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.”

 

 


Reading marathon promotes library culture, greener future

Reading marathon promotes library culture, greener future
Updated 04 March 2024
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Reading marathon promotes library culture, greener future

Reading marathon promotes library culture, greener future
  • Bookworms’ efforts over three days concluded with pledge to plant over 2,500 trees in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco

DHAHRAN: A reading marathon to promote library culture and environmental awareness was recently organized in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco, with over a quarter of a million pages read.

The Arab libraries that participated in the three-day event were King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as Ithra, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt and the National Library of Morocco.

The goal of the marathon was to plant one tree for every 100 pages read, which Ithra estimates would take an average reader one hour. The center said that 326,250 pages were read during the reading marathon, equivalent to 2,504 trees.

The largest reading marathon in Arab libraries was organized ‘to inspire the society to read in public libraries, believing in the library’s role in enriching the scientific and cultural life.’ (Supplied/AN photos)

The printing of physical books consumes a large percentage of trees, so the planting of new ones directly arrests some of that loss.

Upon arrival at the designated library during operating hours, participants registered at the reception and received a QR code which they used throughout the experience. They were gifted a bookmark and a notebook to log their details. Upon completing their reading for the day, they returned to the reception area to declare the number of pages they read, which were then logged.

HIGHLIGHTS

• According to Ithra, 326,250 pages were read during the reading marathon, equivalent to 2,504 trees.

• Ithra will plant the trees on the readers’ behalf in collaboration with the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification in Saudi Arabia.

• A token of appreciation was awarded to those who read 100 pages, 200 pages, 500 pages and 1,000 pages.

In an effort to encourage reading in public spaces, all had to read books in-person in order for it to count, participating on one, two or all three days depending on availability.

The largest reading marathon in Arab libraries was organized ‘to inspire the society to read in public libraries, believing in the library’s role in enriching the scientific and cultural life.’ (Supplied/AN photos)

A token of appreciation was awarded to those who read 100 pages, 200 pages, 500 pages and 1,000 pages.

At Ithra, a large screen updated the number of pages completed in real time, as well as showing the updated numbers from Morocco and Egypt.

“This is the largest reading marathon in Arab libraries, held for three days from Feb. 29 to March 2. It seeks to inspire the society to read in public libraries, believing in the library’s role in enriching the scientific and cultural life,” an official statement by Ithra said.

The largest reading marathon in Arab libraries was organized ‘to inspire the society to read in public libraries, believing in the library’s role in enriching the scientific and cultural life.’ (Supplied/AN photos)

Abdulrhman Al-Qahtani was one of the participants at Ithra. An avid reader, he drove a short distance to the center to join in the fun after coming across a post about it on social media. With his cup of black coffee situated on a small round table, he found a comfortable spot in a plush seat in the middle of the plaza and was immediately immersed in a book written by the late, great Egyptian author Taha Hussein.

Speaking to Arab News, Al-Qahtani said: “I have a ritual of reading every afternoon during the weekend, but this time, it’s with an even greater purpose. Normally, people read for their own personal pleasure or growth but this was an opportunity to do what I already do — and the world would also benefit.

Planting trees is going to help make the world more beautiful, but the lasting impact on our planet will be immense.

Abdulrhman Al-Qahtani, Reading marathon participant, Ithra

“Planting trees is going to help make the world more beautiful, but the lasting impact on our planet will be immense. I’m happy to do my part.”

Talking about the experience, he added: “Usually, I read on my own at various places with the sounds of laughter swirling around me. Here, I’m amongst other readers. Ithra did a great job in making this a suitable environment for reading. Instead of reading 100 pages, you’ll read 200.

“This is my first time participating and it has been such a great experience. I brought my own book but once I’m done, I’ll browse the books available here and I’m sure I’ll read pages from those, too,” he concluded.

The largest reading marathon in Arab libraries was organized ‘to inspire the society to read in public libraries, believing in the library’s role in enriching the scientific and cultural life.’ (Supplied/AN photos)

While many of the books on the shelves at Ithra were in Arabic, readers were encouraged to read any book in any language. They could bring their own, like Al-Qahtani, or borrow some from the shelves. The pages could also be from the same book or from multiple books.

The space directly beneath the iconic Ithra library also had seats for people to sit and read on. Ithra added temporary booths with books in the middle of the plaza for easy access.

Ithra will plant the trees on the readers’ behalf at a later date, in collaboration with the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification in Saudi Arabia. The other participating countries will also plant trees in their local communities.

 


Exhibition at Saudi creative hub shows anonymous artist’s personality

‘Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition’ is at Huna Takhassusi until march 7. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)
‘Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition’ is at Huna Takhassusi until march 7. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)
Updated 04 March 2024
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Exhibition at Saudi creative hub shows anonymous artist’s personality

‘Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition’ is at Huna Takhassusi until march 7. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)

RIYADH: A collaboration between Saudi creative hub Burble and anonymous artist Mo Lazim Tearef has brought a personality-themed art exhibition to Riyadh.

“Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition” is at Huna Takhassusi until March 7. It features seven blue and red paintings created with acrylics, along with a bare space representing unfinished works. Together, the works tell MLT’s story (whose name translates as “You don’t need to know”) as he confronts two traits that annoy him about his own character — haste and excuses.

Mohammed Al-Kabeer, curator and founder of the exhibition, said this was the third and final episode of MLT’s story, following on from “Grandpa’s Kid” and “My friend is a vampire.”

‘Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition’ is at Huna Takhassusi until march 7. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)

“MLT created this exhibition (by) rushing everything with an incomplete vision, which showcases how hasty he is,” he said.

The artist has created square characters to symbolize his excuses. The blue one is “the father of excuses” while the red ones are the small ones who follow.

Al-Kabeer said: “Father of excuses is a character that resides within each of us. He constantly rationalizes our actions, providing excuses that enable us to persist and persuade ourselves of the righteousness of our deeds regardless of their merit. He holds excuses in high regard, treating them as his own offspring.

‘Finally it’s my incomplete exhibition’ is at Huna Takhassusi until march 7. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)

“The persona takes inspiration from the (purple) dot on the Burble logo. MLT opted for blue and red (because the) amalgamation results in the color Burble (purple).”     

The exhibition walks viewers through MLT’s perception of excuses in every action he performs, touching their hearts along the way. The abandoned paints, brushes and mop in one corner represent his unfinished work.

“We have collaborated with more than 30 artists, but MLT is the only (one we have) adopted and who we have a lifetime contract with,” Al-Kabeer added.

Burble is a multidisciplinary creative hub that focuses on exhibitions, talks, courses and pop-ups.

 

 


Who’s Who: Majed Fuad Al-Sinan, regional director of KFB Holding Group

Majed Fuad Al-Sinan
Majed Fuad Al-Sinan
Updated 04 March 2024
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Who’s Who: Majed Fuad Al-Sinan, regional director of KFB Holding Group

Majed Fuad Al-Sinan

Majed Fuad Al-Sinan has served as regional director of KFB Holding Group since September 2021.

The group brings the latest technologies to Saudi Arabia, and adapts products for local conditions, aligning with the community development ambitions of the Kingdom.

In his role, Al-Sinan is responsible for creating and exploring new markets to develop projects and increase the company’s market share. He also focuses on maintaining and strengthening relationships with existing customers, as well as a network of public and private partners.

In addition to his role at KFB Holding Group, Al-Sinan has worked as general manager at the MEMF Electrical Industries Co. solar and modular solutions business unit since December 2023. Since April 2022, he has served on the board of B&R Gulf LLC.

Before his role at KFB, Al-Sinan held a range of corporate roles, reflecting his extensive professional experience.

From June 2019 to May 2021, he worked as business development manager for Saudi Arabia at Lefebvre Engineering FZC in the UAE. In this role, he was responsible for creating and exploring new markets, maintaining customer relationships, and supporting the development and implementation of sales strategies.

From May 2015 to April 2019, Al-Sinan served as power division head at APTC Trading Co. Ltd. in Saudi Arabia. In this position, he managed the sales, services and projects departments. He developed business plans and sales strategies for the division, provided timely feedback and reports to senior management, and controlled expenses to meet budget guidelines.

From December 2012 to April 2015, Al-Sinan worked as proposal manager at Dar Al-Riyadh Holding Co. Ltd. Dar Masdar. His responsibilities included managing all proposal functions, optimizing the gross margin of the value chain and ensuring proactive contribution to competitive biddings.

In 2012, Al-Sinan worked as an inside sales engineer at Cooper Industries, which was acquired by Eaton the same year. In this role, he provided cost estimates and prepared quotations, determined customer requirements, recommended specific products and solutions, processed purchase orders, and educated customers about product features and benefits.

He began his career in August 2008 at Mohammad Al-Mojil Group, working in various project sites before being transferred to the contracts department in the head office. He left the company in January 2012.

Al-Sinan holds a bachelor’s degree in applied electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran.

 


Jeddah art exhibition highlights students’ creative odyssey

Layal Alireza's work explores the concepts of identity and culture, drawing inspiration from old Jeddah as a foundational elemen
Layal Alireza's work explores the concepts of identity and culture, drawing inspiration from old Jeddah as a foundational elemen
Updated 04 March 2024
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Jeddah art exhibition highlights students’ creative odyssey

Layal Alireza's work explores the concepts of identity and culture, drawing inspiration from old Jeddah as a foundational elemen
  • “The real challenge lies in sustaining motivation and consistently producing top-tier work over the two-year period, akin to a marathon rather than a sprint"

JEDDAH: The inaugural IB2 Visual Art Exhibition at the British International School of Jeddah opened with a display of 70 pieces created by eight students.

The exhibition, which runs until March 7, features diverse themes and art forms including painting, printmaking, photography, digital art, sculpture and installations. The works reflect each artist’s unique journey.

Head of Secondary School Pierre Scottorn said the art section of the International Baccalaureate diploma was very demanding: “Every student studying art in the program is featured in this exhibition. Over two years, they must create a comprehensive portfolio of work that includes a significant written component. (It) is not just a creative subject; it is highly academic. Students carefully curate their exhibition space, explaining the reasoning behind their artistic choices. Their grades are based not only on their artwork but also on the written explanations and overall presentation of the exhibition.”

Layal Alireza's work explores the concepts of identity and culture, drawing inspiration from old Jeddah as a foundational element of her family history. (Supplied)

He added: “The purpose of this exhibition is to showcase the exceptional talent of our students and the high-quality teaching that supports them. It is a celebration of their hard work and dedication.”

Scottorn also highlighted the diverse career paths students could subsequently pursue.

“Some students will continue their studies in art at university, while others will pursue different careers such as fashion or architecture. Our students have been successful in gaining admission to top universities globally, thanks to the high standards of their work. The quality of their art significantly impacts their university applications and future opportunities,” he said.

Layal Alireza's work explores the concepts of identity and culture, drawing inspiration from old Jeddah as a foundational element of her family history. (Supplied)

“The real challenge lies in sustaining motivation and consistently producing top-tier work over the two-year period, akin to a marathon rather than a sprint. This challenge extends to both students and teachers, requiring ongoing support and encouragement.”

Scottorn said he wanted his school to become a leader in the arts and added he valued partnerships with other organizations and individuals that would support this. He also hopes to introduce an artist-in-residence program in due course.

Shehzia Khan, head of visual art, shared insights into the depth and personalization of the students’ higher level art projects.

(L to R) Jude Kayal, Ayesha Rehman, Mayar Abdul Nnabi, Mrs. Shehzia Khan, Loulwa Al-Banna, Shahad El-Adawy, Sara Kreidieh, Mashael Iqbal. (Supplied)

“All the students participating in this exhibition are enrolled in higher level art. This year, they explored deeply personal themes showcasing a diverse range of subjects including fame, journeys, stages of life, empowerment of Saudi women, freedom, addiction, the human body, and culture and identity,” she said.

“Each student has chosen a theme close to their heart, demonstrating individualized and passionate explorations. The IB program offers students the freedom to choose their artistic direction after mastering foundational skills in oil painting, graphic design and sculpture.”

Khan said the exhibition served as the final exam, where each student had to display a minimum of eight pieces, curate their display, and provide detailed curatorial rationale and exhibition texts.

Mashael Iqbal, one of the exhibiting students, said: “I aimed to challenge the norms and shed light on the complexities of fame. By delving into themes of sexualization, method acting, and the darker side of celebrity lifestyles, I strived to provoke thought and evoke emotions. Each element in my exhibition represents a facet of the industry that often goes unnoticed. My passion for art and storytelling drives me to consider a future in the creative field, with a keen interest in exploring animation and digital media.”

Saudi art student Sara Kreidieh added: “My exhibition theme centers on the human body, delving into deeper dimensions beyond the physical aspects typically associated with it. Through my artwork, I aim to shed light on masculinity, the reluctance to seek help, confused identities, and societal issues such as racism, emotions, stress, and body dysmorphia. My collection includes paintings, photography, digital pieces and sculptures. I plan to pursue studies in architecture and eventually return to Saudi Arabia for professional work in the field.”

Even the school’s nursery level pupils are part of the exhibition. Helen Elhoss, head of early years, said: “Our children begin their art journey at two years old. Guided by the Reggio Emilia approach, children are encouraged to explore diverse avenues for expressing their creativity and thoughts.

“The theme of our exhibition was centered around community. Some of our children ventured into the community to understand its significance to them. They then represented their interpretations incorporating elements like nature.”

 


Saudi HR fund organizes forum for career counseling, training

Job seekers at the Madinah forum organized by Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in October 2022. (Supplied)
Job seekers at the Madinah forum organized by Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in October 2022. (Supplied)
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi HR fund organizes forum for career counseling, training

Job seekers at the Madinah forum organized by Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in October 2022. (Supplied)
  • Developing human capital is a key aspect in implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, said Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulhafedh, former director general of joint training at the Technical and Vocational Training Corp.

RIYADH: Under the patronage of Prince Hussam bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, the Liaqaat Baha Forum was launched on Monday at Al-Baha University.

Organized by the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, the three-day forum aims to provide programs and services for individuals and establishments, offering insights into career counseling and training.

The event seeks to invest in human capital and enhance the skills of workers to enter a competitive market, targeting both job seekers and employers.

HIGHLIGHT

Through workshops, lectures, and other activities, the forum aims to establish positive partnerships with private sector entities and create job opportunities to boost the national economy.

Through workshops, symposiums, lectures, and other activities, the forum aims to establish positive partnerships with private sector entities and create job opportunities to boost the national economy.

An accompanying exhibition will showcase job opportunities for male and female job seekers, along with various training sessions provided by participating establishments.

Awwad Al-Dhafeeri, CEO of Shabakat ABAD Training Institute (L) and Dr. Mohammad Al-Abdulhafedh, a former Director General of Joint Training at the General Corporation for Technical and Vocational Training. (Supplied)

Additionally, visitors will receive information on the career counseling portal Subol to help them understand current and future skills needed in the labor market.

Developing human capital is a key aspect in implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, said Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulhafedh, former director general of joint training at the Technical and Vocational Training Corp.

Al-Abdulhafedh said that the forum focuses on optimizing the benefits of training to qualify workers and that the exchange of experiences between human resources specialists and academics is crucial in developing the skills of those in the workforce, ultimately contributing to the growth of the national economy.

Sharpening the skills of employees ultimately reduces production costs and increases productivity, he added, while continuous training is essential in the face of ongoing technological developments, which have a profound impact on labor markets.

Al-Abdulhafedh said that businesses now recognize the significance of prioritizing professional certificates, which have become requirements for various professions, fostering competition among enterprises.

According to Shabakat ABAD Training Institute CEO Awwad Al-Dhafeeri, developing employee skills is crucial for businesses to stay competitive in the global market and enhance employee efficiency, foster innovation and improve products and services.

Supervisor-led training is no longer sufficient due to rapidly changing technology, he added, while distinguishing employees through the continuous development of their skills provides a competitive advantage in the job market.