NEOM launches regreening initiative to plant 100 million trees

NEOM launches regreening initiative to plant 100 million trees
NEOM’s initiative will see the return of 100 million native trees, shrubs and grasses by 2030 to aid the restoration of degraded land. (NEOM)
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Updated 29 May 2022

NEOM launches regreening initiative to plant 100 million trees

NEOM launches regreening initiative to plant 100 million trees
  • NEOM aims to improve vegetation cover across its site by rehabilitating at least 1.5 million hectares of land
  • The project will support the Kingdom’s Saudi Green Initiative to plant 10 billion trees

RIYADH: NEOM, the sustainable regional development in northwest Saudi Arabia, launched a re-greening initiative on Sunday to plant 100 million native trees, shrubs, and grasses by 2030.

As part of its program to rehabilitate at least 1.5 million hectares of land, NEOM’s initiative will see the return of 100 million native trees, shrubs and grasses by 2030 to aid the restoration of degraded land and repair of wildlife habitats.

The initiative was announced at the International Exhibition and Forum for Afforestation Technologies being held in Riyadh, and will be carried out in collaboration with the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification.

The CEO of NEOM, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, said: “Protecting the natural landscape and ensuring the coexistence of human and natural habitats is integral to NEOM’s vision.”

He continued: “By launching the NEOM Re-greening Initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, we are well underway to becoming a leading contributor to the conservation and preservation of one of the world's outstanding natural environments.”

The CEO of the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, Dr. Khaled Alabulqader, said the new initiative launched by NEOM “will have a great impact in supporting efforts aimed at protecting the environment, promoting nature, and ensuring its sustainability, and directly contributing to the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.”

NEOM is participating in the International Exhibition and Forum for Afforestation Technologies as the main sponsor, as part of its efforts to provide sustainable solutions to the most urgent global environmental challenges and aid the Kingdom in delivering its 10-billion-tree-planting initiative, Saudi Green Initiative.


Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine
Updated 23 min 9 sec ago

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine
  • Kingdom’s track record belies lack of recognition of its donations for displaced Ukrainian refugees
  • A $10 million aid package has just been signed off by the UNHCR, WHO and Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief 

JEDDAH: The perception that Saudi Arabia is not helping Ukrainians affected by the war with Russia is completely at odds with the reality. 

The firmness of the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting refugees and resolving the conflict has been evident since the outbreak of hostilities. Aid pledges have been matched by donations that are already making a big difference.

A $10 million Saudi humanitarian package for war-displaced Ukrainians has just been signed off by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization and Saudi Arabia’s leading humanitarian aid agency.

Ukrainians cross the border from Ukraine to Poland at the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing on Feb. 26, 2022, as Russian forces invade their country. (AFP)

About half of the $10 million grant has been allocated for distribution through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief).

In April, King Salman directed KSrelief to provide this amount of support for immediate assistance and give “urgent medical and shelter aid” to Ukrainian refugees, giving priority to those arriving in Poland.

Delivering on the Kingdom’s promise during his ongoing visit to Poland, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and supervisor general of KSrelief, also discussed the humanitarian situation with Polish, UNHCR and WHO officials, according to a Saudi Press Agency report.

It said Al-Rabeeah visited several health establishments and facilities, taking time to speak to some Ukrainian refugees who had fled to Warsaw from their war-torn country.

KSrelief chief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah visiting Poland’s Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, which is supporting refugees in Warsaw. (Supplied)

“Thank you very much, and thanks to the center for helping us. The situation is as you can see,” a Ukrainian resident of a refugee center told Al-Arabiya news channel.

“All of us came from Ukraine, and we were in a very bad way. Thanks to you, our situation has improved. Thanks a lot, and we wish peace to the whole world.”  

At the Poland-Ukraine border, Al-Rabeeah lauded the collaboration between the WHO, KSrelief, and the Polish government. “We highly appreciate the partnership with the WHO. Our work together has made great support to refugees and those in need here and elsewhere,” he said in a video released by WHO Poland.

KSrelief has donated funds to support the critical response efforts for Ukrainians in Poland, with the delivery of emergency medical supplies and equipment benefiting more than 1 million people in need.

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The Kingdom’s support for Ukrainian refugees is an extension of its well-known humanitarian efforts in more than 85 countries, yet several reports have hinted that Saudi Arabia has picked sides in the conflict because of its ties to Russia as a fellow OEPC+ member.

Despite the political and humanitarian initiatives taken by the Kingdom, urging all parties to come to the negotiating table to resolve the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, the Kingdom’s efforts have been viewed with skepticism in some quarters.

A March report by the Wilson Center, a US government-linked public policy think tank, claimed that Saudi Arabia “has decided to side with Russia” and “chose Putin over Biden,” accusing the Kingdom of playing political games to keep oil prices high.

The remarks came despite the Kingdom’s repeated offers to both mediate between the warring parties and increase oil production along with neighboring Gulf countries.

The differences between the Western and Arab positions on the question of how to end the war have not stopped either side from addressing the humanitarian emergency.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has reiterated that though ending the ongoing war in Ukraine is no easy feat, the Kingdom has treated the issue just as any ongoing crisis in the region, stressing that human suffering is the same in all conflicts and that violence is not the solution.

In March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Kingdom was ready to exert all efforts to mediate between the two nations.

In May, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the crisis.

Less than a week later, Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during the latter’s visit to Riyadh, where he underscored the importance of reaching a political solution to achieve security and stability for all involved.

Though scant details on Lavrov’s visit and meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council ministers were released, the trip was still misinterpreted as evidence of Saudi Arabia’s support for Russia, even though the Kingdom and other Gulf states had opted to stay neutral, treating the war in Ukraine in “a fair context” and providing aid to the needy.

In June, Prince Faisal bin Farhan clarified the Kingdom’s position further: “Our stance as Gulf countries regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is unified,” he said on June 1 during a speech at the opening of the 152nd session of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Today we had two fruitful meetings with the Russian and Ukrainian ministers, during which we stated our unified stance regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and its negative consequences, namely the food security of the affected countries and the world.”

Saudi Arabia’s decision to remain neutral and prioritize humanitarian engagement during the war also ought to be viewed in the context of public opinion. In a recent Arab News-YouGov poll, of the more than 1,000 Saudis who were asked for their opinion, 14 percent blamed US President Joe Biden for the conflict while 21 percent blamed NATO.

While a high number of Saudi respondents expressed skepticism about NATO’s involvement with the conflict, 41 percent of Saudis said they did not know or were not sure who was to blame.

Throughout the conflict, more than 40 countries, organizations, and individual donors have made pledges and commitments, some of which have made their way to the 6.3 million refugees fleeing Ukraine as well as those who remained. But there is a striking gap between pledged and delivered support.

Thus far, most Western governments have given priority to military assistance over humanitarian aid.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the US has pledged $23.8 billion in military aid, the highest number to date, but has only allocated $8.9 billion in humanitarian assistance.

According to the center, that number has since increased but by a relatively small percentage. Similarly, the EU pledged $12.3 billion in military aid but just $1.4 billion has been siphoned for humanitarian response and aid packages.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, Western and Arab governments have been under no illusion that the need for a resolution of the conflict is no less pressing than addressing the humanitarian emergency.

Last month, President Biden visited Jeddah and met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two sides discussed several topics of concern, including energy, security and the crisis in Ukraine.

Soon after Biden left the Kingdom, Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke to CNBC to set the record straight. “We have said from the very beginning, we supported the UN General Assembly Resolution and the inadmissibility abuse of force, about the sovereignty of nations and respect for that,” he said.

“We have called for a peaceful resolution to this; stop the fighting and get to the negotiating table and work out your differences peacefully.

“The concern that we have is that escalation on one side leads to escalation on the other side and before you know it, things are more likely to spin out of control and we all pay the price.”

For good measure, Al-Jubeir said: “We’ve reached out to both Russia and Ukraine. We’ve urged them to move towards a ceasefire settlement and their conflict peacefully. We continue to be engaged with them as are a number of other countries, and our hope is that they will be able to recognize that it’s better to argue across the table from each other than fight across the battlefield, because of the unintended consequences of war and conflict.”

Meanwhile, when it comes to humanitarian giving, Saudi Arabia’s pledges continue to be matched by its actions.

On Friday, accompanied by Saad Al-Saleh, the Saudi ambassador to Poland, KSrelief’s Al-Rabeeah visited the UNHCR’s warehouse facilities in Rzeszow in Poland. They jointly inspected the aid already provided as part of the Kingdom’s $10 million grant to support Ukrainian refugees.

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Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Sunday from Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the call, they reviewed the brotherly and historical relations between the Kingdom and Pakistan, in addition to discussing opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields.

Also on Sunday, King Salman and the crown prince congratulated Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Saturday on the occasion of Pakistan’s 76th Independence Day.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has sent a cable of congratulations to President Dr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, on the anniversary of his country’s Independence Day,” SPA said. 

In his message, Prince Mohammed “wished the President constant good health and happiness and the government and friendly people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan steady progress and prosperity.” 


Saudi authorities arrest border security violators

Asir police have arrested border security violators. (SPA)
Asir police have arrested border security violators. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 53 sec ago

Saudi authorities arrest border security violators

Asir police have arrested border security violators. (SPA)
  • Police urged residents to report violators of residency, work and border security regulations through the 911 phone number in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 and 996 in the rest of the Kingdom’s regions

ASIR: Road patrols in Asir arrested a person for transporting five violators of the border security system into the Kingdom, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The media spokesman for the Asir police stated that anyone who facilitates the entry of violators of the border security system into the Kingdom, transports them within it, or provides them with shelter or assistance in any way will receive up to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to SR 1 million ($266,000), in addition to confiscation of the means of transportation and housing used for shelter.

Police urged residents to report violators of residency, work and border security regulations through the 911 phone number in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 and 996 in the rest of the Kingdom’s regions.

On Sunday, SPA reported that the Asir Municipality had imposed financial fines and suspended the permits of a number of construction companies after identifying 145 technical violations.

Abdullah Al-Riyai, the undersecretary for projects in Asir Municipality, stated that the Project Coordination Department identified during the past week a number of instances in which excavation and extension contractors violated the requirements and technical specifications approved for excavation and re-asphalting of service lines, causing problems on roads and in public spaces.

He said that the secretariat has instructed them to refill the excavations as per approved standards. The contractors’ permits will be suspended until all work is complete.

 


Hundreds of women benefit from Saudi virtual health sessions

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
Updated 14 August 2022

Hundreds of women benefit from Saudi virtual health sessions

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
  • The sessions are provided in cooperation with the Saudi Charitable Association of Diabetes to the university’s students and employees

RIYADH: Almost 330 women have benefited from virtual health sessions provided through the Nutrition Unit at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sessions aim to highlight diabetes prevention, adopting a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of infection, spreading awareness about diabetes, the stages of diabetes, correcting misconceptions, answering inquiries, and providing the necessary moral support and awareness for those with diabetes by opening a reliable advice channel.

The sessions are provided in cooperation with the Saudi Charitable Association of Diabetes to the university’s students and employees.

Every month, the clinic hosts an association member who gives medical consultations and holds awareness sessions.

Families of university employees who wish to benefit from the counseling sessions can also attend.

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life that supports people’s health and well-being for better productivity.

The efforts come within the framework of cooperation between the university and organizations that seek to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 by keeping pace with the needs of female students, promoting health, and moral support.

 


Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations
  • Flight SV5712 from Madinah airport, carrying 347 Hajj pilgrims, was bid farewell on Sunday
  • Saudia’s Hajj plan began with arrivals to the Kingdom on June 6 and continued with departures on July 14

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s flag carrier Saudia concluded its global Hajj 2022 transport operation with a flight to Ahmedabad, India on Sunday.

Flight SV5712 from Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport, carrying 347 pilgrims, was bid farewell by Saudia’s chief Hajj and Umrah officer Amer Alkhushail.

Saudia’s operational plan for Hajj began with arrivals to the Kingdom on June 6 and continued with departures on July 14.

More than 350,000 pilgrims were transported over the two phases, of which 120,000 traveled on 300 Hajj flights. A further 230,000 pilgrims traveled on scheduled and additional flights.

The airline revealed that 280,000 pieces of luggage were handled as part of its free “luggage first” service that was launched this year.

As part of the free service, pilgrims’ luggage was collected from their hotel or other accommodation in Jeddah, Makkah or Madinah 24 hours before their departure and delivered to the correct airport baggage center where it was checked in before they arrived at the airport.