How Saudi Arabia is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems

Special How Saudi Arabia is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems
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Updated 03 February 2024
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How Saudi Arabia is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems

How Saudi Arabia is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems
  • Harnessing renewables and promoting biodiversity are key to climate action, environmental experts tell Arab News
  • Saudi Green Initiative aims to cut emissions, plant 10 million trees and safeguard 30 percent of the Kingdom’s territory

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aims to be at the forefront of environmental protection through initiatives aimed at restoring and maintaining the ecological balance, which promotes harmonious and flourishing ecosystems.

Climate action, clean energy, and preserving habitats are just some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals incorporated into Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The SDGs serve as a blueprint for achieving a balanced ecosystem for wildlife, water, and the environment in the Kingdom.

Without balance, ecosystems face major challenges from global warming, water shortages, and the loss of biodiversity.

Carlos Duarte, a distinguished professor of marine science at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology, has spent 40 years researching ocean ecosystems.

 

 

“Loss of biodiversity reduces the capacity of ecosystems to maintain their functions under stress, such as under climate change,” Duarte told Arab News. “It directly impacts food security, but also by undermining pollination, the nursery role of many ecosystems for fisheries, and pest and disease control.

“It also represents the loss of natural products and genes of potential interest in pharma, cosmetic, food, energy, and environment applications before we have even discovered them.

“These are the major consequences of biodiversity loss, climate change and the impact of widespread pollution on our societies, economies, and well-being. The emerging concept is one of ‘one health,’ which recognizes that our health and that of our ecosystems are intimately linked, so that there are no healthy people on a sick planet.”

National Center for Wildlife

Established in 1986, the National Center for Wildlife is responsible for protecting and preserving plants and animals in Saudi Arabia.

The center is leading the initiative to expand the Kingdom’s protected land and sea area to 30 percent, to help rehabilitate ecosystems and enrich biodiversity.

 

DIDYOU KNOW

1

The fine for unauthorized hunting in Saudi Arabia amounts to SR10,000 ($2,666) while fines for harming living animals range from SR1,500 to SR200,000.

2

Fines for violators of logging regulations start at SR1,000 and can reach SR20 million. Penalties can be doubled for repeat violations.

3

The National Center for Wildlife prohibits the hunting of all types of animals or birds within the borders of cities, villages, centers, farms, and rest houses, within various proximities to populated areas, as well as military and industrial centers, various institutions, and within protected areas and major projects. It also prohibits hunting along the Saudi coast at an inland limit of 20 km.

4

The NCW presented an infographic pointing out article 4 of the Executive Regulations for Wildlife Hunting, which prohibits hunting predators such as the Arabian leopard, hyenas, wolves, jackals, lynxes, sand cats, common genets, and honey badgers.

5

Hunting endemic birds in the Kingdom is also prohibited, in addition to ungulates, including the Arabian oryx, the sandy-colored goitered antelope, the mountain gazelle (whether found in mountains or on the Farasan Islands), and the Nubian ibex.

It is also involved in 10 breeding programs to aid the reintroduction and propagation of endangered species including the Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, mountain ibex, bustards, and ostriches, as well as predators, such as the Arabian wolf, striped hyena, lynx, and cheetah.

The NCW recently collaborated with the Saudi Konoz Initiative, under Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media’s Center for Government Communication, on “Horizon,” a Netflix documentary showcasing the Kingdom’s diverse wildlife.

Saudi Green Initiative

Inaugurated in 2021, the Saudi Green Initiative features 81 projects designed to cut carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes per year, plant 10 million trees across the country, and safeguard habitats.




Caption

The SGI uses the circular carbon economy, a framework focused on managing emissions. Saudi Arabia has implemented more than 30 CCE initiatives across the energy system to date.

One of the SGI’s focus areas is “whole-of-society action,” which encourages the public and private sectors to work together and enables citizens to participate.

Red Sea Global

 

The Red Sea is home to the world’s fourth-biggest barrier reef, where marine life and coral thrive.

Established in 2018, Red Sea Global aims to transform the Kingdom’s west coast into a world-class tourism and hospitality destination.




Rendering of a Red Sea Global project off Umluj and Al-Wajh in Tabuk province. (Supplied)

Located between Umluj and Al-Wajh, the project covers an area of 28,000 square kilometers.

Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental protection and regeneration at Red Sea Global, told Arab News the firm aims to protect ecosystems by using 100 percent renewable energy and promoting “regenerative tourism.”

“One of the strategic goals that we are trying to realize is achieving 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040 by enhancing biologically diverse habitats including mangroves, seagrass, corals, and land vegetation,” he said.

The RSG is currently working on seven SGI projects, which include establishing the largest marine-protected area in the region. It also aims to limit development and visitor footfall to protect the environment




Launched in 2017, NEOM's Oxagon project in Tabuk features a floating industrial complex, global trade hub, tourist resorts and a linear city powered by renewable energy sources. (Supplied)

“We made the decision to develop only 22 of the more than 90 islands,” Attas said. “We limited our development to accommodate no more than 1 million visitors a year at the Red Sea and 500,000 at AMAALA,” two of RSG’s luxury projects.

However, Attas believes society as a whole has a role to play in environmental protection.

“Individuals can help promote a balanced ecosystem by reducing waste, conserving water and energy, planting native species, using sustainable transportation, supporting local and sustainable food, minimizing chemical use, protecting natural habitats, educating others about environmental issues, and supporting conservation organizations,” he said.




Society as a whole has a role to play in environmental protection, says Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental protection and regeneration at Red Sea Global. (Supplied)

NEOM Green Hydrogen Company

The world’s biggest green hydrogen plant at NEOM’s Oxagon is expected to be fully operational by 2026, producing up to 600 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.

Green hydrogen is made through a process of electrolysis using only renewable energy sources, which makes it carbon free to produce. When hydrogen undergoes combustion, it produces nothing but water vapor, so it is also carbon free to use.

The Kingdom aims to be the world’s largest hydrogen energy producer and exporter, producing up to 4 million tons of clean hydrogen per year.




Illustration showing the Oxagon's green hydrogen project. (X: @NGHC_)

Duarte says these projects are raising community awareness about the importance of sustainable living.

“We can only promote a balanced ecosystem if we are aware of the broader consequences of our choices and behavior,” he said. “Our choices of energy source and delivery systems for transport or illumination, our respect for water — essential for a Bedouin culture where the respect for scarce water resources was of absolute importance — and the responsible generation and disposal of waste are all key elements of our footprint on the environment.

“Vision 2030 has not only brought about a commitment with sustainable development that is far more sincere and pervasive than I have seen in any other nation; it has also reconnected Saudi society with a heritage of sustainability and commitment as custodians of biodiversity and ecosystem that is reflected in projects around the Kingdom, from the Red Sea Project to AlUla and Diriyah Gate.”

 

 


Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh
Updated 21 April 2024
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Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

Award winners crowned at close of Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh

RIYADH: Award winners were crowned on the final day of the fourth Gulf Cinema Festival in Riyadh on Saturday, at a ceremony attended by prominent artistic and cinematic names, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The winners were nominated by a jury headed by Ibrahim Al-Hasawi from Saudi Arabia, who was joined by Bassam Al-Thawadi from Bahrain, Rawda Al-Thani from Qatar, Khaled Amin from Kuwait, Nujoom Al-Ghanem from the UAE and Ibrahim Al-Zadjali from Oman.
“Hajjan,” a coming-of-age drama set in Saudi Arabia about two brothers who battle to save their favorite camel starring Omar Al-Atawi and Abdulmohsen Alnemr, won the award for best feature film.
It also picked up the best photography award, with Jerry Fassbender recognized for his work on the film. Al-Atawi won the best actor award for his role.
The best actress award went to Bahraini Maryam Zeman for her part in the movie “My Word.”
The award for best short film went to the heavily tipped “Clouds,” about a widower and war veteran who are forced to balance their own morals with societal expectations in southern Oman, directed by Muzna Almusafer.
The award for best documentary film went to Mansoor Al-Dhaheri’s climate change expose “Swimming 62.”
Ziad Al-Hussein took home two awards, including one for best director, for his film “Shiabni Hani.”
The award for best original soundtrack went to Khaled Al-Kammar for his music that featured in the movie “Hawjan,” a modern twist on the ancient Arab jinn mythology, which also opened the latest edition of the Red Sea Festival last year.
The Gulf Cinema Festival was held under the patronage of Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the Film Commission, which organized the event.
This year’s festival hosted screenings of 29 films, three training workshops and six cultural seminars.
Abdullah Al-Qahtani, CEO of the commission, said in a speech during the ceremony that the festival embodied a commitment to supporting the film sector in the region and building bridges for cinematic cooperation between the Gulf countries.
He thanked Prince Badr for his sponsorship and support of the festival and the film sector in Saudi Arabia, as well as the general secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council.


Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
Updated 20 April 2024
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Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
  • World’s largest music production studio is nurturing Saudi talent, streamlining local industry

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Merwas, considered the biggest art and entertainment factory globally, is proving to be one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest music industry assets.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, co-founder and CEO of Merwas, told Arab News that the facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, “is home to all artists.”

She added: “The methodology behind it is to create solutions through the subsidiaries, and invest in both talent and infrastructure.

“Alongside it being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.”

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The entertainment zone and audiovisual production studio, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

Some of the top musicians in the world have visited Merwas since it opened in 2022. These include DJ Khaled, the acclaimed Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, and the Emirati singer Ahlam. Afrojack, a world-renowned Dutch DJ and producer, also led an electronic music boot camp to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Merwas, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

• The academy’s classes offer local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise.

• The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, the culture factory fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, while providing artists with access to top-tier services, facilities and industry expertise.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah, features state-of-the-art technology, such as the SSL console, which is used to create depth on music tracks and ensures the true soul of the artist’s voice is protected.

This live recording space is booked almost every day by various artists, and has been used by some of the Arab region’s biggest stars.

The facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, is home to all artists according to co-founder Nada Al-Tuwaijri. (Supplied)

One of the only five Neve consoles in the world can be found in the Neve Studio. The panel is known for its high-quality sound and warmth, and is ideal for music recording, vocal tracking, and mixing for exceptional audio quality.

Its live studio can accommodate over 120 orchestra members and their instruments to provide a unique recording experience.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Specifically designed for electronic music production, the EMP Suite is a DJ’s dream, with cutting edge synthesizers and digital audio workstations ensuring an artist leaves the room with a fully produced track.

Merwas is also home to three production suites, designed for content creators who require a comfortable and professional environment for music production, editing, and mixing. Each suite is equipped with industry-standard gear, software, and acoustics to support a wide range of projects.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

The studio also provides private rehearsal spaces to ensure Saudi talents are nourished to their full potential. The versatile space is designed for musicians, performers, and other artists to rehearse and refine their craft within a comfortable environment with access to instruments and equipment.

Part of the charm of recording studios is the live jam sessions that have given birth to some of the most iconic records to date. Merwas’ Band Live/Control Room also captures the spontaneity of live performance within its soundproof walls.

Alongside (Merwas) being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

Championing audiovisual pursuits, the studio has made space for high-quality podcasts and videos to come to life.

The podcast suite and FM radio recording spaces are tailored to immerse listeners with unbeatable audio clarity, while the 25-meter-long Green Screen room helps ideas come to life, whether commercial, film, or music video.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Material can then be edited at the color-grading suite, which is essentially a small theater with 4K projector. Producers, directors, writers, and engineers gather here to put the final visual touches on video projects through its DaVinci color grading software and hardware.

Academy Classes offers local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise. These feature advanced stations for sound production, engineering, and technical programs, with everything necessary for a basic understanding and training of music production.

The studio hosts workshops, networking sessions, and community events in an effort to flourish the music industry locally while making it a magnet for international talent. Anyone can be a part of this community by booking a suite or signing up for a workshop on their website merwas.sa.

Merwas has positioned itself at the the forefront of the entertainment industry being the first of its kind in the MENA region. In less than a year since its launch, it has already became a hotspot for musicians across the globe to visit and utilize its services, from rising talents to international A-listers.

Founded by Al-Tuwaijri and Chief Content Officer Rumian Al-Rumayyan in partnership with Sela, Merwas treasures Saudi creativity and is a vital part of building an ecosystem and community for local artists.

Their partnership with the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has set a new focus on preserving the rights of local creatives, pillared by the aim to enrich the culture of the Kingdom while empowering its citizens and their creativity in an environment of abundant knowledge, education in culture, art, entertainment and music.

 


15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2024
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15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
  • The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 9,479 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,763 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,430 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 37 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and six were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.

 


Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia
Updated 20 April 2024
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Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia
  • 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]

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations across the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Border Guard land patrols in Al-Ardah governorate, Jazan region arrested a Yemeni national attempting to smuggle 60 kg of qat.

In the Saqam sector of Najran region, the land patrols thwarted the smuggling of 58 kg of hashish.

The General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested a Bangladeshi resident in the Hail region for attempting to sell methamphetamine, a narcotic substance commonly referred to as “shabu.”

The authorities also arrested a citizen in Jazan for selling amphetamines, highly addictive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.

Preliminary legal procedures have been completed for all the individuals involved and all seized items have been handed over to the relevant 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.

 


Saudi deputy FM meets Colombian counterpart in Bogotá

Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi deputy FM meets Colombian counterpart in Bogotá

Francisco Coy Granados receives Waleed Elkhereiji in Bogotá. (Supplied)
  • The two reviewed bilateral relations and ways in which they could be strengthened, along with the latest developments and issues of mutual concern

BOGOTÁ: Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji recently met his Colombian counterpart, Francisco Coy Granados, the foreign ministry reported on X on Saturday.

During the meeting, the two reviewed bilateral relations and ways in which they could be strengthened, along with the latest developments and issues of mutual concern.

The meeting was also attended by Acting Charge d’Affairs of Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Colombia Mohammed Al-Shatri, and the director general of the deputy minister’s office, Mutashar Al-Enezi.