With an eye on future food challenges, KSA invests millions in vertical farming

With an eye on future food challenges, KSA invests millions in vertical farming
Vertical farming could be adopted in homes, on rooftops and on balconies. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 December 2021

With an eye on future food challenges, KSA invests millions in vertical farming

With an eye on future food challenges, KSA invests millions in vertical farming
  • It requires less space than traditional farming, increases crop yields relative to amount of land involved and uses less water

MAKKAH: Agriculture is the world’s oldest, most adaptable industry and some of the earliest cultivation techniques are still in widespread use. But as nations address future challenges, authorities are looking to more modern concepts and ideas to ensure their citizens are fed.

Saudi Arabia, for example, is exploring the use of vertical farming as one of the innovative solutions to ensure enough crops are grown to keep pace with increasing demand. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has allocated SR100 million ($27 million) to develop and localize vertical-farming technologies.

As the name suggests, vertical farming is an agricultural process in which crops are grown in vertically stacked layers rather than spread out horizontally in tradi-tional rows in fields. This approach requires much less space and results in higher crop yields per square foot of land used.

Vertical farms are mainly situated indoors, in structures such as warehouses, where the environmental conditions needed for plants to grow to their full poten-tial can be carefully controlled.

In Saudi Arabia, the National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Estidamah) plans to form global partnerships with pioneers in this field and introduce vertical farming facilities to localize this modern agricultural technique.

“In addition to being a source of fresh crops for urban residents in particular, vertical farming is believed to be a promising means of providing crops to keep pace with the steady increase in the population of the Earth, which is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050,” Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer, a faculty member at Qasim University and a member of the board of directors of Estidamah, told Arab News.

“The importance of vertical farming lies in the small space it requires, especially in large cities that are witnessing large waves of migration; two out of every three people are expected to be living in urban areas during the coming decades.

“A key advantage of vertical farming is the provision of a variety of agricultural products, particularly leafy vegetables and strawberries, in small areas and with less water and in an environmentally friendly manner. Some crops can be produced in locations close to consumers, reducing the need to transport products through traditional means that increase pollutants in cities.

In addition to being a source of fresh crops for urban residents in particular, vertical farming is believed to be a promising means of providing crops to keep pace with the steady increase in the population of the Earth, which is expected to exceed nine billion people by 2050

Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Soqeer, Faculty member at Qasim University and a member of the board of directors of Estidamah

“The global market for vertical farming is rapidly growing, especially in some developed countries with high population densities.”

Faleh Al-Juhani, an expert in vertical farming, told Arab News: “The goal of vertical farming is to obtain as much food as possible and expand the variety of crops by creating exceptional climatic conditions through which we can raise production rates per square meter, so long as the appropriate conditions are available in terms of lighting, sustainability and growth and design.”

He explained that vertical farming takes place in a tall building. A combination of artificial and natural light is used to obtain the necessary levels of photosynthesis, he added, and aerobic or hydroponic methods and organic matter from some plants are used to grow the crops.

FASTFACT

This modern agricultural technique, in which crops grow indoors in vertically stacked layers, could prove vital in efforts to feed growing urban populations.

Vertical farming helps achieve sustainability, Al-Juhani said, by reducing some of the costs involved in traditional agriculture, and saving more than 90 percent of the water used.

He echoed Al-Soqeer’s observations about the expected growth in urban populations. With about 80 percent of the world’s population expected live in urban areas by 2050, Al-Juhani said demand for food in these locations will rise and the effective use of vertical farming will be an important tool for addressing this challenge.

It allows the production of abundant crops all year long, which is particularly significant, he added, because in Saudi Arabia, in common with other countries, many traditionally grown crops are adversely affected by cold weather, causing supply shortages that can lead to price increases that can be difficult to control.

Al-Juhani said that in addition to specialist facilities, vertical farming could be adopted in homes, on rooftops and on balconies.

“It is an easy and enjoyable method, despite our deep belief that nothing can match the efficiency and quality of the soil,” he said. “This is why many countries of the world have resorted to radical and pivotal solutions and succeeded in this regard.”


‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims
Updated 29 June 2022

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims
  • Consultations, diagnoses and medicine prescriptions to be done virtually
  • Health Ministry partners with Saudi telecoms firm and Seha Virtual Hospital

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel has launched a “holodoctor” service, in partnership with the Saudi Telecommunications Co., that would allow medical practitioners to treat Hajj pilgrims virtually.

These services include “inspection, diagnosis, and disbursing medicines” through direct contact with the Kingdom’s first Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported the minister as saying.

The minister thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for continuing to provide the services and facilities needed by pilgrims to complete their Hajj in comfort and safety.

Al-Jalajel said the Ministry of Health has prepared meticulously for medical care at the holy sites, including several hospitals and health centers, which are equipped with ambulances under the supervision of experienced personnel.

He said Seha Virtual Hospital provides 24-hour access for x-rays, and can deal with strokes and other serious medical situations. Doctors can communicate directly with patients and check all biomarkers.

Those needing information on care can telephone the number 937, access the Sehhaty application, or check the ministry’s Twitter account.


No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn
Updated 29 June 2022

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn
  • Hajj violators face 10,000 Saudi riyal fine

RIYADH: People attempting to perform the Hajj pilgrimage without a permit face a $2,666 fine, Saudi Arabia’s general security said in a statement on Wednesday.

The authority’s official spokesperson said pilgrims must obtain a Hajj permit from the relevant entities before attempting to perform the Muslim rituals. 

 

 

In the statement posted on Twitter, Brigadier Sami bin Mohammed Al-Shuwairkh urged pilgrims to strictly follow Hajj instructions, while stressing that security forces would “fulfill their duties” in securing routes leading to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the rest of the holy premises to prevent any violations.

Saudi Arabia earlier said it permitted over one million pilgrims from overseas to perform Hajj this year for the first time in two years of COVID-19 restrictions, which limited the pilgrimage to residents of the Kingdom.


Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers
Updated 29 June 2022

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

RIYADH: The Makkah Healthcare Cluster announced its readiness for this year’s Hajj season by completing the operational plans for all hospitals and health centers affiliated to it, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

It said 10 hospitals and 82 health centers have completed all preparations to implement operational plans prepared for the Hajj season.

Three emergency centers, as well as two more emergency hospitals will be operating inside and near the Grand mosque 24 hours a day to provide health care for pilgrims.


White House envoy for antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt conducts roundtable discussion at Arab News

White House envoy for antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt conducts roundtable discussion at Arab News
Updated 29 June 2022

White House envoy for antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt conducts roundtable discussion at Arab News

White House envoy for antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt conducts roundtable discussion at Arab News
  • Deborah Lipstadt discusses role and religious tolerance at roundtable with Saudi journalists

RIYADH: Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, expressed her delight to be in the Kingdom and said that she deliberately chose Saudi Arabia as her first foreign visit to help generate dialogue and normalize the coexistence of Muslims and Jews.

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, and Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas at the roundtable discussion at Arab News headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I'm overwhelmed by the changes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undertaking. You have got a long road, but you are certainly working down that road,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHT

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt believed the newer generations are actively changing and shifting perspectives, which is something she admired.

Lipstadt was talking on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion held at the Arab News headquarters in Riyadh, where the history of antisemitism and her work confronting it was discussed.

She focused on acknowledging her country’s past shortcomings and hoped that this trip would help start repairing the previous hostile viewpoint of Jews in the region.

She believed the newer generations were actively changing and shifting perspectives, which is something she admired.

The roundtable was moderated by Arab News Assistant Editor-in-Chief Noor Nugali and attended by Adel Al-Harbi, a prominent Saudi media adviser, Saudi columnist Noor Abdullah, and communications consultant and founder of SMZ International Group Sarah Elzeini.

Journalists from Arab News who attended included Nada Al-Turki and Arkan Al-Adnani, as well as members of the visiting delegation from the US embassy in Riyadh.

Arab News editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas with Ambassador Deborah lipstadt. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lipstadt also met Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas and conducted a tour of the newsroom, where she met journalists and editors on staff and was briefed on the newspaper’s own efforts in combating hate speech and promoting religious tolerance.

“I've seen some of the work you've done (at Arab News), the covers, the Minority report: The Jews of Lebanon. You're putting the Hebrew greeting for the new year ‘Shana Tova’ on your front page. That's unimaginable,” she said. “My country is not perfect; your country is not perfect. We have a long way to go, but what I've seen here certainly at Arab News is a great beginning.”

For his part, Abbas welcomed Lipstadt and her accompanying delegation and lauded her remarkable career in standing up against antisemitism.

“We are delighted to receive a guest of the caliber and accomplishments of Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt visit our headquarters in Riyadh, and we are keen to have more such interactions and offer any insight she and her team might need toward this noble cause, which falls in line with the huge reforms we are witnessing in our country,” said Abbas.

Arab News editor-in-chief Faisal J. Abbas with Ambassador Deborah lipstadt. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Prior to Lipstadt’s visit to the Kingdom, she met the Saudi ambassador to the US Princess Reema Bint Bandar in Washington, where they discussed “Saudi Arabia's meaningful strides in promoting peace, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue.”

This is Lipstadt’s first international trip since assuming her role in April 2022. The 11-day trip will include dialogue with senior government and civil society in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the UAE.

Her engagements during this tour aim to emphasize the need for interfaith understanding and religious tolerance, as well as to combat distrust and anti-Jewish sentiment.

Arab News will publish an in-depth interview with her tomorrow.


Al Jouf University included in QS world university rankings 2023

Al Jouf University included in QS world university rankings 2023
Updated 28 June 2022

Al Jouf University included in QS world university rankings 2023

Al Jouf University included in QS world university rankings 2023
  • The university’s president attributed its success to the Kingdom's leadership for their unwavering support for the education sector

AL JOUF: Al Jouf University, for the second year in a row, was included in the QS world university rankings for 2023, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

The university also ranked 701st globally and 8th locally, and was included in the Times World University Rankings for the second year in a row for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Shaya, president of the university, praised the institution's international classifications team as well as the Kingdom's leadership for their unwavering support for the education sector, which contributed to the university's success.

The president was presented with a certificate for the international classification QS.The Governor of Al-Jawf region and the Minister of Education both stated that the university is continuing to expand on its current position and is working continuously to advance in all fields within the Vision 2030 goals, SPA reported.

The Dean of Scientific Research and Supervisor of the International Classification Unit at the University, Dr. Nabil Al-Ruwaili said Al Jouf’s classification is a reflection of its qualitative practices on an educational, research and scientific level.