King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status
King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam is the primary entryway for cargo headed to the Kingdom’s eastern and central regions from all over the world. File
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Updated 19 June 2024
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King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Port’s crane capacity has been boosted by 9.7 percent as part of an SR7 billion ($1.86 billion) investment deal.

The facility, operated by Saudi Global Ports Co., has received three automated quay and three rubber-tired gantry cranes, increasing its handling infrastructure.

According to a press release from Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, this addition brings the total number of quay cranes to 18 and gantry cranes to 50, enhancing the Dammam port’s workflow and enabling it to handle large ships efficiently.

These enhancements are made under commercial contracts between Mawani and Saudi Global Ports Co. 

This development is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen King Abdulaziz Port’s position as a competitive and sustainable global hub.

The new cranes can reach a minimum of 25 rows, which facilitates the efficient handling of advanced and large ships. 

Additionally, the use of modern cranes contributes to improving the skills of the workforce, supporting the Saudi ports system and solidifying the Kingdom’s growing role in the global logistics chain.

This upgrade aligns with the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to establish the nation as a global logistics center and a key link between continents.

Saudi ports are experiencing a constant surge in handling shipments. In March, terminals in the Kingdom recorded a 12.48 percent increase in the number of received containers compared to the same period last year, according to official data from Mawani.

The Authority disclosed that terminals in Saudi Arabia received 265,148 standard containers in the third month of 2024, marking an annual increase from 235,738.  

Furthermore, the maritime facilities experienced a 3.77 percent uptick in the volume of handled tonnage, reaching 19.64 million tonnes, in contrast to 18.93 million tonnes recorded in March 2023.    

“This reflects the scale of efforts made to develop port infrastructure and provide the highest levels of logistics services,” Mawani stated in a statement.

The Kingdom’s general shipment volumes reached 804,837 tonnes, solid bulk cargo reached 3.94 million tonnes, and liquid bulk freight reached 14.74 million tonnes.

A report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development revealed that Mawani climbed from 76.16 points in the second quarter of 2023 to 77.66 points in the third quarter of last year, affirming Saudi Arabia’s progress in the maritime sector.

Moreover, the Kingdom has consistently pursued global collaborations in the maritime sector, the latest of which occurred at the second edition of Vision Golfe 2024, held in Paris on June 4.

At the event, Mawani signed an agreement with the French Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty and its Marseille counterpart as part of France and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to excellence in trade and maritime transport.


Saudi Arabia launches competition for 5 licenses to boost mineral exploration

Saudi Arabia launches competition for 5 licenses to boost mineral exploration
Updated 30 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia launches competition for 5 licenses to boost mineral exploration

Saudi Arabia launches competition for 5 licenses to boost mineral exploration

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has unveiled its largest mineralized belts to date, spanning 4,788 sq. km and including five new exploration licenses. 

Three of the permits, which were offered to local and global firms, are reserved for the Jabal Sayid site in Madinah.  

It covers an area of 2,892 sq. km and entails minerals like gold, silver, copper, zinc, and lead, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.  

The remaining two licenses pertain to the Al-Hajjar Site in the Asir region, which encompasses 1,896 sq. km and also includes gold, silver, copper, zinc, and lead. 

This initiative aims to accelerate the exploration and development of Saudi Arabia's mineral resources, valued at SR9.3 trillion ($2.4 trillion).  

This is in line with Saudi Arabia’s ambition to transform mining into a foundational industrial pillar of the country’s economy. It also aligns with the ministry’s goal to further bolster the sector and contribute to ongoing developments under Saudi Vision 2030.    
 


Global electricity demand to grow by 4% in 2024: IEA 

Global electricity demand to grow by 4% in 2024: IEA 
Updated 42 min 7 sec ago
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Global electricity demand to grow by 4% in 2024: IEA 

Global electricity demand to grow by 4% in 2024: IEA 

RIYADH: Global electricity demand is expected to rise by around 4 percent this year, up from 2.5 percent in 2023, driven by robust economic growth, according to an analysis.  

In its latest report, the International Energy Agency highlighted that intense heatwaves and the growing adoption of electricity-powered technologies, such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, are driving the increase in global electricity demand. 

Many regions experienced severe heatwaves in the first half of 2024, which heightened electricity needs and strained power grids. May was the hottest month of the year, marking the 12th consecutive month of record-high temperatures. 

India, Mexico, Pakistan, the US, Vietnam, and several other countries experienced severe heatwaves in the first half of the year, leading to surging peak loads due to increased cooling needs. 

“Growth in global electricity demand this year and next is set to be among the fastest in the past two decades, highlighting the growing role of electricity in our economies as well as the impacts of severe heatwaves,” said Keisuke Sadamori, director of Energy Markets and Security at IEA.  

The energy agency added that more households, especially in emerging economies, have started to purchase air conditioners, further driving electricity demand in these regions. 

The IEA also emphasized that adopting higher efficiency standards for air conditioning is crucial to mitigate the impact of increased cooling demand on power systems. 

The report also highlighted that expanding and reinforcing power grids is essential for ensuring a reliable electricity supply. 

The IEA noted that renewables are rapidly advancing globally, with solar photovoltaic set to achieve new records. 

India and China to drive growth 

The energy think tank further noted that this rise in electricity demand growth will be driven by countries like India, China, and the US.  

“We expect this demand trend to continue in 2025, with growth also at 4 percent. In both 2024 and 2025, the rise in the world’s electricity use is projected to be significantly higher than global GDP (gross domestic product) growth of 3.2 percent. In 2022 and 2023, electricity demand grew more slowly than GDP,” the IEA added.  

According to the analysis, electricity demand in China is forecast to increase by 6.5 percent in 2024, similar to its average rate between 2016 and 2019.  

India will witness an 8 percent rise in electricity consumption in 2024, matching its rapid growth in 2023.  

“In the first half of 2024, the country (India) grappled with heatwaves of record duration, with peak load reaching a new high and putting exceptional strains on power systems. Assuming a return to average weather conditions, we expect electricity demand growth in India to ease moderately to 6.8 percent in 2025,” the IEA added.  

The report further highlighted that electricity demand in the US is set to rebound significantly in 2024, increasing by 3 percent year-on-year, driven by a positive economic outlook and the rising need for air conditioning amid severe heatwaves.  

In the EU, demand is expected to increase by 1.7 percent as economic difficulties ease, but uncertainty over the pace of growth remains.  

“EU electricity consumption had contracted over the two previous years, with the decline in output from energy-intensive industries an important driver. Signs of a recovery in EU electricity demand emerged starting in the fourth quarter of 2023,” said the IEA.  

It added: “Growth gained further traction during the first half of 2024 as energy prices stabilized and various industries that had previously curtailed operations restarted.”  

Clean energy sources  

According to the analysis, despite a sharp rise in power consumption, solar PV alone is expected to meet roughly half of the growth in global electricity demand by 2025.  

IEA further noted that global electricity generation from solar PV and wind is expected to surpass that from hydropower in 2024.  

“The global energy transition is set to achieve another significant milestone by 2025, with total renewable generation poised to overtake coal-fired electricity output. The share of renewables in global electricity supply rose to 30 percent in 2023 and is projected to climb further to 35 percent in 2025,” said the IEA.  

Despite the sharp increases in renewables, global power generation from coal is unlikely to decline this year due to the strong growth in demand, especially in China and India.  

The study highlighted that carbon dioxide emissions from the global power sector are plateauing, with a slight increase in 2024 followed by a decline in 2025.  

“It’s encouraging to see clean energy’s share of the electricity mix continuing to rise, but this needs to happen at a much faster rate to meet international energy and climate goals,” said Sadamori.  

He added: “At the same time, it’s crucial to expand and reinforce grids to provide citizens with secure and reliable electricity supply – and to implement higher energy efficiency standards to reduce the impacts of increased cooling demand on power systems.”  

Meanwhile, Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, said that the energy industry should urgently reduce its carbon emissions if the world wants to avoid catastrophic climate change in the coming decades, according to a press statement.  

“About 80 percent of emissions that cause climate change come from fossil fuels. This is the reason there is a need to reduce emissions if we want a planet in the future that is like it is today,” Birol told the Al-Attiyah Foundation in a podcast interview.  

He added: ‘This doesn’t mean that tomorrow we will not need fossil fuels, but the share of fossil fuels needs to decline. If we don’t, we will face catastrophic implications like floods, heat waves, and other extreme weather events. Continuing with the current fossil fuel-based energy system is not good news for anybody— producers and consumers alike.”  

In the latest report, the IEA also projected that global nuclear generation is on track to reach a new high in 2025, surpassing its previous record in 2021.  

According to the energy agency, nuclear generation is forecast to rise globally by 1.6 percent in 2024 and by 3.5 percent in 2025, driven by a steady increase in output by the French nuclear power fleet as maintenance works are completed.  

The restarting of reactors in Japan and the arrival of new reactors in various markets, including China, India, Korea, and Europe, support the growth in nuclear power generation globally.  

The report also noted that the rise of artificial intelligence has put the electricity consumption of data centers in focus, making better stocktaking more important than ever. 

“In many regions, historical estimates of data centers’ electricity consumption are hampered by a lack of reliable data. At the same time, future projections include a very wide range of uncertainties related to the pace of deployment, the diverse and expanding applications of AI, and the potential for energy efficiency improvements,” said the IEA.  

It added: “Expanding and improving the collection of electricity demand data from the sector will be crucial to identify past developments correctly and to understand future trends better.”


AlUla participates in global forums to strengthen Saudi-China cultural ties

AlUla participates in global forums to strengthen Saudi-China cultural ties
Updated 21 July 2024
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AlUla participates in global forums to strengthen Saudi-China cultural ties

AlUla participates in global forums to strengthen Saudi-China cultural ties

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have deepened their cultural ties as the Royal Commission for AlUla participated in key global forums in Istanbul and Luoyang.  

The RCU attended the Silk Road Dialogue and the International Ancient Capitals Forum to enhance collaboration and showcase AlUla as the world’s “largest living museum.” 

The events, held from June 27 to 30, underscored AlUla’s prominent role within the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities, a network connecting 63 destinations across 28 countries along ancient trade routes.  

The forums were instrumental in expanding Saudi-China cultural partnerships and organizing official visits to AlUla. 

Saudi Arabia’s strategic focus on tourism, centered around AlUla’s rich heritage, has become a cornerstone in deepening cultural and economic ties with China, showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to leveraging its historical assets to foster international partnerships. 

Discussions at the International Ancient Capitals Forum included high-level meetings with Luoyang officials on tourism, agriculture, conservation, and urban development, exploring new areas of cooperation between the two nations. 

“The Royal Commission for AlUla continues to build on the deep-rooted foundations of cultural partnership that exists between China, the Kingdom, and northwest Arabia,” said an RCU spokesperson in a statement. 

The spokesperson added: “The Silk Road Dialogue and International Ancient Capitals Forum events represented exciting opportunities to develop new avenues of collaboration, with a focus on expanding knowledge exchange and promoting tourism, with diverse initiatives built upon our shared status as ancient destinations and rapidly developing landmarks for human heritage.” 

The forum was launched to foster dialogue and collaboration between cities with a millennia-long history. It also facilitates an agreement signed earlier this year between AlUla and its Chinese partners at the Henan Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage.  

The partnership seeks to enhance knowledge and shared resources, focusing on archeology, preserving cultural heritage and museums and research collaboration as well as talent development, tourism and other cultural exchanges. 

It also includes establishing a technology-driven archeological laboratory, conducting excavation activities, engaging in research and fostering connections between heritage sites in AlUla and Henan. 

The deal further involved implementing collaborative exchange programs, participating in exhibitions and events, and utilizing museum technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. 


Saudi government agencies boost emerging tech adoption by 10% in 2024

Saudi government agencies boost emerging tech adoption by 10% in 2024
Updated 20 min 13 sec ago
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Saudi government agencies boost emerging tech adoption by 10% in 2024

Saudi government agencies boost emerging tech adoption by 10% in 2024

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s government agencies have made significant progress in integrating new technologies, showing a 10 percent improvement from the previous year, according to an official report.

The Emerging Technology Adoption Readiness Index, which measures the progress of government entities in implementing new solutions, increased from 60.35 percent in 2023 to 70.70 percent in 2024. This improvement is accompanied by a rise in participating agencies, which grew from 13 last year to 35 in 2024, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The annual report published by the Digital Government Authority underscores the Kingdom’s enhanced capacity for adopting emerging technologies. This progress is a key element of Saudi Arabia’s broader transformation strategy, aimed at leveraging advanced systems to improve services for citizens, residents, and visitors.

This increase in the index highlights the Kingdom’s ongoing commitment to modernizing its digital infrastructure and aligns with its Vision 2030 objectives, emphasizing sustainable development and the advancement of its technological future.

The index helps organizations and policymakers understand their technological advancement and identify areas for growth and development — an essential component of Saudi Arabia’s objectives. 

The report highlighted progress in adopting emerging technologies, with research capability reaching 72.04 percent and communication capability reaching 71.88 percent.     

According to the report, the integration field achieved a score of 67.93 percent, while the proof capability field recorded 70.84 percent, reflecting advanced levels of development. 

Drones have improved aerial photography and real estate imaging, boosting operational efficiency by 80 percent and significantly reducing time and effort. 

Digital twinning has enabled precise asset inventory for 22 out of 36 industrial cities. Additionally, Ameen, the digital human assistant, now serves over 36,000 customers monthly. 

Augmented and virtual reality technologies have further improved digital accessibility for individuals with special needs, expanding their access to digital services. 

The Anaam Shain app has streamlined the secure management of livestock data across the Kingdom, while firefighting robots have reduced physical losses by up to 50 percent. 

In 2023, Saudi Arabia topped the Government Strategy Index for Artificial Intelligence, as ranked by Tortoise Intelligence, which evaluates over 60 countries. 

The country achieved a perfect score of 100 percent on the index criteria, including having a dedicated national AI strategy, a specialized government body for cognitive computing, allocated funding for artificial intelligence, and established and monitored national intelligence system targets. 


Saudi Arabia’s space sector soars with strategic initiatives

Saudi Arabia’s space sector soars with strategic initiatives
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s space sector soars with strategic initiatives

Saudi Arabia’s space sector soars with strategic initiatives
  • Initiative aims to bolster the nation’s position in global space economy by developing local capabilities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s bid to become a leading player in the global space industry gained momentum with the recent unveiling of Neo Space Group, a strategic initiative to foster private sector growth. 

Backed by the Public Investment Fund, the group will invest in local and international assets, venture capital opportunities, and cutting-edge technologies to advance the sector, aligning with Saudi Vision 2030’s economic diversification goals. 

NSG aims to bolster the nation’s position in the global space economy by developing local capabilities and providing innovative satellite and space solutions. 

The development, spearheaded by the Communications, Space, and Technology Commission and the Saudi Space Agency, has garnered positive reactions from industry leaders and local talent, all of whom see immense potential in the Kingdom’s burgeoning space ambitions. 

In an interview with Arab News, Amar Vora, head of space at Serco Middle East, expressed strong support for the establishment of NSG, calling it a “bold step forward” that will stimulate the growth of the private space sector in Saudi Arabia. 

“The establishment of the NSG is a welcomed move that will champion growth for the private space sector in the Kingdom,” Vora said. “By working with CST and SSA, the establishment of the NSG will help unlock strategic investments and partnerships with the commercial sector that are aligned with national priorities.”

Serco, a global firm headquartered in Dubai with over 40 years of experience in the space industry, is committed to localizing its services in Saudi Arabia. “We are committed to transferring our knowledge and know-how from our international space business into the Kingdom through our training programs,” Vora added. 

“Our role as a service integrator means that we look to collaborate with innovative companies (small to large) to deliver services across the industry,” he also said. 

The emphasis on developing a robust value and supply chain within Saudi Arabia is seen as crucial for accelerating the sector’s sustainability. 

The emphasis on developing a robust value and supply chain within Saudi Arabia is seen as crucial for accelerating the sector’s sustainability. (SPA)

Vora highlighted the importance of investments in localization and startups across key segments of the space sector, which will help build a dynamic local ecosystem. 

“Going forward, building up the value and supply chain in the Kingdom is essential to accelerate the long-term sustainability of the sector,” he said, adding: “Importantly, NSG’s investments into localization and startups across key segments of the space sector will facilitate the growth of the local ecosystem.”   

Investing in national talent is another cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to advance its space industry, and Vora stressed the dual benefits of such investments, addressing both immediate industry needs and long-term growth.  

He added: “Investing in national talent benefits both the immediate needs of the growing space industry and its long-term growth, stability, and success.”  

Vora said that enhancing the skill set of future professionals is expected to bolster the economy by creating a proficient workforce for high-tech jobs. The sector’s growth will provide ample opportunities, with local talent preserving intellectual capital within the Kingdom.  

Speaking to Arab News, Sarah Alhabbas, a graduate of Serco’s Space Graduate Program, shared her journey and shed light on the positive impact of investing in local talent. 

“When I heard that hundreds of nationals had applied to Serco’s Space Graduate Program, I was very proud to have been selected,” Alhabbas said.  

She added: “When I joined, I gained some great insights into what the company’s strategy was and how that relates to Saudi Vision 2030, and I was able to learn more about the actions being put into place to live out the company’s purpose of impacting a better future.” 

As a participant in Serco’s Space Graduate Program, Alhabbas undertook an intensive six-month course at Serco’s COP-2 facilities in Darmstadt, Germany, where she enhanced her theoretical knowledge with practical applications and insights from industry experts. 

“I am excited about transferring that knowledge back to my colleagues and partners in Saudi Arabia after I graduate from the program in the summer,” she said. 

Alhabbas underscored the importance of investing in Saudi talent for the long-term sustainability and growth of the space industry. 

“(Investing in local talent) will help unleash the potential and capabilities of Saudi talent, which can also inspire future generations’ interest in the sector,” she said. 

The graduate added that a strong understanding is crucial “to move toward a more knowledge-based economy to attract investment and lead to economic growth.” 

We are committed to transferring our knowledge and know-how from our international space business into the Kingdom through our training programs.

Amar Vora, head of space at Serco Middle East

As a woman in the field of space technology, Alhabbas has encountered and overcome various barriers, particularly in networking. “One barrier that I encountered at the beginning was the networking challenge; at events, females were in the minority.” 

Alhabbas also joined the space training program offered by CST, which has broadened her knowledge and connections within the sector. 

“The sector has been evolving significantly, especially in Saudi, and more women are exploring their interest and getting involved in space, and I hope I can help to inspire,” she said. “The space courses offered by CST are giving me the chance to meet women who are interested in entering this field which is of real benefit.” 

Alhabbas praised the government’s support for women’s education and training in space technology and said: “There is also much government support for this, with policies being implemented and programs to support women’s education and training.” 

Role models like Saudi’s first female astronaut, Rayyanah Barnawi, play a pivotal role in inspiring future generations. Barnawi has “shed light on the possibilities and capabilities of women in the field; she has truly inspired the future generation.” 

Looking to the future, Alhabbas aims to become a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and space ambassador in Saudi Arabia. “There’s a tremendous opportunity that lies ahead, and I’m proud to be part of it,” she said. 

The graduate expressed her ambition to encourage more talent from future generations to consider a role in the space industry, calling on private and public sector entities to work together to showcase the various career paths available. 

With initiatives like the NSG and the commitment of companies like Serco, Saudi Arabia’s space sector is on a trajectory of significant advancements. 

Strategic partnerships, a focus on national talent development, and government support are set to propel the Kingdom into a new era of space exploration and innovation.