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How ż is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems

Special How ż is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems
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Updated 03 February 2024

How ż is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems

How ż is using wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and the green transition to preserve its ecosystems
  • Harnessing renewables and promoting biodiversity are key to climate action, environmental experts tell ż
  • Saudi Green Initiative aims to cut emissions, plant 10 million trees and safeguard 30 percent of the Kingdom’s territory

RIYADH: ż aims to be at the forefront of environmental protection through initiatives aimed at restoring and maintaining the ecological balance, which promotes harmonious and flourishing ecosystems.

Climate action, clean energy, and preserving habitats are just some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals incorporated into ż’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The SDGs serve as a blueprint for achieving a balanced ecosystem for wildlife, water, and the environment in the Kingdom.

Without balance, ecosystems face major challenges from global warming, water shortages, and the loss of biodiversity.

Carlos Duarte, a distinguished professor of marine science at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology, has spent 40 years researching ocean ecosystems.

“Loss of biodiversity reduces the capacity of ecosystems to maintain their functions under stress, such as under climate change,” Duarte told ż. “It directly impacts food security, but also by undermining pollination, the nursery role of many ecosystems for fisheries, and pest and disease control.

“It also represents the loss of natural products and genes of potential interest in pharma, cosmetic, food, energy, and environment applications before we have even discovered them.

“These are the major consequences of biodiversity loss, climate change and the impact of widespread pollution on our societies, economies, and well-being. The emerging concept is one of ‘one health,’ which recognizes that our health and that of our ecosystems are intimately linked, so that there are no healthy people on a sick planet.”

National Center for Wildlife

Established in 1986, the National Center for Wildlife is responsible for protecting and preserving plants and animals in ż.

The center is leading the initiative to expand the Kingdom’s protected land and sea area to 30 percent, to help rehabilitate ecosystems and enrich biodiversity.

DIDYOU KNOW

1

The fine for unauthorized hunting in ż amounts to SR10,000 ($2,666) while fines for harming living animals range from SR1,500 to SR200,000.

2

Fines for violators of logging regulations start at SR1,000 and can reach SR20 million. Penalties can be doubled for repeat violations.

3

The National Center for Wildlife prohibits the hunting of all types of animals or birds within the borders of cities, villages, centers, farms, and rest houses, within various proximities to populated areas, as well as military and industrial centers, various institutions, and within protected areas and major projects. It also prohibits hunting along the Saudi coast at an inland limit of 20 km.

4

The NCW presented an infographic pointing out article 4 of the Executive Regulations for Wildlife Hunting, which prohibits hunting predators such as the Arabian leopard, hyenas, wolves, jackals, lynxes, sand cats, common genets, and honey badgers.

5

Hunting endemic birds in the Kingdom is also prohibited, in addition to ungulates, including the Arabian oryx, the sandy-colored goitered antelope, the mountain gazelle (whether found in mountains or on the Farasan Islands), and the Nubian ibex.

It is also involved in 10 breeding programs to aid the reintroduction and propagation of endangered species including the Arabian oryx, sand gazelle, mountain ibex, bustards, and ostriches, as well as predators, such as the Arabian wolf, striped hyena, lynx, and cheetah.

The NCW recently collaborated with the Saudi Konoz Initiative, under ż’s Ministry of Media’s Center for Government Communication, on “Horizon,” a Netflix documentary showcasing the Kingdom’s diverse wildlife.

Saudi Green Initiative

Inaugurated in 2021, the Saudi Green Initiative features 81 projects designed to cut carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes per year, plant 10 million trees across the country, and safeguard habitats.




Caption

The SGI uses the circular carbon economy, a framework focused on managing emissions. ż has implemented more than 30 CCE initiatives across the energy system to date.

One of the SGI’s focus areas is “whole-of-society action,” which encourages the public and private sectors to work together and enables citizens to participate.

Red Sea Global

The Red Sea is home to the world’s fourth-biggest barrier reef, where marine life and coral thrive.

Established in 2018, Red Sea Global aims to transform the Kingdom’s west coast into a world-class tourism and hospitality destination.




Rendering of a Red Sea Global project off Umluj and Al-Wajh in Tabuk province. (Supplied)

Located between Umluj and Al-Wajh, the project covers an area of 28,000 square kilometers.

Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental protection and regeneration at Red Sea Global, told ż the firm aims to protect ecosystems by using 100 percent renewable energy and promoting “regenerative tourism.”

“One of the strategic goals that we are trying to realize is achieving 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040 by enhancing biologically diverse habitats including mangroves, seagrass, corals, and land vegetation,” he said.

The RSG is currently working on seven SGI projects, which include establishing the largest marine-protected area in the region. It also aims to limit development and visitor footfall to protect the environment




Launched in 2017, NEOM's Oxagon project in Tabuk features a floating industrial complex, global trade hub, tourist resorts and a linear city powered by renewable energy sources. (Supplied)

“We made the decision to develop only 22 of the more than 90 islands,” Attas said. “We limited our development to accommodate no more than 1 million visitors a year at the Red Sea and 500,000 at AMAALA,” two of RSG’s luxury projects.

However, Attas believes society as a whole has a role to play in environmental protection.

“Individuals can help promote a balanced ecosystem by reducing waste, conserving water and energy, planting native species, using sustainable transportation, supporting local and sustainable food, minimizing chemical use, protecting natural habitats, educating others about environmental issues, and supporting conservation organizations,” he said.




Society as a whole has a role to play in environmental protection, says Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental protection and regeneration at Red Sea Global. (Supplied)

NEOM Green Hydrogen Company

The world’s biggest green hydrogen plant at NEOM’s Oxagon is expected to be fully operational by 2026, producing up to 600 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.

Green hydrogen is made through a process of electrolysis using only renewable energy sources, which makes it carbon free to produce. When hydrogen undergoes combustion, it produces nothing but water vapor, so it is also carbon free to use.

The Kingdom aims to be the world’s largest hydrogen energy producer and exporter, producing up to 4 million tons of clean hydrogen per year.




Illustration showing the Oxagon's green hydrogen project. (X: @NGHC_)

Duarte says these projects are raising community awareness about the importance of sustainable living.

“We can only promote a balanced ecosystem if we are aware of the broader consequences of our choices and behavior,” he said. “Our choices of energy source and delivery systems for transport or illumination, our respect for water — essential for a Bedouin culture where the respect for scarce water resources was of absolute importance — and the responsible generation and disposal of waste are all key elements of our footprint on the environment.

“Vision 2030 has not only brought about a commitment with sustainable development that is far more sincere and pervasive than I have seen in any other nation; it has also reconnected Saudi society with a heritage of sustainability and commitment as custodians of biodiversity and ecosystem that is reflected in projects around the Kingdom, from the Red Sea Project to AlUla and Diriyah Gate.”


Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition

Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition
Updated 59 min 48 sec ago

Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition

Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh exhibition
  • Series of ink drawings by veteran Abdulrahman Al-Soliman is a highlight of Art Biennale in Riyadh

RIYADH: Series of ink drawings by veteran Abdulrahman Al-Soliman is a highlight of Art Biennale in Riyadh

Work by several of the best artists from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province is on show at the international Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale in Riyadh.

Among them is Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, who has been a force in the Saudi art world for decades. His series of ink drawings, titled “Palm, Bow and Fragments” (1990-91) is on show for the first time.

Born in 1954 in Al-Ahsa, Al-Soliman told ż he created the collection during the Gulf War more than 30 years ago. “I lived with the side effects of the Kuwaiti conflict and its liberation. I started organically, I didn’t know it would become a series,” he said.

“Since 1970, I have been making art. And this series on display at the biennale — some in color, some not — I rolled them up and put them aside. This is the first time anyone has seen them displayed.”

Another Eastern Province artist whose work is on show is Nabila Al-Bassam, who founded the Arab Heritage Gallery in Alkhobar in 1979. Al-Bassam is a mixed-media artist who uses traditional textile-making processes to produce and create multilayered collages. She is delighted to be among the artists on show.

“What stood out to me at the biennale was the works of Saudi women artists, I really was surprised,” she said.

“I’ve seen many beautiful works. The installations, the hangings — very, very interesting, made out of metal and things like this. There’s a lot to be excited about. They were large works and they were new works, completely new, modern and a new way of thinking.”

The younger generation is also exhibiting in Riyadh. Tara Aldugaither, 34, grew up in Dhahran and in 2020 founded Sawtasura — “voice of the image” — a community-based platform that collects and reimagines the musical histories of Arab women.

The biennale is taking place in the city’s JAX district and continues until May 24.


Saudi Cabinet calls for an end to escalation of military operations in Gaza

Arab News’s Cabinet held a meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
ż’s Cabinet held a meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 27 February 2024

Saudi Cabinet calls for an end to escalation of military operations in Gaza

Arab News’s Cabinet held a meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)

RIYADH: ż’s Cabinet called for an end to the escalation in military operations in Gaza and the dire humanitarian crisis that it is causing, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Cabinet also reviewed the outcomes of the Kingdom’s participation in a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro and its vision regarding the group’s role in dealing with existing international tensions and restructuring global governance.

The Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s support for regional and international efforts to ban all types of weapons of mass destruction as was expressed during its participation in the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The Cabinet also praised the outcomes of a recent Arab Interior Ministers’ Council held in Tunisia and stressed the Kingdom’s constant keenness to support and enhance joint Arab action in all fields in a way that contributes to establishing the foundations of security, stability, and prosperity in the region.


Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh

Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh
Updated 27 February 2024

Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh

Saudi artist, 78, presents solo exhibition in Riyadh
  • For 50 years, Sami Almarzoogi quietly pursued his love for art alongside his medical practice

RIYADH: Saudi artist Dr. Sami Almarzoogi’s solo exhibition at L’Art Pur Foundation in Riyadh “Is This a Gold Bar?” demonstrates the benefits of never giving up on your passion.

Presented in collaboration with Hafez Gallery, the showcase presents Almarzoogi’s diverse body of work, encompassing paintings, drawings and mixed-media pieces, which delve deep into his exploration of materials, techniques and themes. He invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions he seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush.

‘Is This A Gold Bar?’ by Sami Almarzoogi (Inset, right) invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

“The exhibition’s title, arrangement, and presentation serve as windows into my inner world, where shadows give way to the unveiling of my creations in the light of day, beckoning viewers to embark on a captivating artistic odyssey,” the artist explained.

His art — drawing inspiration from nature, human figures, personal experiences, and decorative objects — defies categorization, encouraging viewers to ponder the emotional depth conveyed through color and form.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Sami Almarzoogi’s art draws inspiration from nature, human figures, personal experiences, and objects.

● ‘Is This A Gold Bar?’ is being showcased at L’Art Pur in collaboration with Hafez Gallery in Riyadh.

● Curated by Ayman Yossri Daydban, the exhibition signifies a pivotal moment in Almarzoogi’s artistic journey.

Curated by Ayman Yossri Daydban, the exhibition signifies a pivotal moment in Almarzoogi’s artistic journey. Daydban is a celebrated visual artist based in ż who brings a unique perspective shaped over three decades of artistic practice, ensuring a nuanced and stimulating presentation of the artist’s work.

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

Almarzoogi was born in 1945 and spent over three decades unraveling the transformative potential of color and line. Through an intuitive exploration of motifs straddling the realms of figuration and abstraction, his work radiates with sensitivity, drawing prowess, and a profound understanding of color theory.

Almarzoogi said: “Drawing transcends mere equations of form, color, and ideas, or even complex formulations including feelings. It is, in fact, a sentiment taking shape in form, anchoring itself through colors, and blooming into a tapestry of ideas.”

Qaswra Hafez, Hafez Gallery founder

His creative process, he added, “is a reflection of diverse experiences and emotions, unfolding freely on blank canvases, unbound by symbols and interpretations. This natural approach to artistry transcends the confines of studios, beckoning an existential exploration enriched by observation, travel, and a universal spirit.”

Speaking about the journey captured in his works, he said: “In my artistic journey, the transition from darkness to doubt and ultimately light mirrors my personal growth, culminating in the radiant beauty of radiance.”

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

His creative journey, initially interwoven with a distinguished career in anesthesiology, found its full expression upon his return to ż in the mid-1980s, following an enriching decade-long sojourn in Germany.

Qaswra Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, said: “In my 35 years involved in the arts one way or another, producing this exhibition gave me the most confidence measure. It’s not every day that you find a 78-year-old artist who has been working in silence for over 50 years and never had a solo. It was such a joy for me to watch (and) see the exhibition the first time.”

It’s not every day that you find a 78-year-old artist who has been working in silence for over 50 years and never had a solo. It was such a joy for me to watch (and) see the exhibition the first time.

Qaswra Hafez, Hafez Gallery founder

Kenza Zouari, communication manager at Hafez Projects, said: “Sami Almarzoogi’s life is a testament to the courage to embark on new journeys. After years in the medical field, he made the bold decision to pursue his lifelong passion for art and his relentless quest for exploration led him to dive into the world of colors, shapes and forms with the same dedication and precision he once had in the operating room.”

She added: “With brushes replacing medical tools, Dr. Almarzoogi kept on trying new styles and techniques with this insatiable hunger for experimentation. His transition from doctor to artist was not just a career change; it was a profound transformation that allowed him to fully explore and express himself.

Sami Almarzoogi invites viewers to immerse themselves in the emotions the artist seeks to capture with each stroke of his brush. (Supplied)

“Today, as we stand witness to his incredible body of work, we are reminded of the possibility within each of us to pursue our passions. Dr. Almarzoogi’s story is a powerful reminder that it is never too late to chase our dreams.”

Echoing this sentiment, Rania Rizk, director of the arts program at L’Art Pur Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to present the second solo exhibition, offering the Riyadh audience a glimpse into his extensive artistic journey and captivating narrative. Dr. Almarzoogi’s dedication to painting and drawing, quietly and authentically, alongside his medical profession, reflects his unwavering passion for art.

“His close friend, artist Ayman Yossri, as the curator, (ensues) the spiritual essence of the artwork shines through, enriching the exhibition with a deep sense of warmth and meaning.”

The exhibition at L’Art Pur is open to the public until Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.

 


Ardah performer finds strength in traditional Saudi dance

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort.
Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort.
Updated 27 February 2024

Ardah performer finds strength in traditional Saudi dance

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort.
  • Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi told ż: “I used to attend ardah performances and was obsessed with it, its rhythms, its fast pace. I participated for the first time when I was young, in my uncles’ village, Qarn Dhabi”

MAKKAH: Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is one of the most prominent performers of the southern Saudi ardah, a dance he described as showcasing strength while uniting communities.

Performed on special occasions such as Saudi Founding Day, the ardah highlights the Kingdom’s heritage through poetry and dance.

Al-Ghamdi had to undergo surgery after tearing a tendon in his foot while dancing at an Al-Janadriyah festival in Riyadh and feared being unable to perform again.

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi is a prominent performer of Saudi ardah who notes that the folk dance requires great physical effort. (Supplied)

He told ż: “I used to attend ardah performances and was obsessed with it, its rhythms, its fast pace. I participated for the first time when I was young, in my uncles’ village, Qarn Dhabi.”

While each region has its own distinct style of the folk art, the ardah performances share heritage, culture, and the spirit of heroism. The dance combines poetry to tell the stories of battles, wars, and courage passed down from one generation to another.

On how the ardah had changed over time, Al-Ghamdi said: “In the past, ardah was performed when a tribe felt it was being attacked by another. Whenever they heard the sound of the zir (a type of drum), they gathered and performed the war-related ardah.

FASTFACT

Performed on special occasions such as Saudi Founding Day, the ardah highlights the Kingdom’s heritage through poetry and dance.

“Their steps are synchronized as they raise their right and left arms together. Their movements are synchronized.

“It makes you feel like you are actually on the battlefield. Now it is a performance with a smile on the face and a symbol of manhood,” he added.

Al-Ghamdi, a physical education teacher in the Baha region, noted that the folk performance required great physical effort.

He said: “Thanks to God, I still maintain my fitness. I teach those who want to learn folk arts the Saudi ardah and the southern ardah.

“I still remember very well when I participated in one of Al-Janadriyah festivals in Riyadh and one of the attendees told me that I was fitter than the (Swedish) footballer (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and that I should leave the show and join one of the big clubs. It was hilarious.”

Al-Ghamdi pointed out that no matter where he was, if he heard instruments, he felt compelled to join in. “It is as if my body and the instrument are in harmony and in a state of communication.”

He highlighted a performance where an elderly man from the audience, who appeared to have physical constraints, got up and joined in. “When he saw me, he stood up, danced, and interacted with me, leaving everyone blown away. I wondered what ardah could have done to him to move his body?”

 


Who’s Who: Wesam Al-Ghamdi, CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co.

Wesam Al-Ghamdi
Wesam Al-Ghamdi
Updated 27 February 2024

Who’s Who: Wesam Al-Ghamdi, CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co.

Wesam Al-Ghamdi

Wesam Al-Ghamdi is CEO at NEOM Green Hydrogen Co., spearheading the growth and execution of the world’s largest green hydrogen plant, which is set to commence in 2026.

Once fully operational, the plant will also be managed under his leadership. Under his direction, the company will progress from its construction phase to full functionality for the supply of green hydrogen to the local and global markets for the heavy industry and transportation sectors.

Al-Ghamdi has also developed an environmental, social and governance factors strategy for the company to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

He brings over two decades of cross-functional senior leadership experience within diverse industry sectors in the Middle East region and globally, including in engineering, operations, and project management with companies like the żn Mining Co., or Ma’aden, SABIC and Shell.

During his tenure at Ma’aden, where he began working in 1998, he held several positions, each making a significant impact in the region. Most recently, he served as vice president of strategy and business development in the aluminum strategic business unit. In this role, he was responsible for long-term strategy development and divesture opportunities.

Al-Ghamdi is a graduate of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. He also has several technical certifications, including foundations of directorship from the Board Directors Institute, INSEAD/Ma’aden’s executive leadership development, GE’s executive leadership development, and Alcoa’s leadership development training.