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.


Grand Mosque’s gate 100 to be named after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

Grand Mosque’s gate 100 to be named after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Updated 27 sec ago

Grand Mosque’s gate 100 to be named after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

Grand Mosque’s gate 100 to be named after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
  • Al-Sudais: Saudi kings have always taken great care of the two holy mosques
  • The Grand Mosque in Makkah has 210 gates

JEDDAH: The Grand Mosque’s gate 100 will be named after Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques announced on Wednesday.

The presidency’s chief Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais said the naming comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to serve the two holy mosques by expanding them and providing a high-quality service that enables pilgrims to perform their rituals with ease.

Al-Sudais added that Saudi kings have always taken great care of the two holy mosques and emphasized the importance of providing the finest services to the mosques and those that visit them.

The Grand Mosque in Makkah has 210 gates.


TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany
Updated 06 October 2022

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany

TLScontact new service provider in Saudi Arabia for Schengen visas to Germany
  • German Embassy: Starting from October 2022, applications for Schengen visa to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact
  • TLScontact works with governments worldwide to provide visa and consular services on their behalf to travelers and citizens

RIYADH: Starting from this month, applications for Schengen visas to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact, according to the German Embassy in Riyadh.

Founded in 2007, TLScontact works with governments worldwide to provide visa and consular services on their behalf to travelers and citizens.

Until the end of September 2022, applications for Schengen visas were lodged with VFS Global visa service.

“Starting from October 2022, applications for Schengen visa to Germany can only be lodged with the new service provider TLScontact. TLS Application centers in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar will be at your service,” the German Embassy tweeted.

The TLScontact application centers commenced operations this week, with the Riyadh center operating from Oct. 4, the Jeddah center from Oct. 5, and Alkhobar center from Oct. 6.

Appointments will initially be available in limited numbers.

“We kindly ask for your understanding. If you are planning a trip to Germany in October or November, please book your visa appointment well in advance,” said the embassy.

All applicants who have lodged their applications with VFS Global until the end of September will receive their passports back through VFS Global, as from October onwards, visa applications for Germany can only be lodged through TLScontact.

The mandatory steps to apply for a Schengen visa include completing the Videx form; registering on the TLS website; preparing supporting documents and making an appointment; submitting an application and providing biometric data at the application center, and returning to the center to collect the passport. The applicant can also use express courier service.

For more information concerning locations, opening hours, and booking of appointments, applicants can see the webpage of TLScontact https://visas-de.tlscontact.com/visa/sa


Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen
Updated 06 October 2022

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen

Red Sea Film Festival audiences get rare chance to see classic Egyptian musicals on big screen
  • Organizers have announced restored versions of ‘Watch Out for Zouzou’ and ‘Love in Karnak’ will screen during the 10-day celebration of regional and international cinema

JEDDAH: Movie lovers can look forward to screenings of restored versions two classics of Egyptian musical cinema during the second Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah in December.

In collaboration with the Arab Radio and Television Network, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture’s investment holding company for cinema, and Media Production City in Egypt, the festival will showcase on the big screen for an international audience 1972’s “Khali Balak min Zouzou” (“Watch Out for Zouzou”) and 1967’s “Gharam fil Karnak” (“Love in Karnak”).

Mohammed Al-Turki, the CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, told Arab News: “Today, our accomplishment is two gems richer with ‘Watch Out for Zouzou’ and ‘Love in Karnak,’ films that do not only represent major milestones in the history of Egyptian cinema but stand as shining testaments to the brilliance of great artists such as the ‘Cinderella of Egyptian Cinema,’ the late (actress) Soad Hosny, and the multi-talented performer, Mahmoud Reda.”

Reda, who died in 2020, was an iconic Egyptian choreographer and the creative mind behind fantastical dance routines in a number of films, including “Agazet Nus El-Sana” (“Mid-term Vacation”) and “Harami El-Waraqa” (“The Lottery Ticket Thief”).

Antoine Khalife, RSIFF’s director of Arab Programs and Film Classics, told Arab News: “We wanted to pay homage to the great choreographer Mahmoud Reda, who died during the (pandemic) period, and the restoration of ‘Gharam fil Karnak’ is a love letter from the Red Sea for this exceptional artist who made contemporary Egyptian dance shine throughout the world.”

In “Love in Karnak,” Reda’s dance sequences are key to the plot as a group of young dancers try to hit the big time in the entertainment industry while struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, lead dancer Amina and the troupe’s director, Salah, start to develop romantic feelings for each other, which results in a series of misunderstandings that complicates matters for everyone.

The film is widely acclaimed for the position it holds in the history of Arab filmmaking and so its restoration and screening at the festival is intended to serve as a tribute to its creators and performers, an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers, and a demonstration of the vibrancy and prominence of the Arab film industry through the years.

“The preservation of film heritage has been at the heart of the Red Sea Film Festival since its first year,” Kalife said. “We started by restoring the films of (Saudi photographer and cinematographer) Safouh Naamani and then we worked to highlight the work of important filmmakers such as Khairy Beshara, Youssef Chahine and Raafat El-Mehy.”

“Watch out for Zouzou,” which will have a 50th anniversary screening at the festival, is a love story laced with underlying social commentary that stars Hosny, who was one of the most beloved actresses in the Arab world.

She stars as Zouzou, who seems to have it all: The grades, the social popularity and the intelligence. However, her true passion is performing and so she practices her craft in the evenings as she sings and dances for her mother’s friends at private parties.

Considering the scandalous nature of her job in 1970s Egypt, she tries to keep her life as a performer a secret from her peers. This seems to be working out until she falls for a new, and engaged, university lecturer who teaches the theatrical arts. The situation becomes ever-more complicated when his fiance learns of the blossoming romance.

The film became one of the highest-grossing Arab films in history and made stars of its lead pairing, Hosny and Hussein Fahmy, while the music, by Salah Jaheen and Kamal El-Tawil, is sure to spark feelings of nostalgia in audiences who see the restored version of the film, reflecting the timeless love for Arab and Egyptian cinema.

“For this year, we could not miss ‘Khali Balak men Zouzou,’ a film produced just 50 years ago that has left an exceptional impact on generations, and not only because of the magnificent songs and the sublime Soad Hosny but, above all, because of the modernity in which the story was created,” Khalife said.

Al-Turki, who is a film producer in his own right, highlighted the importance of film restoration projects in preserving Arab culture and creativity.

“This initiative was taken by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation to confirm our commitment and sense of responsibility toward preserving this precious cinematic heritage, and in recognition of its importance in shaping the memory and awareness of cinephiles,” he said.

“By resurrecting them and passing them on to new generations of artists and filmmakers, we can all learn from these restored masterpieces, enjoy them anew in light of modern restoration techniques and even rejuvenate our inspiration, evolving our plans for the art of cinema.

“This gesture didn’t solely come with cinematic goals in mind but cultural as well. The arts, cinema included, are mirrors of societies and in their restoration lies the preservation of heritage and the revival of civilizations and the building blocks of their identities.”

The restored Egyptian classics are part of a yet-to-be-announced program of regional and international films that will screen during the festival in Jeddah between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10. Organizers said it will include a retrospective program celebrating leaders in the industry, introduce audiences to local and international emerging voices, and aims to further cultural discourse and exchanges through film competitions, masterclasses and workshops.


Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed

Saudi national resort for elderly in Al-Baha completed
  • The resort was established as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve care services provided to the elderly in the country

MAKKAH: The Saudi-based Charitable Society for Honoring the Elderly (Ikram) recently announced the completion of the Ikram National Resort project in Al-Baha (southwest of Saudi Arabia), which is the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

The resort was established as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve care services provided to the elderly in the country. The completion of the resort was announced during the International Day of Older Persons.

“The idea of the project was that of Dr. Saeed bin Saad Al-Martan, the chairman of the board (Ikram) and the godfather of our association and its greatest supporter,” Abdul Rahman Abu Riah, CEO of Ikram, told Arab News.

“It emerged from building an aesthetic resort for those with no first-degree relatives, which was the basis for founding Ikram,” he added.

Abu Riah said that the project will provide permanent services for elderly people with no family members. Temporary services will also be provided for the elderly whose children suffer from poor economic conditions or those who cannot offer their parents proper services due to drug addictions and mental illness, among other issues.

Moreover, temporary services will be provided to the elderly whose children have left the country to study abroad or those who need a temporary home due to the absence of family members.

According to Abu Riah, there is a third category of services concerned with day care, where the elderly receive all types of care and services from morning until evening.

“This resort is keen to achieve life quality, which is a goal listed under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he added.

To benefit from the services provided, the elderly must be older than 60, free from high-class mental illnesses or infectious diseases, not have a first-class family member, and be able to afford the financial fees.

“The association will be in charge of settling the fees on behalf of the poor and people in need through an elderly sponsorship program with the aid of the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development as well as large supporting companies.

“The association has received great support from Prince Hussam bin Saud, governor of Al-Baha, who has followed up and supported the project in person. The project will be launched next week as it began on the International Day of Older Persons in 2019.”

He added that the project is part of the initial phase of the first Ikram Resort, which will welcome 210 elderly people, including 120 women and 90 men, distributed among 120 rooms and suites comprising two to four beds. The resort has a large pool, a jacuzzi, a steam bath and a theater.

The latter will represent a turning point for the elderly, as it will host talk shows and cultural programs supervised by specialists, in addition to visitors from universities and schools, where the elderly can share their experiences and expertise, as well as social contributions. Multi-purpose halls will also be available, including sports equipment, an outdoor walkway, a library and clinics.

“One of our goals is to transform the Al-Baha region into a healing destination, where Ikram will be a first-class tourist healing hub specialized in physical therapy. We must first start with attracting qualified national cadres of both sexes who are specialized in physical therapy, as the government and private entities, in addition to businessmen and volunteers, have concerted and prioritized their efforts to give this decent aspect to the resort,” he said.

According to Abu Riah, the project started with land granted by the state, with a total surface area of 30,000 square meters, located in an ideal spot.

“We are now heading to the second stage of our project, which is concerned with married couples with no children. We are also working on the Montana tourist resorts, which include hotel villas for those wishing to enjoy the beauty of our nature while granting their families the opportunity to benefit from the available services.”


Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day
Updated 06 October 2022

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

Praise, gifts and gratitude as Saudi Arabia celebrates World Teachers’ Day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is marking World Teachers’ Day, which falls on Oct. 5 each year, with three days of celebrations under the theme “The transformation of education begins with the Teachers.”

The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization tweeted a message about the event, saying: “ICESCO calls for placing teachers at the forefront of efforts aimed at transforming education. It also calls for strongly reconsidering the teaching profession to create creative and innovative minds and build balanced and capable personalities.”

In line with the human capacity development program and achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Saudi teachers have taken part in training and development projects that have raised the level of professional qualification and the quality of education and learning.

Minister of Education Yousef Al-Benyan tweeted on his official Twitter account, praising the efforts of all teachers across the Kingdom.

He wrote: “I congratulate my fellow teachers on the occasion of #WorldTeachersDay. Appreciating their efforts, praising their contributions and their educational role in building humans and forming a competitive society that achieves sustainable development goals for the country.”

Al-Benyan added that teachers are partners in the journey of work, effort and development to achieve the aspirations of wise leadership.

He said that teaching stands at the top of the humanitarian professions pyramid, and urged students to respect teachers.

Ghadeer Shaheen, an early childhood teacher from Alkhobar, told Arab News how she and her colleagues were treated on their special day.

She said: “The place was full of joy. We exchanged gifts. Giveaways were also distributed to us by our students as a gratitude gesture from the school principal.”

Mariam Al-Shomrani, a chemistry teacher at the Gifted Secondary School in Jeddah, said: “Congratulations from the bottom of my heart to every teacher. You are the educators of generations and engineers of minds.

“I would like to also thank every teacher who taught me and made an effort to help me reach what I am now.”

The Ministry of Education has contributed to the development of innovation in teaching methods, in particular in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Suliman Mukhtar, an English lecturer from Yanbu, said that being a teacher meant always learning more about the vocation and obtaining more professional development through exposure to different teaching methods.

He added: “We learn from our students and we get to have different perspectives when we face challenges.

“As we interact with different age groups and different backgrounds of students, this helps us to try new strategies and techniques, and it is all fun that we get to experience this and learn more from it.”

The Ministry of Education continues to implement projects and programs for the educational professional, in addition to building a system for professional development in the public education sector.