A greener future for the Kingdom through forestation

A greener future for the Kingdom through forestation

A greener future for the Kingdom through forestation
Riyadh residents take part in a tree-planting project as part of the Greener Home initiative. (@Riyadh_Green/File)
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Climate change and the health of the world’s forests are intricately linked, with the loss of these natural carbon sinks to fires, logging and desertification contributing to greater emissions and rising temperatures.

According to the Spanish renewable energy company Iberdrola, the loss of forests is harming the world’s biodiversity, depleting the number of pollinating insects, leading to crop failures, increasing food insecurity and risking the emergence of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.

Forestation is seen as one way to halt and even reverse these dangers. By using technology to convert desert regions into green, nutrient-rich landscapes, forestation can repair the damage caused by climate change and even slow its effects.

As Korena Di Roma Howley wrote in the science news magazine Eos, one of the reasons that climate change is such a dangerous process is that, in time, it leads to a “snowball effect,” in which environmental degradation and extreme temperatures accelerate in tandem.

Forestation can help capture greenhouse gases. Indeed, the Amazon rainforest alone can hold 48 billion tonnes of carbon.

In Saudi Arabia, forestation has become a key focus for many organizations attempting to harness desert land, restore degraded territory and protect what precious forests the Kingdom already has. 

The Saudi Green Initiative has already begun the process of planting some 10 billion trees throughout the Kingdom, with a view to restoring more than 40 million hectares of land. The Middle East Green Initiative, meanwhile, will plant 40 billion trees across the wider region. 

Any forestation project requires long-term thinking of the kind embraced by Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030.

Princess Abeer bint Saud bin Farhan Al-Saud

This effort, first unveiled in 2021, could not come soon enough. Saudi Arabia suffered a 47 percent net loss of tree cover between 2000 and 2020. This ran parallel with an even larger deforestation trend worldwide. Between 2010 and 2020, the UN estimates an annual loss of 4.7 million hectares of forest.

The UN has acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s leadership in forestation, noting the Kingdom’s steadfast commitment to adapting to climate change.

Experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, southwest London, say clear guidelines must be followed to optimize forestation, including the prioritization of forests that already exist, collaborating with local communities for sustainability, maximizing biodiversity and carefully choosing where to plant.

In one particularly impressive case of forestation, South Korea experienced an increase in forested land from 4 million hectares to 6.3 million hectares between 1961 and 1995, with total planting exceeding 11 billion trees by 2008.

Another successful attempt at forestation, which bodes well for Saudi Arabia, is that of the Kwimba Reforestation Project, which was launched by the Tanzanian government in 1990 and led to the planting of about 6.4 million trees over a nine-year period.

Any forestation project requires long-term thinking of the kind embraced by Saudi Arabia under its social reform and economic diversification agenda, Vision 2030, and other extended roadmaps. 

For all of us who recognize the urgency surrounding climate change, we must take it upon ourselves to learn more about forestation and to support such efforts boldly and aggressively.

 

Princess Abeer is an international development professional with culture and heritage, peacebuilding, multilateralism and NGO expertise, who has worked for several UN agencies. She currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association, Talga.
 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Iraqis flock to river or ice rink to escape searing heat

Iraqis flock to river or ice rink to escape searing heat
Updated 9 min 39 sec ago
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Iraqis flock to river or ice rink to escape searing heat

Iraqis flock to river or ice rink to escape searing heat
  • Iraq is grappling with a blistering summer, with temperatures often exceeding 50 degrees Celsius
  • The United Nations ranks Iraq among the world’s five most climate-vulnerable nations

Baghdad: In the sizzling Baghdad heat, Mussa Abdallah takes to the Tigris river during the day to cool off, while others opt for ice skating to escape the relentless temperatures.
“At the end of the day, I’m sweaty and exhausted because of the sun,” said Abdallah, a 21-year-old house painter in the Iraqi capital.
“At home, there’s no electricity. If I want to wash, the water is scalding hot,” he added, describing how water stored above ground virtually boils at this time of year.
Iraq is grappling with a blistering summer, with temperatures often exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, exacerbated by declining rainfall, rampant desertification and frequent dust storms.
The United Nations ranks Iraq among the world’s five most climate-vulnerable nations.
Almost every day after work, Abdallah retreats to the Tigris to escape the sweltering heat.
“We’re young and want to have a good time — where else can we go?” the decorator said on the banks of the river, traces of white paint still visible on his temples and long-sleeved T-shirt.
While Abdallah puts his sandals back on, nearby others are taking the plunge and two bathers are washing their hair with soap.
As night brings little relief from the sweltering gusts, residents of Baghdad flock to the city’s lone indoor ice rink to find respite.
The rink is in one of the air-conditioned shopping malls that have sprung up in the capital in recent years, attracting up to 100 visitors on busy days, 25-year-old instructor Sajjad Mohamed said.
“Twenty-four hours a day, the electricity never goes out. There’s a cooling system” for the ice, Mohamed said.
Abbas, 26, discovered ice skating in Turkiye. Now back in Iraq, he is pursuing it enthusiastically.
“When we finish work in the afternoon, it’s either go home, or go to shopping malls and other places where it’s cold,” he said.
The soaring seasonal temperatures have become a troubling fact of life for the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s 43 million inhabitants.
Although it is rich in oil, Iraq has seen its infrastructure suffer after decades of conflict and failed public policy that has resulted in long power cuts on the public grid with generators unable to handle the strain.
On the banks of the Tigris, Rashid Al-Rashed takes off his T-shirt to dive into the Tigris.
“At home it’s hot, I can’t stay there for long. The public electricity is inadequate,” the 17-year-old garbage collector said.
To escape the heat, “I bathe every day, for 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour,” he added.
Elsewhere on the river, a police boat moves along a dozen bathers from the water for their safety.
“When we make them leave, they come back,” said a policeman, seeking to explain everything was being done to prevent deaths from drownings.
But the danger is evident. On his phone, he displays the body of an 11-year-old boy found nearly 48 hours after drowning.
While the river — despite its danger — is free, those with more means can pay $10 for an afternoon with family or friends at Baghdad Aqua Park.
“This year summer came earlier, so we have more visitors,” one of the water park’s administrators Ali Yussef said. “People are coming after work or school,” he added.
Maitham Mahdi, 31, was on his second visit of the month. “I think I’ll be coming a lot during the summer,” the civil servant, still dressed in his swimsuit, said as he departed the indoor pool.
Mahdi also complained about the electricity at home. “We come here to get a bit of fresh air,” he explained.
Iraq has just gone through four years of drought, marked by water shortages and a drastic drop in river flow.
But on the back of a wet winter, officials are hoping the more generous rainfall will have a knock-on effect over the summer.
Despite those hopes, however, the thermometer continues to climb.
The meteorological service is forecasting 50 degrees Celsius this week in the capital and southern cities such as Basra and Nasiriyah.
Its director, Amer Al-Jaberi, said with its semi-desert climate, Iraq is expecting “heat waves,” particularly in the south, adding these intensifying phenomena are also the result of climate change.


Al Habtoor Group initiates arbitration against Marriott over management agreement termination

Al Habtoor Group initiates arbitration against Marriott over management agreement termination
Updated 14 min 11 sec ago
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Al Habtoor Group initiates arbitration against Marriott over management agreement termination

Al Habtoor Group initiates arbitration against Marriott over management agreement termination

RIYADH: Business giant Al Habtoor Group has filed an arbitration case against Marriott International, the Dubai-based conglomerate confirmed to Arab News.

The corporation is seeking to terminate a management agreement with the hotel giant and is pursuing substantial compensation.

Al Habtoor Group’s spokesperson told Arab News that the arbitration case was lodged through its subsidiary in Budapest.

They added that the objective is “to terminate the management agreement of the Ritz Carlton Budapest and claim high compensation.”

The group noted that the details of the arbitration proceeding will remain confidential.

Arab News contacted Marriott International via the press office for comment on the arbitration case, but the company has yet to respond to a number of emails.

An arbitration case is a legal process where a dispute is resolved outside of the courts by one or more neutral third parties, called arbitrators. The arbitrators’ decision is usually binding and enforceable, providing a private and often quicker resolution compared to traditional court litigation.

Al Habtoor Group, a prominent player in the hospitality, real estate, and automotive sectors, has a substantial presence in Budapest. The move to arbitration indicates a serious escalation in the dispute, as this course of action is typically pursued when negotiations and other forms of resolution have failed.

Marriott International, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, is one of the world’s leading hotel chains, operating and franchising a broad portfolio of hotels and related lodging facilities. It has a prominent position and manages several highly successful properties across the MENA region.


Women’s mentorship program launched at 2024 FIA conference

Women’s mentorship program launched at 2024 FIA conference
Updated 19 min 46 sec ago
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Women’s mentorship program launched at 2024 FIA conference

Women’s mentorship program launched at 2024 FIA conference
  • Concussion awareness campaign also launched at Uzbekistan forum

PARIS: FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has launched two projects at the FIA 2024 conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan: the women in motorsport mentorship programme and the concussion awareness campaign.

Linked live to the FIA Women in Motorsport networking event, the women in motorsport mentorship programme pairs experienced women already in the sport — mentors — with those wanting to start their career — mentees — facilitating knowledge-sharing as well as personal and professional growth while fostering a culture of learning and collaboration.

The program offers opportunities for mentors to share their experiences and perspectives to accelerate the mentee’s development, while providing invaluable guidance, support and insights that will help them to navigate their professional journey.

Participants will connect through a digital platform, ensuring flexible interaction regardless of location, and ease of scheduling and resource sharing online. The application process for club participation and individual registrations is designed to be straightforward and efficient, with each club receiving a dedicated email containing a link to apply. Clubs are permitted to nominate up to two participants and applications will be processed on a “first come, first serve” basis.

Ben Sulayem said: “It is important that motor sport diversifies and FIA is committed to making our sport more accessible to all. The women in motorsport mentorship programme will help to create a network of support and learning for women, ensuring accessibility and opening up new opportunities in line with our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. I am proud to work with so many accomplished women in our sport and I champion their voices.”

Meanwhile, the concussion awareness campaign, supported by funding from the FIA foundation, was launched through the collaboration of the FIA medical and safety teams with the aim of educating and raising awareness of concussion, including signs, symptoms and red flags in an effort to further protect motor sport competitors.

The educational content, created to be used across social platforms and as printable assets, is available to all member clubs, in any club’s language of choice, reflecting the FIA’s commitment to improving accessibility and inclusivity.

Ben Sulayem said: “I have experienced concussion first-hand, away from the race track. I have felt the symptoms and dealt with the aftermath. I understand the critical importance of this issue. Thanks to the FIA medical and safety team, we will provide an educational and accessible approach to identifying and combating concussion in our sport, ensuring the safety of all current and future competitors.”

By educating drivers on how to spot concussion, the steps to take if concussed, and how to return to racing, this knowledge-sharing will help keep motor sport as safe as possible. It also encourages racers to seek out assistance from the medical team if symptoms are felt. They will not return to racing unless cleared by the relevant international and national authorities.


Kuwait’s Al-Zour Refinery’s output hits 615k bpd

Kuwait’s Al-Zour Refinery’s output hits 615k bpd
Updated 12 min 4 sec ago
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Kuwait’s Al-Zour Refinery’s output hits 615k bpd

Kuwait’s Al-Zour Refinery’s output hits 615k bpd

RIYADH: The fully operational output of Kuwait’s Al-Zour Refinery has reached 615,000 barrels per day, in line with the country’s plan to boost oil refining capacity.   

The refinery’s daily output, which is the cornerstone of the state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp., includes some 86,000 bpd of premium naphtha, 99,000 bpd of jet fuel, and 147,000 bpd of low-sulfur diesel, respectively, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

The facility is the second-largest refinery in the Middle East.

In 2023, the International Trade Administration revealed that oil accounts for around 95 percent of Kuwait’s exports, and approximately 90 percent of government export revenue.

According to OPEC, in 2022, the country’s crude oil exports stood at 1.879 million bpd. During the same year, oil accounted for $41,493 of gross domestic product per capita.

According to KPC CEO Sheikh Nawaf Al-Sabah, the nation will now “reap the benefits” of the facility, the principal among them being a sharp rise in Kuwait’s crude oil exports.

By operating at its maximum capacity, the Al-Zour refinery will further enhance Kuwait’s global competitiveness by producing high-quality oil-based products.  

Additionally, Al-Sabah noted that he was “proud” of the dedication and commitment of KPC’s national workforce, stressing that their experiences in handling such a critical project would serve them well throughout their professional careers, enabling them to better deal with future endeavors.

This daily yield is produced while keeping carbon emissions in check, aligning well with the commitment of the major oil supplier and member of the OPEC consortium toward environmental sustainability goals.  

Moreover, operating in full swing, the facility is positioned to elevate KPC’s regional standing by playing a significant role in achieving the company’s major objectives.

The output increase comes despite the fact that the OPEC+ member recently announced an extension of additional voluntary cuts of 135,000 million bpd for the second quarter of 2024 in order to support the stability and balance of oil markets.

Kuwait’s economy remains highly dependent on the oil sector, with the country holding approximately 7 percent of global oil reserves.


Abu Dhabi to host 2024 FIM World Supercross Championship season finale

Abu Dhabi to host 2024 FIM World Supercross Championship season finale
Updated 36 min 48 sec ago
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Abu Dhabi to host 2024 FIM World Supercross Championship season finale

Abu Dhabi to host 2024 FIM World Supercross Championship season finale
  • Two motorsport world championships will be decided within a week with the World Supercross Championship and Formula 1 heading to Yas Island in December

DUBAI: SX Global, the official promoters of the FIM World Supercross Championship, have announced that the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi will host the final race of the series’ upcoming 2024 season.

After a highly successful pilot season in 2022, WSX built on its foundations by expanding into new markets in 2023 — a campaign which saw German motorcycle superstar Ken Roczen claim a second WSX World Championship title, while Britain’s Max Anstie etched his name on the SX2 World Championship crown.

“After the success of last year’s event, we’re delighted to be heading back to Abu Dhabi and the Etihad Arena in 2024,” Andy Edwards, SX global executive chairman, said. “This time around, the incredible venue will host the deciding round of the championship, and that spectacle is sure to have fans out of their seats with the action at full throttle until the very last lap.”

Abu Dhabi first hosted WSX last season in a competition which saw Roczen, Joey Savatgy, Dean Wilson, and Vince Friese go head-to-head. With this year’s event taking place just four days before the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2024 finale is set to attract an international audience once more.

As well as confirming Abu Dhabi as the location for this season’s climax, FIM WSX also revealed its full provisional schedule for the year ahead. The campaign will start on Oct. 26 at the BC Place stadium in Vancouver, Canada, before heading to Perth, Australia, on Nov. 23-24 for a double-header at HBF Park.

After the WSX Australian Grand Prix, the series will then head to Abu Dhabi where the world champion will be crowned on Dec. 4.

Ali Al-Beshr, motorsport development executive director at organizers Ethara, said: “We are thrilled to announce the return of the World Supercross Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi for the second consecutive year. With the event taking place during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race week, motorsport fans can enjoy back-to-back thrilling action, with the chance to experience two world championship finals in one week.”