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.


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • The procedure is meant to keep the cover, known as kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered with as pilgrims performing Hajj circumabulate the Kaaba

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.

The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the "once in a lifetime" journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced that visit visa holders are not allowed to enter or stay in Makkah during May 23-June 21 as access to the city will be limited to Hajj visa holders.

The ministry stressed that all types of visit visa are not a permit to perform Hajj, adding that violators will be subject to penalties according to Saudi laws and regulations.


Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, conveyed the condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to top Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions.

Prince Mansour bin Muteb bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to King Salman and Minister of State, and Prince Faisal were received by Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iran President Mohammad Jamshidi and Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Al-Enazi attended the reception.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.