Saudi Arabia to spearhead green development vision with forum during COP28

Saudi Arabia to spearhead green development vision with forum during COP28
Alongside the UN’s COP28 summit, the Kingdom will host the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Dec. 4 to highlight its dedication to build a greener future at a time of multibillion dollar giga-projects. (Philip Ekladyous/AN
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Updated 30 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia to spearhead green development vision with forum during COP28

Saudi Arabia to spearhead green development vision with forum during COP28
  • Saudi Green Initiative Forum to gather influential figures, climate experts and thought leaders to present their insights and recommendations for tackling climate change

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is committing itself to a sustainable and green future through a variety of initiatives, with one of the most high-profile set to be held at the upcoming climate conference in Dubai.

Alongside the UN’s COP28 summit, the Kingdom will host the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Dec. 4 to highlight its dedication to build a greener future at a time of multibillion dollar giga-projects.

The event will gather influential figures, climate experts and thought leaders to present their insights and recommendations for tackling climate change.

It will also offer a platform to showcase the ambitions and achievements thus far of the SGI, launched in 2021 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 

 

Established under the Vision 2030 initiative, SGI is an ambitious national plan focused on combating climate change, protecting the environment for future generations and improving the quality of life in the Kingdom.

It unites all the efforts towards Saudi Arabia’s mission of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 through the creation of a circular carbon economy. The Kingdom has also pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030.

To achieve such aims, the Kingdom has committed itself to “greening,” which involves the development of an integrated system of conservation and afforestation strategies for the country’s various natural landscapes.

According to the website of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, greening is set to “increase Saudi Arabia’s reliance on clean energy, offset carbon emissions, and protect the environment. It aims to improve quality of life and protect future generations.”

By 2030 Saudi Arabia plans to plant 600 million trees, restore 3.8 million hectares of land and champion biodiversity conservation as part of its 10-billion-tree initiative.

Additionally, as part of this greening initiative, SGI aims to develop an integrated system of conservation and afforestation strategies targeted at the Kingdom's diverse natural landscapes.

The task of overseeing the realization of the greening project has been entrusted to the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification.

“The NCVC is dedicated to expanding vegetation cover, combating desertification, conserving natural resources and biodiversity, safeguarding plant genetic resources, and pioneering the innovative solutions that address our environmental challenges,” Khaled bin Abdullah Al-Abdulkader, the organization’s CEO, told Arab News.

“We collaborate with all sectors including public, private, non-profit and the community to deliver sustainable outcomes,” he said, adding: “The NCVC has developed the strategic roadmap to guide the delivery of 10 billion trees for Saudi Arabia under the SGI. We are now moving from ambition to action, and we invite all innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and interested parties to join us in our efforts.”

The Kingdom is the world’s second-largest major oil producer after the US. It has committed to driving the Middle East Green Initiative by seeking to unify stakeholders across the region to mitigate the impact of climate change on the region and meet global climate targets.

There are challenges, however, in achieving SGI’s ambitious targets due to Saudi Arabia’s arid landscape. It lacks rivers, lakes and regular rainfall and relies on dozens of facilities to transform water from the Gulf and Red Sea for its residents and the environment.

Saudi Arabia is also the largest country in the world without running surface water and has one of the highest rates of water consumption on the planet.

READ: For our coverage of the Saudi Green Initiative, click here

It has long been crucial and of national importance for the Kingdom to find new sources of potable water to support its growing population, and now it has to reach the targets set out in SGI.

“We will not use any desalination water for plantation,” Ahmad Al-Anazi, who leads the implementation of the National Environment Strategy and an advisor at the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, told Arab News. “We will concentrate on using what they call renewable water for plantations.

The greening initiative, states Alanazi, offers the opportunity to retrieve more drinking water.

“We are responsible for enhancing the vegetation capital of the country overall,” he said, adding: “We are employing specialists to study all possible ways to plant trees and increase vegetation.”

“It’s not only a matter of planting trees,” Alanazi explained, adding: “It is also about how we then sustain the trees for the long term. This is a crucial aspect of sustainability, and we are conducting multiple studies on how to do this in this environment.”

Alanazi told Arab News that numerous experts are helping them achieve the Middle East Green Initiative to plant an additional 40 billion trees across the region.

According to SGI targets, the 10 billion trees earmarked for Saudi Arabia would help to rehabilitate 40 million hectares of land, improve air quality, restore vital ecological functions and reduce sandstorms.

Alanazi said two phases are involved in achieving the goals of the masterplan, with the first set to take place from 2024 to 2040.

“In this phase most of our focus will be on planting in nature, or what we call a natural based solution,” he said, adding: “This phase aims to plant 400 million trees in 3.8 hectares. The second phase is more comprehensive and aggressive and includes all domains and will be set forth from 2030.”

Further wins for Saudi Arabia’s green initiative were announced in early November when a consortium of clean energy leaders – Masdar, EDF Renewables and Nesma Company – announced the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company to develop the 1,100 megawatts Al Henakiyah solar power plant.

When operational, the $1 billion project is expected to power more than 190 thousand homes per year and displace more than 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“As Nesma’s flagship renewables business, Nesma Renewable Energy is intrinsic to our commitment to proactively support the clean energy and sustainability goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” Faisal Al-Turki, president of Nesma Group, said in a statement.

He added: “The Al Henakiyah Solar Project is a resounding endorsement of our position at the forefront of the renewables industry in Saudi Arabia.

“As an industry, we are on an ambitious journey together, and one that will ultimately establish Saudi Arabia as a true global leader in renewable energy generation. This project represents a significant milestone on our way to achieving this.”

The upcoming SGI forum during COP28 offers an opportunity to further address global climate issues while focusing on the Kingdom’s own aims, hurdles and achievements towards its climate goals.


Egypt begins process for privatization of airports

Egypt begins process for privatization of airports
Updated 04 March 2024
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Egypt begins process for privatization of airports

Egypt begins process for privatization of airports
  • Egypt is due to set an international tender for operating Egyptian airports, which include Cairo International Airport

RIYADH: Egypt began the executive process for offering the management and operation of Egyptian airports to the private sector, a Cabinet statement said on Monday.

Egypt is due to set an international tender for operating Egyptian airports, which include Cairo International Airport, the country’s Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Abbas Helmy has said.

Egypt is set to transition the management and operations of critical logistics and transportation entities to the private sector, starting with the aviation industry. 

In November 2023, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly declared that seaports, dry ports and airports would be offered to private sector management in the near future. 

Madbouly highlighted a strong commitment to fostering partnerships with private entities in the stewardship and operational aspects of mass transit systems.

An integrated strategy has been formulated by the Egyptian Transport Ministry, in collaboration with global corporations, to begin localization of the industry. 

In July 2023, Egypt’s efforts to bolster its private sector and empower small and medium enterprises received $533.7 million in support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as it undertakes massive privatization and restructuring measures for the public sector.  

Under the umbrella of Egypt 2022-2027 strategy, launched by the Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat in March 2022, the EBRD approved development financing worth $400 million for the National Bank of Egypt to support SMEs, focusing on regional companies led or owned by young entrepreneurs.  

The bank also approved funding worth $100 million for Banque Misr to improve financing for SMEs in a way that promotes inclusive and sustainable growth. In addition, it aims to increase funding to SMEs in areas with limited access to financial services.

The EBRD also approved another funding for the Mediterrania Capital IV Fund at a value of €30.2 million ($33.7 million).


NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies
Updated 04 March 2024
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NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Co. signed two agreements at LEAP 2024, aiming to support real estate activities in the Kingdom by crafting unique business intelligence solutions.

The deal were signed with data science company Quant and Paseetah Tech Solutions to empower technologies in the real estate market to enhance services provided to customers interested in making investments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The chief of solutions sector, Rayan Al-Aql, represented the National Housing Co. in signing the agreement, while Quant CEO Ahmed Bukhamseen and Omar Al-Omar, CEO of Paseetah Tech Solutions, represented their respective companies.

The agreements aim to enable modern technologies in the real estate sector by leveraging information owned by the NHC to contribute to creating unique solutions serving the market.

This includes generating more accurate real estate analytics, supporting innovation in data analysis, and creating real estate indicators that enhance the market’s reliance on data in property decisions. This facilitates informed decision-making for investors and buyers, the SPA reported.

NHC is showcasing its services and technological achievements at the LEAP conference currently underway in Riyadh. 

These achievements have benefited over 10 million people across eight government digital platforms. 

The company has also documented more than 9 million residential and commercial lease contracts, achieved over 6.5 million downloads for the “Sakani” application, operated and developed the “Balady” platform under the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, among other technological accomplishments associated with the digital platforms operated and developed by the NHC.

Earlier in February, the National Housing Co. announced that it would build a total of 3,800 homes after forging six partnership agreements worth SR2 billion ($533 million). 

These deals, which were signed with several real estate developers, aim to build residential units in the Riyadh southwestern community of Al-Asalah, with prices starting from SR475,000, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

SPA added that this initiative is part of a comprehensive program of urban development spearheaded by the NHC aiming to revolutionize the housing landscape by introducing innovative concepts and integrated services, ultimately enhancing the quality of life across all sectors of society.


Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has received recognition as “the most improved country overall” in the 12th edition of the US Chamber of Commerce International Intellectual Property Index. 

Released on March 2, the report emphasizes the several achievements of the Kingdom, with Vice President of Middle East Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce Steve Lutes telling Arab News that Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the technology sector over the past year.

“Specifically, I think this year the Kingdom did sign on to some important international treaties and they’ve made some other progress on both the enforcement side and some other of the indicators,” Lutes said on the sidelines of the LEAP 2024 conference.

“The Kingdom moving up in ranking gives more confidence to investors,” he added. 

Lutes went on to say that the body aims to encourage partnerships with the business community, government, and academia in Saudi Arabia to drive the establishment of a diversified, knowledge-based economy aligned with Vision 2030.

The US Chamber of Commerce considers over 50 indices when ranking countries, Lutes added. 

“Some of this looks very marginal. But really, when you think about it from an economic perspective, these are very important drivers because these are the sorts of things that companies look at. Is my IP going to be safe? Is it going to be protected? Are rules going to be enforced? And that’s where you get the investment in value and innovation,” said the vice-president.

The Kingdom allocates a total of $2 million across all funding rounds dedicated to artificial intelligence companies and over $3 billion proportional to gross domestic product with a ranking position of 31 in the Global AI index.

“We’ve been looking at this as governments around the globe start to grapple with the regulatory frameworks for artificial intelligence. The Chamber commissioned a report that was largely targeted toward a domestic audience and had some policy recommendations in that,” said Lutes.

A report by the European Centre for International Political Economy and the US Chamber of Commerce, titled “The Opportunity of Artificial Intelligence: Boosting Productivity and Growth in Saudi Arabia,” will be released in March.

The study will include a breakdown covering the benefits of AI for the Kingdom, endowments and digital industry structures, and AI policies going forward. 

“It has some sector-by-sector analysis where we think it can be the most impactful. In my mind, though, the biggest message is for policymakers,” Lutes said, adding: “One of those is investing, for example, in human capital. You have to have the workforce that’s ready to take on these technologies and bring it to government processes, to business processes and see it diffuse. So, when it comes to the sectors, I think, you know, healthcare and education are two that are highlighted in particular as having the most upside.”

Lutes added this is his first time attending LEAP, which is now in its third edition, and the Chamber has been collaborating with the Ministry of Communications and the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. 

“We are at the LEAP Conference and IP is so fundamental to that. So, kudos to the Kingdom this year. And I guess our message is let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s continue to work together to see if we can continue to see the Kingdom climb in that index as well,” he concluded. 

LEAP, held in Riyadh from March 4-7, is an annual premier tech event founded in 2022 by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. It convenes leading professionals from the sector to deliberate on the industry’s future and the innovative opportunities ahead.


Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
Updated 04 March 2024
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Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
  • South American country ‘an important trading partner’ for the Kingdom, says envoy
  • Joint council launched after Brazilian president’s visit late last year

LONDON: The Saudi-Brazilian Business Forum in Riyadh was attended by more than 150 investors from both countries on Monday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event, hosted by the Federation of Saudi Chambers and Brazil’s Lide Group, aimed to improve business and trade ties.

Dr. Faisal Ghulam, Saudi ambassador to Brazil, delivered a speech at the forum in which he praised the strong economic relations between the two countries built over 55 years.

He described Brazil as “an important trading partner” for the Kingdom. Annual trade between the two countries stands at $8 billion.

Ghulam lauded the establishment of a Saudi-Brazilian coordination council following President Lula da Silva’s visit to the Kingdom late last year.

Saudi Vision 2030 is providing Brazilian investors with significant opportunities, paving the way for improved trade ties, said Luiz Fernando Furlan, chairman of Lide’s board.

The newly established council will “work to advance the partnership, overcome challenges, and facilitate visas for the business communities from the two countries,” said its Chairman Mishal bin Hithlain.

Lide chief Joao Doria called on the Brazilian business community to explore the “great investment opportunities” available in the Kingdom through Vision 2030.

The forum covered key sectors at the heart of trade between the two countries, including aviation, energy, logistics, mining, agriculture, real estate and healthcare. It was the first event hosted by Lide after the firm opened offices in Riyadh.

The company’s Saudi representative, Malik Al-Qahtani, pledged to serve the business sectors of both countries and improve the ease of operations for Saudi and Brazilian investors.


Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

RIYADH: The number of Saudi flight attendants and fixed-wing pilots is set to increase as the localization plan for the Kingdom’s aviation sector enters its second phase.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services, has announced the implementation of the second phase of localizing licensed aviation professions in private sector establishments employing five or more individuals in targeted aviation professions.

In the second phase, the HRSD has specified the professions targeted, setting a 60 percent target for flight attendants and a 70 percent ratio for fixed-wing pilots, contingent on employees in the aviation professions obtaining the professional accreditation certificate from the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

The Ministry of Transport has reiterated its commitment to overseeing the implementation of the program’s second phase. It aims to enable private sector establishments to leverage all support and employment programs offered by the Human Resources and Social Development System to aid in the recruitment and retention of national talent.

The HRSD has issued procedural guidelines explaining the details of the decision, its implementation, and the support and employment programs provided to private sector establishments.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Saudi Airport Exhibition, held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in December 2023, Mervat Sultan, president of the Women in Aviation Middle East Chapter, noted a significant boom, with an increase in airports, establishment of new airlines, and a rising number of tourists. 

She added that the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia is “becoming bigger and bigger and would be leading the industry in the next 20 years.”

In 2022, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, minister of HRSD, issued a notification nationalizing a number of professions and economic activities — including licensed aviation professions, opticians, and periodic inspection activity, as well as postal service outlets and more. 

The decision to localize licensed aviation professions was announced to be implemented in two phases. The first one became effective on March 15, 2023.

In line with its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undertaking an ambitious initiative to empower its citizens and boost their global competitiveness.