World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals

World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals
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The sustainable farm was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. (Supplied)
World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals
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The sustainable farm was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. (Supplied)
World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals
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The sustainable farm was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. (Supplied)
World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals
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The sustainable farm was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. (Supplied)
World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals
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The sustainable farm was recently recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 October 2023
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World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals

World’s largest sustainable farm is key to Saudi Arabia’s agricultural goals

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia imports about 80 percent of its fruit. But a sustainable farm in Wadi bin Hashbal, in the southwest Asir region, is setting out to reduce that figure by producing up to 60 tons of fruit, field crops and fodder each year.

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

Irrigation operations are overseen by specialists and carried out in several stages, minimizing the impact on freshwater resources, and promoting responsible water management practices.

This approach aligns with the Kingdom’s efforts to address water scarcity and ensure the long-term viability of agricultural activities.

The model farm has more than 14,000 trees and houses five air-conditioned greenhouses along with several other structures. It also includes 50 fields designated for growing fruit trees, in addition to plans to reclaim and cultivate 20 additional fields in the future.

A wide range of crops and fruit trees, including lemons, oranges, tangerines, pomegranates, grapes and figs, highlight the Kingdom’s agricultural diversity.

Speaking to Arab News, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Mujthal, director-general of the Ministry of Environment and Water’s Asir branch, described the research farm as “a new achievement in the name of the nation.”

“It marks a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia toward sustainable farming. This remarkable achievement also showcases the Kingdom’s commitment to agriculture and environmental conservation,” he said.

The farm also shows that “with the right combination of innovation and commitment, a sustainable future is within our reach.”

Al-Mujthal added: “When you’re talking about something this large, the economics work out well. So, it turns out to be a very profitable farm.”

Model farms display modern irrigation systems, as well as the latest cultivation and animal-rearing techniques, acquainting farmers in the region with the best agricultural practices, he said.

The approach is important to provide food for local communities and reduce reliance on imported products.

“Food security is a matter of national security,” he said.

Al-Mujthal said that the sustainable farm expects to produce 10,700 kg of lemons, 3,500 kg of tangerines, 4,200 kg of oranges and 16,000 kg of pomegranate, among other crops.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature, agriculture is the world’s largest industry, employing more than 1 billion people and generating over $1.3 trillion of food annually. Pasture and cropland occupy about half of the planet’s habitable land, and provide habitat and food for a host of species.

Food security is a priority in Saudi Arabia and sustainable agriculture is gaining widespread attention.

Agricultural operations that are sustainably managed can preserve and restore critical habitats, help protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality, while unsustainable practices can have serious impacts on people and the environment.

Sustainable development that aims to capitalize on renewable natural resources is one of Saudi Arabia’s main objectives. The Kingdom also seeks to maintain a stable balance of natural resources through safe and effective management methods.

Resource management is becoming more important as the Saudi population grows, driving up demand for agricultural commodities.

As part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom has formulated plans to increase the use of technology, promote organic farming and increase the use of water-saving methods.


Saudi Railways announces increased seating capacity of Haramain High-Speed Train for Hajj season

Saudi Railways announces increased seating capacity of Haramain High-Speed Train for Hajj season
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Saudi Railways announces increased seating capacity of Haramain High-Speed Train for Hajj season

Saudi Railways announces increased seating capacity of Haramain High-Speed Train for Hajj season

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia Railways on Wednesday announced the readiness of the Haramain High-Speed Railway to receive pilgrims for this year’s Hajj season and said it has increased the number of available seats by about 100,000.

SAR revealed its operational plan for the season at its five stations linking Makkah to Madinah, bringing the total number of seats to 1.6 million, up from more than a 1.3 million seating capacity last year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
 
The 453-kilometer railway passes through the main Jeddah station in the Sulaymaniyah district, King Abdulaziz Airport station in Jeddah, and King Abdullah Economic City.
 
“This expansion also considers the addition of more than 430 new trips to last year’s trips, raising the number of trips scheduled in the operational plan for this year to more than 3,800” from May 9 to June 25, while the numbers of trips on peak days will be 126, SPA said.
 
The Haramain High-Speed Railway train ranks among the 10 fastest electric trains globally. It reaches 300 km per hour, and operates a fleet of 35 trains, with a capacity of 417 seats per train. It functions based on an environment-friendly system and zero carbon emissions, and plays an important role in preserving roads’ infrastructure by reducing road traffic.


Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims
Updated 29 May 2024
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Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims
  • The initiative is part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to promote a culture of volunteering within communities

MAKKAH: Almost 5,000 people are set to volunteer for programs launched by the Makkah arm of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The branch has launched 247 opportunities via its volunteering platform to coincide with the start of the Hajj season. These include distributing more than 235,000 water bottles at 3,850 mosques, providing umbrellas to pilgrims for protection against the sun, distributing booklets and providing meals.

The initiative is part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to promote a culture of volunteering within communities.

Earlier, the Presidency of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque launched its operational plan for Hajj, promoting voluntary and humanitarian work.

It recognizes the Two Holy Mosques as attractive environments for such efforts, based on religious and Saudi values that highlight the importance of generosity and hospitality.


Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh
Updated 29 May 2024
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Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and climate envoy Adel Al-Jubeir met Robert Karem, national security adviser to US Senator Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday in Riyadh.

In a separate meeting, Al-Jubeir met Costa Rica’s non-resident ambassador to the Kingdom, Francisco Chacon Hernandez.

The talks in both meetings centered on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.


Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition

Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition
Updated 29 May 2024
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Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition

Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition
  • ‘Unfolding the Embassy’ contemplates humanity’s impact on the world

RIYADH: Fenaa Alawwal kicked off its most recent exhibition, “Unfolding the Embassy,” bringing together global artists to speculate on the looming future.

With scenography presented by Studio GGSV, the exhibition was curated by Sara Al-Mutlaq, whose initial instinct was to respond to the exhibition’s context.

Al-Mutlaq told Arab News: “The context is the Diplomatic Quarter and embassies … We ask: What is the future of the embassy?

“The moment that we’re living in today is witnessing a lot of changes. We feel it in technology, ChatGPT, the Ukraine war — there are a lot of things that are changing.”

As visitors enter the space, they are teleported to the year 2040. A SpaceX satellite orbiting the globe is the new reality, complete with a reception area, books, and brochures. Visitors soon realize that the decorative pieces around them are the artworks themselves.

As the story unfolds, they are left to wonder: What has happened to Earth?

The global experience was important for the curator; only artists of diverse backgrounds and practices could do justice to this collective narrative. Artists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Bosnia, Zambia, and Belgium are taking part in the exhibition, presenting their vision and interpretation of the future through works that address important contemporary issues, such as climate change, artificial intelligence, migration, and identity.

“I really wanted to engage with Saudi creatives and artists, but also Arab artists … and to always include the rest of the world and look at the nuances of conversation that they’re also creating,” Al-Mutlaq explained.  

Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi’s “Frying Pan” video installation looks at the past to study the future, creating a place where memory is lost, readapted, and reinterpreted.

In an ever-changing world, the video questions the role of memory, the tools of navigation, and whether humans will be able to envision a future when the present is a disintegrating past.

Egyptian graphic designer and artist Ahmad Hammoud presents two complementary works: “Flag of the Stateless” and “Passport of the Stateless.” Using the common housefly as an emblem for the 10 million stateless individuals worldwide, the works contrast two “unwanted” elements, creating a sense of ownership and symbolizing strength and resistance to Western colonial views.

The exhibition also showcases a photography anthology created using images by Dia Murad, Naif Al-Quba, Federico Acciardi, and Peter Bogaczewicz.

The digital works by Bogaczewicz, a photographer with a background in architecture, are part of his larger series titled “Surface Tensions,” which focuses on how the natural and built environments come together in Saudi Arabia.

His selection includes captures of a car buried in sand dunes and an abandoned Ferris wheel amid construction, subtly reflecting the influence of his architectural background.

He told Arab News: “I think there’s an idea of Anthropocene being a theme of the exhibit. I think the way these photos fall into it is because they address a state of the man-made or man-altered environment. That is something completely unnatural and unique of our time. It’s probably something that can’t be reversed so purely … Natural environments are harder and harder to come by and that’s just a present fact of being on our planet.”

Visitors can also explore the fate of humanity in the context of climate change, shifting political structures, economic challenges, and AI’s subversive interventions in human life.

Adopting a forward-looking approach, the exhibition raises a challenging question: Do humans need the distance of light years to better see what is near?

Al-Mutlaq said: “At its essence, the exhibition is a fictional time-space that highlights the fictional attributes of our economic, collective and technological worlds. In exploring the role of fiction, the exhibition and its artists ask: At the depth of truth, do we find the landscape of the arbitrary?”

The exhibition, running until Sept. 1, also features works from Dima Srouji, Abbas Zahedi, Aseel Al-Yaqoub, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Jerry Galle, PHI Studio, and Lana Cmajcanin.


Saudi envoy presents credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia

Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador to Bolivia. (SPA)
Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador to Bolivia. (SPA)
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi envoy presents credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia

Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador to Bolivia. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Brazil Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presented his credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. 

The credentials were presented to Bolivia’s President Luis Arce.

Ghulam conveyed the greetings of the Saudi leadership and its wishes for the continued progress and prosperity of Bolivia.