How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable

Special How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable
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The Sakaka Solar Power Plant in Saudi Arabia's northern province of Al Jouf is made up of over 1.2 million solar panels arranged across 6 square kilometers of land. It has a production capacity of 300 megawatts, enough to power 45,000 households and contribute to offsetting over 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. (Saudi Vision 2030 photo)
Special How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable
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Inaugurated in 2019 as part of Saudi Arabia's National Renewable Energy Program, the Dumat Al Jandal Wind Farm in the northern province of Al Jouf has a total capacity of 400 megawatts, capable of supplying electricity to approximately 70,000 homes. (Saudi Vision 2030 photo)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable

How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable
  • The Saudi Green Initiative aims to promote eco-friendly practices, such as reducing waste in manufacturing
  • On International Mother Earth Day, Saudi Arabia continues its effort to mitigate the effects of climate change

RIYADH: As the world marks International Mother Earth Day on April 22, Saudi Arabia continues its effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, accelerate its transition to green energy, promote sustainability, and protect natural habitats through the Saudi Green Initiative.

Launched in 2021, one key SGI target is to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes per annum by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2060. The Kingdom hopes to reach this milestone through investments in renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Three wind projects are under development in the Kingdom, while a fourth, Dumat Al-Jandal, is already the largest operational wind farm in the Middle East, with a 400-megawatt capacity.

Saudi Arabia also operates 13 solar photovoltaic projects. The Al-Henakiyah project is under development and will generate a capacity of 1,500 MW, ranking it among the world’s five largest solar farms.

FASTFACT

• International Mother Earth Day, celebrated every year on April 22, was recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2009 to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.

Besides wind and solar, the Kingdom is also building a green hydrogen project in NEOM and a carbon capture project at the Aramco Research Center at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology. 

The green hydrogen project will produce clean energy derived using renewables, while the carbon capture project focuses on capturing and storing carbon dioxide to help mitigate climate change.

Beyond the transition to green energy, SGI includes projects designed to combat desertification, preserve biodiversity, and promote eco-friendly practices, such as reducing waste in manufacturing.




The carbon capture project of Aramco Research Center at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology focuses on capturing and storing carbon dioxide to help mitigate climate change. (KAUST photo)

Economic cities and special economic zones are viewed as one solution to the waste problems associated with commercial activity. In the Gulf Cooperation Council area, these are fast becoming a topic of interest for policymakers and businesses.

Saudi Arabia is taking proactive steps to build self-powering economic cities. Regulated by the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority, the Kingdom aims to attract investment, promote economic growth, and create jobs. 

“That’s a real window of opportunity to identify the diversity of industries that can exist within economic cities and how they can benefit from these opportunities to collaborate, extend their networks, and find opportunities for local sourcing,” Rana Hajirasouli, founder of The Surpluss climate tech platform based in the UAE, told Arab News.

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Hajirasouli says the annual waste and surplus created by manufacturers worldwide is valued at approximately $780 billion.

This vast sum represents a missed opportunity for companies to maximize their profits and reduce their environmental impact by reassessing waste management practices and adopting more sustainable strategies. 

“The problem is not just the waste we throw out and the emissions … it’s also unoccupied warehouse spaces, unoptimized logistics,” she said.

The Kingdom has launched four such economic cities: the King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, Jazan Economic City, Prince Abdulaziz bin Musaid Economic City in Hail, and Knowledge Economic City in Madinah.




King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh. (KAEC photo)

Establishing these spaces is seen as a key strategy for Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues, while also promoting long-term environmental sustainability.

Collaboration between businesses cohabiting economic cities could be one way in which they can mitigate the harmful effects of their waste production through innovative solutions and circular economy principles.

“Instead of focusing on trading carbon, businesses essentially find ways to reduce their emissions through the circular economy and daily-basis operational changes,” said Hajirasouli. “Accounts of that are evident in sustainability reports.”

Such collaborations, known as industrial symbiosis, align with sustainable development and circular economy goals, emphasizing the importance of resource conservation, waste reduction, and environmental protection. 

They involve reusing waste and by-products generated by one particular industry or industrial process to serve as raw materials for another. 

By adopting these principles, businesses can transform their waste streams into valuable resources, thereby creating a more circular and sustainable production system, said Hajirasouli.

DID YOUKNOW?

• Dumat Al-Jandal in Saudi Arabia is the largest operational wind farm in the Middle East, with capacity to generate 400 megawatts of power.

• The total cost of waste and surplus generated by companies globally is estimated to be about $780 billion a year.

• The Jazan IGCC plant is the largest gasification facility of its kind in the world and can produce up to 3.8 gigawatts of power.

“One interesting example is in Denmark where various companies in a small 16-sq. km area use excess steam from the power plants that aren’t needed for electricity and that goes to other factories,” she said. 

This creates a closed-loop system where materials, energy, and resources are repurposed rather than wasted. 

Aramco’s fully integrated Jazan Refinery and Petrochemical Complex is setting the stage for similar industrial symbiosis in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Economic City. 

The Jazan oil refinery, designed to have an output capacity of up to 400,000 barrels per day, is expected to provide raw materials for the integrated gasification combined-cycle plant, which generates power and industrial gases.




Aramco’s fully integrated Jazan Refinery and Petrochemical Complex is setting the stage for similar industrial symbiosis in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Economic City. (Aramco photo)

In the process of refining crude oil, synthetic gas — or syngas — is produced, which is typically used as fuel for industry and shipping. 

The hot syngas stream produced by gasification must be cooled down before processing. However, thanks to industrial symbiosis, that heat will not be wasted.

The plan is to capture the refinery’s waste steam and use it to drive turbines to create electricity in the power generation plant. 

However, the steam is produced at extremely high temperatures — far higher than what is required to turn the turbines. This means the process could still result in a significant waste of energy. 

To prevent this, the Jazan refinery will absorb and use this heat in recovery units.

Adopting mitigation approaches and industrial symbiosis such as these in Saudi Arabia’s economic cities is seen as an ideal path to promoting sustainable practices.

By fostering collaboration and resource sharing among industries, these economic cities can not only enhance their environmental performance but also contribute to the overall sustainable development of the Kingdom.

 


Saudi dates, coffee showcased at World Water Forum

The Saudi pavilion at the World Water Forum in Indonesia has attracted significant attention from visitors. (SPA)
The Saudi pavilion at the World Water Forum in Indonesia has attracted significant attention from visitors. (SPA)
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Saudi dates, coffee showcased at World Water Forum

The Saudi pavilion at the World Water Forum in Indonesia has attracted significant attention from visitors. (SPA)
  • During the event, held from May 18 to May 25,  Saudi coffee, considered a symbol of hospitality, has added a distinctive cultural touch to the pavilion

RIYADH: The Saudi pavilion at the World Water Forum in Indonesia has attracted significant attention from visitors. Saudi hospitality, exemplified by the quality and variety of dates and coffee on offer, has proved a major draw.

During the event, held from May 18 to May 25,  Saudi coffee, considered a symbol of hospitality, has added a distinctive cultural touch to the pavilion.

The Kingdom’s diverse and flavorful dates has impressed attendees, enhancing the positive image of Saudi agricultural products on the international stage.

This participation not only elevates the profile of Saudi products globally but also opens doors for commercial cooperation and cultural exchange.

The quality of dates and coffee embodies elements of Saudi national identity and reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to supplying premium products to the international markets.

The Kingdom ranks among the top 10 coffee-consuming nations globally.


Digital Cooperation Organization secretary-general holds meetings in Cairo

Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Updated 50 min 43 sec ago
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Digital Cooperation Organization secretary-general holds meetings in Cairo

Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
  • Al-Yahya affirmed to Talaat that there were several opportunities for cooperation between DCO and Egypt in light of the latter’s digital strategy

RIYADH: Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the Digital Cooperation Organization, held talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, and the Arab League’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit during her visit to Cairo.

Al-Yahya affirmed to Talaat that there were several opportunities for cooperation between the organization and Egypt in light of the latter’s digital strategy.

She added that this was the result of Egypt’s economic components and strategic goals aligning with the organization’s aims.

Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, stands with the Arab League’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit during her visit to Cairo. (SPA)

Al-Yahya added that the organization was able to provide opportunities that could be leveraged to achieve digital economic growth and prosperity.

She also praised the Digital Egypt Pioneers Initiative, which drives digital transformation by developing skills and innovation while supporting young talents in business.

Al-Yahya affirmed that the organization seeks to enhance cooperation with different sectors in Egypt to boost cooperation in the infrastructure of information technology and communications, as well as innovation ecosystems, through partnerships between private and public sectors.


Saudi Arabia, Jordan to airdrop aid to Palestinians

KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia, Jordan to airdrop aid to Palestinians

KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
  • Jordan’s Armed Forces will airdrop the 30 tonnes of supplies into the area that remains under siege by Israel
  • This effort is a part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to help the Palestinian people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aid agency KSrelief has delivered equipment and tools to the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians in Gaza.

Jordan’s Armed Forces will airdrop the 30 tonnes of supplies into the area that remains under siege by Israel.

This effort is a part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to help the Palestinian people.

The Kingdom remains committed to delivering humanitarian aid into Gaza through various means, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • Procedure meant to keep the cover, Kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered
  • 36 specialized technical personnel carried out procedure with aid of 10 cranes

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Saudi Press Agency, specialized technicians are seen at work at the Kaaba in Makkah on May 23, 2024, raising the special cover to keep it from being soiled and damaged ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.
The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Saudi Press Agency, specialized technicians are seen at work at the Kaaba in Makkah on May 23, 2024, raising the special cover to keep it from being soiled and damaged ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world’s largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the “once in a lifetime” journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.
Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state

Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state

Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state
  • Palestinian Authority and its rival group Hamas both welcomed the recognition
  • Israel recalls envoys to Spain, Ireland and Norway for consultations

RIYADH/COPENHAGEN: Saudi Arabia said Wednesday it welcomed the “positive” decision taken by Norway, Spain, and Ireland to recognize a Palestinian state. 
The Kingdom said it appreciated this decision “which confirms the international consensus on the inherent right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” in a foreign ministry statement. 

The kingdom also called on more countries to swiftly take the same stance, “which would contribute to finding a reliable and irreversible path to achieve a just and lasting peace that fulfills the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Leaders of Norway, Spain and Ireland said on Wednesday they were formally going to recognize Palestine as a state.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said: “There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced that the country’s council of ministers would recognize an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday May 28.

“Next Tuesday, May 28, Spain’s cabinet will approve the recognition of the Palestinian state,” he said, adding that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu was putting the two state solution in “danger” with his policy of “pain and destruction” in the Gaza Strip.

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said it was a move coordinated with Spain and Norway, marking “an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine.”

The Palestinian Authority and its rival group Hamas both welcomed the recognition of a Palestinian state by Ireland, Spain and Norway.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank territory while Hamas runs Gaza.

Jordan hailed the coordinated move as an “important and essential step towards Palestinian statehood.”

“We value this decision and consider it an important and essential step towards a two-state solution that embodies an independent, sovereign Palestinian state along the July 1967 borders,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told a press conference.

Qatar’s foreign ministry welcomed the announcement as an “important step in support of a two-state solution,” expressing hope that other countries would follow suit.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also spoke out in support of the European countries’ move, with secretary general Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi saying it represented “a pivotal and strategic step towards achieving the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a statement said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, similarly welcomed the move as an “important historic step”.

Several European Union countries have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region.

Israel recalled envoys to Spain, Ireland and Norway over their moves to recognize a Palestinian state.

“Today, I am sending a sharp message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not go over this in silence. I have just ordered the return of the Israeli ambassadors from Dublin and Oslo to Israel for further consultations in Jerusalem,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take their first steps toward Palestinian recognition, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

The efforts come as a mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel’s offensive to rout Hamas prompts calls globally for a ceasefire and lasting solution for peace in the region.

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but mirror its moves, has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel,” the Norwegian government leader said.

“Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state,” Gahr Store told a press conference.

The move comes as Israeli forces have led assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip in May, causing a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

The Scandinavian country “will therefore regard Palestine as an independent state with all the rights and obligations that entails,” Gahr Store said.

Norway’s recognition of a Palestine state comes more than 30 years after the first Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

Since then, “the Palestinians have taken important steps toward a two-state solution,” the Norwegian government said.

It said that the World Bank determined that Palestine had met key criteria to function as a state in 2011, that national institutions have been built up to provide the population with important services.

“The war in Gaza and the constant expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank still mean that the situation in Palestine is more difficult than it has been in decades,” the Norwegian government said.