MENA Climate Week concludes in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh with call for partnerships and solutions

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Updated 16 October 2023
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MENA Climate Week concludes in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh with call for partnerships and solutions

MENA Climate Week concludes in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh with call for partnerships and solutions
  • Participants explored ways to achieve net zero though technological advances, innovation and sustainable policies
  • Middle East and North Africa are witnessing extreme weather, environmental degradation, water scarcity and food insecurity

RIYADH: Officials, scientists, and business chiefs from across the world gathered in the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss ways to combat climate change as part of a packed agenda of meetings and events organized for Middle East and North Africa Climate Week. 

Experts and stakeholders were brought together to collaborate on the shared mission of achieving net-zero emissions by exploring the possible application of the latest technological advances, innovative solutions, and sustainable policies.

MENA Climate Week was organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. One of its goals was to provide region-specific contributions to inform the first global stocktake of the 2015 Paris Agreement ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, in Dubai this November.

“It’s a great week where we had to engage with a lot of people from the region, the MENA region, but also from outside who’ve seen a lot of external speakers coming in and sharing their practice practices,” Fahad Al-Ajlan, president of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, told Arab News on the sidelines of the event.

“It was very important to actually have this dialog, especially before COP28 in the UAE.”

The five-day event, held for the first time in Riyadh, welcomed more than 10,000 participants from 115 countries, and included sessions on the transition to a clean energy economy and the role of government policy in achieving net zero.

The timing could not have been more critical. Parts of the Middle East are increasingly experiencing the effects of climate change, with extreme weather events becoming more frequent, leading to environmental degradation, water stress and food insecurity.




More than 10,000 participants from 115 countries attended the five-day event, held for the first time in Riyadh. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

That is why Saudi Arabia has made its response to the climate crisis a top priority, implementing a range of initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, capture carbon from the atmosphere, green its urban spaces, and protect wildlife habitats.

Hosting MENA Climate Week has given the Kingdom an opportunity to demonstrate its leadership on the region’s climate file.

“The UNFCCC hosts climate week in the various regions, and this is really important for the global multilateral process because we have the negotiations, but then we need a space to be able to discuss best practices, to be able to bring stakeholders to discuss their challenges, to have networking opportunities for companies to actually enable climate action on the ground,” Nora Al-Issa, a senior international policy specialist at the Saudi Energy Ministry, told Arab News.

“This is a crucial moment to be able to connect the two COPs (including last year’s COP27 in Egypt) and highlight what are the key concerns of the regions, but also how is the region coming forward with initiatives, with targets, but also with implementation? 

“I think this is something where His Royal Highness (Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi minister of energy) really well illustrated within the various keynotes that what’s really important is for us to talk about targets, but then talk about how we’re implementing them, what are the partnerships and solutions needed on the ground. 




Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi minister of energy, illustrated during the event that why it's important to talk about targets, how they’re implemented, what are the partnerships and solutions needed. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

“And this is what we hope to enable for this climate week. Solutions and frameworks enable everyone to play a part.” 

The energy sector plays a central role in the climate challenge, accounting for about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. Although the sector is a major contributor to these emissions, it is also a critical enabler of sustainable solutions, including hydrogen energy.

“This kind of political will is extremely important to come from our region because we have the natural resources and capabilities to excel in hydrocarbons, but also in cleaner energy sources,” said Al-Issa. 

“MENA Climate Week’s message is that all solutions are important and all solutions are needed.”

Recognizing the severity of the situation, MENA Climate Week featured three high-level ministerial sessions: Advancing inclusivity and circularity for just and equitable energy transitions, inclusive finance and economic diversification toward the goals of the Paris Agreement, and moving toward a global goal on adaptation for a 1.5 C world.




Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs and climate envoy (left) and Shauna Aminath, Maldives minister of the environment, climate change, and technology of the Maldives at a high level ministerial panel. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
 

Throughout the week, participants engaged in sessions and side events on integrated planning for urban resilience in a changing climate, enhanced maritime law enforcement for ocean-based climate action, and opportunities and challenges for smart energy systems integration for a sustainable future.

The second day marked the launch of four thematic tracks that continued throughout the week, with parallel sessions on energy systems and industry, cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure, and transport, land, ocean, food, and water, and societies, health, livelihoods, and economies.

Day two also saw the launch of Saudi Arabia’s Greenhouse Gas Crediting and Offsetting Mechanism web app, GCOM, initiated by Prince Abdulaziz.

This voluntary and project-based scheme aligns with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, covering greenhouse gas and non-greenhouse gas metrics across all sectors in the Kingdom, and is open to both the public and private sectors, as well as subsidiaries of foreign firms.

MENA Climate Week also featured the participation of several universities, research centers, and think tanks, which play a pivotal role in advancing the ongoing discussion on climate change by providing independent research, analysis, and policy recommendations.

Al-Ajlan, president of KAPSARC, emphasized his organization’s commitment to climate and sustainability. Indeed, KAPSARC has played a pivotal role in driving climate ambition, including launching the Circular Carbon Economy Index. 




Fahad Al-Ajlan, president of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, was among the officials to address the sessions. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

The index, which tracks the climate and sustainability ambitions of 64 countries, is designed to facilitate the sharing of best practices, and to expand the goals of other nations and sectors.

“When it comes to climate risk, part of it is sharing the knowledge and the best practices that we have in Saudi Arabia as a leader within the region, but also specifically on climate ambition,” Al-Ajlan told Arab News.

“How can we filter some of these best practices to other countries and other sectors that can also emulate that and actually continue to achieve and improve their ambition and vision?” 

The third day of MENA Climate Week included side events on coral reef restoration, nature-based solutions for water management in the region, and the launch of a global research center for sustainable tourism in Saudi Arabia. 




Dignitaries and leaders from MENA and wider region attend a weeklong event. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Interactive action hubs also explored opportunities and solutions for the reuse or replacement of plastics, youth energy literacy and empowerment, and cryogenic carbon capture technology.

On the fourth day, a documentary titled “Between the Rains” was screened, shedding light on the human dimensions of climate change and the need to adapt to changing conditions.

Other events examined the localization of climate finance to increase access at a grassroots level, a global framework for sustainability in the information and communication technology sector, and climate-resilient and gender-sensitive municipal planning in MENA.

A highlight of the day was the release of a report exploring the challenges Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA region could face in a world in which temperatures could exceed 3 C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. 

The report — the result of a collaboration between the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, AEON Collective, and KAPSARC — offers a comprehensive analysis of the impact of climate change on Saudi Arabia’s diverse habitats. 




More than 10,000 participants from 115 countries attended the five-day event, held for the first time in Riyadh. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

It emphasizes that Saudi Arabia is experiencing the effects of climate change at a far greater rate than other regions. The severity of these effects depends on a range of socioeconomic and emissions scenarios.

In the most extreme scenario, temperatures in the Arabian Peninsula could rise by 5.6 C by the end of the century.

The final day of MENA Climate Week featured sessions on unlocking the potential of carbon markets for emissions reduction and removal, recognizing the role they have in achieving net zero. 

Discussions explored the effectiveness of carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies and shed light on the often-overlooked subject of health impacts related to climate change. 

The agenda also explored topics like smart agriculture, the circular carbon economy, and the fostering of center-inclusive green innovation, offering practical solutions that, when combined, create a holistic approach to a sustainable future.

 


Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from French President Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi Press Agency said early Thursday.

The pair discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation in all fields, in addition to issues of mutual interest.

They also exchanged views on several regional and international issues and the efforts made regarding them to achieve security and stability. 


Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
  • During the meeting, officials discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector

RIYADH: Tunisian President Kais Saied met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During the meeting, they discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector. 

Al-Jalajel stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to enhance health cooperation between the two countries.

Saied highlighted and expressed appreciation for the pivotal role that the Kingdom plays in the Arab and Islamic world.


Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief

Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief

Saudi deputy minister meets Organization of African, Caribbean, & Pacific States chief

Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji on Wednesday received Secretary-General of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States Georges Chikoti, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of mutual concern and ways to further boost cooperation between the Kingdom and member countries of the OACPS.

In a separate meeting, Saudi Deputy Minister for Consular Affairs Ambassador Ali Al-Yousef held talks with the Mexican envoy to Saudi Arabia, Anibal Gomez Toledo, and reviewed relations between the two nations.
 


Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause

Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause
Updated 28 February 2024
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Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause

Aloula’s bazaar unites Jeddah for a charitable cause
  • Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures

JEDDAH: The Women’s Charitable Society in Jeddah, known as Aloula, held its eighth annual charitable event on Feb. 27, celebrating tea and coffee cultures from around the world.

The event, titled “A Cup for a Good Cause,” brought Jeddah residents from a variety of countries together to take part in fundraising activities supporting underprivileged families.

The bazaar, a central feature of the event, featured six zones with more than 100 local participants and representatives from countries such as India, South Africa, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt.

Visitors explored a range of offerings, including Ramadan item shops, a Saudi coffee corner, a dining area and shopping booths containing unique goods from different cultures.

The event also showcased a variety of performing arts from around the world. 

Visitors were treated to folklore shows from Indonesia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and India, as well as performances of Saudi Ardah, Egyptian folklore and Saudi folklore. Acclaimed artist Abdallah Rashad held a musical performance, adding to the cultural tapestry of the event.

Dania Al-Maeena, Aloula CEO, expressed her gratitude for the support of Jeddah residents, as well as local and international brands.

In comments to Arab News, she highlighted the importance of community collaboration in achieving Aloula’s mission of supporting underprivileged families in Jeddah. 

Founded in 1964, the nonprofit, which supports thousands of people, focuses on the holistic development of children’s intellectual and physical skills to help them realize their full potential.

Ahmed Al-Safahi, director of the community development department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said he was “proud and delighted by Aloula’s efforts and dedication for this charity event.”

During the opening day of the event, sponsors including Haji Hussein Ali Reza, Arabian Tires, Aqua Power, Best Events, 3 Arts Entertainment and Success Makers were honored for their contributions.


US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion
Updated 28 February 2024
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US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion
  • Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings

RIYADH: US singer China Moses wowed the audience when she took to the stage in Riyadh.

The musician’s performance was the third of cultural and creative hub Fenaa Alawwal’s Safar Nights concert series.

She was joined by band members Jerome Cornelis on guitar, bassist and musical director Lawrence Insula, Tom Lartigue on keyboards, and Ebow “Lox” Mensah on drums.

After the show Moses told Arab News: “The crowd was lovely and so warm and welcoming. You just never know how the music is going to connect, and I really felt at the end that it was a choir — we were a family at the end.

“That makes me very happy. I’m overjoyed actually right now,” she added.

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments.

Raised in France, she sang several of her most popular tracks including “Etre la-bas” and had fans grooving to improvised tunes such as one she described as having a barbecue tempo.

Introducing “Disconnected,” she told the audience: “This song is about getting together just like we are and just feeling the vibe, just feeling alright. So, if your feet are moving, and if your head is grooving, then that means we’re doing our job.

“We want to take a moment to celebrate our roots. With this song we’re going to celebrate Tina Turner and Al Green,” she said, before performing a cover of “Let’s Stay Together.” 

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She also paid tribute to other Black musicians with renditions of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” written by Prince, and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings.

Quoting the late American singer Nina Simone, she said: “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” She then sang “Sirens,” a song that she noted helped to purge the feelings of disbelief and pain after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, and the Colorado Springs’ Club Q bar shootings in 2022.

A storyteller by nature, she uses her voice to platform both tribulations and celebrations of the African American experience.

The daughter of American jazz singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, Moses blends several genres into her repertoire including blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk.

“There are so many different kinds of jazz, and so many different layers. Some of the stuff I did tonight was not planned. It’s a music of freedom. It is the music of my Black American heritage but, more importantly, a music that was a gift from such a horrible period in humanity,” Moses added. 

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She pointed out that she always aimed to send her audiences home with joy and hope in their hearts.

Jazz emerged in New Orleans, influenced by spirituals and the slave experience of the African Americans in the US, the sounds of which were also rooted in ragtime and blues incorporating improvisation and syncopated rhythms. It led to various subgenres such as bebop, cool jazz, and fusion.

Moses said: “Who separated the jazz and the blues? Because that’s the same people who made both, and all those people would go to church. And if you don’t explain it that way, you don’t understand Black American society.

“You can’t understand why Black American church is so important. You can’t understand why jazz can sound so warm and round and rugged and raw, like the blues. And you don’t understand why the blue sounds so simple.”

Saudi Arabia has recently hosted top artists including R and B and soul singer Alicia Keys, rapper Lauryn Hill in AlUla during Saudi Founding Day celebrations, and queen of funk Chaka Khan (a close friend of Moses’ mother) who performed at Riyadh’s first International Jazz Festival earlier this month.

“I’ve played in a lot of places in the world I never thought I would play because I do Black American music. I think that that’s a testament to the power and universality of it.

“Alicia Keys is a universal person. We have the same message, we just express it in different ways because we’re different people,” Moses added.

Starting her career at the age of 16, Moses said she had never imagined performing around the world, hosting two radio shows, and becoming a co-founder and artistic director to both the Tahiti Soul Jazz festival, and Paris Soul Fest.

On her advice to the rising talents on the Saudi music scene, Moses said: “Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to explain. The music is enough, of course. But don’t be afraid to talk to the audience.

“Whether you choose to express yourself through spoken word, sung word, or no words with your voice, you’re communicating. For me, the most important thing is to do the best with what you have. There’s beauty in all of us,” she added.