90% of GCC land ‘not fit for agriculture’

RESEARCH: The area fit for agriculture and those for crops only represent 1.63 percent of the lands of the GCC countries.
Updated 25 September 2016

90% of GCC land ‘not fit for agriculture’

DAMMAM: A study by a top expert has confirmed that more than 90 percent of the total area of the Gulf states is unfit for agriculture.
The study conducted by Faisal Al-Otaibi shows that the lands of GCC countries have a low fertility and only a small part can be classified as “excellent” for agriculture.
The lands fit for agriculture and those for crops only represent 1.63 percent of the lands of the GCC countries, put at 257 million hectares.
The forests and woods represent only 1.8 million hectares, a small percentage compared to the region’s area.
Natural forests represent 1.5 million hectares, and these are in the highlands in the south of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman; this means the issue of desertification remains a big environmental problem in these countries.
The reason for this can be related to the deterioration of the land in GCC states because of urbanization, industrialization and grazing.
The report also said that the agricultural areas in the GCC countries are very few.
According to the study, the GDP contribution in UAE, Qatar and Kuwait is less than one percent; in Oman and Saudi Arabia the contribution is two percent; and in Bahrain, the figure is negligible. This is why the GCC states rely on food imports.
Also, the underground water in most Gulf countries is the deepest in the world with its depth going from 1,000 to 10,000 feet.
Such water lies in areas that have less rainfall, and to guarantee irrigation in the long term, this requires the regulation of groundwater withdrawals, the monitoring of underground reserves, the measurement of its volume and the horizontal agricultural expansion, so it won’t affect water reserves.
This also means not growing produce that requires a lot of water from the normal agricultural cycle, which affects the volume of production and level of self-sufficiency.
The study forecasts water scarcity by 2035 in the Gulf states.


Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

  • COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.