Saudi Arabia and Kuwait urge Iran to engage in talks to de-escalate Al-Durra gas field row

The undated photo shows a view of the Al-Durra offshore gas field, a common submerged area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the Arabian Gulf.
Short Url
Updated 08 July 2023
Follow

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait urge Iran to engage in talks to de-escalate Al-Durra gas field row

  • The Saudi foreign ministry says natural resources in the ‘Divided Area’ are solely owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
  • Long-running tensions over the gas field have again re-emerged after Iran revealed plans to resume activities in area

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have asserted exclusive ownership of the Al-Durra gas field in the maritime “Divided Area” after tensions with Iran rose once again in the long-running dispute over the lucrative site.

The Saudi minister of foreign affairs reaffirmed the joint ownership, calling on Iran to engage in negotiations to demarcate the eastern border of the area. 

The Kuwaiti oil minister also rejected Iran’s claims over the field and urged Tehran to initiate discussions about the area.

In a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday, a Foreign Ministry source emphasized the natural resources in the “Divided Area” are solely owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 

“We renew our previous calls for Iran to start negotiations to demarcate the eastern border of the submerged divided area between the Kingdom and Kuwait, as one negotiating party opposite the Iranian side,” the ministry stated.

Following Saudi Arabia’s declaration, Kuwait also asserted its exclusive rights over the Al-Durra gas field. According to state news agency KUNA, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Saad Al-Barrak expressed strong opposition to Iran’s planned activities in the area. 

“We categorically and totally reject Iran’s planned activities around the premises of the Al-Durra offshore gas field,” Al-Barrak said, 

In an interview with Asharq during the 8th Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’s International Seminar, he added: “Iran must first enter into the demarcation of international borders, and after that, whoever has a right will get it according to the rules of international law.”

A source close to Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry revealed to KUNA that the “maritime area where Al-Durra offshore field lies is part of the State of Kuwait’s sea territories, and the natural resources therein are shared between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” dismissing any claims by Iran.

The source added: “Only the state of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have exclusive rights to the natural resources of the Al-Durra field.”

This assertion solidifies Kuwait’s position and underscores the shared ownership between the two neighboring countries.

The dispute over the Al-Durra gas field has been ongoing for many years. In March, Kuwait and Iran held joint negotiations in Tehran, emphasizing the need to resolve the matter in accordance with international laws. 

Iran’s persistence in pursuing activities in the area however adds to the complexity of the dispute and poses challenges to achieving a resolution.

The Al-Durra gas field is a common submerged area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait located in the Arabian Gulf. It is situated within the Al-Hasa Governorate, which is a part of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. 

The discovery of this oil field dates back to the 1960s, which coincided with the commencement of the demarcation process for the maritime borders between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The ownership of the field was evenly divided between the two countries, becoming effective in 1970. 

The gas field is one of the largest in the world with abundant natural gas reserves. 

It is expected to produce 1 billion cubic feet of gas daily and 84,000 barrels per day of condensate, and plays a significant role in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait’s gas production.

The Al-Durra oil field’s strategic importance and the potential wealth it holds have attracted the attention of neighboring countries, particularly Iran. 

The dispute over its ownership and exploitation rights arises from differing interpretations of maritime boundaries and conflicting claims by Tehran. 

In 2001, Iran began granting contracts for its exploration, which prompted Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to finalize the demarcation of their maritime borders, which included the Al-Durra oil field.

Despite objections from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed an agreement in 2022 to jointly develop and explore the field. 

IN NUMBERS

• 1 billion cubic feet estimated daily gas production.

• 84,000 barrels estimated daily production of liquefied natural gas.

The controversies surrounding the operations escalated following Iran’s announcement in June that it was prepared to commence drilling in the Al-Durra gas field.

Mohsen Khojsteh Mehr, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co., indicated that Iran is allocating sizeable resources for exploring the site. 

“Considerable resources have been allocated to the board of directors of the National Iranian Oil Co. for the implementation of the development plan for this field,” said Mehr, according to Iranian state media.  

Despite attempts at negotiations and agreements between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, a definitive resolution to the dispute has remained elusive, leading to ongoing tensions and disagreements in the region.

The competing claims and Iran’s readiness to begin drilling in the Al-Durra field further exacerbate the tensions in the region. 

As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen whether diplomatic negotiations or other means will be employed to reach a mutually agreeable resolution between the concerned parties.


A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 

Updated 42 min 12 sec ago
Follow

A journey through time: Tahlel Museum’s tribute to Asir’s culture 

  • The museum is home to many heritage pieces, including coins, traditional costumes, wood art, and agricultural tools
  • It also includes the owner's artistic works of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, geometric shapes, and tribal symbols painted in vibrant colors 

ASIR: Perched atop the Souda Mountains in the Abha region of Asir province in southern Saudi Arabia is a modest museum created by an Asiri woman called Halima Asiri. 

Passionate about old Saudi heritage, Asiri established the Tahlel Museum in a small traditional house. 

Halima Asiri is a woman who is passionate about old Saudi heritage, which led her to establish the Tahlel Museum. The museum is a small house in the shape of old Saudi buildings. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

It includes many heritage pieces, including coins, traditional costumes, wood art, and agricultural tools. It also includes her artistic works of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, geometric shapes, and tribal symbols painted in vibrant colors. 

“This is my small museum, where I exhibit the work of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a kind of natural color painting that have been certified by UNESCO as part of the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Each pattern has a name and a symbolic meaning. Men do not practice this art, thus women are the only ones who specialize in it,” Asiri told Arab News. 

Asiri is one of the few women who still uses natural materials to create the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri. These colors are extracted from coal, rice, turmeric, pomegranate peel, stones and other sources. 

“I take 24 colors from nature, such as clover, coal, stone, and leaves, grind them into a paste, and use that paste to paint canvases and walls,” she said.

Ancient coffee and teapots, clay cups, copper household utensils, and other artifacts are on display in one of the rooms. 

Tahlel Museum owner Halima Asiri is one of the few women who still uses natural materials to create the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri. (AN photos by Rahaf Jambi)

“The handcrafted items found here date back to 400-500 years, and the people of the Asir region used them all,” Asiri said. 

She incorporated a model of the old town in which she formerly resided in the museum. The town has since fallen into ruin. 

“The old roads were difficult, and women had to carry wood, walk, and climb mountains to get to their homes. The model that I constructed depicts the hardship and strength of women in Asir,” she explained. 

The museum also features the traditional attire worn by women in the Asir region. 

“I have items of clothing that Asir women wear on their wedding night. I also have regular clothes, like straw hats,” she added. 

Asiri started collecting antiques that date back centuries when she was young, and she made sure to collect antiques and present them in her museum in a unique way. 

There are numerous kinds of swords, weapons, and clothing that the locals used in battle displayed on the walls. 

The location also features a workshop where guests can learn how to paint Al-Qatt Al-Asiri works, in addition to selling her artwork on commission. 

“I teach Al-Qatt Al-Asiri art as a trainer. I frequently get big groups of people, and not so long ago, I trained a group of foreign women,” she said. 

The museum is also linked to a cafe where she serves traditional Asiri dishes like areekah using natural honey. 

“Many foreigners have visited, including ambassadors and ministers,” she said. 

Asiri greets visitors when entering the museum with a famous Asiri phrase, “a thousand welcomes.”

Owing to its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the Asir region is highly sought-after by those seeking to explore unspoiled landscapes, wander through charming villages, and explore historic castles. 
 


Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy

Updated 25 May 2024
Follow

Saudi crown prince speaks to acting Iranian president in light of tragedy

  • President Ebrahim Raisi and others were killed in helicopter crash 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a telephone call on Friday to Mohammad Mokhber, the acting Iranian president, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince sent his condolences following the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and others in a helicopter crash earlier this week.

Mokhber expressed his thanks to the crown prince for his kind sentiments.

The two sides also spoke of achievements in bilateral relations between the countries, stressing the importance of continuing to enhance cooperation.

The Iranian president, foreign minister and six others were killed on Sunday when the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed in dense fog in mountainous terrain near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan.


Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza

Updated 25 May 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia welcomes World Court ruling on Gaza

  • Kingdom said it appreciated the ICJ decision, which it called a positive step towards the moral and legal right of the Palestinian people

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed the Kingdom’s welcoming of a decision made Friday by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately stop military attacks or any other offensive actions in Rafah, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom said it appreciated the ICJ decision, which it called a positive step towards the moral and legal right of the Palestinian people.

It stressed the importance that international resolutions should involve all Palestinian areas in accordance with the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.

Saudi Arabia also reiterated its call to the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people.


Hatching of red-necked ostrich chicks highlights success of Saudi royal reserve’s breeding program

Updated 25 May 2024
Follow

Hatching of red-necked ostrich chicks highlights success of Saudi royal reserve’s breeding program

  • The Imam Turki Royal Nature Reserve launched its ostrich conservation scheme in 2021 to rescue this critically engaged species 
  • Saudi Arabia’s second largest royal reserve is dedicated to providing secure habitats to allow the Kingdom’s wildlife to thrive

RIYADH: In a significant boost for biodiversity in the Kingdom, the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve Development Authority recently announced the hatching of three endangered red-necked ostrich chicks — a species that had been considered extinct in Saudi Arabia.

At the end of 2021, the royal reserve launched a scheme to reintroduce ostriches to the wild, creating a habitat for a male and a female. The ostriches soon adapted to the reserve and laid their first clutch of 12 eggs in the spring of 2024, three of which hatched naturally.

The royal reserve is dedicated to providing a suitable environment for endangered species to help increase their numbers, restore biodiversity, and provide a safe haven for animals like reem gazelle, Arabian oryx, red-necked ostrich, and others to flourish in the wild.

“The red-necked ostrich, also known as the North African ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus), is currently classified as critically endangered,” Abdulmajeed Aldhaban, executive vice president of operations at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority, told Arab News.“This subspecies faces significant threats due to habitat loss, hunting, and egg collection, which have led to a dramatic decline in its population over the past 100 years.”

 The red-necked ostrich is not the only bird species the reserve has sought to revitalize through breeding programs, captive breeding techniques, and habitat restoration to bolster its population. The houbara bustard has been another success story.

 

The royal reserve is dedicated to providing a suitable environment for endangered species to help increase their numbers, restore biodiversity, and provide a safe haven for animals like reem gazelle, Arabian oryx, red-necked ostrich, and others to flourish in the wild. (Supplied)

 

“In March, the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve Development Authority started construction of a state-of-the-art aviculture center on the reserve,” said Aldhaban.

“This was part of the authority’s comprehensive plan to conserve wildlife in general and, specifically, protect the endangered houbara bustard in its natural habitat.”

Despite its arid climate and vast desert landscape, the Kingdom is home to a wealth of distinctive species, occupying its dunes, mountains, valleys and coastlines. (Shutterstock)

He added: “The center comprises 22 facilities, including administrative buildings, breeding facilities, clinics, and laboratories, spanning an area of 4 sq. km. The first phase of breeding is set to commence by the end of 2024.”

Saudi Arabia’s rich biodiversity has long been overlooked by environmentalists. Despite its arid climate and vast desert landscape, the Kingdom is home to a wealth of distinctive species, occupying its dunes, mountains, valleys and coastlines.

Local conservationists believe they have an obligation to protect these terrestrial and marine habitats and maintain the ecological balance for the benefit of the Kingdom’s wildlife and for generations to come.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Officials have therefore outlined a set of biodiversity conservation goals under various initiatives like Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative designed to work in partnership with civil society groups and the private sector.

One focus is the design of protected areas. 

During an interview with Arab News at the Hima forum in Riyadh last April, Mohammed Qurban, the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife in Saudi Arabia, outlined the Kingdom’s aim to protect 30 percent of the Kingdom’s terrestrial and marine areas by 2030.

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, where the red-necked ostriches hatched last month, covers an area of more than 91,500 sq km, making it the second largest royal protected area in the Kingdom, home to 138 species of animal and 179 species of plant. (Supplied)

This goal includes the creation of wildlife sanctuaries and restoration programs to restore natural habitats and protect endangered animal species such as the Arabian oryx, red-necked ostrich, gazelle, and Arabian leopard.

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, where the red-necked ostriches hatched last month, covers an area of more than 91,500 sq. km, making it the second-largest royal protected area in the Kingdom, home to 138 species of animal and 179 species of plant.

Despite its arid climate and vast desert landscape, the Kingdom is home to a wealth of distinctive species, occupying its dunes, mountains, valleys and coastlines. (SPA)

Situated in the country’s northeast, close to the border with Iraq, the reserve is a popular destination for tourists interested in hiking and bird watching.

In 2018, the royal reserve declared three key objectives, including the conservation of biodiversity, the development of the reserve as a destination for ecotourism, and the aim of generating socio-economic benefits for local communities.

The Natural Reserve Development Authority has registered the reserve in the World Database on Protected Areas. It has also earned global recognition after being nominated for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Green List in 2023.
 

 


French president Macron meets with Arab delegation to discuss Gaza

Updated 25 May 2024
Follow

French president Macron meets with Arab delegation to discuss Gaza

  • The two ministers discussed Saudi-French relations
  • Also discussed the situation in Gaza

PARIS: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed an Arab ministerial delegation in a meeting with the French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday. 

Prince Faisal was joined at the meeting by Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Al-Safadi, and the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs Sameh Shoukry, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, the situation in the Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression was discussed, as well as the need to intensify international efforts aimed at an immediate and complete ceasefire. 

The two sides also talked about ensuring the protection of civilians and the delivery of adequate and sustainable humanitarian aid to all parts of Gaza.

They reiterated the need for an independent Palestinian state and for the international community to hold Israel accountable for its actions in the Palestinian territories.

During his trip to Paris, Prince Faisal also met with the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stephane Sejourne on Friday.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed Saudi-French relations and ways to enhance them and ways to improve coordination on various issues of mutual concern, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in Gaza and its surroundings and the need to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the enclave.

The meeting was also attended by Saudi Ambassador to France Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, the Foreign Minister's office director general Abdulrahman Al-Dawood, and ministry Advisor Manal Radwan.