Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week

Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week
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Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week
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Updated 26 February 2024
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Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week

Riyadh to host first international sand and dust storm conference next week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Meteorology will host the first International Conference on Sand and Dust Storms from March 4-6 in Riyadh.

The forum, organized by the World Meteorological Organization’s Sand and Dust Storm Warning Regional Center, is expected to draw wide international participation and aims to address the growing global challenge posed by dust and sand storms.

Over 200 researchers, experts, and specialists from around the world, including WMO representatives, will gather to share the latest advancements in dust and sand storm research, said the center.

The conference is slated to discuss a wide range of critical topics, including sources of dust aerosol formation, dust-climate interactions, health impacts and mitigation strategies, monitoring and predictive modeling, and economic, infrastructural, and environmental consequences of dust storms on various sectors.

The conference will underscore the urgent need to combat dust and sandstorms, in view of their significant impacts on the environment, public health, and economies.

Such storms can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, disrupt solar energy production, degrade air quality, alter weather patterns, and disrupt biogeochemical cycles.

This international conference serves as a crucial platform where scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders from around the world exchange knowledge and collaborate, paving the way for a more coordinated and effective approach to tackling the global challenge of dust and sand storms.

International and regional initiatives have been taken to study these impacts and come up with mitigating strategies.

The Middle East, with its vast arid and semi-arid landscape, is a major source of dust particles.

The increasing frequency and intensity of dust storms in the region, attributed to changes in land use and vegetation cover degradation, needs further comprehensive research to fully understand their far-reaching effects.

Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to mitigate climate change and combat sand and dust storms including the Saudi Green Initiative launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021, which aims to address local and global environmental challenges.

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

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.

By 2030 Saudi Arabia plans to plant 600 million trees, restore 3.8 million hectares of land and champion biodiversity conservation as part of the SGI’s 10 billion trees goal.

In March 2019, the Kingdom established the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification with the aim of increasing green areas and rehabilitating degraded vegetation sites.

Moreover, the Kingdom launched the Middle East Green Initiative in April 2021, the most comprehensive program of its kind in the world, as a support for the SGI.

The aim of launching the MGI is to plant 50 billion trees, equivalent to 5 percent of the global afforestation goal.

All of these efforts will help in mitigating desertification, reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and enhance biodiversity. It also shows Saudi Arabia’s commitment to sustainable development and addressing the challenges of climate change and sand and dust storms.


Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms

Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms
Updated 9 sec ago
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Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms

Eastern Province, Qassim, Riyadh brace for heavy downpours, hailstorms
  • NCM forecast heavy rains, high-speed winds, hail storms in these regions on  Tuesday
  • Schools closed, online classes in parts of Kingdom due to inclement weather

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will receive more rainfall on Tuesday with the Eastern Province, Al-Qassim region and the capital Riyadh and its outskirts likely to witness heavy rains, accompanied by high-speed winds, hail and subsequent lack of visibility, according to the forecast of the National Center of Meteorology.

The NCM forecast for Tuesday said: “There will be high speed wind, sandstorms followed by heavy rain and hailstorm in Qassim, Riyadh, Eastern Province, Northern Border region and Hail.

“Eastern Province, Qassim and Riyadh will record low temperatures, and there is a possibility of flash floods in these areas,” it added.

Hussein Al-Qahtani, spokesperson of the NCM, called for utmost caution and vigilance due to the weather fluctuations in these regions.

“Manifa in the Eastern Province exceeded 42 mm of rain within an hour, and the chances of rain continue in the affected areas. We call on everyone to be careful and monitor weather information across the center, given the weather fluctuations affecting the areas in the Kingdom,” said Al-Qahtani.

Following inclement weather, education authorities in several parts of Saudi Arabia suspended in-person classes on Tuesday and ordered schooling to be shifted online.

The suspension was announced for classes in the Eastern Province, Al-Qasim and Unaizah in central Saudi Arabia and Hafr Al-Batin in the Kingdom’s northeast.

A similar measure was taken for schools in some governorates in the Riyadh region including Wadi Al-Dawasir, Afif, Dawadmi, Al-Aflaj, Al-Zulfi, Shaqra, Al-Ghat and Al-Majma’ah, based on forecast issued by the NCM, to ensure safety of students and staff.

According to the NCM forecast Najran, Jazan, and Aseer regions will experience high speed wind and moderate rainfall.

Cities in the Eastern Province were lashed by heavy-to-torrential rains on Monday while the NCM forecast rainy weather to continue in the region, accompanied by strong winds, low-visibility, hailstorms, thunderstorms and flash flood.

Amid unstable weather in the Gulf region, rainy low pressure hit Oman earlier this week, and the UAE on Monday, causing floods, and it could extend further afield.

The Saudi Civil Defense and the traffic authorities have warned motorists of the risk of cars skidding during rainfall, and advised residents to be careful while going out.

The General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defense warned people to be cautious of potential dangers as the NCM has forecast the poor weather conditions to continue.

The directorate said on Tuesday that forecasts from the NCM indicate heavy to moderate rains across the Kingdom.

“The Civil Defense calls on everyone to take caution and adhere to its instructions as we see the weather in the Eastern Province. Your cooperation is needed. Your safety is our goal,” it said.


WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan

WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan
Updated 16 April 2024
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WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan

WFP welcomes funding from KSrelief to combat malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan
  • The funding will benefit over 35,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers affected by conflict, economic instability, and climate-related disasters

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has signed two agreements worth a total of US$1.4 million with Saudi Arabia.

These agreements aim to provide treatment and prevention measures for malnutrition in Sudan and South Sudan.

The funding will benefit over 35,000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers affected by conflict, economic instability, and climate-related disasters. Specifically, it will aid nearly 29,000 individuals in Sudan and close to 6,000 individuals in South Sudan.

Michael Dunford, WFP's Regional Director for the East Africa region, emphasized the importance of this funding, especially given the dire situation unfolding in Sudan, which is on the brink of becoming one of the world's largest hunger crises. He stressed the urgency of addressing malnutrition to prevent needless deaths and mitigate the long-term consequences of childhood malnutrition.

The agreements were formalized during a pledging conference for the Sudan crisis in Paris, where WFP's Executive Director, Cindy McCain, and Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Royal Court Advisor and Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), signed the documents.

Dr. Abdullah Al Moallem, Director of KSRelief's Health and Environmental Aid Department, reaffirmed their commitment to supporting vulnerable populations in Sudan and South Sudan. He highlighted the importance of these projects in providing emergency nutritional aid to children and pregnant or lactating women, which will ultimately contribute to combating famine and malnutrition in both countries.

In Sudan, nearly 4.9 million children under five and pregnant or breastfeeding women face acute malnutrition—a 22% increase from the previous year. South Sudan is also grappling with high malnutrition rates, with approximately 1.6 million children and 870,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women expected to be malnourished this year.


Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership

Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership
Updated 16 April 2024
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Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership

Pakistani premier says Saudi FM’s visit heralds ‘new era’ of strategic, commercial partnership
  • Saudi foreign minister’s visit comes a little over a week after Saudi crown prince met Pakistani PM in Makkah
  • Crown prince has reaffirmed commitment to expedite investment worth $5 billion that was previously discussed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday the ongoing visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to Islamabad would herald a new era of strategic and commercial partnerships between the two long-time allies.

The Saudi foreign minister arrived in Islamabad on Monday on a two-day visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. His trip comes a little over a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Sharif in Makkah and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite investments worth $5 billion that were previously discussed.

“The visit is the beginning of a new era of strategic and commercial partnership between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Sharif was quoted as saying in a statement from his office after he met Prince Faisal. “Pakistan wants to further promote cooperation in the fields of trade and investment between the two countries.”

The PM said Pakistan was taking steps to promote foreign investment and make partnerships “mutually beneficial” for allies, adding that Islamabad was grateful to the Saudi leadership for increasing investment.

Informing the Saudi delegation about the wide potential of investment in Pakistan, Sharif briefed them about the Special Investment Facilitation Council and measures the body was taking to promote investment. The body was set up last year to oversee all foreign funding.

Sharif also invited the Saudi crown prince to Islamabad.

“The people of Pakistan are looking forward to the visit of His Highness the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to Pakistan,” the PM's office said.

'Investment Push'

In a statement shared with media on Monday, the Pakistan information ministry said the Saudi delegation would consult with Pakistani officials “on the next stages of investment and implementation issues.”

Saudi Arabia’s planned investment in the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project would also be discussed during the visit, the ministry said, a day after Pakistani state media reported Saudi Arabia was likely to invest $1 billion in the mine project in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas.

Riyadh was also interested in investing in agriculture, trade, energy, minerals, IT, transport and other sectors in Pakistan, the statement said.

“As a result of this visit, Pakistan’s export capacity will increase, joint ventures will be launched and new opportunities will be paved.”

The Pakistani foreign office has said the Saudi foreign minister is expected to hold meetings with the Pakistani PM, president and members of the apex committee of Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Council.

The Pakistani and Saudi foreign ministers will also address a joint press conference after a bilateral meeting scheduled for 4pm.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and the top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.

Cash-strapped Pakistan desperately needs to shore up its foreign reserves and signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages. Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, is currently in Washington to participate in spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and discuss a new bailout program. The last loan deal expires this month.

Saudi Arabia has often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid in the past, regularly providing it oil on deferred payments and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.


Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources
  • Israeli news websites have alleged Kingdom participated in recent defense coalition that confronted Iranian attacks
  • Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning in response to Israeli strikes

RIYADH: Informed sources denied to Al Arabiya on Monday Saudi Arabia’s participation in intercepting Iranian drones during its attack on Israel on Saturday.

Israeli news websites had published statements attributed to an official Saudi website stating that the Kingdom participated in the recent defense coalition that confronted the Iranian attacks.

“There is no official website that published a statement about Saudi participation in intercepting attacks against Israel,” the sources told Al Arabiya.

Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning and described the attack as a response to several crimes, including the strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1.

Tehran indicated that the attack targeted military targets, while the Israeli army announced that it intercepted 99 percent of the Iranian missiles.


Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
  • A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken

RIYADH: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday sent cables of condolences to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq after 17 people died in flooding in several parts of Oman.

The Saudi leaders sent their sincerest condolences to the sultan, and the families of the deceased, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken, authorities said.
Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit. The Royal Oman Police and the Omani military deployed to the province to transport citizens out of flooded areas

Heavy rainfall often causes flash flooding in the sultanate, drawing the curious from their homes to nearby dry riverbeds, known in Arabic as “wadi.” In flooding, they can quickly fill and wash away people and vehicles.

— with input from The Associated Press