Saudi officials ink deals to develop plant-based food alternatives

Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture signed two agreements to transform agricultural plant products into plant-based foods with animal protein flavor. (@MEWA_KSA)
Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture signed two agreements to transform agricultural plant products into plant-based foods with animal protein flavor. (@MEWA_KSA)
Short Url
Updated 26 July 2023
Follow

Saudi officials ink deals to develop plant-based food alternatives

Saudi officials ink deals to develop plant-based food alternatives

JEDDAH: Officials from the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture recently signed two agreements to transform agricultural plant products into plant-based foods with animal protein flavor.

A ministry research center focused on advancing agricultural product development will also be established, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The signing ceremony was attended by ministry undersecretary, Ahmed bin Saleh Ayada, and representatives from several authorities.

Deals were inked with the Cooperative Societies Council, Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agricultural Marketing Co., and Ayla Food Options Co., a national firm specializing in healthy food products.

With the agreements, the ministry aims to promote a culture of healthy food within communities, while looking to provide locally made, high-quality vegetarian alternatives, and utilize advanced technologies for producing meat and dairy substitutes.

In addition, the accords will help support the advancement of the agricultural production and marketing system, promote food security, enhance environmental sustainability, and contribute to the overall development of the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

As well as encouraging healthier eating habits the approach has been designed to ease the burden on traditional livestock production systems, in the process contributing to food security and waste reduction.

During the signing ceremony, an accompanying exhibition was organized to showcase a range of healthy food products and vegetarian alternatives to meat and dairy. Visitors had the opportunity to sample the offerings.


Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak
Updated 9 sec ago
Follow

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.
The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.
It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.
“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.
Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.
Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.
The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.
The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.
After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.
Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.
Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.
Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.


Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
Updated 15 June 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
  • Malaysia handed over the symbolic flag after its successful hosting of the 2024 APhO edition last week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has officially received the Asian Physics Olympiad flag as it prepares to host the 2025 edition of one of the largest scientific events in Asia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The symbolic flag was handed over to the Kingdom by Malaysia, which recently hosted the 2024 APhO edition in Kampar. 

Saudi Arabia’s team of 8 students won five awards in the 2024 competition, which featured 208 students from 27 countries from June 3-10, 2024.

Saudi Arabia won five awards during the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad held in Kampar, Malaysia. (SPA)

Some 27 countries are participating in the 25th APhO, which will be held in May 2025, organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity — also known as the Mawhiba Foundation— and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, SPA said.

Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazza, Secretary-General of the Mawhiba Foundation, was quoted by SPA as saying hosting such international competition “reflects the great importance and international appreciation of the Kingdom’s position in the scientific and educational field.”

It also “confirms the Kingdom’s strength globally, and the extent of its interest in creating a future to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said.

“This cooperation reflects the Kingdom's commitment to promoting science and knowledge and encouraging students to participate in such international events. 

“This hosting is an affirmation of the efforts made to develop education in the Kingdom, and it also represents an opportunity to enhance communication and cooperation with other countries in the field of science, as the event promises rich educational and interactive opportunities for ambitious students and youth from various parts of Asia, which contributes to enriching their educational experience and encouraging them,” Al-Hazza further said, according to SPA. 

Saudi Arabia is currently preparing to host the International Chemistry Olympiad set for next month, with 90 countries participating.

The international event is also being organized by Mawhibah, together with the Ministry of Education, and King Saud University, with exclusive sponsorship from the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).
 


How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
Updated 15 June 2024
Follow

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
  • Journey causes environmental strain through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions
  • By adopting sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener journey and minimize their impact

JEDDAH: Hajj draws about 2 million people each year. However, this monumental event places a significant strain on the environment through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions. 

That is why measures have been put in place to encourage pilgrims to minimize their waste, use resources judiciously, and reduce their overall carbon footprint while fulfilling their Hajj obligations.

Various government bodies are collaborating to manage solid waste, promote environmentally conscientious behaviors, and mitigate the adverse effects of litter on the environment.

 

 

In a statement posted on X, the National Waste Management Center said: “With integrated efforts to safeguard the environment of the holiest places on earth, MWAN inspection teams are conducting rounds to ensure safe waste management, facilitating the performance of Hajj rituals with ease and peace of mind.”

Its teams inspected 49 operational facilities in the waste management sector across Makkah and Madinah in May to ensure their compliance with waste management regulations.

Teams from the Saudi National Waste Management Center conduct inspections regularly to ensure safe waste management. (X: @ncwmsa)

MWAN says that it aims to roll out several initiatives to serve pilgrims, optimize natural resource use, and promote public health and environmental sustainability.

The National Center for Environmental Compliance plays a crucial role in gathering data and monitoring air quality before, during and after the Hajj season.

“These figures are sent directly to the central monitoring station, where national experts analyze them and issue daily reports provided to the Hajj Committee,” Saad Al-Matrafi, the center’s spokesperson, told Arab News.

“Quick responses from field committees and appropriate decisions are made upon observing significant deviations to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.”

In the streets of Makkah province, thousands of cleaners are hard at work separating plastic waste from compost as more than two million Muslims wrap up their annual hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

The center also conducts inspection rounds of sites and facilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and standards.

“The first phase of this year’s operational plan has been completed, which includes inspection rounds of sites and facilities in the health, municipal, industrial, agricultural, fuel stations, and roads used by pilgrims,” Mohammed Ammar Ameen, the head of the center’s Hajj Operations Room, told Arab News.

Ameen said that any facility found to be non-compliant during these visits was reported to the relevant authorities to ensure the quality of environmental conditions before the start of Hajj rituals.

Maintaining the sacred ambiance: Sanitizing and perfuming the Grand Mosque ensures lasting memories of cleanliness and pleasant fragrances for all pilgrims. (SPA)

In the second phase, the center will intensify its field visits around Makkah and the holy sites, monitoring water, soil and air samples to ensure their safety.

“This year’s monitoring plan includes monitoring environmental violations and responding to environmental emergencies in the holy site camps,” Ameen said. 

“The center’s team of inspectors and environmental specialists work around the clock to ensure the comfort of guests through continuous environmental monitoring and instant detection of any violations in environmental standards and noise pollution.”

DID YOUKNOW?

• The electric Holy Sites Train produces zero carbon emissions, preserving the environment and pilgrims’ health.

• The National Center for Waste Management is raising awareness about environmentally friendly behaviors.

• The National Center for Environmental Compliance established 20 air quality monitoring stations in Makkah and Madinah.

• The National Center for Wildlife Development works to ensure baboon-free zones at the holy sites.

Clean water for drinking and for carrying out ablutions is provided at dispensing stations around the holy sites and along connecting routes to keep pilgrims and performers of Umrah cool and hydrated.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has initiated 10 projects to enhance water infrastructure, with 2,000 employees dedicated to providing services to pilgrims.

Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, minister of environment, water and agriculture, said that there was an average daily pumping volume of more than 750,000 cubic meters per day to Makkah and the holy sites, rising to more than one million cubic meters per day on the day of Arafa and the days of Eid Al-Adha.

During the Hajj season, 750,000 cubic meters of water are pumped in Makkah every day. (SPA)

Water storage has reached 3.2 million cubic meters. There are also about 4,100 daily laboratory tests carried out to ensure water quality.

Meanwhile, the National Center of Meteorology is monitoring weather conditions in the event of extreme heat events.

Al-Matrafi of the National Center for Environmental Compliance said that he and other departments had devised a set of environmental performance metrics to help encourage improvements.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“Through strategic analysis of environmental performance and challenges during the Hajj seasons, we aim to pinpoint areas for improvement and innovation,” he said.

“This approach enables us to develop sustainable environmental standards and introduce forward-looking initiatives, including implementing smart cities, adopting alternative energy sources, promoting recycling, and integrating environmentally friendly transportation systems.”

The Grand Mosque in Makkah has a fleet of rides running on electric battery. (Shutterstock)

These include electric trains, a fleet of electric buses, a rollout of brand new e-scooters, and even a pioneering, all-electric, self-driving aerial taxi service — the world’s first to be licensed by a civil aviation authority.

Despite its many environmental challenges, Hajj presents an opportunity for pilgrims to embrace sustainable practices — be that choosing to travel by electric vehicle, to reuse garments rather than buy new clothing, or simply by carrying a reusable bottle.

By adopting these sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener Hajj journey and minimize their environmental impact.


 


Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
Updated 14 June 2024
Follow

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
  • Request for a building permit contained false information, says Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority

RIYADH: The owner of a building that collapsed in Jeddah at the end of May, killing seven people and injuring another eight, has been detained, the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority announced on Thursday.
The authority found that the building owner, Firas Hani Jamal Al-Turki, the deputy minister for shared services at the Ministry of Culture, had tried to apply for a building permit.
The local municipality ordered Al-Turki to stop construction on the building after it was found to have technical defects, but he failed to comply.
Al-Turki’s legal representative, Fahad Hussein Ali Sanba, who works at the same ministry department, communicated with an engineering consultancy office owned by a Saudi citizen, Majed Mohammed Jameel Bushnaq, through a Yemeni intermediary contractor, Mohammed Salim Ahmed Al-Hussaissi, the authority said.
The legal representative sought to obtain a building permit through the office to construct two additional floors and an upper annex. Subsequently, an employee of the engineering office submitted a request for a demolition permit, followed by a request for a building permit containing false information, including doctored photos indicating that the building had been demolished, in exchange for SR50,000 ($13,325).
Al-Turki transferred the money to his legal representative, who then handed it to one of the office employees in cash. The project contractor proceeded with the construction, leading to increased loads and the collapse of the building.
The building owner admitted to paying the financial amount as a bribe in exchange for the illegal issuance of the building permit.
All individuals involved have been detained and legal proceedings are being taken against them, the authority said.


Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat

Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat
Updated 14 June 2024
Follow

Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat

Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat
  • The upgrade is part of Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure and services for millions of pilgrims

RIYADH: Innovative road-cooling technology is set to make pilgrims’ experience of Hajj safer and more comfortable as temperatures soar to 46 degrees Celsius in the summer heat.

A spokesman for the Roads General Authority, Abdulaziz Al-Otaibi, told Arab News: “When roads are exposed to sunlight, they absorb heat, reaching up to 70 degrees Celsius of temperature retention once the sun sets.”

As a result, he added, the road begins to emit heat — leading to something known as a heat island phenomenon. To counter this, a cooling material that absorbs less solar radiation than traditional substances is being applied to pavements around holy sites.

By implementing road-cooling technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government is creating a more hospitable environment for pilgrims to ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible. (SPA/Supplied)

“The material we have developed is most effective during sunny weather as it reflects the sun’s rays, which helps lower the temperature of the road by reducing heat absorption,” said Al-Otaibi.

This helps reduce heat build-up, keeping the road cooler and making it more pleasant for pedestrians.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Roads General Authority is now expanding the road-cooling project to areas in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.

• The material is also being applied to 25,000 square meters near Namira Mosque in Arafat.

• The innovation is setting a precedent for other countries in ensuring the safety and comfort of religious visitors.

The road-cooling technology is part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure and services for the millions of pilgrims from around the world who visit Makkah for their spiritual Hajj journey.

By implementing road-cooling technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government is creating a more hospitable environment for pilgrims to ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible. (SPA/Supplied)

Al-Otaibi added: “Data shows that this cooling material helped decrease the temperature of asphalt surfaces by 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to a 20 percent reduction compared to roads without this material.”

By implementing the technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government aims to create a more hospitable environment for pilgrims and ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible.

The material we have developed is most effective during sunny weather as it reflects the sun’s rays, which helps lower the temperature of the road by reducing heat absorption.

Abdulaziz Al-Otaibi, Roads General Authority spokesman

“Last year, we tested the application of this road-cooling material for the first time during the Hajj season in the Jamarat corridors and it was a success,” said Al-Otaibi.

The RGA is now expanding the project to areas in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah. The material is also being applied to 25,000 square meters near Namira Mosque in Arafat.

The innovative substance was developed in partnership with organizations including the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, the Pilgrim Experience Program, and the Quality of Life Program. It is made in the Kingdom under the RGA’s research center umbrella.

The road-cooling technology is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s proactive measures to improve the infrastructure and services provided during Hajj, setting a precedent for other countries in ensuring the safety and comfort of religious visitors.