Restoring Arabian leopard will ‘profoundly benefit’ ecosystems, UN says

The global awareness campaign being held in AlUla lit up London’s Piccadilly Square and New York City’s NASDAQ to celebrate the endangered leopard on Feb. 10, which is Arabian Leopard Day. (Supplied/RCU)
The global awareness campaign being held in AlUla lit up London’s Piccadilly Square and New York City’s NASDAQ to celebrate the endangered leopard on Feb. 10, which is Arabian Leopard Day. (Supplied/RCU)
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Updated 14 June 2023
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Restoring Arabian leopard will ‘profoundly benefit’ ecosystems, UN says

Restoring Arabian leopard will ‘profoundly benefit’ ecosystems, UN says
  • Setbacks to biodiversity may be overcome, world body’s resolution states
  • Endangered big cat symbolizes beauty, courage, freedom, says Saudi envoy

NEW YORK/RIYADH: The designation of Feb. 10 as International Day of the Arabian Leopard has been welcomed as an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of the critically endangered big cat — there are fewer than 200 in the wild — for environmental diversity and sustainability.

The UN General Assembly had earlier this week adopted by consensus the resolution to mark the day annually. Saudi Arabia’s UN mission tweeted on Monday that the resolution “focuses on its importance to wildlife and biodiversity protection.”

The resolution recognizes that the global leopard population was classified as “vulnerable” in 2016, while the Arabian leopard subspecies is considered “critically endangered.” It also notes that the animal’s rapid disappearance from its former range on the Arabian Peninsula represents “a major setback for conservation of biodiversity and sustainability in the region.”

The greatest threat to the smallest of the world’s leopards are habitat loss and fragmentation, prey depletion, and illicit trafficking, the resolution stated.

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, told the General Assembly after the vote that the Arabian leopard represents “beauty, calmness, physical strength, courage and freedom.

“The Arabian leopard has held a special place in the region for thousands of years and is present in ancient petroglyphs, stories and even everyday expressions.”

The Saudi envoy added that the Kingdom “has paid great attention to preserving biodiversity, protecting, preserving and multiplying the numbers of Arabian leopard, saving them from the threat of extinction, securing their place in the wild with the aim of returning to their natural habitats, and ensuring a safe future for the Arabian leopard against the dangers it faces.”

In 2022, Saudi Arabia declared Feb. 10 as “Arabian Leopard Day” in a bid to raise awareness of the endangered big cat.

The resolution adopted by the UN emphasizes the significance of the Arabian leopard and other endangered species in maintaining an ecological balance throughout their habitats.

It recognizes “the significant efforts towards restoring the Arabian leopard as a flagship species for nature conservation and sustainability on the Arabian Peninsula.” And underscores that such efforts — including breeding programs and the development of regional and national strategies for its conservation — “will profoundly benefit the nature of the ecosystem.”

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US and an avid campaigner for the protection of Arabian leopards, Princess Reema bint Bandar, praised the UN recognition. “I am so happy to see the UN Draft Resolution on the International Day of the Arabian Leopard approved,” she tweeted.

The Catmosphere Foundation, the Arabian Leopard Fund, and the Royal Commission for AlUla have worked “tirelessly to raise awareness about the Critically Endangered Arabian Leopard & focus international attention on its plight,” she wrote on Monday.

“The public response to our campaigns such as Catwalk & Arabian Leopard Day in Saudi Arabia have demonstrated a deep & continuing passion for this beautiful Big Cat across its historic native range,” Princess Reema wrote.

The Catmosphere Foundation was launched in 2021 by Princess Reema who has been on a mission to safeguard the future of big cats. The nonprofit aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, a US-based charity devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.

Catmosphere “uses the stories of Big Cats and their conservation challenges to encourage us all to take action to address our collective well-being,” the foundation describes its purpose on its website.

The Arabian leopard is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered” — one step away from extinction in the wild.

Fewer than 200 are believed to exist throughout the Arabian Peninsula, with the largest confirmed surviving population found in Oman’s Dhofar Mountains.

The UNGA resolution was sponsored by Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen, and is in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It reaffirms the value of wildlife’s contributions to sustainable development and human well-being, including on the “ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic” fronts.

It added that “wild fauna in their many beautiful and varied forms are an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the Earth which must be protected for this generation and the generations to come.”

The resolution stressed the “urgent need to address the unprecedented global decline in biodiversity, including by preventing the extinction of threatened species, improving and sustaining their conservation status and restoring and safeguarding ecosystems that provide essential functions and services, including services related to water, health, livelihoods and well-being.”

Rewilding Arabia
Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife

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Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee

Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee

Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee
  • As the bank celebrates its 50th anniversary, the meetings will have the theme ‘Taking Pride in Our Past and Shaping Our Future: Authenticity, Solidarity and Prosperity’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the annual meetings and golden jubilee celebrations of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Riyadh between April 27 and 30, under the patronage of King Salman.

This year’s meetings will take place under the theme “Taking Pride in Our Past and Shaping Our Future: Authenticity, Solidarity and Prosperity,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The bank describes itself as a pivotal platform for development dialogue, and said it is celebrating 50 years of fostering social and economic growth among its members. As a leading multilateral development bank, it said it expects the event to attract significant international and regional attention.

Participants will include economic, planning and finance ministers from the 57 member countries of the bank, along with representatives of international and regional financial agencies and organizations, Islamic banks, the private sector, development finance institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and chambers of commerce and industry.

Organizers said the annual gathering serves as a vital forum for the enhancement of economic ties and expansion of cooperation among participants. Its agenda includes forums, seminars and meetings on a range of topics, with particularly notable events including the Governors’ Round Table, the 18th IDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance, and the IDB Group Private Sector Forum.

Topics for discussion will include the role of small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development and diversification agenda, strategies for the financing of efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, the leveraging of Islamic finance for the development of resilient infrastructure, and the establishment of the Arab Coordination Group Forum.

The Future Vision Symposium and the General Assembly of the Union of Consultants in Islamic Countries will also take place during the event.


Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
  • Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, held talks in Islamabad on Tuesday with the chief of staff of the Pakistan Army, Gen. Asim Munir.

They discussed ways to enhance the “strong cooperation” between their nations in several fields, including ways to work together to improve security and strategic cooperation in ways that contribute to international peace and security.

Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation. He also met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar.

The prince was leading a high-level Saudi delegation that included Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef, and senior officials from the ministries of energy and investment, and the Public Investment Fund.


Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
  • Tourism minister says he hopes Kingdom can help lead transformation of sector into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries

NEW YORK: The Saudi tourism minister on Tuesday reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable development of the travel sector.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has become one of the most promising and attractive global travel destinations.

He was speaking at the start of an event at the UN headquarters in New York that aims to encourage a concerted approach to enhance the resilience of the sector at the highest level and maximize its contribution to sustainability.

The event, which takes place during UN Sustainability Week, was convened by the president of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, in cooperation with UN Tourism.

Al-Khateed highlighted the efforts the Kingdom is making to address the environmental impacts of the travel and tourism sector, and noted that those efforts had contributed to the establishment, with Saudi Support, of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Center for Sustainable Tourism.

During the past two years, Saudi Arabia has sought, in its role as chair of the executive council of UN Tourism, to enhance the representation of the travel and tourism sector in international forums, Al-Khateeb said.

This has resulted in UN Tourism and the Kingdom cooperating on a package of initiatives to help achieve this goal, including a Best Tourism Villages award, a Tourism Opens Minds initiative, and a working group to reimagine the future of tourism, Al-Khateeb added. He also noted his country’s efforts to ensure the tourism sector was properly represented on the agenda for UN Sustainability Week. 

Saudi Arabia topped the UN World Tourism list in 2023 in terms of growth among major tourism destinations in the number of international visitors. It also topped the list of G20 nations in terms of the number of international tourists, welcoming more than 27 million last year, Al-Khateeb said. He added that authorities in the Kingdom are developing plans and strategies to attract more than 70 million international tourists a year by 2030.

By then, he said, the Kingdom aims to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 278 million tonnes annually, designated 30 percent of land and marine territory as protected areas, and planted more than 600 million trees.

“The Kingdom has taken significant steps to launch the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, with the aim of accelerating the travel and tourism sector’s transition to climate neutrality, protecting nature and empowering communities around the world,” Al-Khateeb said.

He also highlighted major Saudi projects such as the NEOM smart city development and the Red Sea tourism project that aim to ensure they have positive effects on the climate, environment and local communities.

He also expressed the Kingdom’s aspiration for all countries to make concerted efforts, and be open to cooperation, to achieve the goal of sustainable development in the global travel and tourism sector.

Al-Khateeb said that through this important UN event, he hopes the Kingdom can spread a message to the world about the need to preserve the environment, and can help lead and support the transformation of tourism into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries worldwide.

UN Sustainability Week began on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York and continues until Friday.


Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received two separate calls from UAE president Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Qatar’s emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Saudi Press Agency said early Wednesday.

The calls discussed the recent military escalation in the region and its repercussions on safety and security, in addition to the latest developments in Gaza.

They also underscored the importance of exerting efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and to spare the region the dangers of this escalation, the SPA added.


Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
  • The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban
  • During 8 previous events since the conference was launched in 2014, participants announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion

RIYADH: Saudi authorities showcased their programs and plans for environmental protection and sustainability initiatives on Tuesday, during the first day of the 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens.

Delegates at this year’s event, the theme for which is “Our Ocean: An Ocean of Potential,” include representatives of governments and businesses, as well as activists and experts on marine environments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They are discussing topics such as protected marine areas, sustainable blue economies, maritime security, the relationship between oceans and climate change, sustainable fishing, and ways to combat marine pollution. Other issues to be addressed during the conference include sustainable tourism in coastal areas and on islands, ways to reduce plastic and microplastic pollution in marine environments, green shipping, and the green transition in the Mediterranean.

The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban. The initiatives in the Kingdom highlighted at the conference revolve around ways to protect oceans and other water resources, and the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

“Our participation in the work of this global conference reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to support the efforts and endeavors aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals, protecting the seas, oceans and water resources, and the sustainable use of marine resources in a way that reflects the trends of the Kingdom and (its) Vision 2030 (development plan) to support environmental protection efforts,” said Qurban.

He highlighted several key national projects that are underway, including the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to expand protected areas of the Kingdom to encompass 30 percent of its total land and sea territory, and plant 100 million mangrove trees by 2030.

“The Kingdom remains resolute in its mission to safeguard nature and its invaluable ecological treasures, with a special emphasis on the Red Sea region,” Qurban said. “We stand ready to deploy all necessary resources and efforts toward sustainable conservation endeavors.”

Participation in forums such as the Our Ocean Conference encourages the invaluable sharing of knowledge, a cross-pollination of ideas, and collaborations in the creation of innovative ways to tackle environmental challenges and promote sustainable practices, he added.

During the previous eight events since the conference was launched in 2014 by the US to fill a gap in global ocean governance at the time, participants have announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion, organizers said.

Other items on the agenda this year include ways in which oceans will meet the needs of future generations, ways to encourage governments, businesses and other organizations to adopt long-term commitments that have positive effects on oceans, and efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals relating to oceans, seas and marine resources.