Worsening Sand, Dust Storms Driving Global Land Loss, Says UN 

Picture taken at the Desert of Gilbues, in Gilbues, in the northeastern state of Piaui, Brazil, on September 30, 2023. (AFP)
Picture taken at the Desert of Gilbues, in Gilbues, in the northeastern state of Piaui, Brazil, on September 30, 2023. (AFP)
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Worsening Sand, Dust Storms Driving Global Land Loss, Says UN 

Picture taken at the Desert of Gilbues, in Gilbues, in the northeastern state of Piaui, Brazil, on September 30, 2023. (AFP)
Picture taken at the Desert of Gilbues, in Gilbues, in the northeastern state of Piaui, Brazil, on September 30, 2023. (AFP)

The world is losing almost 1 million square kilometers (386,000 square miles) of productive land a year to sand and dust storms made worse by human activities, the United Nations body in charge of fighting desertification warned on Wednesday.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said an estimated two billion tons of sand and dust enters the atmosphere every year, wreaking havoc across large parts of Asia and Africa and causing significant economic damage throughout the world.

In a report released during a meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to review the recent progress made in reversing land degradation, the UNCCD said at least a quarter of the storms could be attributed to human activities, including overmining and overgrazing.

Topsoil losses were not only having a material impact on food supplies in some of the world's most vulnerable countries, but were also driving migration, impeding navigation and creating security risks, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD executive secretary, told Reuters.

"It goes well beyond individuals," he said. "It is affecting the entire community."

The UNCCD called for better land management practices to restore damaged land and more efforts to improve early warning systems and boost resilience.

Funding efforts to combat desertification and degradation was also a major challenge, said Thiaw, noting that just $15 billion was made available over 2016-2019 to tackle problems spanning 126 countries.

He said new incentives and public funding support were required to provide incentives for the private sector to take more care of the land it uses.

Thiaw identified China as one of the success stories in combating desertification and controlling dust, with a long-term land restoration and reforestation program helping to reduce sandstorms.

However, it remains vulnerable to sand blown in from Mongolia in the north, where overgrazing and a mining boom have left more than three quarters of the land degraded, according to a UN assessment in 2021.

With COP28 climate talks approaching, Thiaw said a sustained program of land restoration was vital in the battle against global warming, with land use change contributing significantly to emissions.

"We are in a vicious circle, where land degradation is fueling climate change and climate change is exacerbating land loss in the world," he said.



Saudi Arabia Participates in UN High-level AI Advisory Body Meeting

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
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Saudi Arabia Participates in UN High-level AI Advisory Body Meeting

A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)
A landmark is lit up in the colors of the national flag in Diriyah on the occasion of Saudi National Day. (SPA file photo)

The United Nations High-level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, composed of 38 members from various countries worldwide, has held its first in-person meeting in New York City, with the participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom was represented in the UN Advisory Body by the Shura Council's member Dr. Latifa bint Mohammed Al-Abdulkareem, with the participation of a delegation from the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), SPA reported.
The meeting discussed the potential adoption of AI technologies, addressing challenges arising from their misuse, and delving into the governance mechanisms of AI at both the national and global levels.
In 2020, the Kingdom hosted a consultation session during the Global AI Summit organized by the SDAIA, discussing the establishment of this advisory body for AI under the UN.


Lebanese Professor Wins Great Arab Minds Award in Technology, Engineering

Lebanese professor Fadil Adib. Asharaq Al-Awsat
Lebanese professor Fadil Adib. Asharaq Al-Awsat
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Lebanese Professor Wins Great Arab Minds Award in Technology, Engineering

Lebanese professor Fadil Adib. Asharaq Al-Awsat
Lebanese professor Fadil Adib. Asharaq Al-Awsat

Lebanon’s Fadil Adib, associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), won the Great Arab Minds Award 2023 in engineering and technology, for his contributions that have significantly expanded the possibilities of wireless sensing technology, enabling detection behind walls and the use of wireless waves in medicine and search for survivors under the rubble.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, said innovation and creative engineering have always contributed to the progress of humanity, and were a major part of the Arab civilization, which the younger generations are looking forward to resume and to contribute to its achievements using technology and digitization.

"Today, we proudly announce the winner of the Great Arab Minds Award in engineering and technology, Professor Fadil Adib from Lebanon. He has published over 80 research papers and holds patents in the fields of engineering and technology. His significant contributions have served humanity in vital fields such as healthcare, wireless sensing and oceans exploration,” he added.

"Today, in the Arab world, we have millions of programmers, engineers, computer scientists, and technology experts who are capable of producing an effective knowledge and development movement in their societies, economies and world. The Great Arab Minds initiative aims to honor the achievements of creative people among them so they can serve as role models for their peers,” the Ruler of Dubai said.

"With their achievements and in their various positions, Arabs are the ambassadors of values, capabilities and aspirations of the young Arab generations eager to develop their societies and advance humanity,” he noted.

Adib developed a battery-free device that harness energy from ocean waves.

His doctoral dissertation, “See through Wall”, was named as one of the best 50 transformative contributions from MIT in computer science in the past 50 years.

Launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Great Arab Minds Award is aimed at introducing and celebrating the brightest minds in the Arab world, as well as honoring those whose works left remarkable impact in their societies. The award also reflects the ruler’s support of innovation and scientific, cultural and intellectual advancement in the region.

Fadel’s leading research and inventions have contributed to expanding the possibilities of wireless sensing technology and progressing in fields that are vital for the future of development in the Arab region and the world.

He harnessed wi-fi techniques in sensing what’s behind walls, enabling the detection of objects and vibrations. This advanced technology can be used to monitor patients' health conditions around the clock, and in search and rescue operations under rubble and during disasters.

For his part, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, chairman of the Great Arab Minds initiative, said: "The Arab world has promising talents in advanced technology and creative engineering that are capable of providing unprecedented added value to human knowledge and progress.”

He called on Arab youth to be inspired by the experiences of Arab geniuses such as Adib.

The announcement of the winner in the engineering and technology category comes after completing all stages of receiving, sorting, and evaluating nominations within the six categories: engineering and technology, medicine, economics, architecture and design, natural sciences, and literature and arts.


Egyptian Artists Hail Decision to Name Bridge in Cairo after Adel Emam

Adel Emam is one of Egypt's best-known actors [Getty]
Adel Emam is one of Egypt's best-known actors [Getty]
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Egyptian Artists Hail Decision to Name Bridge in Cairo after Adel Emam

Adel Emam is one of Egypt's best-known actors [Getty]
Adel Emam is one of Egypt's best-known actors [Getty]

The decision to name a bridge in the Egyptian capital after star Adel Emam, also famed as “The Leader”, was widely celebrated in the artistic circles.

Emam’s name went viral on Egypt’s social media platforms, including X, after the official page of Cairo Governorate on Facebook announced the decision. According to the announcement, the governorate’s executive council presided by the governor, approved to “name some schools and public projects after Egyptian martyrs and symbols, among them is Adel Emam, whose name will be given to the bridge near the Salah Salem intersection, eastern Cairo.”

Egyptian artists described the decision as a merited tribute to Emam, who has piled great works since his debut in the 1960s, and represented Egypt in myriads international platforms. Actress Majida Zaki said “Emam’s name is like a medal. He’s the model actor who supported and inspired a whole generation of artists.”

“My first work was with him in a series named ‘Dreams of the Flying Boy’, and people knew me in this production. Everyone loves and respects the family of Adel Emam. They are known with their compassion. Emam is the mentor and compass not only for his family, but also for the entire artistic community,” she told “Asharq Al-Awsat”.

Actress Lebleba, who partnered with Emam in many works, said that “naming a public project after him is an honor and a source of pride and happiness for all artists,” adding that “he is incomparable. He captivated his audience with a diverse range of artistic creations that continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of his fans. Emam's enduring legacy as a remarkably distinctive artist has elevated him to the status of an icon. His commitment to creativity and years devoted to the world of art have solidified his unique place in the realm of artistic brilliance, she added.

For her part, Actress Sherine described “the decision as a thoughtful gesture" adding that “honoring the name of the leader is an appreciation of art and its value. Naming cinemas and theaters after artistic symbols is an esteemed tradition that the Egyptian state is accustomed to.”

Artist Salah Abdullah said he was delighted with the decision, “a great surprise that the leader deserves.” “Paying tribute to our mentor is an honor to the entire artistic movement and an appreciation of symbols who gave a lot to the Egyptian art,” he told “Asharq Al-Awsat”.

Actress Elham Shahein applauded the tribute and described it as “a triumph for all artists.”

Hani Ramzi also commented on the decision, highlighting that it’s an appreciation of the art’s role and message. “Paying tribute to the legend Adel Emam is a tribute to every Egyptian artist and to the role of soft power,” he wrote on Facebook. Artist Khaled Sarhan also hailed the decision and addressed the leader on Facebook, saying: “Your name is a landmark in itself, master.”

Egypt's Acting Professions Syndicate and the Emam family also applauded the decision, while his brother producer Issam Emam described it as “an honor for his name and family.”

Before “the leader”, the names of many stars in Egypt were given to public facilities, including Samir Ghanem, Mahmoud Abdelaziz and Mahmoud Yassine.

Back in August, the National Festival of Egyptian Theater celebrated Adel Emam by naming its 16th edition after him as a tribute to his 60-year-old journey.


Menu Signed by Mao Zedong Brings a Quarter Million Dollars at Auction

This photo provided by RR Auction shows an official menu for a state banquet signed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong that has been auctioned for $275,000. (RR Auction via AP)
This photo provided by RR Auction shows an official menu for a state banquet signed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong that has been auctioned for $275,000. (RR Auction via AP)
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Menu Signed by Mao Zedong Brings a Quarter Million Dollars at Auction

This photo provided by RR Auction shows an official menu for a state banquet signed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong that has been auctioned for $275,000. (RR Auction via AP)
This photo provided by RR Auction shows an official menu for a state banquet signed by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong that has been auctioned for $275,000. (RR Auction via AP)

An official menu for a state banquet that bears the signature of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong has been auctioned for $275,000.
Boston-based RR Auction said the menu auctioned Wednesday was for a banquet held in Beijing on October 19, 1956, and commemorated the first state visit to China by Pakistan's Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.
The menu was signed in fountain pen by six influential Chinese statesmen, including Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai. The banquet featured foods from both nations and included delicacies such as “Consommé of Swallow Nest and White Agaric,” “Shark’s Fin in Brown Sauce,” and “Roast Peking Duck.”
“To hold a menu signed by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai is to hold a piece of the past – a piece that tells a story of diplomatic engagement, cultural exchange, and the forging of friendships that have endured through the decades,” Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, said in a statement.
Other items auctioned off included a fully operational World War II-era Enigma coding machine for $206,253, a Thomas Edison-signed document for a light bulb patent for $22,154, and a check signed by Steve Jobs to Radio Shack was sold for $46,063.


Judge Rules against Prince Harry in Early Stage of Libel Case against Daily Mail Publisher

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend the sitting volleyball finals at the 2023 Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for injured soldiers, in Duesseldorf, Germany September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend the sitting volleyball finals at the 2023 Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for injured soldiers, in Duesseldorf, Germany September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo/File Photo
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Judge Rules against Prince Harry in Early Stage of Libel Case against Daily Mail Publisher

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend the sitting volleyball finals at the 2023 Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for injured soldiers, in Duesseldorf, Germany September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend the sitting volleyball finals at the 2023 Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for injured soldiers, in Duesseldorf, Germany September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo/File Photo

Prince Harry lost a preliminary round Friday in his libel case against the publisher of the Daily Mail tabloid over an article that said he tried to hide his efforts to retain publicly funded protection in the UK after giving up his status as a working member of the royal family.
A London judge said the Duke of Sussex failed to knock out Associated Newspaper Ltd.’s defense that its article reflected an honest opinion. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday to discuss the consequences of the ruling.
Justice Matthew Nicklin said in that ruling that “it is not fanciful that the Defendant will be successful, at trial.” He scheduled a hearing Tuesday in the High Court to discuss the consequences of the ruling.
The ruling comes just a day after another judge concluded three days of arguments — mostly behind closed doors — over whether the government unfairly stripped Harry of his security detail after he and his family moved to the US in 2020.
Harry, 39, the younger son of King Charles III, is challenging the government's decision to provide security to him on a case-by-case basis when he visits Britain. Harry has said hostility toward him and his wife on social media and relentless news media hounding threatens their safety.
The Mail on Sunday and Mail Online published an article in February 2022 about the issue headlined: “How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret ... then — just minutes after the story broke — his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.”
Harry claims the article was “fundamentally inaccurate” and the newspaper libeled him when it suggested he lied in his initial public statements about his case challenging the government.
Associated Newspapers argued the article expressed an “honest opinion" and did not seriously harm Harry's reputation.
Nicklin previously ruled the article was defamatory but had not considered whether the story was accurate or in the public interest.
The government, meanwhile, has defended its decision to withdraw full protection for Harry because he stepped down from his role as a senior working member of the family. It said he was treated fairly and provided with security occasionally when he visits.
Another judge earlier this year shot down Harry's request to privately reimburse London’s police force to guard him when he comes to town. A government lawyer had argued officers shouldn’t be used as “private bodyguards for the wealthy.”
The dispute with the Mail is one of four lawsuits Harry has pending against publishers of British tabloids in his ongoing battle with the press.
His three other cases allege that journalists at the Mail, the Daily Mirror and the Sun used unlawful means, such as deception, phone hacking or hiring private investigators, to try to dig up dirt about him.


Royal Commission for AlUla Announces Arrival of New Leopard in Taif

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the arrival of a new Arabian leopard to the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center (ALBC) in Taif. SPA
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the arrival of a new Arabian leopard to the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center (ALBC) in Taif. SPA
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Royal Commission for AlUla Announces Arrival of New Leopard in Taif

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the arrival of a new Arabian leopard to the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center (ALBC) in Taif. SPA
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the arrival of a new Arabian leopard to the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center (ALBC) in Taif. SPA

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the arrival of a new Arabian leopard to the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center (ALBC) in Taif, as part of its efforts to preserve and protect the Arabian leopard, contributing to environmental balance in AlUla and aligning with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 goals.

The animal is the second leopard to arrive, enhancing genetic diversity within the breeding program.

As part of the breeding agreement, the RCU agreed to potentially transfer leopard cubs to broader centers across the peninsula in the future, sharing knowledge and expertise in the breeding process.

The first leopard, named Al Ain, came from Al Bustan Zoological Center in the UAE last April and was integrated into the ALBC's leopard population in July.


‘Ahlam Alasr' Film Achieves Remarkable Success at Red Sea Festival Premiere

The film is produced by Tape Productions in collaboration with the Red Sea Fund, and is directed by Fares Godus, starring Sohayb Godus, Najm, Fatma AlBanawi, and Hakim Juma. SPA
The film is produced by Tape Productions in collaboration with the Red Sea Fund, and is directed by Fares Godus, starring Sohayb Godus, Najm, Fatma AlBanawi, and Hakim Juma. SPA
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‘Ahlam Alasr' Film Achieves Remarkable Success at Red Sea Festival Premiere

The film is produced by Tape Productions in collaboration with the Red Sea Fund, and is directed by Fares Godus, starring Sohayb Godus, Najm, Fatma AlBanawi, and Hakim Juma. SPA
The film is produced by Tape Productions in collaboration with the Red Sea Fund, and is directed by Fares Godus, starring Sohayb Godus, Najm, Fatma AlBanawi, and Hakim Juma. SPA

Funded by the Saudi Cultural Development Fund, the film `Ahlam Alasr' attracted audiences at its premiere at the third annual Red Sea International Film Festival. The film’s premiere tickets were sold out within five days of the festival, and the movie garnered wide acclaim from both critics and the audience.
The film tells a unique story, exploring the depths of emotions and challenges faced by individuals in their daily lives. The story revolves around a retired football player who was famous before the internet came into existence. Along with his influencer daughter, he decides to seize an opportunity for revenge against those who wronged them. Together they embark on a toxic journey.
After the success of their first film “Shams Al-Ma'arif,” the Godus brothers impressed us again with their new film “Ahlam Alasr” and excelled in the film's direction, production, and acting. Director Fares Godus showcased precision in presenting the film, skillfully transporting the audience into a world of captivating details and events. The audience was also impressed and captivated by producer and lead character Sohayb Godus’ brilliant acting performance as well as Najm’s ability to inhabit the character she is playing.

“We are delighted with the support received from the Cultural Fund to bring our story to life and create something that lives up to the standards of the Saudi film sector. We are proud of the warm reception at the Red Sea International Film Festival, and we look forward to sharing this story with more audiences worldwide,” said Director Fares.

The film “Ahlam Alasr” is funded by the Cultural Development Fund through its Cultural Projects Incentive Program. Launched two years ago in partnership with the Quality of Life Program, the fund allocated a budget of SAR181 million to provide non-recoupable financing for projects in the cultural sectors, including film, to meet the needs of the cultural sector and contribute to its development.

The film, produced by Tape Productions in collaboration with the Red Sea Fund, directed by Fares Godus and starring Sohayb Godus, Najm, Fatma AlBanawi, and Hakim Juma, is expected to continue its screenings in other international film festivals. Its local cinema release will take place sometime next year, and the Godus brothers hope to sell international distribution rights soon to further solidify the position of Saudi film on the global stage.


Scientists: Climate Change Intensified the Rains Devastating East Africa

A dog stands in flood waters in Shirikisho village, Tana Delta region, in Kenya, 07 December 2023. (EPA)
A dog stands in flood waters in Shirikisho village, Tana Delta region, in Kenya, 07 December 2023. (EPA)
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Scientists: Climate Change Intensified the Rains Devastating East Africa

A dog stands in flood waters in Shirikisho village, Tana Delta region, in Kenya, 07 December 2023. (EPA)
A dog stands in flood waters in Shirikisho village, Tana Delta region, in Kenya, 07 December 2023. (EPA)

Ongoing catastrophic rains in Eastern Africa have been worsened by human-caused climate change that made them up to two times more intense, an international team of climate scientists said Thursday.

The analysis comes from World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists who examine whether and to what extent human-induced climate change has altered the likelihood and magnitude of an extreme-weather event.

Hundreds of people have died and millions more have been affected since the rains began in October.

October to December is a “short rains” season in Eastern Africa, with the frequency and intensity of the rains influenced by two naturally occurring climate phenomena: El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which this year have both shaped up to increase the likelihood of heavy rainfall.

To assess how climate change may have affected this year's season, 10 researchers used weather data from the three countries, as well as climate model simulations, to compare how the season has changed in today’s climate, which has warmed about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit), with cooler pre-industrial climate.

They found that the magnitude of the rainfall had nearly doubled due to global warming. The scientists also said IOD had contributed almost equally to the intensity.

They found the rainfall experienced between October and December to be “one of the most intense ever recorded” in “short rains” seasons over the past 40 years.

Joyce Kimutai, principal meteorologist at the Kenya Meteorological Department and lead author of the study, said the findings stress the dangers of continually warming the planet and the need for humanity to cut down emissions as “whatever we’re doing is definitely not on track.”

“What the planet is telling us is that ‘You’re continually warming me, and there’s no way I can dispel that heat other than to increase in the way the atmosphere behaves,'” said Kimutai, who is also a researcher at Imperial College London.

The findings show the impact that the burning of fossil fuels, mostly done by rich countries, has on vulnerable populations. The world is experiencing more and more climatic extremes. Greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and warm the planet, are increasing to record levels. The World Meteorological Organization said last week that 2023 is almost certain to be the hottest year on record and warned of more worrying climatic events.

Climate change could cause even worse climate extremes than the heavy rainfall being experienced in Eastern Africa, said John Musingi, senior lecturer in climatology and climate change at the University of Nairobi.

“Global temperatures don’t need to increase much in order to destabilize the Earth life support system,” said Musingi, who was not involved in the study. “Once the climate mature equilibrium is broken it will be catastrophic.”

The study also looked at the impact of the heavy rains on communities in the region. The researchers found that people are struggling to deal with the effects of the rains as they are yet to recover from the devastating shocks of a three-year drought that was also exacerbated by climate change. They said increasing risks from extreme weather may strain responses by governments and humanitarian organizations.

Torrential rains and flash floods have caused rampant deaths, displacement, and destruction of infrastructure in parts of Eastern Africa, affecting millions since they began in October.

In Kenya, at least 154 people have died, and nearly half a million have been displaced. In neighboring Somalia, the death toll stood at 110 on Monday, with more than 1 million displaced. And in Ethiopia, the rains had caused the deaths of 57 people and displacement of more than 600,000 as of November 27. And in Tanzania, heavy flooding and landslides in the northern part of the country killed at least 68 people and injured 100 last weekend.

The rains have also caused an increase in cholera and other waterborne diseases in some parts.

“What we are witnessing in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia is yet another devastating blow to an already fragile humanitarian situation,” said Melaku Yirga, regional director for Africa at the humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. “Floods have washed away entire villages, wiping out homes, farmlands, and the critical infrastructure necessary to support a swift recovery and movement of people, goods, and much-needed humanitarian aid.”

He called on world leaders to honor commitments to assist communities in adapting and coping with challenges posed by climate change.

The situation in Eastern Africa emphasizes an urgent need for climate change adaptation, and a regional approach to address the crisis, said Musavengana Chibwana, regional humanitarian advocacy and policy manager for east and southern Africa at the humanitarian organization Save the Children.

“Just months ago, back-to-back drought in the Horn of Africa and lack of water claimed lives; now, flood waters are doing the same,” he said. “This is a clear indication of a climate crisis which is getting worse.”


Ma’aden, Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu Establish Mangrove Park to Preserve Coastal Ecosystems

The agreement was signed by Ma’aden CEO Robert Wilt and Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu CEO Mahmood Al Theeb
The agreement was signed by Ma’aden CEO Robert Wilt and Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu CEO Mahmood Al Theeb
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Ma’aden, Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu Establish Mangrove Park to Preserve Coastal Ecosystems

The agreement was signed by Ma’aden CEO Robert Wilt and Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu CEO Mahmood Al Theeb
The agreement was signed by Ma’aden CEO Robert Wilt and Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu CEO Mahmood Al Theeb

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu to establish a mangrove park in the Kingdom, supporting carbon sequestration and biodiversity preservation.

The agreement was signed by Ma’aden CEO Robert Wilt and Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu CEO Mahmood Al Theeb, in the presence of Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef, and Deputy Minister for Mining Affairs Khalid Al-Mudaifer at the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) which took place during the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

Under the agreement, Ma’aden and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu will develop a mangrove park and support planting initiatives on Gurmah Island in Jubail, which houses a rich natural mangrove habitat.

The two parties will also cooperate on research initiatives relating to mangrove planting and ecosystem health and will develop local community programs that support ecosystem restoration and improve environmental awareness.

"This partnership is focused on preserving the Kingdom’s unique natural environment. Mangroves provide one of the most effective natural carbon-capture ecosystems and our ability strategy provides a roadmap towards restoring and enhancing the biodiversity of our coastline, in line with Ma’aden’s vision for sustainable growth in Saudi Arabia," Wilt said.

According to Al Theeb, the “partnership with Ma’aden will continue to preserve and expand mangrove ecosystems in Jubail."

“Together we will develop impactful initiatives that benefit the local community and contribute to the Kingdom’s sustainability objectives,” he said.

Ma’aden also launched a dedicated mangrove plantation strategy during SGI that aims to protect existing forests, restore degraded areas and contribute to carbon reduction and biodiversity enhancement. The company has committed to planting 10 million terrestrial trees and 10 million mangroves by 2040, in line with its ambitions as an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) leader to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The strategy supports the Saudi Green Initiative’s target to plant 100 million mangroves in Saudi Arabia by 2030, which will offset around 96 million tons of carbon emissions and help to stabilize the Kingdom’s coastline ecosystems.


Renewable Energy Project in Yemen to Benefit over 62,000 Yemenis

Using Renewable Energy to Improve Quality of Life Project Concludes in Yemen with Benefiting over 62,000 Yemenis. (SPA)
Using Renewable Energy to Improve Quality of Life Project Concludes in Yemen with Benefiting over 62,000 Yemenis. (SPA)
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Renewable Energy Project in Yemen to Benefit over 62,000 Yemenis

Using Renewable Energy to Improve Quality of Life Project Concludes in Yemen with Benefiting over 62,000 Yemenis. (SPA)
Using Renewable Energy to Improve Quality of Life Project Concludes in Yemen with Benefiting over 62,000 Yemenis. (SPA)

Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik attended in Aden the closing ceremony of the Using Renewable Energy to Improve Quality of Life Project, which was implemented with a trilateral partnership of the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY), Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), and Selah Foundation for Development, SPA said on Wednesday.
The project has benefited 62,000 people in five Yemeni governorates of Hadhramaut, Abyan, Lahij, Taiz and Al-Hudaydah.
During the ceremony, Yemeni Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Mohamad Al-Zaouri praised the generous support of the government of Saudi Arabia, through the SDRPY, AGFUND, and Selah Foundation for Development, for holding vital projects that affect citizens' lives and contribute to improving their standard of life.
He stressed that this support contributes to achieving sustainable development in the country.
The project significantly contributes to enhancing health and education facilities by efficiently meeting their energy needs in a sustainable manner. It supports the operation of critical medical equipment, creates conducive educational environments for students and teachers, and provides sustainable and accessible energy to targeted families through the installation of home appliance systems.
Moreover, this initiative aims to uplift the standard of living in Yemen by improving beneficiaries' daily lives, fostering economic development through increased agricultural production, bolstering food security for Yemenis, reducing carbon emissions to protect the environment, and establishing a clean, sustainable energy source.
The venture involves the rehabilitation of 12 drinking water wells using solar energy systems, provisioning of 35 renewable-energy-based agricultural irrigation systems, powering 20 educational and health facilities, and delivering renewable energy to 133 homes across five Yemeni governorates—Hadhramaut, Abyan, Lahij, Taiz, and Al-Hudaydah.
Project activities encompass comprehensive training courses tailored for field engineers. These courses focus on implementing solar energy systems, aiming to enhance the skills of field technical teams and fortify their technical capacities. The project's substantial contributions to society address numerous water-related challenges, such as interruptions and accessibility issues. The training curriculum covers a wide array of technical and administrative aspects.