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, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with the prime minister of Iraq on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During their phone call, Prince Mohammed and Mohammed Al-Sudani discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.

They also dissussed the importance of making the necessary efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and ways to spare the region from the risks of escalation, SPA added.


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. (File/AFP)

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday.

During the call, the officials discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.


Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in the Middle East on Sunday with his US counterpart during a phone call.

The call comes after Iran launched a wave of missiles and attack drones against Israel overnight Saturday to Sunday.

Prince Khalid and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also discussed efforts to contain the crisis while upholding international peace and security.

The officials also reviewed their strategic defense partnership and explored ways to further enhance it, the Kingdom’s defense minister said in a post on X. 


Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
  • Ali Alhammadi has been passionate about visual arts since childhood

JEDDAH: Ali Alhammadi, a Saudi 32-year-old visual artist from Aldawadmi in Riyadh, has carved out a remarkable pathway in the world of art since his professional debut in 2017.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the “Saudi renaissance” in line with Vision 2030, prompting him to embark on a creative expedition to express his perceptions through the canvas.

Alhammadi told Arab News that his art philosophy is about breaking invisible limitations and transcending comfort zones, drawing inspiration from the evergreen landscapes he encountered during camping trips with his father in the Riyadh desert.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

“During every spring season, me and my father used to go camping in the outskirts of Riyadh, when the desert turns green for a couple of months, where all the magical inspiration happens.”

Through his landscapes and abstract pieces, Alhammadi delves into his feelings, insecurities and aspirations, painting a narrative that speaks volumes.

“I use my art to express both happiness and sadness, and sometimes I start a painting with an idea in mind, but then I end up with a new one,” he said.

Ali Alhammadi, Saudi artist

One of Alhammadi’s pioneering techniques, “Invisible Limitations,” challenges traditional conceptions and societal norms, symbolizing the potential within, and beyond self-imposed boundaries. He said that his work reflects a realization that limitations are merely illusions.

“Our comfort zone sometimes restricts our ability to be inspired and inspire others. That’s why I decided to paint the Invisible Limitations theme.

“As I matured, I realized that most of these limitations don’t exist ... our limitation is the sky.”

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

Alhammadi’s artistic evolution has been influenced by his participation in prestigious exhibitions such as The Stars Exhibition at the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the second Riyadh Season Exhibition.

These platforms not only showcased his talent but also provided a catalyst for his creative development, empowering him to delve deeper into his cultural roots while embracing global influences.

Navigating between diverse cultural landscapes, Alhammadi, based between Liverpool and Riyadh, seamlessly fuses vibrant hues and styles, blending Saudi heritage and international artistic trends.

His experiences abroad have expanded his artistic horizons, inspiring him to create artworks that resonate with a global audience while retaining a distinctive Saudi essence. “Now that I have found my theme and art style, I believe that this phase will take me to different phases in my professional art career,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Alhammadi envisions his artwork evolving to explore the intricacies of human and cultural relationships, going deeper into themes that resonate with universal emotions and experiences. “Human and cultural relationships is something I’m keen on expressing through art,” he said.

His participation in international and local events such as the Founding Day in Liverpool and the National Day in London has not only spotlighted his talent but also enriched his artistic narrative with a tapestry of diverse influences.

For aspiring visual artists embarking on their creative odyssey, Alhammadi offers this advice: “Stay true to your vision, embrace your unique style, and let your art tell your story.”

 


Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders in Jazan

Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders in Jazan

Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
  • Authorities apprehended a citizen with 71 kg of hashish hidden in a vehicle in Al-Dayer governorate

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations in the Jazan region, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

In the Al-Dayer governorate of Jazan, Border Guards thwarted an attempt to smuggle 175 kg of narcotic qat.

The guards also apprehended three Yemeni nationals attempting to smuggle 60 kg of qat in Jazan.

In another incident, land patrols in the Jazan region arrested a citizen for selling qat plants hidden in his vehicle.

Authorities also apprehended a citizen with 71 kg of hashish hidden in a vehicle in Al-Dayer governorate.

Border Guards patrols in the Al-Arda governorate in the Jazan region intercepted the smuggling of 160 kg of qat.

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