Biotech firm utilizes hemp to boost sustainability

Green Desert has positioned itself as a catalyst for commercializing the undervalued hemp industry by becoming a center of knowledge and reliability. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 December 2023
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Biotech firm utilizes hemp to boost sustainability

  • Green Desert extends its sustainability solutions using hemp fibers

CAIRO: Saudi-based biotech startup Green Desert SA is aiming to boost the Kingdom’s sustainability with a fresh line of industrial hemp products.

Founded in 2020 by Abdulhadi Al-Amer and Lucas Dietrich, GD was built on the foundation of utilizing biotechnology to commercialize hemp usage in the push toward a more sustainable future.

In an interview with Arab News, GD’s CEO Al-Amer explained how the company is aiming to address the significant benefits and unperceived value of industrial hemp in the region.

“Green Desert offers a wide range of high-quality transformed industrial hemp products. These include hurds, also known as shives, designed explicitly for animal bedding. They are suitable for small pets like poultry, birds of prey, rabbits, and larger animals such as horses and camels,” Al-Amer explained.  

“In addition, GD provides hempcrete blocks that can be used in construction projects. These blocks are made from hemp and have excellent insulation properties, making them a sustainable and eco-friendly choice,” he added.

GD extends its sustainability solutions through the provision of hemp fibers, acclaimed for their durability and versatility. These fibers are adeptly utilized for insulation and in the manufacturing of various clothing items, Al-Amer explained.

Additionally, the company provides an array of industries with high-quality hemp seeds, notably utilized in the production of oil and animal feed. Recognized for their nutritional value, these seeds offer a versatile ingredient option across numerous product lines.

Sustainability and hemp

GD is pioneering a shift in sustainability, aligning with Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives. GD’s approach centers on developing advanced bioproducts, biofuels, and bioplastics from renewable resources.  

At the heart of the firm’s sustainability vision is the hemp plant, a resource that GD believes can be a game-changer for the planet.  

“Hemp has numerous impacts that contribute to a sustainable future, such as its short vegetative cycle, high yields, ability to grow almost everywhere, lack of need for plant protection chemicals, zero waste, contribution to agricultural soil regeneration, low water requirement, and its ability to store a large amount of CO2,” Al-Amer said. 




Founded in 2020 by Abdulhadi Al-Amer and Lucas Dietrich, GD was built on the foundation of utilizing biotechnology to commercialize hemp usage. (Supplied)

Furthermore, he explained that hemp’s regeneration of agricultural soil leads to an increase in the yield of subsequent crops by up to 10 percent. Additionally, hemp achieves this with a low water requirement, eliminating the need for extensive irrigation systems.

“One of the most notable environmental contributions of hemp is its capacity to sequester carbon dioxide. Hemp can store approximately 15 tons of CO2 per hectare per year, making it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” Al-Amer said.

Addressing a regional misconception

“The market in which GD operates, specifically the industrial hemp industry, is highly sensitive. To ensure continued growth and success, GD has implemented several key strategies,” Al-Amer told Arab News.

“Firstly, we prioritize education and awareness about hemp and its benefits in Saudi Arabia and the region. To achieve this, GD leverages successful education campaigns conducted by European countries, the US, and other countries. The goal is to dispel misconceptions and clarify that hemp is not a drug but a valuable resource,” he continued.

“Additionally, GD has established partnerships with experts and organizations in Europe and the US. Through these partnerships, they develop educational materials and programs specifically tailored to the Saudi Arabian market and the Gulf countries. These strategies aim to foster understanding and acceptance of hemp, ultimately driving the growth and success of GD in this sensitive market,” he added.

Furthermore, the company has positioned itself as a catalyst for commercializing the undervalued hemp industry by becoming a center of knowledge and reliability.

“GD’s strategy includes presenting substantial evidence and records to affirm that hemp cultivation and utilization can be effectively controlled and regulated, ensuring it is devoid of THC, the psychoactive component, thus addressing prevalent misconceptions and demonstrating hemp’s safe and versatile applications,” Al-Amer explained.

Strategic cooperation  

GD is setting a new standard in sustainability by establishing strategic partnerships with leading companies and government bodies.  

The company recently received a license from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture to further extend its research and operations.

“GD is actively partnering with governmental entities, specifically MEWA in Saudi Arabia. The collaboration between GD and MEWA strongly indicates their close cooperation and shared goals,” Al-Amer said. 

The market in which GD operates, specifically the industrial hemp industry, is highly sensitive. To ensure continued growth and success, GD has implemented several key strategies.

Abdulhadi Al-Amer, Green Desert CEO

“This license showcases the trust and confidence MEWA has placed in GD, acknowledging its expertise and commitment to compliance with regulatory requirements,” he added. The company also holds several intellectual properties, the most notable one is an exclusive authorization granted by the Saudi government.

Furthermore, GD recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement with France’s La Chanvriere to further boost its biotech capabilities.

“By incorporating the knowledge gained from these partnerships into their operations, GD actively contributes to creating a knowledge-based economy. 

This aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and further strengthens GD’s position as a leader in innovative biotechnology solutions,” Al-Amer said.

Business foundations

“As the only company authorized to bring transformed industrial hemp products into the Saudi market, GD enjoys a significant competitive advantage. This distinction not only sets the company apart from its competitors but also positions it as a trusted and reliable source of high-quality hemp-based solutions,” Al-Amer said.

The company’s revenue streams stem from several hemp-based products. The primary source of income is the supply of hemp hurds or shives. 

HIGHLIGHT

GD is pioneering a shift in sustainability, aligning with Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives. GD’s approach centers on developing advanced bioproducts, biofuels, and bioplastics from renewable resources.

Another source is the company’s production and sale of its hempcrete blocks.  

“We aim to supply every horse, camel and small pet owner in the Gulf countries with the best quality bedding they can get on the market. Additionally, we aim to supply building companies and mega projects such as the Line with the most sustainable construction material available on the market,” Al-Amer said.

Future potential

“As pioneers in Saudi Arabia’s hemp market, GD is focused on fostering competition by highlighting the importance of its solutions,” Al-Amer explained.

He stated that this includes highlighting the environmental advantages of hemp, such as its ability to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce the need for synthetic materials.

Moreover, Al-Amer underscored the importance of collaboration and engaging with stakeholders to shed light on the nascent sector.

“By doing so, GD increases awareness and creates a platform for dialogue and collaboration, which can further foster competition and innovation in the market,” he added.


RSG partners with Amazon Payment Services to introduce online transactions

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RSG partners with Amazon Payment Services to introduce online transactions

RIYADH: Saudi tourist destinations, The Red Sea and AMAALA, will soon offer online transaction options through a recent partnership with Amazon Payment Services. 

Initiated by its developer Red Sea Global, the deal aims to provide a comprehensive suite of payment solutions tailored to meet the needs of RSG’s customers, according to a statement. 

This aligns with RSG’s vision of providing exceptional experiences for its travelers, as stated by Ahmed Ali Al-Sohaily, group head of technology at RSG. 

He said: “By collaborating with Amazon Payment Services, its best-in-class technology ensures convenient, secure, and efficient payment processes for our guests.”  

RSG said it seeks to collaborate with partners who share similar values in making a positive impact on both people and the planet. Currently, more than 90 percent of Amazon Payment Services’ electricity comes from renewables, with a goal to reach 100 percent by 2025, the release added. 

“We are excited to support Red Sea Global and its customers through this new partnership that allows us to enhance the payment experience for luxury travelers through our innovative and tailor-made payment solutions,” said Peter George, managing director at Amazon Payments Services.


Australia’s University of Wollongong joins top global institutes in Riyadh expansion 

Updated 42 min 43 sec ago
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Australia’s University of Wollongong joins top global institutes in Riyadh expansion 

RIYADH: Saudi students will gain increased access to high-quality higher education as reputable institutes, including Australia’s University of Wollongong, secure licenses for branches within the Kingdom. 

The Saudi Ministry of Education and its investment counterpart announced the issuance of an approval to the Australian public research university during the recently concluded Human Capability Initiative Conference in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

This move is a part of the preparations to establish its branch in the Kingdom, in collaboration with the Digital Knowledge Co., to provide innovative, globally recognized education for international and local students across various higher schooling levels. 

The collaboration with Digital Knowledge Co., known for its high-quality expertise in schooling and training, aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to attract foreign university branches and increase private sector involvement in higher education by 2030. 

The University of Wollongong holds the 14th position among the best modern universities worldwide, ranking in the top 1 percent of institutes according to the 2024 QS World Index. 

The SPA report added that, during the same event, the two ministries also signed a memorandum of understanding with Arizona State University and Cintana Education to establish a new institute and an affiliated school in Riyadh. 


 


WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

Updated 20 min 42 sec ago
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WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

RIYADH: The least developed countries are set to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Declaration at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, improving global supply chain access. 

Trade deals, aimed at fostering new agreements, will extend international trading system benefits to more nations, following intensive negotiations, as reported by the UAE’s official news agency, WAM. 

Members have agreed to implement Special and Preferential Treatment for Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade. This effort supports producers in the least developed countries, facilitating their global supply chain access, the WAM report stated. 

The report added that the current measures of SPS constitute a staggering 90 percent of non-tariff trade barriers, posing a significant obstacle for smaller nations and being viewed as discriminatory. 

In a significant development for developing countries, ministers approved a decision responding to a 23-year-old mandate. The aim is to revamp special and differential treatment provisions for improved precision, effectiveness, and operational functionality. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade and MC13 Chair, Thani Al-Zeyoudi, described the declaration as a significant milestone for the UAE and global trade. 

“It has been a momentous week for Abu Dhabi, for the UAE, and for global trade. I would like to thank the delegations from every member for their diligence and dedication to the negotiation and for their ceaseless efforts in making the global trading system more robust, more efficient and, most importantly, more accessible,” he said. 

The minister added that even in areas where final agreements have not been reached, issues that previously seemed unsolvable can now be unlocked — clearing the way for further progress in the coming months.  

Substantial progress has also been achieved in dispute resolution, as there is now an agreement to fulfill the MC12 mandate by establishing a comprehensive and efficient Dispute Settlement system by the end of 2024. This entails the adoption of various reform pathways by the participating members. 

Regarding e-commerce, members have agreed to extend the moratorium on customs duties for electronic transmissions for an additional two years. This decision implies that trade involving purely digital products and services will remain tariff-free until MC14 in Cameroon. 

Ministers also adopted a ministerial decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints related to the agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights until MC14. 

“Delivering the Abu Dhabi Declaration of outcomes is a true testament to the value that members continue to attach to the WTO and its pivotal role in ensuring an orderly global system of trade rules,” said Al-Zeyoudi. 

“With the adopted Abu Dhabi Declaration, we have demonstrated that we can deliver to ensure the global trading system remains a vital engine of growth and development for nations around the world. We must build on these significant achievements and remain united for global trade,” he added.  

The WAM report quoted Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, stating that the global body serves as a foundation of stability and resilience in an economic and geopolitical landscape filled with uncertainties and exogenous shocks. 

“Trade remains a vital force for improving people’s lives, and for helping businesses and countries cope with the impact of these shocks. Let us get some rest, then regroup and resume,” she said. 

MC13, hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center from Feb. 26 to March 2. 


Larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal account, IMF says 

Updated 03 March 2024
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Larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal account, IMF says 

CAIRO: The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday that larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal and external accounts. 

“Iraq needs to increase non-oil exports and government revenue, and reduce the economy’s vulnerability to oil price shocks,” they said in a concluding statement. 


Saudi ‘Sah’ savings product second round opens, offering 5.63% return 

Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi ‘Sah’ savings product second round opens, offering 5.63% return 

RIYADH: Saudi residents can once again boost their savings rates with the commencement of the second round of subscriptions for the savings product “Sah” on March 3. 

The Shariah-compliant, government-backed sukuk offers a return of 5.63 percent, and redemption amounts are scheduled to be paid within a year, as disclosed by the National Debt Management Center in a release on X. 

These sukuk are issued by the Ministry of Finance and organized by the NDMC. 

The second-round subscription started on March 3 at 10 a.m. and runs until March 5 at 3 a.m. 

Hani Al-Madini, CEO of the NDMC, explained that the sukuk serves as a catalyst for private sector cooperation and participation in developing and launching various savings products tailored to diverse demographics. These initiatives could involve partnerships with banks, fund managers, financial technology companies, and more. 

Sah, the first savings product designed for individuals, adheres to Islamic Shariah principles. It takes the form of bonds under the Kingdom’s local bonds program, denominated in Saudi riyals. 

It supports the Financial Sector Development Program, part of Saudi Vision 2030, aimed at raising the savings rate among residents from as low as 6 percent to the international standard of 10 percent by 2030. 

The minimum subscription amount is set at SR1,000 ($266), equivalent to the value of one bond, while the maximum is SR200,000 for total issuances per user during the program period. 

The product is allocated for individuals, with returns provided on a monthly basis in accordance with the issuance calendar. 

The saving period is one year with a fixed return, and accrued yields are disbursed at the end of the sukuk’s term. Future returns will be determined based on month-to-month market conditions. 

The product is open to Saudi nationals aged 18 and above. To participate, individuals must open an account with either SNB Capital, Aljazira Capital, Alinma Investment, SAB Invest, or Al Rajhi Capital.