A desalination project signifies the potential of business-academia partnerships in Saudi Arabia 

Special ACWA Power's Sakaka solar plant in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
ACWA Power's Sakaka solar plant in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 June 2022

A desalination project signifies the potential of business-academia partnerships in Saudi Arabia 

A desalination project signifies the potential of business-academia partnerships in Saudi Arabia 
  • Partnership between KAUST and ACWA Power to spur adoption of solar energy for water desalination
  • Business leaders eager to tap the Kingdom’s top research universities for carbon-cutting solutions

DUBAI: The worlds of business and academia are too often viewed as mutually exclusive. But as nations search for scalable solutions to the climate crisis, while also attempting to meet the demands of ever-growing populations, there is certainly merit in working to combine the efforts of these two forces.

Take the recent partnership between ACWA Power and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which has already carried out new research into the scaled use of solar power in sustainable desalination of seawater.

Last month, a joint delegation of the two organizations hosted the inaugural Innovation Days event, a platform that brought together leading business executives, innovators and researchers to showcase their expertise in solar energy, green hydrogen, artificial intelligence, and desalination.

The event looked at the critical issues facing green sources of energy and the desalination process, including how to accelerate the adoption of sustainable technologies to advance the integration of renewables and hydrogen in the process.

“We entered into the local innovation system and we started this journey into innovation by identifying a top-notch university in the region,” Thomas Altmann, the executive vice president of innovation and new technology at ACWA Power, told Arab News.

The company, which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and has its headquarters in Riyadh, is a leading developer, investor and operator in power generation, desalination and green hydrogen in the MENA region. KAUST is one of the Kingdom’s foremost education and research institutions.

Since 2019, the two organizations have jointly operated a research and development hub called the KAUST-ACWA Power Center of Excellence for Desalination and Solar Power.

“KAUST had several advantages for us,” said Altmann. “(Our initial work) is a collaboration in desalination and solar, and we have already expanded to new areas. The original idea was to improve the operational efficiency of our plants.”

Already, he added, the company has been able to make incremental improvements to its operations and designs as a result of the partnership.

“We have made significant design improvements,” said Altmann. “This academic support drills into some topics a lot deeper, to do lab and pilot tests.”

Partnerships such as this represent an exciting convergence of academia and industry, according to regional experts. Abhayjit Sinha, a strategic advisor at the Middle East Solar Industry Association, said such arrangements are mutually beneficial.




KAUST's MoU signing with ACWA Power. (Supplied)

“On one hand, KAUST researchers receive a real-world test bed to test their hypotheses,” he told Arab News. “On the other hand, ACWA Power benefits from an extended and external research and development facility.

“A critical success factor is balancing the bold, albeit sometimes theoretical, ideas of academicians with economical value sought by industry players.”

Raed Bkayrat, another strategic adviser at MESIA, believes the partnership will have the added benefit of accelerating research into more sustainable desalination, a process that can be extremely energy intensive.

“Worldwide, seawater desalination is producing an ever-growing carbon footprint and is having a wider ecological impact, if left to current commercial solutions,” he told Arab News.

“Such a partnership will help provide mitigation methods as well as new solutions that can produce desalinated water with a minimal carbon footprint.”

FASTFACTS

 

* Partnership between KAUST and ACWA Power is spurring the adoption of solar for water desalination.

* Business leaders are eager to tap Saudi Arabia's top research universities for carbon-cutting solutions.

Saudi Arabia is one of the larger desalination markets in the Middle East and North Africa region. About 2,000 million cubic meters of water are desalinated each year to meet the freshwater needs of the Kingdom’s population and agricultural sector.

Bkayrat believes that combining the efforts of advanced research institutions such as KAUST with major players in the desalination industry could prove key to ensuring the Kingdom meets its net-zero emissions goal by 2060.

“The model of engaging industrial players with research institutions and creating a strong dialogue that helps shape and guide the research work done by the scientists at KAUST is the proper model,” he said.

“It enables industry adoption of new technology and helps bridge the gap between the laboratory and real-world implementation.




The recent partnership between ACWA Power and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (pictured) has already carried out new research into the scaled use of solar power in sustainable desalination of seawater. (Supplied)

“Such models are gaining wider adoption and are helping research universities to make a greater impact and secure additional funding streams while providing a technological and commercial edge to the industry partner.”

Saudi Arabia is transitioning toward renewables in an attempt to reduce its reliance on oil and gas for domestic energy needs. Authorities aim to expand the country’s total solar energy capacity by almost 40 gigawatts by 2025 from the current 455 megawatts.

To achieve this, the government is investing heavily in its research universities and promoting the opportunities for both international investment and domestic entrepreneurism to help stimulate the market for green investments and sustainable solutions.

Business leaders think even more can be done to promote such an environment. Altmann, for example, believes the Kingdom ought to build a platform that allows companies such as ACWA Power to bring new technologies to Saudi Arabia and initially deploy them on a small scale.

“We have proposed something, with any new project, to allow the developer to deploy a new technology up to 1 percent of the total capacity,” he said. “This will allow us to bring in new technology, to scale it, develop it further and make it more mature.

“That would mean a growing independence from the grid, immediately reducing fossil fuel burning in Saudi Arabia by using emerging technologies, many of which are coupled directly with renewable energy.”

Innovation Days, like the one in March, could prove critical to establishing just such an innovative environment in the Kingdom by promoting the bonds between business and leading scientific minds.

“It’s mainly universities, entrepreneurs, corporates like us, and government,” Altmann said.

“We did a lot of innovation in-house and now we opened up about being a technology innovation leader as well.”




Saudi Arabia is one of the larger desalination markets in the Middle East and North Africa region, about 2 billion cubic meters of water are desalinated each year to meet the freshwater needs of the Kingdom’s population and agricultural sector. (AFP)

One of these innovations is hydrogen power, which is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future. Green hydrogen, which is produced using solar energy, is a major feature of the energy equation for the NEOM megacity project currently taking shape along Saudi Arabia’s northwestern Red Sea coast.

“We started to expand our cooperation with KAUST in the area of hydrogen electrolysis (which significantly reduces energy consumption), and we are a part of the NEOM project as a shareholder, (with) the largest hydrogen plant in the world under construction,” said Altmann.

“So we have taken a huge step in that direction and now we are doing pilot plants in KAUST with the next generation of hydrogen electrolysis.”

According to Sinha, corporate partnerships are an integral part of KAUST’s business plan, with similar agreements already in place with Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace, arms, defense, information security, and technology corporation, and Elm, a joint-stock company and leading digital-solutions company in Saudi Arabia that is owned by the nation’s Public Investment Fund.

“One benchmark for success is the number of patents filed under such collaborations,” said Sinha. “I expect more partnership announcements in the near future. However, in the long term there will be consolidation where most industry firms will partner with one or two academic institutes.”

Donal Bradley, vice president for research at KAUST, said the university aims to address critical global challenges across energy, water, the environment, food and health, and the digital realm through such research partnerships with industry players.

“We work closely with partners in the Kingdom, including the ministries, NEOM and leading companies,” he told Arab News.

“The Innovation Days event with ACWA Power offers an exciting forum to support the development of technologies that can help solve local and global needs.”

 


Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 

Saudi man killed in Tunisia by his brother-in-law 
  • The embassy expressed its full confidence in the Tunisian judiciary

RIYADH: A Saudi man was killed by his Tunisian wife’s brother in Bizerte, Tunisia, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday, citing a statement from the Saudi embassy in Tunis.

The statement said: “The embassy would like to clarify that it has followed up on the details of the tragic incident since its occurrence with the concerned authorities in Tunisia,” adding that the case is now with Tunisia courts.

The embassy expressed its full confidence in the Tunisian judiciary.

It also said that it has completed all the necessary procedures with the authorities, and the body of the deceased had been returned to the Kingdom.

The embassy extended condolences to the family of the deceased.
 


Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Tuesday from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
During the call, they reviewed aspects of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Germany, opportunities for joint cooperation between the two countries, and ways to develop them.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and efforts exerted to achieve peace and stability, in addition to reviewing the most prominent issues of common interest.


Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
  • Ready-to-wear Saudi fashion label launches “SEASON V”

RIYADH: Ready-to-wear Saudi luxury label Hindamme launched its new collection, “SEASON V,” that explores relationships to families, communities, and the Earth.

The brand, established by designer Mohammed Khoja, became well known for successfully fusing Eastern and Western cultures through modern, opulent apparel in forward-thinking, creative designs.

“Autobiographical in its spirit, the brand’s latest offering investigates the deeper and more meaningful connections in life,” said Khoja.

“What inspired this collection is bringing together the community and building new connections and reconnecting with nature. It has a very positive theme, and the reason why I wanted to create it was because I felt it was therapeutic for myself, and also the need to focus on our planet,” he added.

Through its aesthetic, “SEASON V” applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood-inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, “SEASON V” reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

“Every time I wear the bomber jacket from (the) ‘SEASON V’ collection, people stop me and ask me where did I get it from, which is rewarding for me. The jacket has an attractive lavender color with the calligraphy of the Arabic word for ‘Earth’ on the back,” Khoja said.

HIGHLIGHT

Through its aesthetic, ‘SEASON V’ applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood- inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, ‘SEASON V’ reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

Indeed, much of the collection reflects the designer’s love of calligraphy, with the Arabic ‘Earth’ motif applied in embossed, padded embroideries throughout several items.

“SEASON V” also introduces a specially commissioned collaboration with Kyoto-based Japanese artist Ikegami Yorikyuki, that features prints of a mural entitled “A Certain Planet” in several pieces throughout the collection.

The most recent editorial lookbook of “SEASON V” also brought together a number of Middle Eastern multi-disciplinary artists to produce a collection of prints that reflect an NFT-inspired universe that honors nature and denotes both our current connection to, and disconnection from it.

“I collaborated with a number of Arab creatives. I really look up to producing a series of artistic photography as an editorial for the new collection. It was beautiful, in a sense, as it produced a diverse fusion of art, photography and fashion within these visuals,” said Khoja.

About naming the collection “SEASON V” Khoja told Arab News: “From the beginning of establishing my brand, I decided to do drops, as what they refer to in the fashion world, rather than follow a season, and I felt like the easiest way to document each season was by giving it a number, and in this case, it was in Roman format, but I also do smaller collections between each season.”

In each of its collections, Hindamme, which in the old Arabic dialect means “to possess perfect harmony,” frequently combines different genres.

Khoja spoke about the importance of connecting young Saudi designers to investors for support, putting Saudi fashion brands in malls and showrooms.

Through Hindamme, Khoja has been a trailblazer in influencing and advancing Saudi Arabia’s fashion and cultural landscape with his “East meets West” philosophy.

He launched Hindamme in 2016, incorporating patterns like “Al-Qatt Al-Aseeri” from his native land and highlighting frequently ignored elements of heritage to a new audience in a contemporary and forward-thinking format.

He was inspired by reflecting elements of his everyday life and larger cultural and social themes through his designs.

Many of his pieces have also won recognition on a global scale and are now part of permanent collections at a number of museums.


Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in the UK held a ceremony on Tuesday to honor a number of employees who have ended their work term at the mission in the capital, London.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to Britain, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, expressed his thanks and appreciation to the employees for their effort and dedication in serving their religion, king and country, wishing them more success in their endeavors inside and outside the Kingdom, in the interest of the nation in various fields.


Saudi Arabia’s regions provide healthcare to thousands of patients

Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s regions provide healthcare to thousands of patients

Saudi healthcare sector provided medical services to thousands of patients. (SPA)
  • In Riyadh, the emergency departments and outpatient clinics of Dawadmi General Hospital provided their services to around 86,434 people

JEDDAH: Clinics and hospitals in the Kingdom’s central and eastern regions provided medical services to thousands of patients in the first half of 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In Buraidah, the blood clinic at the Prince Sultan Cardiac Center in Qassim helped more than 1,870 people.

The services included medical consultations, guiding patients on how to get medicines from the pharmacy, and delivering patient medication to homes in cooperation with Saudi Post.

It also held a virtual clinic through the Anat app to help healthcare officials interview patients remotely, follow up on their appointments, or get them tested by the nearest healthcare center without the patient visiting the center.

In Riyadh, the emergency departments and outpatient clinics of Dawadmi General Hospital provided their services to around 86,434 people. It performed 836 surgeries, 17,073 radiological examinations, and 366,469 laboratory tests.

Hafr Al-Batin Central Hospital, represented by the Cardiac Surgery and Catheterization Unit, performed 39 successful cardiac catheterization operations during July.  

Hafr Al-Batin Health Affairs said seven emergency cases of high-risk heart attacks were treated.

An advanced and complex cardiac catheterization was carried out on a patient suffering from chronic obstruction in the coronary arteries using the CTO technique, in addition to three cardiac catheterizations for patients suffering from coronary artery blockage using the internal imaging technique by intravascular ultrasound.

Hafr Al-Batin Central Hospital provided services to 237 beneficiaries last year. It also dealt with 150 emergency cases, 80 diagnostic and therapeutic cases, four implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, and seven electrocardiography.