'Nobel for Food' Winner Tells Ailing World to Eat More Veg

PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images
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'Nobel for Food' Winner Tells Ailing World to Eat More Veg

PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

With poor diet now topping smoking as a health hazard, the world must put good nutrition over empty calories, especially in emerging Asian economies, according to the winner of a prestigious global prize dubbed the 'Nobel for food'.

Seed breeder Simon Groot - an octogenarian whose family has cultivated seeds for hundreds of years - said the world must tackle malnutrition by boosting vegetable and crop varieties.

This was particularly pertinent in Asia, he said, as it was growing in wealth and its people were increasingly opting for starchy, high-calorie rice and meat over nutritious vegetables.

Poor diet has overtaken smoking as the world's biggest killer, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study, causing 20 percent of deaths globally in 2017.

"As populations become more wealthy and as the standard of living goes up, particularly in the rural areas, they start eating more rice, which nutritionally is not a very good thing," said Groot, founder of Dutch East-West Seed.

"It's really happening in Myanmar now, where income is going up. And it's happened in China where they are moving towards more meat consumption," he said.

Myanmar's emergence from nearly half a century of iron-fisted military rule less than a decade ago brought glitzy malls, smartphones, fast food and Western hotel chains.

Its people eat an average of 155 kg of rice a year, according to a 2016 survey by the country's rice federation and Yezin Agricultural University, ensuring Myanmar has one of the world's highest rates of rice consumption.

Experts say if the world is to fight a growing malnutrition crisis, agriculture must shift from producing calories, through staples such as rice, to growing nutrients, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and pulses.

GROWING PAINS

It is a fight that Groot has waged for more than 40 years, having helped millions of small-scale farmers in Asia grow nutritious vegetables to improve their livelihoods.

Groot, whose work has since expanded to Latin America and Africa, on Monday won The World Food Prize, founded in 1986 to recognize those who advance the quality or availability of food.

As a sixth-generation seed breeder, Groot, 84, said he started East-West Seed at 47 years old when he noticed small-scale Asian farmers often struggled with low-quality seeds.

"For a farmer, the reliability of the seeds is so crucial," Groot told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

"He's not attached to his fertilizer supplier or his pesticide supplier, but he is emotionally tied to his seed supplier because that determines the quality of his crops."

Groot said poor yields meant that many would struggle to make ends meet, leading to poverty and poor family diets.

Millions of smallholders in Asia miss out on new, resilient seeds that could improve yields in the face of climate change, according to the Netherlands-based Access to Seeds Foundation.

SEEDS FOR DIVERSITY

Diversification could help fight malnutrition globally by bringing little-known, nutritious foods into the mainstream, which could help to withstand hostile climates and disease, said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Historically, farmers cultivated at least 7,000 different plants to eat. Since the 1960s, they have focused on higher yields, using fertilizers, chemicals, and new irrigation methods, said Britain's Millennium Seed Bank.

Groot said his organization would keep prioritizing small-scale farmers to help them grow a diverse array of vegetables, no matter what his competitors do.

"Bigger companies will say, 'Let's just handle the 20 main vegetables and forget about the rest,'" he said.

"That is not the way we see it. Vegetables are important just for their variety, for the variety in farming systems, in market value and in consumer interest."

Groot is set to receive $250,000 for winning the World Food Prize, which will be celebrated in October in the United States.

(Thomson Reuters Foundation)



Trump Wins Colorado Ballot Disqualification Case at US Supreme Court

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 2, 2024, in Richmond, Va. (AP)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 2, 2024, in Richmond, Va. (AP)
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Trump Wins Colorado Ballot Disqualification Case at US Supreme Court

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 2, 2024, in Richmond, Va. (AP)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 2, 2024, in Richmond, Va. (AP)

The US Supreme Court handed Donald Trump a major victory on Monday, barring states from disqualifying candidates for federal office under a constitutional provision involving insurrection and reversing Colorado's exclusion of him from its ballot.

The justices unanimously overturned a Dec. 19 decision by Colorado's top court to kick the former president off the state's Tuesday Republican primary ballot after finding that the US Constitution's 14th Amendment disqualified him from again holding public office. The Colorado court had found that Trump took part in an insurrection for inciting and supporting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

But four of the nine justices, including the court's three liberal members, faulted the rest of the court for announcing rules limiting how the constitutional provision may be enforced in the future.

Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 US election. His only remaining rival for his party's nomination is former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

The ruling was issued on the eve of Super Tuesday, the day in the US presidential primary cycle when the most states hold party nominating contests.

The Supreme Court's decision came five days after it agreed to decide Trump's claim of immunity from prosecution on charges related to trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden. The court acted in a speedier manner in deciding the ballot disqualification issue, benefiting Trump, than it has in resolving the immunity question. Delays in deciding the immunity issue could help Trump by delaying his criminal trial.

The 14th Amendment's Section 3 bars from office any "officer of the United States" who took an oath "to support the Constitution of the United States" and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

"We conclude that states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the presidency," the unsigned opinion for the court stated.

The justices found that only Congress can enforce the provision against federal officeholders and candidates.

"BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!," Trump wrote on his social media platform immediately after the ruling.

Trump was also barred from the ballot in Maine and Illinois based on the 14th Amendment, but those decisions were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's ruling in the Colorado case.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed disappointment at the ruling "stripping states of the authority" to enforce the disqualification clause.

"Colorado should be able to bar oath-breaking insurrections from our ballot," she wrote in a social media post.

‘Momentous and difficult issues’

Though the justices unanimously agreed with the result, the three liberal justices, as well as conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, said the court's opinion decided more than what was necessary to resolve the case by specifying that Section 3 can be enforced only through federal legislation.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson objected to the majority's "gratuitous" decision to announce rules limiting the way Section 3 can be enforced in the future.

"Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oath-breaking insurrectionist from becoming president," the liberal justices said. "Although we agree that Colorado cannot enforce Section 3, we protest the majority's effort to use this case to define the limits of federal enforcement of that provision."

In a concurring opinion, Barrett wrote that "this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the court should turn the national temperature down, not up," Barrett wrote.

"For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home," Barrett added.

Trump's eligibility had been challenged in court by a group of six voters in Colorado - four Republicans and two independents - who portrayed him as a threat to American democracy and sought to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

The plaintiffs were backed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group.

CREW President Noah Bookbinder emphasized that while the court's ruling allows Trump back on the ballot, it did not directly address the Colorado Supreme Court's finding that Trump had engaged in insurrection.

"The Supreme Court had the opportunity in this case to exonerate Trump, and they chose not to do so," Bookbinder said, adding that, "The Supreme Court removed an enforcement mechanism, and in letting Trump back on the ballot, they failed to meet the moment."

As lawsuits seeking to disqualify Trump cropped up across the country, it was important for his candidacy to clear any hurdles to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.

The Supreme Court's 6-3 conservative majority includes three Trump appointees. Not since ruling in the landmark case Bush v. Gore, which handed the disputed 2000 US election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore, has the court played such a central role in a presidential race.

The justices in the immunity case in December declined a bid to speed up resolution of the matter before a lower court had weighed in, then last week agreed to take up the matter after lower courts had ruled - setting arguments to take place in late April, a much longer timeline.

Capitol attack

In a bid to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's 2020 election victory, Trump supporters attacked police, broke through barricades and swarmed the Capitol. Trump gave an incendiary speech to supporters beforehand, repeating his false claims of widespread voting fraud and telling them to go to the Capitol and "fight like hell." He then for hours rebuffed requests that he urge the mob to stop.

The 14th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War of 1861-1865 in which seceding Southern states that allowed the practice of slavery rebelled against the US government.

In ruling against Trump, Colorado's top court cited the "general atmosphere of political violence that President Trump created" and that he aided "the insurrectionists' common unlawful purpose of preventing the peaceful transfer of power in this country."

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Feb. 8. Trump's lawyer argued that he is not subject to the disqualification language because a president is not an "officer of the United States," that the provision cannot be enforced by courts absent congressional legislation, and that what occurred on Jan. 6 was shameful, criminal and violent but not an insurrection.


Belgium Joins Aid Airdrop Efforts for Gaza

This picture taken from a position in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing in Gaza following Israeli bombardment on March 4, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken from a position in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing in Gaza following Israeli bombardment on March 4, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Belgium Joins Aid Airdrop Efforts for Gaza

This picture taken from a position in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing in Gaza following Israeli bombardment on March 4, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken from a position in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing in Gaza following Israeli bombardment on March 4, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Belgium has decided to airdrop aid into Gaza and dispatched a military transport plane on Monday to begin delivering emergency support, after US cargo aircraft dropped food over the weekend.

The foreign ministry said that “due to the difficulties of access and the complex situation on the ground, the Belgian government has approved an airdrop operation for emergency aid.”

Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder in a post on X, formerly Twitter, said “40 military personnel will be deployed to carry out several drops in the coming days.”

The A400M transport plane was due to travel first to Jordan, which is coordinating efforts to supply aid by air, and from there be used to drop food and “hygiene products” into Gaza.

Since the war began, Israel has barred entry of food, water, medicine and other supplies, except for a trickle of aid entering the south from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing.

The UN says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people face starvation. Aid officials have said that airdrops are not an efficient means of distributing aid and are a measure of last resort.


Suez Canal Head Says Egypt Studying Further Expansion of Waterway

The Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea is pictured from the window of a commercial plane flying over Egypt, December 18, 2019. (Reuters)
The Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea is pictured from the window of a commercial plane flying over Egypt, December 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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Suez Canal Head Says Egypt Studying Further Expansion of Waterway

The Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea is pictured from the window of a commercial plane flying over Egypt, December 18, 2019. (Reuters)
The Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea is pictured from the window of a commercial plane flying over Egypt, December 18, 2019. (Reuters)

Egypt is studying further expansions of the Suez Canal to extend and complete a second channel of the waterway, the canal's head said on Monday, a move that could allow for higher volumes of shipping and prevent blockages from halting traffic.

The comments come as the canal is seeing a sharp fall in revenue due to shipping companies diverting away from the waterway, the shortest route between Europe and Asia, because of attacks by Houthi militias in Yemen against ships in the Red Sea.

Any new extension would come on top of current work to extend the second channel by 10 kilometers, and to deepen and widen a section of the canal.

That work was expedited after the Ever Given, a giant container ship, ran aground in a single lane section of the canal in March 2021, stopping traffic for six days.

The canal is a key source of scarce foreign currency for indebted Egypt, which spent an estimated $8.2 billion on an expansion of the canal that opened in 2015 and included the creation of a 35-km (22-mile) parallel waterway.

Canal revenues have increased gradually but by less than officials had forecast, reaching a record $9.4 billion in the financial year ending in June 2023, before dipping by at least 40% at the beginning of this year due to the Houthi attacks.

Initial studies on an additional expansion would take about 16 months, and would include feasibility, environmental and engineering studies, as well as soil and dredging research, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said in a statement.

The project would need governmental approvals and would be funded through the SCA's investment budget, to avoid "placing any additional burdens on the state's general budget", the statement added.

Rabie said it could raise the competitiveness of the canal and allow it to take more and bigger ships.

The 2015 canal expansion is one of a number of mega-projects pursued under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.


Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates Shehbaz Sharif on Taking Constitutional Oath as PM of Pakistan

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates Shehbaz Sharif on Taking Constitutional Oath as PM of Pakistan

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, sent on Monday a cable of congratulations to Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on taking the constitutional oath.

The Crown Prince wished Sharif success and the people of Pakistan steady progress and prosperity.


LEAP 24 Investments in New Technologies, Cloud Computing, Data Centers Reach Record $11.9Bln

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha speaks at the launch of LEAP 2024 in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha speaks at the launch of LEAP 2024 in Riyadh. (SPA)
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LEAP 24 Investments in New Technologies, Cloud Computing, Data Centers Reach Record $11.9Bln

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha speaks at the launch of LEAP 2024 in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha speaks at the launch of LEAP 2024 in Riyadh. (SPA)

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah Alswaha announced on Monday investments worth $11.9 billion to support deep and emerging technologies, innovation, and cloud computing in Saudi Arabia and the world.

He made the announcement at the launch of the LEAP 24 exhibition in Riyadh. The event runs until March 7.

Alswaha highlighted "the unwavering support" that Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, has shown Saudi and global tech sectors to help the digital economy grow and prosper as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, read a statement from the exhibition organizers.

The investments will help consolidate the Kingdom’s position "as the largest market and digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)" for leading technology companies such as Amazon Web Services, IBM, Datavolt and ServiceNow.

The investments will go toward developing Saudi digital skills and supporting tech start-ups.

On the first day of LEAP 24, Amazon Web Services announced a $5.3 billion investment in a new cloud zone in Saudi Arabia. Datavolt also announced a $5 billion investment in Saudi data centers with a capacity of more than 300 megawatts.

IBM plans to invest $250 million in a global software development center in the Kingdom. ServiceNow will invest $500 million to localize its regional services in Saudi Arabia, with training and development programs to upskill and train Saudi talent.

Dell will open a manufacturing and fulfilment center in Saudi Arabia, the first of its kind in the MENAT region.

Aramco announced the establishment of the Saudi Accelerator Innovation Lab (SAIL). Aramco and MCIT co-founded SAIL to strengthen Saudi Arabia's digital capabilities and to launch the "Metbrain" GenAI model; it also announced "Aramco LLM", the world’s first industrial grade GenAI.

Datadog will establish the first cloud application security solutions academy in the Kingdom, and Uipath announced the establishment of its first-in-the-region automation academy to train, upskill, and foster Saudi talent.


Saudi FM Meets with President of France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah meets with Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee and the President of the France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French Senate Olivier Cadic in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah meets with Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee and the President of the France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French Senate Olivier Cadic in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
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Saudi FM Meets with President of France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah meets with Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee and the President of the France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French Senate Olivier Cadic in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah meets with Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee and the President of the France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French Senate Olivier Cadic in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah held talks in Riyadh on Monday with Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee and the President of the France-Gulf States Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French Senate Olivier Cadic.

The officials reviewed the relations and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France in various fields.

They also discussed international developments and efforts exerted towards them.


Saudi Minister of Commerce Chairs 18th Session of Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee

The meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir. (SPA)
The meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir. (SPA)
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Saudi Minister of Commerce Chairs 18th Session of Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee

The meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir. (SPA)
The meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir. (SPA)

The 18th session of the Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee concluded in Riyadh on Monday.

The meeting was chaired by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir.

Al-Qasabi stressed Saudi Arabia's keenness to strengthen trade relations with Egypt through the exchange of visits between the private sectors, holding trade exhibitions to promote opportunities and increase the Kingdom's exports to Egypt.

Trade volume between Riyadh and Cairo reached around $11.8 billion until November 2023, with metal products, plastics, and their derivatives being the most prominent commodities exported to Egypt. Metal products and fruits were recorded as the most notable imported commodities.

The 18th session of the Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee aligns with the strategic approaches of the two countries that aim to address challenges through periodic meetings with concerned parties. These meetings follow up on the implementation of recommendations and oversee the committee's work.


Saudi, South Korean Interior Ministers Discuss Boosting Security Cooperation

Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz receives South Korean Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz receives South Korean Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
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Saudi, South Korean Interior Ministers Discuss Boosting Security Cooperation

Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz receives South Korean Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz receives South Korean Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)

Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz received South Korean Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min in Riyadh on Monday.

The officials discussed ways to boost existing security cooperation between their ministries.

They also tackled a number of issues of common interest.


Saudi Arabia Launches Program to Attract Local, Int’l Investments, Boost Role as Global Tourism Hub

The initiative aims to attract investments in the hospitality sector, with a value of approximately SAR 42 billion, projecting estimated revenues of about SAR 16 billion to the Kingdom's GDP by 2030. (SPA)
The initiative aims to attract investments in the hospitality sector, with a value of approximately SAR 42 billion, projecting estimated revenues of about SAR 16 billion to the Kingdom's GDP by 2030. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia Launches Program to Attract Local, Int’l Investments, Boost Role as Global Tourism Hub

The initiative aims to attract investments in the hospitality sector, with a value of approximately SAR 42 billion, projecting estimated revenues of about SAR 16 billion to the Kingdom's GDP by 2030. (SPA)
The initiative aims to attract investments in the hospitality sector, with a value of approximately SAR 42 billion, projecting estimated revenues of about SAR 16 billion to the Kingdom's GDP by 2030. (SPA)

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb unveiled on Monday the Tourism Investment Enablers Program, designed to facilitate business practices and enhance investment attractiveness for both local and international investors.

As part of its ambitious program, the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Investment, announced the Hospitality Sector Investment Enablers Initiative. This initiative aims to increase and diversify tourism offerings, bolstering the capacity of hospitality facilities in targeted tourist destinations across the Kingdom.

The initiative aims to attract investments in the hospitality sector, with a value of approximately SAR 42 billion, projecting estimated revenues of about SAR 16 billion to the Kingdom's GDP by 2030.

Al-Khateeb stated: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia boasts rich and diverse tourism wealth, making its tourism industry globally attractive. Saudi Vision 2030 outlines our roadmap to becoming a sought-after global destination, recognizing the tourism sector as a key driver of the national economy."

"We witnessed a 390% increase in demand for tourism activity licenses last year, marking the beginning of the Kingdom's significant investment in the tourism sector over the next decade, providing opportunities and a conducive investment environment for both local and international investors," he added.

The initiative encompasses strategically prepared enablers to improve the cost and ease of doing business. These include facilitating access to government lands under favorable conditions, streamlining project development processes, finding solutions to investor challenges, and developing laws to reduce operational costs, fostering tourism industry growth.

The initiative is anticipated to yield numerous social and economic benefits, including an increase in the number of hotel rooms by approximately 42,000, creating around 120,000 job opportunities in targeted destinations by 2030. This will positively impact talent development and support nationalization efforts in the local job market.


Saudi Ministry of Media Signs 4 Agreements with Global Entities at LEAP 24

The agreements were signed on the first day of the LEAP 2024 exhibition in Riyadh. (SPA)
The agreements were signed on the first day of the LEAP 2024 exhibition in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi Ministry of Media Signs 4 Agreements with Global Entities at LEAP 24

The agreements were signed on the first day of the LEAP 2024 exhibition in Riyadh. (SPA)
The agreements were signed on the first day of the LEAP 2024 exhibition in Riyadh. (SPA)

The Saudi Ministry of Media signed on Monday several agreements and memoranda of understanding with local and international companies and entities, in the presence of Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari.  

The agreements were signed on the first day of the LEAP 2024 exhibition in Riyadh.  

Vice Minister of Media Dr. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Maghlouth signed the agreements, which included a cooperation agreement with Alibaba and Alibaba Cloud.  

The agreements aim to develop training programs for workers in the media sector, focusing on AI and other technical fields. Additionally, they aim to host the ministry's infrastructure, services, and platforms, among others, in Alibaba Cloud's data centers. This includes hosting the Disaster Recovery Center and the Saudipedia encyclopedia in its next version.  

Al-Maghlouth also signed an agreement with Cisco to develop the Ministry's emergency and disaster call center and smart building infrastructure. It involves integrating AI techniques in developing infrastructure, equipping the Ministry's facilities with advanced smart solutions, and organizing technical workshops by the company to raise the efficiency of technical operations and enhance the Ministry's human capital.  

The ministry signed an agreement with the Chinese company eWTPA to provide training opportunities for local and international journalists. This, in turn, will offer full media support in Chinese by translating, broadcasting, and publishing news related to the Saudi media sector.  

The agreement also calls for funding and arranging visits between the two sides to exchange knowledge and experiences in the fields of entrepreneurship and media.