King Salman sends message to Zambian president 

King Salman sends message to Zambian president 
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The message was conveyed by Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan, adviser at the Royal Court. (SPA)
King Salman sends message to Zambian president 
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The message was conveyed by Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan, adviser at the Royal Court. (SPA)
King Salman sends message to Zambian president 
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The message was conveyed by Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan, adviser at the Royal Court. (SPA)
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Updated 22 August 2023
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King Salman sends message to Zambian president 

King Salman sends message to Zambian president 
  • The message tackled bilateral relations and ways to boost joint cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent on Tuesday a verbal message to Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema concerning bilateral relations and ways to boost joint cooperation.

The message was conveyed by Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Kattan, adviser at the Royal Court, during a reception hosted by the president in Lusaka, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The president welcomed the holding of the first Saudi-African and the fifth Arab-African Summits in the Kingdom this year.

Kattan and the president discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields and regional and international developments.

Saudi ambassador to Zambia Ali Al-Qahtani attended the meeting.


Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders

Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders
Updated 13 April 2024
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Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders

Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations across the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

In the Al-Dayer governorate of the Jazan region, Border Guards apprehended three Ethiopian nationals attempting to smuggle 33 kg of hashish into the Kingdom. The guards also thwarted attempts to smuggle in 255 kg of qat in the same governorate.

The General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested three Saudi nationals for selling cannabis and prescription drugs in the Jouf region.

Additionally, authorities in the Hail region arrested a Bangladeshi man for selling cannabis, and Border Guards in Al-Rabwah, Asir, thwarted the smuggling of 330 kg of qat.

Preliminary legal procedures have been completed for all the individuals involved and all seized items have been handed over to the relevant authorities.

The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected].

Tips received relating to smuggling and breaches of common customs law are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for valid tips.


KSrelief Eid initiative provides food for more than 800,000 people

KSrelief Eid initiative provides food for more than 800,000 people
Updated 13 April 2024
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KSrelief Eid initiative provides food for more than 800,000 people

KSrelief Eid initiative provides food for more than 800,000 people

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief distributed 40,920 bags of rice, each weighing 20 kg, benefiting 245,520 individuals in Somalia as part of its Zakat Al-Fitr initiative, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Zakat Al-Fitr is a donation of food to the needy that must be given at the end of Ramadan before the Eid Al-Fitr prayer.

Zakat was also distributed in Yemen, with 31,333 bags of rice benefiting 219,331 individuals.

In Syria, 62,250 bags of wheat weighing 25 kg each were distributed to 373,500 individuals in need.

Meanwhile, KSrelief’s mobile medical clinics provided services to 1,255 beneficiaries in one month in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, and the center also continued implementing its water supply project in Hodeidah governorate, pumping more than 5 million liters of water in one month.

Since 2015, KSrelief has implemented 2,829 projects worth more than $6.5 billion in 98 countries, in cooperation with 175 local, regional, and international partners.

The bulk of the support has gone to Yemen ($4.3 billion), Syria ($391 million), Palestine ($370 million), and Somalia ($227 million).

These projects targeted sectors including food, education, healthcare, water, sanitation, and shelter, helping millions of vulnerable and needy individuals worldwide without discrimination.

 


King Salman Royal Reserve Festival to promote afforestation culture

King Salman Royal Reserve Festival to promote afforestation culture
Updated 13 April 2024
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King Salman Royal Reserve Festival to promote afforestation culture

King Salman Royal Reserve Festival to promote afforestation culture

RIYADH: The King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Festival, organized by the Reserve Development Authority, will take place from April 14-18 at the Cultural Center in Al-Qurayyat governorate.

The festival aims to showcase tourist and recreational sites within the reserve, and encourage local community involvement in reserve activities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A variety of festival events will feature recreational, cultural, artistic, and awareness activities.

These include a children’s area with games and drawing areas, an afforestation and planting area to promote afforestation culture and vegetation development, an artisan’s market that celebrates Saudi heritage and traditional crafts, a wildlife area, and a performing arts theater.

The theater will present cultural shows and segments highlighting heritage, history, poetry evenings, theatrical performances, and folk arts.

The King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve is the largest wildlife reserve in the Middle East, spanning over 130,000 square km.

It works to protect and encourage wildlife by conserving biodiversity and reintroducing endangered species back into their natural habitats.

Extending across four regions, Al-Jouf, Hail, Tabuk, and the Northern Borders, the reserve also contains UNESCO-registered archaeological sites.


How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 

How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 
Updated 13 April 2024
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How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 

How Saudi Arabia is promoting healthy diets and sustainability with plant-based alternatives 
  • New farming technologies that use less water and produce less CO2 are gaining traction in Saudi Arabia
  • The government has inked deals with several private agri-tech firms to develop meat and dairy substitutes

RIYADH: Just a few short years ago, visitors to Saudi Arabia could never have imagined feasting on a plate of vegan tuna nigiri or a meatless shawarma. Thanks to new investments in agritech, these plant-based alternatives are now firmly on the menu.

With the movement towards meatless eating gaining momentum in response to mounting environmental and health concerns, the Kingdom’s public and private sectors are working together with a view to produce food more sustainably. 

“Taking actions towards plant-based products is essential for promoting environmental sustainability,” Faisal Al-Sughayer, co-founder and general manager of Saudi plant-based brand Ayla’s Choice, told Arab News.

Faisal Alsughayer, co-founder and general manager of Ayla’s Choice, Faisal Alsughayer, says the company’s goal is to provide consumers with healthy alternatives to animal products. (Supplied)

“Conserving resources, enhancing human health, ensuring food security, and even economic opportunities as well — and also building climate resilience. This is what we’re trying to do with farming. 

“By making conscious choices to incorporate more plant-based options into our diets and lifestyles, we can contribute to a positive change and create a healthier, more sustainable society.”

Since the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative in March 2021, the Kingdom has witnessed significant changes owing to its commitment to enhance food security, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, and adaptation to evolving food trends.

Mindful of vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, the Kingdom’s investment in food industry innovation and diversification is also designed to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency in meeting the dietary needs of the population.

Last year, one of Saudi’s most anticipated giga-projects, NEOM, announced its collaboration with a Dutch greenhouse company to form a horticulture oasis just outside the urban city.  (Supplied)

This is being driven in part by government initiatives, new technological advances, and shifts in consumer preferences.

About a year ago, the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture signed deals with the Cooperative Societies Council, Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agricultural Marketing Co., and Ayla’s Choice to develop plant-based foods. 

With these agreements, the ministry aims to promote a culture of healthy eating, provide locally made, high-quality vegan and vegetarian alternatives, and to utilize advanced technologies for producing meat and dairy substitutes.

These deals will also help modernize farming and marketing systems, promote food security, enhance environmental sustainability, and contribute to the overall development of the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

Ayla’s Choice is passionate about creating sustainable local plant-based products. (Supplied)

According to Al-Sughayer, Ayla’s Choice was the first company in Saudi Arabia to obtain a license from MEWA to produce plant-based products, paving the way for more licenses and investment opportunities.

The company’s goal is not to promote a completely meatless and dairy-free diet, but rather to provide consumers with healthy alternatives to animal products. 

At one of its recent workshops in collaboration with MEWA, the company showcased innovative products, including truffle and olive caviar, carrot-based smoked salmon tartlet, tomato tuna nigiri, and eggplant unagi nigiri.

At one of their recent workshops in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Ayla’s Choice showcased innovative bites including truffle and olive caviar, carrot-based smoked salmon tartlet, tomato tuna nigiri, and eggplant unagi nigiri. (Supplied)

“We’re eager to explore opportunities for collaboration for sustainability planning initiatives, including setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by conserving water resources, preserving biodiversity, and participating in government led working groups or task forces focused on sustainable food systems,” said Al-Sughayer.

In doing so, the firm aims “to provide expertise and input from our sites from the plant-based sector, and from the agricultural sector to enhance food security in Saudi,” he added.

As of now, collaborations are in the works with MEWA, the Ministry of Economy and Planning, and individual companies to embark on joint ventures that will ensure the availability of the highest-quality meat- and dairy-free foods. 

DID YOUKNOW?

• At the tail end of 2023, Vertical Farms Co. broke ground on Saudi Arabia’s largest indoor vertical farming project to date. It is set to begin operations in the second half of 2024.

• Companies like iFarm are pushing towards simplifying the process of mass sustainable commercial vegetable growing applications locally.

• With 3.2 million square meters, a large-scale farm in Asir’s Wadi bin Hashba holds the world record for the world’s largest sustainable farm.

Saudi Greenhouses Management and Agri Marketing Co. — also known as Al-Rasheed Greenhouses — is one of the largest farming and horticulture companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council area, with more than 40 years’ experience in the sector.

The firm operates in nine locations, managing more than 90 hectares of greenhouses and an additional 27 hectares of new expansions in high-tech greenhouses throughout the Kingdom. It is the biggest supplier of fresh produce to Saudi Arabia’s main retailers

“The company has full control on the whole supply chain of the fresh produce, starting from designing the right greenhouse specification for the right region to grow in the Kingdom, to delivering the fresh produce on the shelves for consumers,” Abdullah Al-Rasheed, the firm’s senior project manager, told Arab News

The sustainable farm in the Asir region, recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest in the world, uses treated water to irrigate crops planted across a 3.2 million square meter area. (Supplied)

“So logistic crop consultations, production management, is all handled under our company.”

Al-Rasheed Greenhouses recently signed a deal to cultivate and supply plant-based ingredients to Ayla’s Choice for use in its products, such as lion’s mane mushrooms, which are a meat-free alternative to steaks.

Al-Sughayer hopes the partnership will encourage local farmers in Saudi Arabia to consider tailoring their choice of crops to meet the growing demand of the plant-based foods industry, generating a better return on their produce and reducing waste in the process.

“This can have significant benefits for both the farmers and food security in Saudi,” he said. “Our aim is to diversify food sources by working with local farmers to develop plant-based products from the overabundance of local produce.”

Opinion

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

Saudi Arabia’s food sector has made great strides in sustainability. Last year, one of the Kingdom’s most highly-anticipated gigaprojects, the NEOM smart city, announced a new collaboration with a Dutch greenhouse company to build a self-sustaining horticultural oasis.

Using revolutionary technologies, the partnership with Van Der Hoeven will allow the region’s desert landscape, scorched by high temperatures and parched by low rainfall, to flourish with locally grown produce.

SweGreen, a Stockholm-based agritech company and vertical farming venture, is another potential partner. 

Using soilless farming technology and monitoring systems managed by artificial intelligence, the company has enabled local supermarkets to grow crops in the middle of the store with absolute control over the quality and growing process.

SweGreen has made headlines internationally with its world-leading in-store farm solutions and its AI-based steering and digital monitoring system. (Supplied)

“SweGreen has set four global industry records for efficiency and sustainability in agriculture,” Scott A. Ellis, the firm’s consultant liaison, told Arab News.

“The first one is a world record for lowest CO2 emissions. This is measured per kilogram of lettuce produced,” measured against the environmental impact of transporting food across the planet and its concurrent waste.

“Of course, this reduces the carbon footprint and also contributes to a more sustainable planet,” Ellis added.

The technology has also achieved the lowest rate of energy consumption and the highest production efficiency. More importantly for Saudi Arabia, however, is that the technology scored highest for water conservation, requiring just 1.3 liters per kilogram of greens.


ALSO READ:

Saltwater-grown crops lift food-security hopes of arid Arab countries

• KAUST leading Saudi Arabia’s progress in aquaculture


“Production occurs 24 hours a day, all year round, regardless of the weather outside,” said Ellis. 

“So, in summary, the greens with the highest nutritional content and maximum integrity and taste, have the lowest need for resources, including the big ones like water, energy and space, and leave the softest climate footprint.”

The revolutionary farm-to-fork system has been installed at 32 sites worldwide with plans for many more.

The plant-based company’s goal is not to promote a meatless and dairy-free diet, but rather provide healthier alternatives to the general population. (Supplied)

Ellis believes the technology will benefit local farmers by promoting local collaborations and will encourage consumers to purchase healthier foods, resulting in a healthier population overall.

“SweGreen is very supportive of working in a flexible way with Saudi Arabia to meet the needs and goals of Vision 2030,” he said.

For Al-Sughayer and others in the Saudi business community, partnerships with firms like SweGreen are a productive and mutually beneficial way to promote good health and environmental sustainability. 

“By leveraging international expertise, we can easily address the challenge of produce when addressing sustainability goals and promoting food security in Saudi,” he said.
 

 


Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia
Updated 13 April 2024
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Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden gems: motorcycle adventures in Saudi Arabia
  • Baha Riders are committed to presenting the beauty of Baha while in the saddle

RIYADH: The Baha Riders motorcycle club offers tourists a unique perspective of Baha city by turning their passion into a profitable business.  

A group of professional motorcyclists from the city, the Baha Riders are committed to presenting the beauty of Baha whilst in the saddle.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

Baha is a raw and organic region, according to Shaiq bin Ali, a spokeswoman for the Baha Riders, “where most of the area has remained unchanged for decades, making it an excellent destination for travelers to witness the beauty of unspoiled nature.”

Situated in the Sarawat Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, Baha is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom, with a nice climate and bountiful woodlands all around it.

SPEEDREAD

• Baha is a raw and organic region, according to Shaiq bin Ali, a spokeswoman for the Baha Riders, ‘where most of the area has remained unchanged for decades, making it an excellent destination for travelers to witness the beauty of unspoiled nature.’

• Situated in the Sarawat Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, Baha is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom, with a nice climate and bountiful woodlands all around it. 

• Baha Riders made the decision to transition from being merely motorcycle enthusiasts to turning their pastime into a business by working with the Hyyak platform to market the opportunity for individuals to visit Baha while riding a motorbike.

Baha Riders made the decision to transition from being merely motorcycle enthusiasts to turning their pastime into a business by working with the Hyyak platform to market the opportunity for individuals to visit Baha while riding a motorbike.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

“Many tourists purchase the experience of riding a motorcycle because it is a liberating and freeing experience,” Bin Ali told Arab News.

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

“Many tourists purchase the experience of riding a motorcycle because it is a liberating and freeing experience”

Shaiq bin Ali, spokeswoman for the Baha Riders

The group has accomplished a great deal since its founding and taken part in a range of activities. For example, the team competes in official local events, national and local contests, religious festivals, regional and national competitions, and other official local events.  

Members include medical professionals, engineers, students, retirees, and a wide range of enthusiasts.  

Established in 2013 by Saleh Al-Ghamdi, the Baha Riders have 74 members and are approved by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation. (Supplied)

They have also competed internationally; the most recent was in 2023, when the team went to India’s Himalayan region and reached the world’s highest mountain, Everest.

The last foreign trip was an 8,000 km rotation through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf countries.   

“In the last four years, the team has officially and annually organized an event in which it brings together riders from the Arab world in the Baha region. This gathering aims to highlight the Baha region in terms of its historical, archaeological and tourist attractions. This is a belief on the part of the team in its societal role in highlighting Baha and attracting tourists,” Bin Ali said.  

“(Motorcycling) has a great, unique feel because there is no roof over your head, no windows that obstruct the view, and you can enjoy a 180-degree surrounding.”

Bin Ali said that life is only meant to be experienced once and encouraged everyone to do so by taking precautions, donning protective gear, and riding the appropriate bike with the appropriate person. He also noted that although motorcycle culture is relatively new to the community and may still be perceived negatively, it is a unique, enjoyable, and lightweight mode of transportation.

He also stated that the goal of Vision 2030 included focusing on individual sports, observing what benefits young Saudis, and what channels their enthusiasm towards beneficial endeavors.