Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’

Special Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’
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Session in progress at HIMA forum Riyadh. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Alnajim)
Special Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’
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Guests at HIMA forum Riyadh. (AN Photo/Saad Al-Anzi)
Special Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’
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Guests at HIMA forum Riyadh. (AN Photo/Saad Al-Anzi)
Special Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’
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Session in progress at HIMA forum Riyadh. (AN Photo/Abdulrahman Alnajim)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’

Saudi Arabia is ‘committed to environment’s conservation’
  • Local and international experts gather at first Hima protected areas forum in Riyadh
  • Arabian leopard, which is critically endangered, provides flagship species for conservation efforts in Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is committed to the environment’s conservation and working to transform the landscape by promoting large-scale tree planting, combating desertification and enhancing biodiversity, an expert said at the first Hima protected areas forum in Riyadh.

Keynote speaker Dr. Faisal Wali, energy and water manager at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, who spoke on Monday on the “Conservation in an Era of Climate Change” panel, said: “Saudi Arabia is committed toward conservation.

“Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s economic and social reform plan, prioritizes environmental sustainability under the National Transformation Program, National Renewable Energy Program, Environmental Strategy and the Saudi Green Initiative, and aims to transform the landscape by promoting large-scale tree planting, combating desertification and enhancing biodiversity.”

The Arabian leopard, which is critically endangered, provided a flagship species for conservation efforts in the Kingdom, Wali noted. Recognizing Saudi Arabia’s efforts, the UN last year designated Feb. 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard.

He went on to add that loss of habitat and fragmentation were major threats to wildlife and that the Kingdom had established protected areas and camera traps to monitor populations of its animals.

Speaking of conservation efforts in the Red Sea, he stressed that it was home to more than 1,200 species of fish and more than 300 types of hard corals in a unique ecosystem.

The Red Sea boasts the world’s largest coral nursery and research is being conducted on threatened species like the hawksbill sea turtle.

Wali emphasized the work KAUST was doing toward sustainability goals, adding that the efforts of Saudi Arabia, which had been bolstered by Vision 2030, offered a promising path into the future.

Climate change is not a problem limited to the Middle East, he noted, but a global phenomenon, and conservationists had worked on creating protected areas, reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainable hunting practice.

Coral bleaching in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, rising sea temperatures, and acidification are recent issues that are adding to growing problems,Wali explained.

He added that conservation efforts included implementing stricter rules on fishing and tourism, promoting marine-protected areas and funding research on coral resilience. Conservation efforts had a track record of success when it came to protecting endangered species, he added.

“We need to build upon this success by incorporating climate considerations into conservation strategies. Climate change presents new challenges but pre-existing conservation efforts provide a foundation,” he said.

Panelist Mohammed Qurban, CEO at the Saudi National Center for Wildlife, said that the center was working to address problems: “Under Saudi Vision 2030, environmental strategy conservation in the face of climate change is paramount. With five dedicated centers working in tandem and the implementation of the 30x30 program, we are actively addressing environmental challenges head on.”

Dr. Mazen Asseri, director at the National Center for Meteorology, highlighted the management of protected areas for conservation, and the accuracy of data that will help in monitoring the wildlife population and protecting biodiversity.

He added that collaboration between governments, nongovernmental organizations and local communities was crucial, but that working together would ensure the continued survival of the planet’s biodiversity.

Dr. Jacques Trouvilliez, executive secretary of the secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement, stressed the need of ecological corridors for conservation, and the need to maintain habitat ecology.

He praised Saudi Arabia, adding: “I am glad that the Kingdom has a timely response in Vision 2030, and its green initiatives are crucial to conversations.”

Dr. Andrew Gardner, chair of the Emirates Natural History Group, who moderated the panel discussion, pointed out that climate change had a huge effect on biodiversity, causing many challenges, recent excessive rains and flash floods in the UAE and Oman providing a good example.

The National Center for Wildlife organized the forum to discuss conservation efforts for natural habitats and wildlife in Saudi Arabia.

It was inaugurated on Sunday by the minister of environment, water, and agriculture and chairman of the board of the National Center for Wildlife, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.

The four-day event, which concludes on April 24, is the first of its kind in the region and attracts both local and international participants.

Since its founding in 2019, the National Center for Wildlife has addressed challenges facing wildlife and marine ecosystems, aiming to protect the environment for future generations.


KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
Updated 43 min 51 sec ago
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KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
  • Agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan
  • Nearly 600 shelter kits distributed in Pakistan's Gwadar to 4,000 people

Saudi Arabian aid agency KSrelief distributed hundreds of food aid packages and shelter kits to thousands most in need in Sudan and Pakistan, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

The agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan, while nearly 600 shelter kits were distributed in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefitting more than 4,000 people.

The assistance is part of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by KSrelief across the world.


Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo

Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo
Updated 10 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo

Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo
  • Focus on mutual investment growth, says Saudi official
  • Manufacturing, entertainment and health are key areas

TOKYO: The Saudi Arabia-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum took place in Tokyo on Tuesday with over 300 industry officials and leaders discussing ways to boost trade, investment and cultural ties.

In her keynote speech, Sara Al-Sayed, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of international partnerships at the Ministry of Investment, outlined plans for further collaboration between the two nations.

“Under the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030, we aim to take this partnership to a new level,” she said. “We want to leverage our mutual strengths, drive sustainable mutual economic growth, enhance technological innovation, and promote cultural exchange. We will be able to unlock the potential to expand the Japan partnership to be a key driver of growth.”

She added: “We have noticed in the last decade the strength of the partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Over the last decade alone, the number of companies that have been established in Saudi Arabia by the Japanese has doubled and we have over 50 headquarters that have been established in Saudi Arabia. This forum will act as a catalyst to accelerate this growth and translate interest into investment.”

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry SAITO Ken attended the forum, each giving a speech commemorating the relationship between the two nations. 

Saito said the Japanese government will extend its maximum support to expand business with Saudi Arabia, while Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom “will bring collaborations to the forefront and will make sure that in all of the forums, we advocate the same aspirations in the national transition process attending to energy requirements.”

Al-Falih said in his closing remarks that the Kingdom’s non-oil income has “doubled and is looking for an accumulated investment of over $3 trillion that offers big chances to Japanese.”

He added that Saudi Arabia has a “bubble of projects as it will host expo 2030 in Riyadh.”

Saudi Arabia will also host the Winter Olympics in NEOM, and the World Cup 2034, that offers investment chances for the Japanese companies to participate, he explained.

Sessions at the forum included “Forging stronger manufacturing collaboration between KSA and Japan,” “Collaboration in the new era of sustainability and circular economy,” “Reinventing entertainment and gaming industries across borders,” and “Expanding the area of cooperation in healthcare.”

Additionally, the forum hosted a “Digital Entertainment Roundtable,” to discuss Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build a local gaming industry, which includes localizing Japanese games for the Saudi market, collaborating with esports tournament organizers, and investing in the digital entertainment sector. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information, Abdallah Alswaha, and Minister of Investment attended the roundtable, with the former giving a short speech during the opening. 

Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector is expected to grow to 1.3 billion dollars in the next two years, with 58 gaming companies operating in the Kingdom. 67% of Saudi Arabia’s population (around 24.8 million people) are active video game players.  

The Kingdom will be hosting this year’s Esports World Cup in July and will be giving away approximately $60 million in prize money to further grow the gaming sector.

Saudi Arabia has previously collaborated with Japanese companies, which have provided the Kingdom with expertise, knowledge, and cutting-edge technologies to improve the overall quality of projects and elevate the reputation of the digital entertainment industry.     


KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan
Updated 21 May 2024
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KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

Saudi Arabian aid agency KSrelief distributed hundreds of food aid packages and shelter kits to thousands most in need in Sudan and Pakistan, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

The agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan, while nearly 600 shelter kits were distributed in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefitting more than 4,000 people.

The assistance is part of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by KSrelief across the world.


KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital
Updated 21 May 2024
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KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

KSrelief to install water desalination plant at Mogadishu hospital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aid organization KSrelief on Monday signed an agreement to install a water desalination plant at the kidney dialysis center of Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu.

The initiative in Somalia’s capital will benefit 270 individuals.

KSrelief’s Assistant Supervisor-General of Operations and Programs Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz signed the agreement at the center’s headquarters in Riyadh.

Elsewhere, KSrelief on Saturday distributed 585 shelter bags in Gwadar district in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefiting 4,095 families in the flood-affected areas.

The program is a part of KSrelief’s third phase of support for vulnerable people in Pakistan.

Also, KSrelief on Saturday distributed 956 food baskets to displaced families in the north of Sudan, benefiting 5,497 individuals. This is a part of the second phase of KSrelief’s food-security project in the country.


Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages

Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages
Updated 20 May 2024
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Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages

Digital wellbeing summit at Ithra to confront technology’s dangers, advantages
  • Event at Ithra will have over 110 digital experts, 70 speakers from 20 countries

DHAHRAN: After a two-year hiatus, the second Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit 2024 returns to the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, this week for discussions and debates by world-leading experts.

Scheduled for May 22 and 23, Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness, and will feature 110 digital experts and 70 speakers from 20 countries.

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

“The Sync Summit 2024 is not just another conference. It’s a platform for meaningful discussions, critical reflections, and collective actions for a better digital future,” said Wadha Al-Nafjan, head of digital wellbeing at Sync. “As we navigate the digital paradox, it is vital to recognize our responsibility in shaping the world we want to live in.”

Topics including algorithmic homogenization and identity loss, AI’s impact on the creative industries, and misinformation will be tackled under the theme “Confronting the Digital Paradox.”

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

The summit will be held at the Ithra headquarters in Dhahran, with a live stream available.

Day one, organized around the sub-theme “Cuts Both Ways: Wrestling with the Tensions of the Digital Era,” includes seven panels, two fireside chats and two keynote talks.

It’s a platform for meaningful discussions, critical reflections, and collective actions for a better digital future.

Wadha Al-Nafjan, Head of digital wellbeing at Sync

Day two, centering on the sub-theme “A Digital Renaissance: Shaping Our Relationship with Digital for a Better Future,” will have eight panels and three keynotes. In addition, it will have the Sync Spotlight series finale, for which creative influencer Omar Farooq will screen his new documentary, “The Dark Side of Japan.”

Although there was no summit last year at Ithra, the Sync team conducted extensive research globally that led to some compelling findings.

Wadha Al-Nafjan, Head of digital wellbeing at Sync

According to their research, 81 percent of those surveyed are concerned about the unsolicited collection of their personal data, 53 percent struggle to maintain boundaries between their work and personal lives, while 66 percent believe that the internet needs more regulation. About 73 percent of participants think social media was designed to be addictive.

Furthermore, the average time spent online daily has gone down, compared with 2021. About 68 percent claim to understand AI, 87 percent think technology is allowing people to work and study more flexibly, and 91 percent use digital devices to access resources including books and tutorials.

The second Sync Summit is scheduled for may 22 and 23, and Ithra will be buzzing with all things that merge technology and wellness. (Supplied)

“Never before has the world been so connected to everything and everyone. We know technology has improved our lives, but it also has the painful potential to distract and harm,” Ithra said in a statement to Arab News. The summit’s activities are geared toward “ensuring that we as humans come together to keep digital technology in check and working towards the greater good, safeguarding its future, and our own.”

The event will bridge the gap between academic research, industry practices, and end-users regarding digital wellbeing through a variety of sessions.

Sync Spotlight

A series of sessions will run in parallel to the two-day Sync Summit stage program, offering greater interaction between speakers and audience members.

Sync Action Forum

The worldwide Gen Alpha Forum, an initiative developed by Sync Research with McCann Worldgroup, will see the community expand to include Saudi Arabia parents of Gen Alpha children, as well as educators, and other Gen Alpha stakeholders.

Majlis

In partnership with Johns Hopkins, which has a local hospital at Aramco, the Majlis will host three sessions exploring digital wellbeing with educators, researchers and students.

The Plaza

The gamified experience will dive into the findings compiled by the Sync Research team through the lens of three projects which were developed with partners Horizon Group, PSB and McCann Worldgroup.

Sync Immersive

In this interactive journey, the organizers promise to provide a three-step experience designed to impact participants’ emotions and understanding, while guiding them into navigating the complexities of digital ethics.

Podcast

The booth experience will serve both as a studio to record live podcast episodes hosted by Mo Gawdat, formerly of Google, and as a multi-functional space for hosting media interviews. Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Islam, host of the English-language podcast, The Mo Show, will also be present.

Other notable speakers this year include US data scientist and AI specialist Rumman Chowdhury; Saudi Arabia athlete, FIFA World Champion and owner of an esports team, Abdulaziz Alshehri; and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

One May 21, Ithra will host the Global Digital Wellbeing Assembly, a gathering of experts from across the Kingdom and the globe to discuss the guiding objectives and roadmap for a new digital wellbeing society.

Registration is now open and attendance is free.