Riyadh’s ambitious plans to reduce effects of climate change

Riyadh’s ambitious plans to reduce effects of climate change
As part of the initiative, Saudi Arabia aims to plant 10 billion trees to fight climate change, reduce its carbon footprint to zero and cut healthcare expenditure by promoting a healthier lifestyle for its residents. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 October 2021

Riyadh’s ambitious plans to reduce effects of climate change

Riyadh’s ambitious plans to reduce effects of climate change
  • New project aims to boost Riyadh’s image as an environmentally friendly metropolis and improve quality of life

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital is transforming in an attempt to reduce the effects of climate change.

As a part of the Saudi Green Initiative, the Kingdom aims to plant 10 billion trees, and Riyadh and its surroundings will, according to Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, adviser and professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration, be the site of 7.5 million of them.

Al-Obaidy told Arab News: “This project is one of the most ambitious tree-planting projects ever undertaken worldwide. The (7.5 million) trees (around Riyadh) will be selected from those compatible with Riyadh’s weather and environment. New irrigation networks will be established to use recycled water. This will raise the quantity of recycled water being used across the city.”

He added that the project will help improve and promote Riyadh’s image as an environmentally friendly metropolis, and that it will reduce the capital’s energy consumption and ultimately reduce health-care expenditure by promoting healthier lifestyles for its residents.

“It will also boost Riyadh’s position in the World’s Top 100 most-livable cities ranking,” Al-Obaidy said. “But it is important to raise the local community’s awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting trees and green spaces and the environment in general in order to achieve the project’s goals and improve the quality of the environment and life in our beloved capital city.”

Professor Salem Alghamdi from the College of Agriculture at King Saud University told Arab News, “Humans have impacted the earth’s processes to the point that they have been transformed. Cities are home to the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants. The United Nations General Assembly established its Sustainable Development Goals to improve people’s quality of life in a changing environment. These broad-term objectives enumerate the most pressing issues confronting our generation. Planting and protecting trees, especially in urban areas where most people reside, is an effective technique for achieving these goals.”

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia launched an ambitious $23 billion project in March 2019 to create vast open green areas in the capital, Riyadh, including the world’s biggest city park.

• Professor Sultan Ayoub Meo claimed that a single hectare of land, when 11 percent of it is covered by plants, can remove 9.7 kg of air pollutants every year.

He added: “Providing people with green areas and planting and maintaining trees is an important strategy to alleviate the issues that urban populations face. The reduction of air pollution is one of the most important benefits that urban woods may give.”

Alghamdi said that air pollution — from particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide — has been linked to bronchitis, intraocular pressure, heart attacks, changes in autonomic and microvascular function, autism, and blood pressure issues, as well as to cognitive-development issues in children.

“The literature shows that there is a relationship between trees, green areas, and mortality,” he said. “More trees — particularly mature species planted in strategic areas — might reduce particle matter and other kinds of air pollution, potentially lowering mortality and morbidity in our cities.” 

Saudi Arabia is also collaborating with other Arab governments on a Middle East Green Initiative, which includes a pledge to plant an additional 40 billion trees, the world’s largest forestation effort.

Clean-energy output in the Middle East now stands at 7 percent, and Saudi Arabia has stated that it will cooperate with its neighbors to reduce carbon emissions from hydrocarbon production in the region by more than 60 percent.

Alghamdi said: “There is a need for government research institutes, universities, colleges, and schools in the Kingdom to launch such policies, including multimedia campaigns, to explain the benefits of tree plantation, and its impact on human health, climate change, and the reduction of carbon dioxide.”

Professor Sultan Ayoub Meo from King Saud’s University College of Medicine said the Saudi Green Initiative’s 10 billion tree policy will reduce air pollution, diabetes, and cardiorespiratory, endocrine, neurological, and infectious diseases.

“Environmental pollution is an emerging global public-health problem,” he said. “Air pollutants such as particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10, carbon monoxide, and ozone cause various illnesses and act as a risk factor, particularly in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Meo explained that air-pollution levels are unsafe in 80 percent of cities around the world. Air pollution causes 7 million deaths yearly, he said — the equivalent of 15.5 deaths per minute, resulting in a $2.9 trillion loss globally. 

He praised the plan to transform Riyadh, saying it would help to minimize environmental pollution, tackle climate change, and reduce disease regionally and worldwide.


KSrelief and UN officials discuss humanitarian efforts in Yemen and Syria

KSrelief and UN officials discuss humanitarian efforts in Yemen and Syria
Updated 20 sec ago

KSrelief and UN officials discuss humanitarian efforts in Yemen and Syria

KSrelief and UN officials discuss humanitarian efforts in Yemen and Syria

RIYADH: The General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, met with Khaled Al-Khiari, the UN assistant secretary-general for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, in Riyadh on Monday, Saudi Press Agency reported.
During the meeting, they discussed matters of common interest related to humanitarian and relief affairs, especially in Yemen, Syria and other Asian countries, and prospects for cooperation between the two sides.
Al-Khiari said that Saudi Arabia is one of the largest contributors in the field of humanitarian work, praising its generous support to the UN in several areas and the projects and programs carried out by KSrelief for needy people around the world.
He added that these efforts were important in supporting development work and other projects in the beneficiary countries. 
Meanwhile, Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz, assistant general supervisor for operations and programs at KSrelief, held talks with Philippe Duamelle, representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, in the Saudi capital.
Al-Baiz reviewed the humanitarian and relief projects implemented by the center in cooperation with UNICEF to contribute to the care of children and women in Yemen and to provide them with various educational, health, nutritional and accommodation services.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to enhance joint cooperation between them to serve the most vulnerable groups in Yemen and improve their living conditions, in light of the current humanitarian crisis.
Duamelle praised the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts and the important role it plays in partnership with UNICEF, stressing that this partnership has contributed to alleviating the suffering of many affected peoples around the world. 


Saudi Arabia extends residencies, exit-entry visas

Saudi Arabia extends residencies, exit-entry visas
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi Arabia extends residencies, exit-entry visas

Saudi Arabia extends residencies, exit-entry visas
  • The extension, issued by the Minister of Finance, is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to address the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • It will be carried automatically in collaboration with the National Information Center, without the need to visit the passports directorate

The Saudi Passport authorities started automatically extending the validity of residency permits (Iqama) and exit and re-entry visas without charges until March 31, 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

The extension, issued by the Minister of Finance, is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to address the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be carried automatically in collaboration with the National Information Center, without the need to visit the passports directorate or the Kingdom’s missions abroad.

The validity of residency and exit re-entry return visas will be extended for residents who are outside the Kingdom in countries from which travel was suspended due to a COVID-19 outbreak until March 31, except for those who have already received one dose of the vaccine inside the Kingdom before they departed.

The validity of visit visas will also be extended until March 31 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for visitors who are outside the Kingdom in countries from which entry has been suspended due to the virus.


Saudi team wins bronze at international cryptography Olympiad event in Russia

The Olympiad is the only event of its kind in the field of cryptography and sees researchers solving complex mathematical problems for application in the real world. (Screenshot/YouTube)
The Olympiad is the only event of its kind in the field of cryptography and sees researchers solving complex mathematical problems for application in the real world. (Screenshot/YouTube)
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi team wins bronze at international cryptography Olympiad event in Russia

The Olympiad is the only event of its kind in the field of cryptography and sees researchers solving complex mathematical problems for application in the real world. (Screenshot/YouTube)
  • The three-man Saudi team are affiliated with Center of Excellence for Information Security at King Saud University

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia finished third in an international cryptographic Olympiad held in Russia last year after the results were confirmed earlier this week, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Kingdom was the only Arab country participating in the NSUCRYPTO International Cryptographic Olympiad event, which saw 85 teams take part, representing several countries.

The three-man Saudi team, affiliated with the Center of Excellence for Information Security at King Saud University, was Ahmed Al-Harbi, Muhammad Al-Rabiah, and Muhammad Al-Ammar.

The three participants thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his support in the Kingdom’s development of technical excellence, which helps raise the efficiency of national capabilities in the digital sector.

They also expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones, as well as the Tuwaiq Academy for specialized courses in the field of encryption; which played a key role in their team reflected in achieving a bronze medal.

The Olympiad is the only event of its kind in the field of cryptography and sees researchers solving complex mathematical problems for application in the real world. 

Since its first edition in 2014, more than 2,500 participants from more than 50 countries around the world have participated in the Olympiad.


Saudi Arabia reports 4,838 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,838 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 4,838 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,838 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 606,130
  • A total of 8,922 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 4,838 new infections on Monday.

Of the new cases, 1,511 were recorded in Riyadh, 509 in Jeddah, 198 in Madinah, 189 in Hofuf, 156 in Makkah, 113 in Jazan, 113 in Dammam, and 109 in Abha. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 606,130 after 6,296 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,922 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 55.4 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


King Salman Park Foundation announces start of visitor pavilion construction 

King Salman Park Foundation announces start of visitor pavilion construction 
Updated 24 January 2022

King Salman Park Foundation announces start of visitor pavilion construction 

King Salman Park Foundation announces start of visitor pavilion construction 

JEDDAH: The King Salman Park Foundation on Sunday announced the start of the visitor pavilion’s construction.

The 90,000-square meter public space will include a plant nursery, a multi-use hall, meeting rooms, exhibition areas, restaurants, and cafes.

The main auditorium, which can accommodate up to 230 guests with VIP and tiered seating, can be used for events, entertainment shows, and business meetings. Interactive garden exhibits will introduce the park's natural, cultural, and recreational aspects to visitors, while the pavilion will have a large terrace with 360-degree views of the landscape.

The pavilion's design concept is based on Salmani architecture principles, which honor the beauty of traditional materials and showcase them through modern design and construction. The design maximizes the use of natural light during seasonal fluctuations, with an emphasis on sustainability and the environment.

King Salman Park is distinguished by its location in the Saudi capital, which is connected to several major roads as well as the public transport project, which includes Riyadh's train and bus networks, making it easily accessible to the city's residents and visitors.

British architect David Adjaye designed the pavilion. In 2017, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and won the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture by RIBA in Sept. 2021.

Contracts worth SR3.847 billion ($1.02 billion) were awarded by the foundation to a group of national companies to start implementing parts of the park project.

In addition to infrastructure and preparation works in the Royal Arts Complex, these contracts include site preparation work and the construction of tunnels and bridges.

It also signed an agreement with the Saudi Electricity Company to set up five power stations to supply the park with energy at a capacity of 580 megawatts.

The park will provide a holistic experience that includes a variety of environmental, cultural, sports, artistic, and entertainment options to improve the city’s quality of life, implementing the goal of Saudi Vision 2030 to create a vibrant and healthy society and raise Riyadh’s global ranking among the world's top liveable cities.