Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs

Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs
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The cubs were born at RCU’s Conservation Breeding Centre in Taif, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs
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The cubs were born at RCU’s Conservation Breeding Centre in Taif, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs
3 / 3
The cubs were born at RCU’s Conservation Breeding Centre in Taif, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Updated 09 November 2023
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Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs

Arabian leopard conservation breeding programme welcomes 7 new cubs
  • Births are a crucial milestone for the initiative, which aims to see the breed’s critically endangered status removed
  • Long-term goal of reintroducing Arabian leopards to the wild ties in closely with the comprehensive restoration of AlUla’s natural environment

JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for AlUla has successfully overseen the births of seven Arabian leopard cubs in 2023, marking a significant breakthrough for its conservation breeding programme.

The births are a crucial milestone for the initiative, which aims to see the breed’s “critically endangered” status — as designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — removed.

All seven cubs were born at RCU’s conservation breeding center in Taif, Saudi Arabia. Since welcoming the new arrivals over the past five months, the center has seen its total number of Arabian leopards increase to 27 — almost double the 14 present when the conservation project began in 2020.

The long-term goal of reintroducing Arabian leopards to the wild ties in closely with the comprehensive restoration of AlUla’s natural environment, in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

It is estimated there are fewer than 200 wild leopards remaining on the Arabian Peninsula, placing it firmly on IUCN’s Red List. The UN has designated Feb. 10 as International Arabian Leopard Day in recognition of the importance of preserving the species.

Abdulaziz Alenzy, RCU breeding centre manager, said: “We are all delighted to see seven new Arabian leopard cubs born safely and doing well at RCU’s conservation breeding programme. This is another important milestone in our ongoing efforts to conserve the species by increasing the population each year and reach our ultimate goal of reintroducing leopards back into the wilds of AlUla and broader Arabia.”

The conservation breeding programme welcomed three cubs last year, so seven is significant progress. Of the latest arrivals, five are currently being nurtured by their mothers without any intervention from center staff, who are keeping their distance to ensure fostering of a strong maternal bond.

The remaining two cubs are being cared for by RCU staff after they were abandoned by their mother. While this is a natural and frequent occurrence both in captivity and in the wild, the newborns were promptly moved from their enclosure and the mother’s behavior closely monitored.

Alenzy added: “Obviously it is better if the mother bonds with her cub and raises it naturally. But sometimes, often with new mothers, there is a chance she might abandon it due to a lack of experience. In the wild, she could leave it for dead. As the Arabian leopard is such an important species and a critically endangered animal, we have taken the decision to step in.
“Cubs that are hand-reared are just as important as those raised by their mothers. They need to be introduced back to the other leopards, which requires special training and lots of patience. After five to six weeks, we place them back in the enclosure for a few hours each day to reintegrate them. We also move them from milk to solid food — it can be a demanding process, but it shows how important it is to save each cub.”

Moving the cubs to a specially designated nursery not only reduces the chance of any harm of accidents involving their mother, but also significantly increases their chances of survival during the early stages of their lives.

A dedicated staff member will hand-rear the cubs in line with strict conservation protocols, staying with them constantly, sleeping nearby and feeding them every two hours or so.

The leopards are also monitored round the clock by RCU’s conservation breeding centre team via CCTV cameras.


Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots

Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots
Updated 31 sec ago
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Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots

Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots
  • Administratively affiliated with Riyadh Province, Marat oversees several centers, villages and settlements, enjoying governmental facilities and private institutions that have contributed to its development and population growth

RIYADH: One of the oldest cities in Saudi Arabia’s Najd, Marat, lies tucked away in the Al-Washm region of central Saudi Arabia.

Its intriguing history is illuminated in the Arabic book “Glimpses into the History of Marat” by Saudi researcher Abdullah Al-Duwaihi, first published in 2012, yet relevant for those wishing to explore the Kingdom’s history.

Al-Duwaihi painstakingly documents the town’s geography, landmarks, social fabric, governance and centuries-old foundations across about 700 pages. The book also covers Marat’s importance on the Hajj caravan route, its scientific legacy, mosques, sports and culture, archaeological sites and a variety of other facets of society. Accounts from geographers and travelers are included.

‘Glimpses into the History of Marat’ by Saudi researcher Abdullah Al-Duwaihi meticulously details Marat’s history. (SPA)

The book opens with an overview of Marat governorate, situated in Al-Washm, northwest of Riyadh. It borders the governorates of Al-Quway’iyah and Dhurma to the south, Shaqra to the north, Thadiq and Huraymila to the east and Al-Dawadmi to the west.

Administratively affiliated with Riyadh Province, Marat oversees several centers, villages and settlements, enjoying governmental facilities and private institutions that have contributed to its development and population growth.

FASTFACTS

• When King Abdulaziz traveled from Riyadh to Makkah, one of his first official stops was Marat, where the historic Hijaz Road crossed.

• Iconic natural landmarks in Marat include Ghudair Kumait, a basin where floodwaters accumulate without stagnating.

Iconic natural landmarks profiled in the book include Ghudair Kumait, a basin where floodwaters accumulate without stagnating. It is named after the prominent Jabal Kumait landmark known for its location and form, offering panoramic views of the town. This has led to the popular adage, “Secure Kumait, and you secure Marat,” explains the author.

Along with highlighting Marat’s past, Al-Duwaihi also explores locations such as the ruins of Al-Aroosah and Al-Walidi Well, which was attributed to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Khalid bin Al-Walid. According to historical accounts, he dug the well during his journey through Marat en route to battle the renegades in Al-Yamama.

Royal history

When King Abdulaziz traveled from Riyadh to Makkah, one of his first official stops was Marat, where the historic Hijaz Road crossed, and where he would stay for several days. Royal tents were set up outside the palace in Marat — built in 1350 AH (1930) — days in advance of his arrival.

As the royal caravan approached, telegrams were sent to prepare for essential supplies. Vehicles and caravans passing through the route would also halt in the town for rest and replenishment, transforming Marat into a bustling commercial hub, especially during the Hajj season, when it teemed with tents, vendors and shoppers lining the roadside.

The book features accounts from various travelers, both foreign and local, who passed through Marat and documented their experiences, including George Forster Sadleir, British explorer Harry Philby, American geologist Thomas C. Barger, Amin Al-Rihani, Youssef Yassin, Ahmed Al-Kadhimi and Atiq Al-Biladi. Yet he overlooked mentioning Ahmad Abdul-Ghafoor Attar, who provided captivating glimpses of the town in the 1960s.

One of the book’s notable features is its exploration of Marat’s architectural heritage, highlighting the coexistence of ancient mud-brick neighborhoods and modern structures. Although the old government palace was demolished due to encroaching modern developments, had it remained, it would have stood as a prominent landmark of the province.

Notable old quarters within Marat’s walls include Bab Al-Naqeeb, Zab’arah, Junaib, Al-Hafsiah, Banban, Hayit Hussain, Al-Shuraiqy, Shari’ah, Subaitah, Qa’rah, Suwail and Al-Naqbah. Outside the walls are Al-Qusaibah, Al-Muraiba’, Al-Ju’di, Bab Al-Naifiah, Qubaibah, Suwaydan, Al-Hulailah, Bab Al-Barr and At-Tuwaila.

According to Al-Duwaihi’s book, Al-Amiriah School was the governorate’s first educational institution, built in 1368 AH (1948). Constructed from traditional mud bricks in Marat’s northeastern quarters, the boys’ elementary school followed design templates set by the Kingdom’s educational authorities at the time.

Later, in 1387 AH (1967), the first school for girls, known as Al-Awwal School, was inaugurated, initially located in the western part of the old town before later relocating to a new governmental premises. Over subsequent years, a series of schools for both boys and girls were progressively opened.

 


Focus is on the Saudi environment in photo contest with SR100,000 prize up for grabs

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
Updated 39 sec ago
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Focus is on the Saudi environment in photo contest with SR100,000 prize up for grabs

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
  • The competition ties in with Environment Week 2024, which runs from April 28 to May 5 in the Kingdom with the theme ‘Do you know your environment?’

RIYADH: Photographers in the Kingdom have until April 27 to enter a competition that is looking for the best images and videos that showcase the Saudi environment.

The aim of the contest, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s Environmental Awareness Initiative, is to promote environmental awareness through the use of art, and engage the community in the creation and sharing of content that highlights the natural splendor and beauty of the Kingdom.

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)

The competition ties in with Environment Week 2024 in Saudi Arabia, which will run from April 28 to May 5 with the theme “Do you know your environment?” Photography enthusiasts across the country are invited to submit photographs, videos or films that best illustrate the nation’s environment.

A panel of judges will choose the winners, who will receive cash prizes of up to SR100,000 ($26,660), the Saudi Press Agency reported. Entrants must own the copyright to their submissions, which should not have been awarded prizes in any other contests. The ministry reserves the right to use submitted images in exhibitions, conferences or on its social media platforms. The photographers’ moral rights to their work will be respected.

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues, and foster a sense of responsibility toward protecting the Kingdom’s natural resources by encouraging sustainable behaviors among individuals and groups.

 


Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
Updated 21 min ago
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Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
  • Heads of state and senior executives from the public, private sectors are expected to be among the participants
  • The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global humanitarian, climate and economic challenges

RIYADH: Final preparations are taking place this week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the city on April 28 and 29.

Heads of state and senior executives from the public and private sectors are expected to be among the participants, who will discuss a range of global economic issues and developments under the theme “Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development.”

The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy. On the sidelines of the main event, the Kingdom will host exhibitions and other events to highlight the latest developments and trends in areas such as sustainability, innovation and culture.

The selection of Riyadh as host of the special meeting reflects the extensive partnership between Saudi Arabia and the WEF, officials said.

It builds upon the Kingdom’s active participation and contributions to the WEF’s Annual Meetings in Davos.

The agenda is designed to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with various panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. It represents a significant gathering of global leaders and experts dedicated to forging a path toward a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world.


Saudi FM meets Spanish counterpart in Luxembourg

Prince Faisal bin Farhan holds talks with Jose Manuel Albares in Luxembourg. (SPA)
Prince Faisal bin Farhan holds talks with Jose Manuel Albares in Luxembourg. (SPA)
Updated 4 sec ago
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Saudi FM meets Spanish counterpart in Luxembourg

Prince Faisal bin Farhan holds talks with Jose Manuel Albares in Luxembourg. (SPA)
  • he two ministers discussed relations between their countries, as well as regional and international issues of common interest, including developments in the Gaza Strip

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met his Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Albares, at the high-level forum on regional security and cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU.

During the meeting on Monday, the two ministers discussed relations between their countries, as well as regional and international issues of common interest, including developments in the Gaza Strip, the Saudi Foreign Ministry reported.

Khaled Al-Jandan, Saudi ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg; Haifa Al-Jedea, Saudi ambassador and head of mission to the EU; and Manal Radwan, adviser at the ministry, were also present.

 


AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says

AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says
Updated 22 April 2024
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AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says

AlUla targeting 2m visitors annually by 2035, top official says
  • Dr. Stephen Browne: We have set for ourselves three overarching targets for 2035: 2 million visitors annually, 40,500 new jobs to be created and SR150bn cumulative contribution to GDP
  • Dr. Stephen Browne: Our mission is to enable AlUla develop for its communities and visitors through regenerating and protecting its cultural landscape, and providing quality of life

RIYADH: The Royal Commission for AlUla aims to host 2 million visitors annually and create 40,500 jobs by 2035, a top RCU official has said.

Speaking on the second day of the inaugural Hima protected areas forum in Riyadh in a session titled “Protected Areas and Economic Development,” keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Browne, vice president of wildlife and natural heritage at the RCU, shared AlUla’s vision for protected area development and its economic impact.

He said: “Our efforts are rooted in an inspirational vision and a clear mission. We have set for ourselves three overarching targets for 2035: 2 million visitors annually, 40,500 new jobs to be created and SR150 billion ($40 billion) cumulative contribution to gross domestic product.

“Our mission is to enable AlUla develop for its communities and visitors through regenerating and protecting its cultural landscape, and providing quality of life,” he added.

“We are fostering a vibrant and prosperous community to support the development of a sustainable future for AlUla through capacity building: Providing world-class education and training, creating job opportunities for AlUla residents in tourism and other economic sectors, promoting local business entrepreneurs by establishing startup incubators, and improving quality of life by providing high-quality healthcare services and creating exciting community engagement opportunities,” Browne said.

“Nature and wildlife are core pillars of AlUla’s strategy — equally as important as economic and social development, tourism, heritage, art and culture. AlUla aspires to be a global destination — nature reserves and wildlife are a big part of that,” he added.

“Our strategy is built upon seven strategic pillars: Tourism, heritage, art and culture, nature and wildlife, economic and social development, spatial development, enabling services and institutional excellence.”

Dr. Talal Al-Harigi, CEO of the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve, said during the session: “Many conservation and protected areas often operate as cost centers. The challenge lies in transitioning from this model to one that generates profit or finding a harmonious balance between the two. Leveraging ecotourism and exploring additional economic activities presents viable pathways toward achieving this goal.”

Nada Al-Tamimi, assistant deputy of national affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, discussed the positive impacts of sustainable tourism on protected areas and local communities.

“Sustainable ecotourism meticulously curated and thoughtfully managed not only meets the desires of travelers, but also serves as a vital engine for revenue generation, job creation and economic prosperity,” she said.

Dr. Stuart Williams, chief adviser to the Protected Areas Directorate of the National Center for Wildlife, said: “We must adopt a long-term perspective: When our population’s well-being is ensured and their happiness secured, we will have more than demonstrated to economists that every riyal invested will yield significant returns.”