Saudi engineer in talks with govt to plant trees in desert

Updated 10 October 2014

Saudi engineer in talks with govt to plant trees in desert

A Saudi engineer who has invented a method for trees to absorb large quantities of water is in negotiations with a Saudi government agency to plant 6,200 trees in a desert some 200 km east of the Saudi capital.
“I will discuss with the government agency, whose name I presently cannot disclose, the terms and conditions of the liquid-absorbing polymer project with the use of my water-saving technology,” Ibrahim M. Alalim told Arab News.
Alalim’s water-absorbing polymer, dubbed Polykem Hydrogel PagriSAP, involves using big pieces of salt that absorb large quantities of water.
“If you put it in soil, it will absorb 600 times its own weight of water,” said Alalim, who developed the technology while working in Lauzanne, Switzerland, for 20 years.
Alalim said that under the agreement, the Riyadh-based firm, Estefa Group, which he owns, will plant the trees under a government program.
“We will nurture the trees, which are of a special kind. We will water every tree with 100 liters weekly and will stop after two years in accordance with the contract,” he said.
He said that with the use of polymer, the trees are expected to store large quantities of water, adding that his invention acts as a water reservoir in the root zone and provides water on demand to the trees and helps prevents water loss due to evaporation.
He said that the trees will depend on rainfall for future water needs.
Underlining the efficacy of his invention, he cited a farm in Al-Baha, named Daytona Farms, which started using his technology in 2012 and made its first harvest of olive trees in 2013.
“The farm owner, Saleh bin Abbas, used the polymer and planted 7,000 olive trees of seven varieties. He harvested 13 tons of olive fruits after only one year,” he said.
Alalim said his invention assists in solving agricultural drought, improving and increasing crop yields, increasing hydraulic conductivity and effectively reducing the build-up of salinity in irrigated environments.


Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Athel, deputy governor of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries

Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Athel
Updated 8 min 24 sec ago

Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Athel, deputy governor of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries

Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Athel has been the deputy governor of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) since May 2019.
He was the secretary-general of the GAMI board of directors from November 2017 to October 2018 and was secretary-general and a member of the armaments contracts review committee at the Saudi Ministry of Defense, in Riyadh, between 2017 and 2019.
For more than four years, Al-Athel worked as a project director at both Saudi Arabian Military Industries and the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.
He has also been a board member at several institutions in Bahrain including Malath Cooperative Insurance Co., the Filing and Packing Materials Manufacturing Co., and Venture Capital Bank.
Al-Athel obtained a bachelor’s degree in finance from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, in Dhahran, and a master’s degree from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.
On Monday, GAMI confirmed that the Kingdom will increase support for scientific research from its military budget to 4 percent during the next 10 years, in order to convey technology, weapons industry and military industries in general.
Talking to Arab News, Al-Athel said that the Kingdom had the world’s third-largest budget allocated to weapons, after the US and China, and was the largest importer of arms.