, in some form, even after the pandemic ends because it has become a pillar of the education system.
Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or “My School,” platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides. In the first week after its launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.
Redha Omda, a father of three in Jeddah, told Arab News that teachers are using new techniques to enhance the online learning environment, and applauded the increased use of technology.
“I like how technology is playing a big part in the educational sector,” he said. “Teachers are contacting me through WhatsApp and they are more accessible than before.

BACKGROUND

Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or ‘My School,’ platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides.

“The Madrasati platform is linked to the parent’s Tawakkalna app, which is amazing, and it lets me know everything about my kids. I am also impressed by how my kids are using technology in a way that I did not imagine.”
Bara’a Alfergani, a mother of two living in Jeddah, said that distance learning saves students a lot of time.
“Study at home is better than attending eight hours of classes every day and then coming home with homework to do,” she said. “It is much easier to attend online and do homework at the same place.”

In the first week after Madrasati launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.

Alfergani added that it also makes it easier for her to keep an eye on her children and be more involved in their education.
The Ministry of Education has indicated that the future of learning in Saudi Arabia will involve some form of hybrid learning, as the concept of distance education has evolved as a result of the global health crisis.
Joud Al-Harbi, a 23-year-old college student from Jeddah, said that online education is a much better option than attending classes.
“It allows me to do many things at the same time,” she said. “I interact with my instructors, and most of my collegemates understand the subjects easily.”
One of her friends has a sick child, she added, and prefers to take classes online because it gives her more time to care for the youngster.
Schools and other educational institutions in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children.
Not all parents agree that distance learning has been a good thing, however. Stay-at-home mom Mashael Al-Sahli said it has had an adverse psychological effect on her two children because it has deprived them of a social life.
“Building social skills starts at school and it is an important factor of the growing process,” she said. “It was something we didn’t feel until schools were closed.”
Not only were her children deprived of the school environment, activities and their friends, she said, even though the online learning system that has been developed is good she nevertheless has found the learning process to be difficult.
“The kids can’t even see the teachers’ gestures or body language,” she added.
Nahedh Almwalad, an elementary school teacher in Jeddah, said that children have a lot of energy and their attention span is limited, which can be a challenge with online education, but added that it can help to teach them patience.


15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into Saudi Arabia. (Twitter: @MOISaudiArabia)
The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into Saudi Arabia. (Twitter: @MOISaudiArabia)
Updated 28 November 2021

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into Saudi Arabia. (Twitter: @MOISaudiArabia)
  • The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work, and border security regulations, an official report has revealed.

During the period Nov. 18 to 24, a total of 7,552 arrests were made for violations of residency rules, while 5,699 people were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,529 on labor-related issues.

The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom, 70 percent were Yemeni citizens, 28 percent Ethiopians, and 2 percent other nationalities.

A further 36 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 14 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents, while 2,048 were transferred to complete their travel reservations and 9,586 were deported.

The Ministry of Interior pointed out that anyone found to be helping people gain illegal entry to the Kingdom, and transporting, or providing shelter for them could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia’s Space101 training program launched for undergraduates

Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Space101 training program launched for undergraduates

Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
  • The commission explained that the training focuses on the basics of space science and technology by implementing professional programs under expert supervision

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Commission recently launched its first specialized training program in the field of space and space technology in cooperation with Airbus Defense and Space.
The program aims to raise the level of education and practical know-how in the space sector for undergraduates and those interested in learning space science.
The commission explained that the training focuses on the basics of space science and technology by implementing professional programs under expert supervision.
The training program is the result of a partnership agreement concluded on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress 2022 in October between the Saudi commission and Airbus to train national cadres in the space sector and provide job opportunities for trainees in the field.
It also contributes to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by developing national human capabilities and qualifying them for the labor market.
Those wishing to register for the Space101 training program can do so via the following link: https://initiativesportal.saudispace.gov.sa/ar/user/login?destination=/ar/space101

 


Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
  • The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it

JEDDAH: The governorate of Makkah region, in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, is implementing the Future Champions initiative to develop digital capabilities for young people.

Under the slogan “How to be a role model in the digital world,” and through the sixth session of the Makkah Cultural Forum, the initiative aims to enhance digital citizenship, raise awareness and teach the optimal use of IT and communication.

It also aims to study the awareness of community members in the use of digital world applications and their enjoyment of skills and sound ethics through the use of the Internet and technology by analyzing a set of digital patterns and studying the behavior of individuals in the digital space.

The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it, and managing privacy by safely handling personal data when requested on the Internet.

Other skills include sound thinking and owning tools to distinguish between correct and incorrect information, managing digital footprint by understanding its nature and the real consequences, digital empathy with people in the virtual world and knowing their needs and feelings, managing screen time through self-control and time management, and digital national identity and showing it healthily and fairly.

This is achieved through an initial questionnaire to measure basic digital skills among individuals. More than 50,000 participants take part in the questionnaire.

Through its active partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the governorate of Makkah contributes to promoting the concept of digital citizenship and providing digital role models within the forum’s programs by presenting a diverse initiative that takes place in the cities and towns of the region.

It targets all segments of society to develop the region and its digital space in line with national efforts to create a new stage in communications and IT by employing smart systems, digital algorithms, analyzing big data and using the techniques of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in its cities and the work of its sectors to make the Kingdom a leading digital model.


Saudi, UN partnership to help promote sustainable development in Soudah

Located in the Asir region, the mountains of Soudah are home to the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, situated more than 3,000m above sea level. (Shutterstock)
Located in the Asir region, the mountains of Soudah are home to the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, situated more than 3,000m above sea level. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi, UN partnership to help promote sustainable development in Soudah

Located in the Asir region, the mountains of Soudah are home to the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, situated more than 3,000m above sea level. (Shutterstock)
  • It will harvest knowledge to preserve heritage, culture, natural resources

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s southern Soudah mountains are getting a further boost to habitat protection while welcoming tourists and visitors with the signing of a new deal between Soudah Development Co. and the UN Mountain Partnership.

Located in the Asir region in the southwest of the Kingdom, the juniper-covered mountains of Soudah are home to the highest peak in Saudi Arabia, situated more than 3,000m above sea level.
Initiated in 2002, the UN Mountain Partnership, an alliance dedicated to protecting mountain environments around the world, aims to improve the life of the local mountain communities and preserve its ecosystems. It currently consists of more than 400 members spanning governments, companies and civil society groups.
Soudah Development Co. is the first company from the Kingdom and the Gulf region to join this partnership and will allow it to tap into an international wealth of knowledge and resources as it develops a regulatory framework to create a sustainable tourist destination.
“The membership will contribute to positioning Soudah on the international map by giving us access to prospective mountain developers and adventure tourism partners who will recognize how the entity is embracing the same development values and quality standards as major mountain destinations worldwide,” Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Co., told Arab News.
Joining this alliance is an important milestone for the company, which will put them a step closer to accomplishing their mission and development project.

HIGHLIGHT

This ambitious project will help promote sustainable development, preserve the environment of Soudah, protect wildlife and undertake a major reforestation program, which will remove more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

“This new and exciting membership will enable us to tap into the wealth and diversity of knowledge, information and expertise of mountain developers and organizations around the world and ensure we can benefit from initiatives and programs that reflect our ambitions here in the region from 3,015 meters above sea level,” Al-Madani said.
The area is currently a popular tourist destination among domestic travelers and adventure enthusiasts, offering activities for adventure seekers such as scenic hiking trails to paragliding over the valley, and a serene camping location to stargaze at night.
This ambitious project will help promote sustainable development, preserve the environment of Soudah, protect wildlife and undertake a major reforestation program, which will remove more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Our membership underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to introducing Saudi’s unique and diverse nature and culture to the world. Additionally, the Kingdom is committed to the highest standards of environmental sustainability, having launched the Saudi Green initiative and Middle East Green initiative to set standards for environmental sustainability in all development projects across the Kingdom,” Al-Madani said.
In line with the strategy to protect the environment of Soudah, the company promises to enhance its commitment to wildlife conservation by having a monitoring program that will document the behavior of endangered animals.
Part of this initiative is a new partnership with the Beacon Development Company, a subsidiary of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
The agreement will focus on placing a series of hidden cameras in the area to monitor wildlife, which includes the striped hyena, the Arabian wolf, Arabian red fox, Indian crested porcupine and wild cats.
“In the context of Soudah’s unique location, enchanting environment and scenic landscapes, our membership with the Mountain Partnership is another positive step in the right direction that reflects the efforts to preserve nature and the environment in line with the efforts of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Madani said.