Desert Technologies inaugurates photovoltaic plant to generate 500kW power

Located in AlJomaih, the second industrial city of Riyadh, the solar plant will cover over 70 percent of the facility’s energy requirements in its initial phase.
Located in AlJomaih, the second industrial city of Riyadh, the solar plant will cover over 70 percent of the facility’s energy requirements in its initial phase.
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Updated 06 July 2022

Desert Technologies inaugurates photovoltaic plant to generate 500kW power

Desert Technologies inaugurates photovoltaic plant to generate 500kW  power

RIYADH: Jeddah-based Desert Technologies Investment Co. and AlJomaih & Shell Lubricating Oil Co. have inaugurated a 500kW-photovoltaic plant.

JOSLOC is part of AlJomaih Holding Group that installed 1,276 solar panels from the Desert Technologies Industries factory, according to Solar Quarter. 

Located in AlJomaih, the second industrial city of Riyadh, the solar plant will cover over 70 percent of the facility’s energy requirements in its initial phase, Saher Hashem, CEO of JOSLOC, said. 

“The new solar energy project has proven that AlJomaih and Shell are moving toward expanding solar energy solutions, which contributes to saving energy and preserving the environment by reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions and promoting a green economy,” he added. 

“This is in line with the Kingdom’s orientations and the goals of Vision 2030 aimed at enabling the renewable energy sector to effectively contribute to the national energy mix,” Hashem said.


Lebanese MPs bicker as deadline nears to elect new president

Lebanese MPs bicker as deadline nears to elect new president
Updated 7 min 34 sec ago

Lebanese MPs bicker as deadline nears to elect new president

Lebanese MPs bicker as deadline nears to elect new president
  • Nabih Berri’s announcement comes weeks before Michel Aoun is due to leave office
  • Parliament also contains 30 independents and reformists, meaning no bloc enjoys an absolute majority

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament speaker has called a Thursday session to elect a new president, despite a political deadlock caused by a splintered chamber failing to agree on a candidate.
Nabih Berri’s announcement comes weeks before Michel Aoun is due to leave office, and as rival parliamentary blocs refuse to nominate or even discuss who should replace him.
Lebanon’s Parliament of 128 MPs contains two main blocs after elections earlier this year: The Hezbollah-aligned March 8 Alliance with 60 MPs, and their opponents, the March 14 Alliance with 38.
Parliament also contains 30 independents and reformists, meaning no bloc enjoys an absolute majority. As a result, a new president must have cross-bench support.
Ali Darwich, a former MP, said the announcement by Berri, whose Amal Movement is part of March 8, is intended “to hold everyone accountable.”
He said: “We hope that the session leads to the election of a president, but tomorrow’s scene will reveal that an agreement on the new president’s identity has yet to be reached.”
Consultations among parliamentary blocs have intensified since Berri’s announcement, with sources suggesting that many have agreed to attend the session.
Melhem Khalaf, a member of the 13-member Forces for Change opposition bloc, said Berri had “fulfilled his constitutional duty by urging deputies to carry out their responsibilities and avoid a presidential vacuum,” and “as reformists, we will be the first to attend.”
His alliance has however not nominated a candidate. Instead, it has issued a set of standards for Aoun’s replacement: “Lebanese-made, a savior chosen from outside the corrupted system that contributed to the destruction of the country.”
Under the constitution, which divides power between the country’s religions, any Maronite Lebanese can run for the presidency.
The most prominent candidates are usually the leaders of Christian parties, such as former deputy Suleiman Franjieh, the leader of the Marada Movement and an ally of the Syrian regime; Gibran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement and an ally of Hezbollah; and the head of the Lebanese Forces Party, Samir Geagea. However, none enjoy majority support in parliament.
The names that were reported on Wednesday to have received some support include Lebanon’s ambassador to the Vatican since 2018, Farid Elias Al-Khazen; former MP Salah Hanin; Michel Moawad, the son of former President Rene Moawad; and independent Neamat Ifram, an MP and businessman formerly of the Free Patriotic Movement.
Other tips for candidacy include Damianos Kattar and Jihad Azour, both former finance ministers; banker Samir Assaf; and Ziad Baroud and Marwan Charbel, both former interior ministers.
The Lebanese president is elected by secret ballot. Candidates must gain a two-thirds majority of the 128 MPs in the first round of voting to be elected outright.
A candidate with a simple majority of 65 votes can be declared the winner if further rounds are required.


London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Updated 18 min 57 sec ago

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
Updated 30 min 58 sec ago

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

US announces $1.1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine
  • The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition
  • The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion

WASHINGTON: The United States announced Wednesday a new package of arms and supplies for Ukraine worth $1.1 billion for reinforcing Kyiv’s forces over the medium and long term.
The package of orders for US military suppliers includes Himars missile systems and ammunition, systems to counter drones, radars and armored vehicles, according to a Defense Department statement.
The package “represents a multi-year investment in critical capabilities to build the enduring strength of Ukraine’s Armed Forces” as they continue to battle the invading Russian army, the Pentagon said.
The new package took the total military aid from the United States to Ukraine since the Russians invaded on February 24 to $16.2 billion.
It includes 18 more Himars systems, highly accurate missile systems which the Ukrainians have been using effectively since June to hit Russian arms depots and command posts far behind the front lines.
It also includes 150 armored vehicles, 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, trucks and trailers, and systems to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s Iranian-made drones increasingly deployed on the battlefield.


Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.

The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.

The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.

“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.

Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.


Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round
Updated 28 September 2022

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

RIYADH: Alteia, a European artificial intelligence and industrial software company, announced that it closed its latest funding round led by Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm.

Alteia will utilize its funding to increase its presence in the Kingdom by opening an office in Dhahran to support companies in the region as well as invest in research and development.

“To have the world’s leading energy company invest in Alteia through its investment arm is a strong show of faith in our trajectory, and weighs in the value of contextualized, actionable visual data as the foundation to shape a more efficient, more sustainable industrial future,” Benjamin Benharrosh, co-founder of Alteia, said in a statement.