JEDDAH: The US State Department has approved the potential sale of Patriot missiles and related equipment to Saudi Arabia in a deal valued at up to $3.05 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
The potential sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system missiles, THAAD fire control and communication stations, and related equipment to the UAE in a deal valued at up to $2.25 billion, has also been approved, the Pentagon added.
In a joint communique issued after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month, it was reiterated that the “US-Saudi partnership has been a cornerstone of regional security over decades, and affirmed that the two countries share a vision of a more secure, stable, and prosperous region, interconnected with the world.”
“The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles,” the State Department said in its notice informing Congress of the sale.
“These missiles are used to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial system and ballistic missile attacks on civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia,” the department said.
For UAE, the department said the sale would “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is a vital US partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
Biden strongly affirmed Washington’s continued commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s security and territorial defense, and facilitating the Kingdom’s ability to obtain necessary capabilities to defend its people and territory against external threats.
The two sides underscored the need to further deter Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of other countries, its support for terrorism through its armed proxies, and its efforts to destabilize the security and stability of the region.
Saudi Arabia and the US stressed the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Saudi Cabinet expresses solidarity with quake hit Turkiye and Syria
Updated 07 February 2023
RIYADH: The Saudi cabinet voiced its solidarity with Turkiye and Syria following the devastating earthquakes that ripped through the border area between the two countries killing thousands and injuring thousands more.
The statement was made during Tuesday’s weekly Saudi Cabinet meeting, chaired by King Salman, as the death toll exceeded 5,000, with tens of thousands more injured.
But international agencies like the WHO said the casualty number would grow significantly to thousands more.
The Cabinet statement published via the state news agency SPA said “the Kingdom expressed its solidarity” with the countries impacted by the earthquakes.
The first quake – of a magnitude 7.8 - struck the border area between Turkiye and Syria at about 4a.m. local time on Monday causing buildings to topple to the ground, their occupants caught unaware as they slept.
The second – 7.7 magnitude - quake struck the same area shortly before 2p.m. local time as search and rescue workers dug frantically through the rubble to find survivors.
There were two further earthquakes of a magnitude 5.6 and 5.7 on Tuesday morning as well as 312 aftershocks since the first quake struck.
The Cabinet also praised the bilateral ties between the Kingdom and Iraq and reiterated the Kingdom’s support for efforts made by the Iraqi government to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity for its people.
It also reviewed reports on regional and international conferences recently held in Saudi Arabia to keep pace with the rapid developments and contribute to finding solutions to global challenges.
DUBAI: Nearly 675 mines planted by the Houthi militia in Yemen have been dismantled in the Fifth week of 2023 by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief)’s Masam project.
The mine-clearing team removed a total of 384,980 mines planted by the militia across Yemen since Masam project started, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
Overseen by the KSRelief, special teams destroyed hundreds of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, unexploded ordinances and other explosive devices.
The KSRelief project, also known as Masam, is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the orders of King Salman to help the Yemeni people.
More than 1.2 million mines have been planted by the Houthi militia, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians.
The Saudi project trains local demining engineers and provides them with modern equipment. It also provides support to Yemenis injured by the devices.
KSRelief continue its efforts to aid people in need
Updated 07 February 2023
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSRelief ) humanitarian efforts in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria continue with securing food parcels for people in need.
In Afghanistan the center distributed 650 food packages to families affected by the floods. And in Pakistan another 600 food parcels were distributed.
The agency has also extended its help to the Syrian people displaced in Jordan, in support to the education of Syrian refugees it distributed 3,262 school bags to students in Amman.
Saudi king, crown prince offer condolences to Erdogan after Turkiye quake
Prince Mohammed also offered his condolences to the families of victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery
Major earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 2,600 people on Monday
Updated 07 February 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and people after an earthquake rocked the country on Monday.
“We send to you, the families of the victims, and the Turkish people our sincere condolences and sympathy,” King Salman said. “We reiterate our stand with you in this painful event.” He wished the injured a speedy recovery and the missing a safe return.
The major earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 2,600 people and flattening thousands of buildings as rescuers dug frantically for survivors.
Prince Mohammed also offered his condolences to the families of victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
He added that the Kingdom stands with and supports Turkiye in the face of the natural disaster.
Erdogan thanked the crown prince and said he appreciates the Kingdom’s support in these difficult circumstances.
Multi-storey apartment buildings full of residents were among the 3,400 structures reduced to rubble in Turkey, while Syria announced dozens of collapses, as well as damage to archaeological sites in Aleppo.
How tech solutions are shaping Saudi Arabia’s clean energy transition
Adopting sustainable approaches to energy will be critical to achieving net zero, experts tell Arab News at LEAP23
Kingdom can maintain its energy leadership through development, sustainability and innovation, says Saudi official
Updated 07 February 2023
RIYADH: Technology could provide the sustainable solutions required to combat climate change and drive forward an inclusive clean energy transition, experts said on the sidelines of the LEAP23 Conference in Riyadh on Monday.
Governments and businesses worldwide are responding to rising global temperatures by pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, many experts believe these commitments can only be realized through the adoption of new technologies.
At the second edition of LEAP, a four-day annual tech convention, climate scientists rubbed shoulders with industry leaders to explore how technology can help mitigate, or even reverse, the effects of climate change.
Dr. Gasem Fallatah, deputy program director of the Oil Sustainability Program at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy, believes an equitable energy transition can be achieved through inclusiveness with collaborative approaches between governments and industry.
“The key word [for energy transition] is inclusiveness,” Fallatah told Arab News on the sidelines of LEAP23.
“We need to consider that when we are moving towards that transition and allowing every nation, geography, and economy to go for what is best suited for them, yet deliver on what you are supposed to deliver.
“In Saudi Arabia, inclusiveness is vital because we cater for all sources of energy: We are not tilted to one form or another. We are very much balanced when it comes to providing energy within the energy mix that we have got, but very much, also, committed to where the transition is and delivering on it.
“And this is why working with an Oil Sustainability Program allows us to find ways and means to continue to utilize our resources in a sustainable way that will enable us to make sure that we are taking advantage of our resources. Yet, we are also meeting our commitments to an energy transition that the world is morphing towards.”
• The Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives integrate environmental protection, energy transition and innovative sustainability programs to achieve a green future.
• Under the umbrella of the two initiatives, Saudi Arabia aims to leverage its expertise, champion scientific innovation, and share best practices with the world.
The program’s focus on three domains — development, sustainability, and innovation — places the Kingdom in a position to move quickly in its energy transition process.
In terms of innovation, the program has been very active in driving new technologies, either by improving the technology readiness level of these applications or scaling it when it is ready for application.
Fallatah added: “We are very active in understanding trends governing or driving the energy ecosystem as we are adamant about not letting go and finding every opportunity to help sustain oil, but also to keep that leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when it comes to that transition.
“We have the legacy of a number of years and we would like to maintain that leadership by contributing to that transition. How do we do it? We do it through development, working on sustainability, but also working on innovation.”
Saudi Arabia has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. The country has undertaken $1 billion in climate change initiatives as part of the Saudi Green Initiative, which seeks to establish a regional carbon capture and storage center, an early storm warning center, and cloud-seeding programs as part of its efforts to create a greener future.
The Saudi Green Initiative includes plans to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030, reducing 200 million tons of carbon emissions with additional initiatives to be announced in the years to come.
Saudi Arabia has launched and built several major renewable energy projects, taking advantage of its natural potential in solar and wind. It aims to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030, with the remaining 50 percent coming from natural gas.
The Kingdom also aims to become a world leader in hydrogen power and is investing in nuclear energy.
Although achieving a net-zero economy within 30 to 40 years may sound daunting, dozens of renewable energy breakthroughs are on the horizon, with many now making their way onto the market, as firms make their own net-zero pledges and invest in clean energy technologies.
For the transition to remain technically and economically feasible and beneficial, policy initiatives must steer the global energy transition toward a sustainable energy system.
Sustainable transition strategies typically consist of three significant technological changes: Energy savings on the demand side, generation efficiency at the production level, and fossil fuel substitution by various renewable energy sources and low-carbon nuclear.
Large-scale renewable energy adoption includes measures to improve the efficiency of existing non-renewable sources, which still have a substantial cost-reduction and stabilization role.
Experts warn that failure to act on emissions and the energy transition would be catastrophic.
“There will be no jobs on a dead planet. If we want prosperity for our people, we need to ensure prosperity in a land that thrives,” Dr. Paul Toyne, Grimshaw SD practice leader and expert adviser on environmental and sustainability goals, told Arab News at LEAP23.
“We do know that climate change is one of the largest or biggest threats to our planet and to our livelihoods, but we also know that if we solve climate change, we don’t necessarily solve the other issues that happened. So once we have a climate crisis, we also have a biodiversity crisis.”
Although governments are looking into ways of transitioning from oil and gas to renewables, Toyne stresses that the process will take some time, even with the right planning and investment.
He said: “We need to make our cities resilient to climate change and recognize that it will get worse, and adapt to create resilience.
“If we tackle the climate change solution with technologies and we flip over to renewables very quickly and restore the equilibrium in terms of carbon pollution, how do we restore the other ecosystems that we need?
“All of these economies and sectors need to go through a self-correction, which needs to be driven by the right policies and governance and financing of regenerative sectors.
“This takes us into a space of the unknown, but as a society we have more tools at our disposal, digital tools and breakthroughs in science, to provide solutions.”
Putting the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050-60 requires a substantial increase in capital-intensive clean energy assets.
Some believe this could hamper the energy transition process due to cost, but climate finance professionals such as Gerhard Mulder, CEO and co-founder of Climate Risk Services, believe this is not necessarily the case.
“There are upfront costs to a transition to a low-carbon economy, and numbers that are being thrown around in the trillions and, yes, in that sense it is very costly,” he told Arab News.
“However, if you look at electricity, for example, in more than half of the world, solar and wind are already more cost efficient than most fossil fuel-powered forms of generation.”
At a time when many countries face macroeconomic crises, due in part to the disruptions caused by the conflict in Ukraine, Mulder believes innovations will help stabilize energy, even in times of volatility. Indeed, by transitioning to low-carbon economies, “we’ll have more stable societies,” he said.
“The key word is building resilience and that means you are preparing yourself for an unstable future, preparing for unpredictable events, so that you can manage multiple scenarios,” he added.
Although the climate challenge at times feels insurmountable, Mulder claims he has never felt as optimistic about humanity’s response as he does today.
“When I first started working [in the climate field] many denied the science,” he said. “Today, nobody can. Many said that it’s a future problem, but the problem is here already. We have a finite amount of time, which is the bad news, but this is the decade we need to do it.
“There’s plenty of money available and plenty of technology available to invest in disruptive technologies, and we can already do so much with existing technologies by creating new markets so we can scale up the process.”