‘Saudi Arabia not just talking but doing, investing’ in climate change mitigation, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tells Arab News

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Updated 30 January 2024
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‘Saudi Arabia not just talking but doing, investing’ in climate change mitigation, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tells Arab News

‘Saudi Arabia not just talking but doing, investing’ in climate change mitigation, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tells Arab News
  • Saudi Climate Envoy says $186bn targeted for investment in more than 80 different projects under SGI, MGI
  • Says climate conversations should “revolve around logic and science, not emotions and political point scoring”

RIYADH: Very few countries have embarked on efforts such as Saudi Arabia has in reducing the impacts of climate change and improving the quality of life, the Kingdom’s Climate Envoy Adel Al-Jubeir has said.

Al-Jubeir, who is also Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, made the remark during an exclusive interview with Arab News on Tuesday, coinciding with the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, in Dubai.

“Saudi Arabia has not just been talking. We are actually doing, and we are actually investing. And the results are clear for everyone to see,” he said.

“If you go to NEOM, you will see the tremendous work that’s being done to protect the environment. If you look at our coastlines, you will see the work that’s being done with mangroves.

“If you look at our cities, you’ll see the work that’s being done in terms of greening of our cities and (the) redesigning of our cities to make them more efficient, so that you reduce commute time and you reduce pollution, and you increase the quality of life for people.”




“There is no contradiction between Saudi Arabia’s commitment to climate change and dealing with that challenge and producing oil and gas,” Al-Jubeir told Arab News. (AFP)

Al-Jubeir explained that Saudi Arabia has so far targeted investments of $186 billion in more than 80 different projects as part of the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. Inaugurated in 2021, the two initiatives unite environmental protection, energy transition and sustainability programs with the aims of offsetting and reducing emissions.

He said these projects and investments have been set in place to boost climate mitigation, reverse desertification and help countries adopt a “circular carbon economy approach.”

Al-Jubeir explained that the “circular carbon economy approach” is centered around a “holistic, all-of-government, all-of-society approach of dealing with the reduction of carbon and contributing to our atmosphere.”

He said he believes very few countries in the world have committed the type of resources that Saudi Arabia has in order to confront climate change.

“We do so because we are inhabitants of this planet,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

Discussing the Kingdom’s green energy plans, Al-Jubeir pointed out that Saudi Arabia is building the largest green hydrogen plant in the world in NEOM, a futuristic smart city under construction in the northwestern Tabuk province.

“We are looking at producing other forms of clean hydrogen. We are looking at reducing carbon in terms of the airline industry in order to contribute to a reduction of carbon,” he said.

“We are looking at the shipping industry. Every facet of our society we are looking at in order to reduce the carbon, in order to improve the quality of life and very few countries, as I said, have embarked on a program like this.”

Responding to critics of the Kingdom for not agreeing to a “phase-down” of fossil fuels, Al-Jubeir described the “discussions” around the topic as “devoid of reason and rationality.”




The minister talking to Arab News’ Noor Nugali. (AN photo/Abdulrahman bin Shulhub )

Al-Jubeir said that “fossil fuels will be with us for many, many decades to come, adding that it is inconceivable to have economic development without having energy at reasonable prices — and fossil fuels provide that, oil and gas in particular.

“We have always argued that the challenge is mitigation,” he said.

Al-Jubeir added that the challenge lies in ensuring that these resources are produced and used in the most efficient, most clean way possible.

He pointed out a certain irony in critics talking about the issue at meetings of COP28 or climate discussions in general. “People tend to go for superlatives and they tend to go for dramatic statements that have very little connection to reality,” he said.

“The countries that call for a reduction in production of oil and gas, they should start with themselves. I haven’t seen any of those countries without naming them. I haven’t seen any of those countries come up with a timeline for reducing their own production of oil and gas, much less coal, which is a much, much worse polluter.”




​Al-Jubeir explained that Saudi Arabia has so far targeted investments of $186 billion in more than 80 different projects. (AFP)

Underlining Saudi Arabia’s commitment to mitigating climate change while also stressing the important role of fossil fuels, he said: “There is no contradiction between Saudi Arabia’s commitment to climate change and dealing with that challenge and producing oil and gas.”

“We (Saudi Arabia) believe in being rational. We believe in being logical. We believe in being practical, and we believe in being pragmatic,” he added.

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom has solutions in place with tremendous investments in renewable energy and has made investments in redesigning Saudi Arabia’s cities, designating large areas of both land and sea as protected areas.

He said the Kingdom is also investing in transforming waste into energy, plus dedicating investment around the world to help other countries deal with issues of climate and energy.

“We are reasonable, practical, pragmatic, rational people. We believe that the conversations and the discussions (have) to revolve around … logic and science, not emotions, and trying to grandstand and score a political point,” he said.

Al-Jubeir pointed out the hypocrisy of some Western countries deploying contradicting policies when it comes to pollution.




Al-Jubeir spoke to Arab News as the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, is hosted in Dubai. (Reuters)

“Countries that say they are against hydrocarbons all of a sudden go back to producing coal, which is a much, much worse polluter than oil and gas, and they have no problem with it. To me, this is this is not a reasonable, rational position,” he said.

Discussing the long-term returns from renewable energy, Al-Jubeir highlighted that the future benefits that will result from the Saudi Green Initiative outweigh the investments being made in projects by Saudi Arabia.

“Renewable energy is very profitable. The Public Investment Fund has tremendous investments in those areas, whether it’s solar whether it’s wind, whether it’s hydro, whether it’s electric cars, electric car batteries, because they are very profitable in addition to being very important to confronting climate change,” he said.

Concluding the interview, Al-Jubeir discussed Saudi Arabia’s successful bid to host the 2030 World Expo. “The idea is: for the world, by the world, in Saudi Arabia, 2030,” he said.

He described 2030 as the “perfect year” for Saudi Arabia as it is the target date for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

“Saudi Arabia is about being connected to the world and having the world be connected to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“It’s about connection. We are the world’s largest exporter of energy, so we have a huge stake in the global energy markets. We intend to be one of the largest exporters of green and clean hydrogen. So that makes us also an important country.




“Saudi Arabia has not just been talking. We are actually doing, and we are actually investing. And the results are clear for everyone to see,” Al-Jubeir said. (AN photo/Abdulrahman bin Shulhub )

“We are one of the largest investors in the global community financial system through the Public Investment Fund.”

Al-Jubeir said World Expo 2030 in Riyadh would be “totally renewable, totally green,” and each country will have its own pavilion.

And in line with Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainability, he explained that the pavilions would be designed to be recyclable or rebuildable. “They can be disassembled and rebuilt in the countries that would like to move them and used for another purpose such as a clinic, a school, shelter,” he said.

“Expo 2030 will bring the world to Saudi Arabia and also allow Saudis to connect with the world. That’s important to us. It will be a very unique and special expo that we have no doubt will set the standard for expos going forward.”


Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss Middle East escalation
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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)
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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.
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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 48 min 59 sec ago
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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 59 min 27 sec ago
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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.