RIYADH: The Saudi-Turkish Business Forum, organized by the Federation of Saudi Chambers, kicked off on Sunday in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported
The event was attended by a number of companies and government agencies from both countries.
Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qassabi stated during his speech at the forum that the Kingdom is experiencing an unprecedented renaissance and transformation as a result of ambitious leadership and vision. He went on to say that the forum will help to find new opportunities for economic cooperation between the two countries, citing minerals, tourism, housing and infrastructure, services, communications, and digitization.
The Turkish Minister of Trade Mehmet Mus stated that the Kingdom and Turkiye are emerging economic powers with significant competitive advantages, expressing their desire to increase trade volume to $10 billion in the coming years. Mus also stated that the Turkish economy is expanding rapidly and that there is a comprehensive investment incentive system in place. The minister urged Saudi companies to enter the Turkish market and capitalize on the opportunities.
The forum resulted in the signing of three commercial cooperation agreements between Saudi and Turkish business representatives to localize the manufacturing of welding equipment and supplies, as well as the production of high-tech trucks and tanks.
The forum also saw an agreement to launch a joint Saudi-Turkish automation and engineering project for the Middle East region.
Labor chiefs probe exploitation of Palestinian workers in Israel
More than 120 killed in past 15 months
Updated 7 min 28 sec ago
RAMALLAH: The powerful International Labor Organization is investigating allegations of ill-treatment and exploitation of Palestinian workers in Israel.
Palestinian leaders have handed a dossier to a fact-finding committee from the organization showing that the Israeli army killed 93 Palestinian workers in Israel in 2022, and a further 31 so far this year.
The report also detailed abuse of Palestinian workers at military checkpoints and barriers, the absence of occupational health and safety standards, and illegal working hours.
The dossier was handed over by Shaher Saad, secretary-general of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. Saad also told investigators that brokers and illegal middlemen were deducting about $34 million a month in fees taken from workers’ salaries, which prevented the implementation of a working social security system in Palestine.
About 170,000 Palestinians from the West Bank work in Israel or in illegal Israeli settlements, and 17,000 from the Gaza Strip. Each month they are required to pay about 2,500 shekels ($780) in fees for a work permit, in a system that is riddled with corruption.
A report in 2021 by the Institute for National Security Studies suggests that people illegally selling work permits had annual revenue of 1 billion shekels from about 40,000 Palestinian workers.
Meanwhile Israeli armed forces’ assaults against Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued with increasing frequency during Ramadan, Palestinian sources told to Arab News.
On Tuesday, the Israeli army arrested 13 citizens from different parts of the West Bank. At the same time, and for the fourth consecutive day, it continued to tighten its grip on the town of Huwara, south of Nablus.
Kamal Odeh, Fatah secretary in Huwara, said that the Israeli army had deployed intensively on the main street, setting up several barriers and trying to divert citizens’ routes through secondary streets inside the town.Soldiers turned several houses along the main street in the center of Huwara into military barracks.
“The security situation around Nablus is frightening,” Amer Hamdan, a rights activist from Nablus, told Arab News.
Israeli bulldozers also demolished three agricultural facilities in the Al-Sawahra wilderness, east of Jerusalem, and a commercial facility in Deir Ballut, west of Salfit.
Maj. Gen. Abdullah Kamil, the governor of Salfit, said demolitions by Israeli authorities in Salfit served the occupation’s plans to uproot Palestinian citizens from their lands in order to build more Israeli settlements.
Another powerful Pacific storm hits soggy, snowy California
Damage since the onslaught began in late December includes buildings crushed by snow, flooding of communities and farm fields and homes threatened by landslides
Updated 3 min 18 sec ago
SACRAMENTO, California: A powerful weather system from the Gulf of Alaska pushed into Northern California on Tuesday, bringing more wind, rain and snow to a state battered by months of storms.
Forecasters warned of heavy snow in coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada, where accumulations up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) were possible, highway chain requirements took effect and a backcountry avalanche warning was issued for the greater Lake Tahoe area.
The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to pull a plume of Pacific moisture into California as it tracked south, but the rainfall was not expected to be as intense as the atmospheric rivers that impacted the state in recent weeks.
After a dozen previous atmospheric rivers and blizzards fueled by arctic air, the water content of California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is more than double normal overall, and nearly triple in the southern Sierra.
Damage since the onslaught began in late December includes buildings crushed by snow, flooding of communities and farm fields and homes threatened by landslides.
Crews on Monday tore down a historic pier in Santa Cruz County that was in danger of collapse. The 500-foot-long (152-meter) wooden pier at Seacliff State Beach was severely damaged by big surf in January. Built in 1930, the pier connected the beach to SS Palo Alto, a grounded Word War I-era steamship known as the “cement ship.”
On the positive side, the storms have brought much-needed water. The state’s two largest reservoirs, Shasta and Oroville, have risen above their historical averages to date after being significantly depleted.
Cities and farmers that rely on the Central Valley Project, the federally managed water system, got a big boost in their allocations Tuesday.
More than 250 agencies — mostly irrigation districts — contract with the federal government for certain amounts of water each year, and the US Bureau of Reclamation announces each February how much of those contracts can be filled, updating as conditions change.
The storm boost in supply means that many providers of irrigation water supplied by the CVP will see the amount they can draw jump from as little as 35 percent of their contracted total to 80 percent. Providers for city and industrial uses will be allowed 100 percent of their historic use instead of just 75 percent, the bureau said.
In Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District is bringing water from the north to fill its massive Diamond Valley Lake, a reservoir that had diminished to 60 percent of capacity after three years of drought. It’s expected to be full again by year’s end.
“Nature gave us a lifeline,” MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said Monday as officials watched water pour into the reservoir.
Russian embassy says US wants to play down involvement in Nord Stream blasts
The Russian embassy in the US said in a statement posted on its Telegram messaging platform that Washington is doing “everything possible” to prevent “impartial efforts” establish circumstances around the explosions
Updated 29 March 2023
WASHINGTON: The Russian embassy in the US said on Wednesday Washington is seeking to play down damaging information about the alleged involvement of its intelligence services in last year’s blasts that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
Moscow failed on Monday to get the UN Security Council to ask for an independent inquiry into explosions in September that ruptured the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia and Germany and spewed gas into the Baltic Sea.
Russian officials reacted angrily and the Kremlin said on Tuesday it would keep demanding an international investigation.
The Russian embassy in the US said in a statement posted on its Telegram messaging platform that Washington is doing “everything possible” to prevent “impartial efforts” establish circumstances around the explosions.
“We see this as an obvious attempt ... to play down information from reputable journalists that is damaging for the United States about the likely direct involvement of American intelligence services,” the embassy said in the statement posted in Russian.
In a February blog post, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cited an unidentified source as saying that US navy divers had destroyed the pipelines with explosives on the orders of President Joe Biden.
The White House dismissed Hersh’s report as “utterly false and complete fiction.” Norway said the allegations were “nonsense.”
Woman born in Syria makes history as first hijab-wearing Superior Court judge in the US
Nadia Kahf took her oath with her hand on a copy of the Qur’an inherited from her grandmother when she was sworn in at the Passaic County Courthouse in New Jersey
A day later, another woman who wears the Islamic headscarf, family law attorney Dalya Youssef, was also sworn in as a Superior Court judge in Somerset County, also New Jersey
Updated 51 min 49 sec ago
LONDON: Nadia Kahf, an attorney who was born in Syria, made history when she became the first Superior Court judge in the US who wears a hijab.
Kahf was nominated by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy last year, local media reported. Community leaders, including mayors, council members, school board members and leaders of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, signed a letter in May calling on Senator Kristin Corrado to advance the nomination. More than 700 people also signed an online petition in support of her nomination.
Kahf, the third Muslim woman to serve as US Superior Court judge, took the oath during her swearing-in ceremony last week with her hand on a copy of the Qur’an she inherited from her grandmother.
“I am proud to represent the Muslim and Arab communities in New Jersey in the US,” she said during the ceremony. “I want the younger generation to see that they can practice their religion without fear that they can be who they are. Diversity is our strength, it is not our weakness”
As a lawyer, Kahf specialized in family law and also handled immigration cases. Since 2003, she has been on the board of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization.
The day after Kahf’s swearing-in ceremony another woman who wears the Islamic headscarf, family law attorney Dalya Youssef, was also sworn in as a Superior Court judge, this time in Somerset County, also New Jersey.
How the Saudi Green Initiative has moved from ambition to action, two years on
Two-year anniversary of SGI’s launch seen as a milestone on the path to a sustainable future
The anniversary is being celebrated as a whole-of-society effort to usher in a greener future
Updated 49 min 52 sec ago
JEDDAH: When one thinks of Saudi Arabia, one imagines scenes of rolling sand dunes as far as the eye can see — a vision not far from the truth in some of the more remote corners of the peninsula.
Looking closer at this vast landscape and its sprawling urban areas, however, many would be surprised by the vast green spaces now changing the face of the Kingdom, from dense forests to lush city parks.
Two years ago, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched one of the world’s most significant climate initiatives, which set out to enhance the quality of life while integrating environmental protection, energy transition and sustainability programs.
Celebrating its second anniversary, the Saudi Green Initiative, an ambitious multi-entity collaboration, has already reached several important milestones since its launch.
It has made a significant dent in its target of planting 10 billion trees across Saudi Arabia, chalking up 18 million to date.
Of the 40 million hectares of degraded land it aims to rehabilitate, 60,000 hectares have been restored, while more than 60 sites have been set aside for the sustainable planting of trees across the Kingdom.
2 Years since Saudi Green Initiative was launched.
10 billion Target number of trees to be planted.
18 million Trees planted in Saudi Arabia in 2022.
60,000 Hectares of land rehabilitated in 2022.
250,000 Cultivated shrubs in AlUla nurseries.
62 Sites approved for tree planting.
150,000 Homes powered by renewable energy.
1,200 Endangered animals rewilded.
Historically, most resources for conservation efforts have been invested in areas considered wild and, therefore, less populated. Preserving these “untouched” places is critical for many reasons.
However, due to a noticeable increase in annual heat waves and extreme weather patterns, scientists and urban planners have turned their focus on urban areas to develop new strategies for resilient built environments.
For decades, rapid urbanization across the Kingdom and the lack of sustainable development on the ground led to polluted air, soaring temperatures, severe dust storms, and other harmful byproducts.
This led to the rise of the urban heat island effect — a phenomenon that occurs when cities replace land with dense concentrations of buildings, pavement, and other surfaces that absorb and retain heat.
Scientists at Nanjing and Yale Universities analyzed satellite data from across 2,000 cities around the world from 2002 to 2021. They found that cities are warming by a rate of 0.56 degrees Celsius per decade during the day and 0.43 C per decade at night.
The study compared the rise in temperatures to that of rural areas and found that urban areas are warming 29 percent faster on average.
This data should ring alarm bells for any nation with growing ambitions and growing cities.
In recent years, an international team of climate scientists, economists, and energy systems modelers have built a range of new “pathways” that examine how global society, demographics, and economics might change over the next century.
They are collectively known as the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, which analyze how the world might evolve in the absence of climate policy and how different levels of climate change mitigation could be achieved in five different ways.
According to the G20 Climate Risk Atlas, Saudi Arabia will experience severe climate impacts if it follows a high-emissions pathway. Without urgent action, the Kingdom will see an 88 percent increase in the frequency of agricultural drought by 2050.
Heatwaves will last longer, and the combination of sea level rise, coastal erosion, and more extreme weather events will cause chaos for Saudi Arabia’s economy, which stands to lose around 12.2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2050 if it fails to act.
Data analysis from the Climate Change Knowledge Portal’s simulations shows that a rise in temperatures in the Kingdom is evident in the coming decades.
However, research has also shown that large variations in afforestation-related climate cooling can modify local surface temperatures and reduce them.
Saudi Arabia is committed to making a sizable impact on rising temperatures through collaborations between government entities, the private sector, and local communities.
2016 King Salman launches renewable energy initiative.
2017 National Renewable Energy Program announced.
2018 Launch of the National Environment Strategy.
2019 Creation of the Special Forces for Environmental Security.
2020 “Let’s Make it Green” campaign launched to halt desertification.
2021 Inaugural Saudi Green Initiative Forum and Middle East Green Summit.
2030 Target to plant +600 million trees, protect 30 percent of land and sea, cut CO2 emissions by 278 million tons per annum.
2060 Target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
To increase vegetation in urban areas and mitigate the effects of climate change, 77 initiatives and programs were activated under the broader SGI umbrella.
The Green Saudi Cities initiative, launched by the Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing Ministry, aims to plant up to 32 million trees in public parks and gardens across the capital city, Riyadh.
The scheme will be conducted over three phases and will undertake new greening projects in Riyadh, equivalent to an area of 437.5 sq. km. The project is set to be completed by 2031.
The capital is also undergoing a massive overhaul as the Green Riyadh project sets out to increase the proportion of green space to 9 percent and to plant 7.5 million trees by 2030.
At the heart of it all, work is underway to establish the King Salman Park, the largest urban park project in the world, in which 11 sq. km of its planned 16.6 sq. km park will be covered in green spaces and more than a million trees.
Similarly, the “Green Qibla” initiative aims to plant 15 million trees in the holy city of Makkah. The project, led by the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, is projected to finish by 2036.
Other viable paths to increase sustainability and mirror the projected positive effects of urban greening projects and afforestation initiatives are renewable energy and the use of electric vehicles.
Efforts within cities to transform high-emissions human activities such as transportation, energy production, and waste generation are increasing as 150,000 homes are now powered by renewable energy sources.
Last month, the Kingdom’s first electric public transport bus began operating in the western city of Jeddah. Studies have shown that electric public transport, powered through renewable energy, could cut 250 million tons of carbon emissions by 2030, improve public health, and reduce noise and air pollution.
“We are working on using other alternatives for taxis and public transport, and we have various tests to use alternatives that reduce carbon emissions, as a target for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, until we reach a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions in transportation, leading to clean energy,” Rumaih Al-Rumaih, acting chairman of the Public Transport Authority, told Arab News.
In 2018, a European Environment Agency report titled “Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives,” confirmed that the greenhouse gas emissions of EVs are approximately 17-30 percent lower than the emissions of petrol and diesel cars.
Although the study referred to EVs using the EU energy mix (petroleum products including crude oil, natural gas, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and solid fossil fuels), the report also stated that EVs emit zero exhaust emissions at the street level, improving local air quality.
Using such alternatives will not bring back the lakes and grassland that once spilled across the Arabian Peninsula centuries ago. However, tree planting is widely touted as one of the most effective tools to combat the climate crisis and restore biodiversity.
Government agencies, businesses, and communities across the Kingdom have all pledged to drive forward the large-scale tree planting initiative, not only to make the Kingdom greener but to create healthy ecosystems and improve the overall quality of life.