How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable

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The Sakaka Solar Power Plant in Saudi Arabia's northern province of Al Jouf is made up of over 1.2 million solar panels arranged across 6 square kilometers of land. It has a production capacity of 300 megawatts, enough to power 45,000 households and contribute to offsetting over 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. (Saudi Vision 2030 photo)
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Inaugurated in 2019 as part of Saudi Arabia's National Renewable Energy Program, the Dumat Al Jandal Wind Farm in the northern province of Al Jouf has a total capacity of 400 megawatts, capable of supplying electricity to approximately 70,000 homes. (Saudi Vision 2030 photo)
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Updated 22 April 2024

How Saudi Arabia’s new economic cities can make manufacturing more sustainable

  • The Saudi Green Initiative aims to promote eco-friendly practices, such as reducing waste in manufacturing
  • On International Mother Earth Day, Saudi Arabia continues its effort to mitigate the effects of climate change

RIYADH: As the world marks International Mother Earth Day on April 22, Saudi Arabia continues its effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, accelerate its transition to green energy, promote sustainability, and protect natural habitats through the Saudi Green Initiative.

Launched in 2021, one key SGI target is to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes per annum by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2060. The Kingdom hopes to reach this milestone through investments in renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Three wind projects are under development in the Kingdom, while a fourth, Dumat Al-Jandal, is already the largest operational wind farm in the Middle East, with a 400-megawatt capacity.

Saudi Arabia also operates 13 solar photovoltaic projects. The Al-Henakiyah project is under development and will generate a capacity of 1,500 MW, ranking it among the world’s five largest solar farms.


• International Mother Earth Day, celebrated every year on April 22, was recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2009 to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.

Besides wind and solar, the Kingdom is also building a green hydrogen project in NEOM and a carbon capture project at the Aramco Research Center at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology. 

The green hydrogen project will produce clean energy derived using renewables, while the carbon capture project focuses on capturing and storing carbon dioxide to help mitigate climate change.

Beyond the transition to green energy, SGI includes projects designed to combat desertification, preserve biodiversity, and promote eco-friendly practices, such as reducing waste in manufacturing.

The carbon capture project of Aramco Research Center at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology focuses on capturing and storing carbon dioxide to help mitigate climate change. (KAUST photo)

Economic cities and special economic zones are viewed as one solution to the waste problems associated with commercial activity. In the Gulf Cooperation Council area, these are fast becoming a topic of interest for policymakers and businesses.

Saudi Arabia is taking proactive steps to build self-powering economic cities. Regulated by the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority, the Kingdom aims to attract investment, promote economic growth, and create jobs. 

“That’s a real window of opportunity to identify the diversity of industries that can exist within economic cities and how they can benefit from these opportunities to collaborate, extend their networks, and find opportunities for local sourcing,” Rana Hajirasouli, founder of The Surpluss climate tech platform based in the UAE, told Arab News.


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Hajirasouli says the annual waste and surplus created by manufacturers worldwide is valued at approximately $780 billion.

This vast sum represents a missed opportunity for companies to maximize their profits and reduce their environmental impact by reassessing waste management practices and adopting more sustainable strategies. 

“The problem is not just the waste we throw out and the emissions … it’s also unoccupied warehouse spaces, unoptimized logistics,” she said.

The Kingdom has launched four such economic cities: the King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, Jazan Economic City, Prince Abdulaziz bin Musaid Economic City in Hail, and Knowledge Economic City in Madinah.

King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh. (KAEC photo)

Establishing these spaces is seen as a key strategy for Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues, while also promoting long-term environmental sustainability.

Collaboration between businesses cohabiting economic cities could be one way in which they can mitigate the harmful effects of their waste production through innovative solutions and circular economy principles.

“Instead of focusing on trading carbon, businesses essentially find ways to reduce their emissions through the circular economy and daily-basis operational changes,” said Hajirasouli. “Accounts of that are evident in sustainability reports.”

Such collaborations, known as industrial symbiosis, align with sustainable development and circular economy goals, emphasizing the importance of resource conservation, waste reduction, and environmental protection. 

They involve reusing waste and by-products generated by one particular industry or industrial process to serve as raw materials for another. 

By adopting these principles, businesses can transform their waste streams into valuable resources, thereby creating a more circular and sustainable production system, said Hajirasouli.


• Dumat Al-Jandal in Saudi Arabia is the largest operational wind farm in the Middle East, with capacity to generate 400 megawatts of power.

• The total cost of waste and surplus generated by companies globally is estimated to be about $780 billion a year.

• The Jazan IGCC plant is the largest gasification facility of its kind in the world and can produce up to 3.8 gigawatts of power.

“One interesting example is in Denmark where various companies in a small 16-sq. km area use excess steam from the power plants that aren’t needed for electricity and that goes to other factories,” she said. 

This creates a closed-loop system where materials, energy, and resources are repurposed rather than wasted. 

Aramco’s fully integrated Jazan Refinery and Petrochemical Complex is setting the stage for similar industrial symbiosis in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Economic City. 

The Jazan oil refinery, designed to have an output capacity of up to 400,000 barrels per day, is expected to provide raw materials for the integrated gasification combined-cycle plant, which generates power and industrial gases.

Aramco’s fully integrated Jazan Refinery and Petrochemical Complex is setting the stage for similar industrial symbiosis in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Economic City. (Aramco photo)

In the process of refining crude oil, synthetic gas — or syngas — is produced, which is typically used as fuel for industry and shipping. 

The hot syngas stream produced by gasification must be cooled down before processing. However, thanks to industrial symbiosis, that heat will not be wasted.

The plan is to capture the refinery’s waste steam and use it to drive turbines to create electricity in the power generation plant. 

However, the steam is produced at extremely high temperatures — far higher than what is required to turn the turbines. This means the process could still result in a significant waste of energy. 

To prevent this, the Jazan refinery will absorb and use this heat in recovery units.

Adopting mitigation approaches and industrial symbiosis such as these in Saudi Arabia’s economic cities is seen as an ideal path to promoting sustainable practices.

By fostering collaboration and resource sharing among industries, these economic cities can not only enhance their environmental performance but also contribute to the overall sustainable development of the Kingdom.


KSA showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

Updated 6 sec ago

KSA showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

  • The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information is participating in the annual Conference of the International Federation of Surveyors in Accra, Ghana, from May 19-24.

The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities, aiming for a flexible environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

Attendees will exchange expertise and learn best practices in the field.

The Saudi authority delivered a technical presentation, “Surveying and Geospatial Information in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present, and Future Aspirations,” during the event, attended by FIG President Diane Dumashie, vice presidents and experts.

Saudi ambassador to Ghana and Togo, Sultan Al-Dakhil, visited the authority’s booth, appreciating its efforts to strengthen partnerships with international organizations.

With more than 1,500 participants from 80 countries, the conference facilitates international collaborations among government bodies, the private sector, academia, and global expertise centers through 70 scientific sessions.

Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

Updated 59 sec ago

Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

RIYADH: The Cultural Development Fund, a vital financial engine for Saudi Arabia’s culture sector, along with partners from the Kingdom’s film industry, are presenting film financing and investment opportunities at the 77th annual Cannes International Film Festival, held from May 14 to 25.

The fund is present at the festival for the third year, in line with its mission of nurturing the domestic film scene and strengthening its role as a key enabler of cultural growth.

The fund highlights its Film Sector Financing Program at the Saudi pavilion, led by the Film Commission. The program offers comprehensive financial packages that support the entire filmmaking process, from creation and production to distribution, for both local and foreign companies working on film and TV series in Saudi Arabia.

It also provides an opportunity for companies and investment funds to participate in the Kingdom’s film industry and contribute to its development.

Its participation in the Cannes event aligns with its continuous efforts to attract filmmakers and investment.

The fund aims to be a leader in the Saudi film industry and collaborates with other stakeholders to build a sustainable film sector that contributes to the national gross domestic product.

Established under the National Development Fund in 2021, the fund aims to invigorate Saudi Arabia’s cultural scene. By supporting a range of cultural endeavors and facilitating investment, the fund fosters a thriving domestic cultural sector, aligning with the National Culture Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030.

Madinah hosts Hajj permit awareness exhibition

Updated 48 min 5 sec ago

Madinah hosts Hajj permit awareness exhibition

  • The event will explain how artificial intelligence is used to manage the Hajj crowds

RIYADH: “No Hajj Without a Permit” is the title of a mobile exhibition being held in Madinah until May 25 to raise awareness about safe and secure Hajj practices.

Organized by the Ministry of Interior, the event will explain how artificial intelligence is used to manage the Hajj crowds. Visitors will also learn about the Makkah Route Initiative, part of the broader Pilgrim Experience Program under Saudi Vision 2030.

As well as highlighting the ministry’s efforts to ensure the security and safety of visitors to the Two Holy Mosques, it explains emergency reporting procedures through the unified security operations centers (911) and the services offered on the Absher electronic platform.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority continues to collaborate with government agencies on the Makkah Route Initiative, implementing the scheme at 11 airports in seven countries.

At Jakarta International Airport in Indonesia, for example, SDAIA uses advanced technical systems and infrastructure in the pilgrim hall to simplify the Hajj experience.

The setup includes 12 interconnected workstations equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that integrate with SDAIA’s National Information Center systems, expediting pilgrims’ procedures. Technical support is provided 24/7 by a team of engineers, reflecting SDAIA’s commitment to leveraging AI, innovation and digital transformation to deliver exceptional service.

From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

Updated 54 min 31 sec ago

From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

  • Exhibition highlights cultural significance and art of perfume-making

RIYADH: The “Perfumes of the East” exhibition has made its first international stop in Riyadh. 

It is a collaboration between the Saudi National Museum and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Arab World Institute in Paris.

The exhibition, which will continue until Sept. 14 at the museum, provides its guests with a journey through the richness of the Arab world’s perfumes, showcasing the fragrances and scents of the East, the cultural traditions that have influenced perfumes and their significant social role in Saudi culture.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, and Christophe Farnaud, the EU ambassador, were among the attendees at the opening ceremony, along with other delegates from the Arab World Institute, leaders from the Ministry of Culture and the Museums Commission, and artists from the Kingdom, the Arab world and France.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, during the exhibition. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

“Perfumes of the East is an amazing exhibition, which was brought from Paris to Riyadh,” Pouille said. “It was presented first at the Arab World Institute in Paris, and it was a great success ... so many people visited it.

“It is amazing because you mix history and also artworks. You have artists who have been part of this exhibition, and this is the beauty of it. It is not just the history of perfumes in the Middle East, it is more than that.

“I am amazed by the jasmine dress by a young Saudi artist, who was also there in Paris, and of course, you can smell jasmine, but it is more than that. It is about heritage, the Saudi traditions, and I am fond of it,” the French envoy said.

The exhibition highlighted the cultural and historical importance of perfume in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, providing insight into its origins in the Arabian peninsula, an important trading hub through which aromatic plants and spices were distributed among ancient societies.

“A distinguished exhibition that revives an authentic national heritage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Dalia Seoudy, one of the guests at the museum. “It presents fragrant knowledge and surrounds one of the most important elements of intangible Saudi heritage, a journey between the roses of Taif and the jasmine of the southern region. This museum reminded me of perfumes in Paris, but it is very authentic, creative and beautiful.”

Christophe Farnaud, the European Union Ambassador at Perfumes of the East exhibition in Riyadh. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

The exhibition has been designed to create a balance of olfactory and visual experiences for visitors, with scent-releasing devices carefully placed and handpicked for the exhibition by internationally acclaimed perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake.

More than 200 artifacts and artworks, both ancient and contemporary, are on display, weaving a narrative of the enduring relationship between the Arab world and perfume.

The exhibition unfolds through distinct spaces — from the raw beauty of nature to bustling town streets and the setting of a private home. This trajectory enables visitors to experience the evolution of perfume-making through a blend of historical treasures and modern artistic expressions.

This exhibition aligns with the National Museum’s commitment to celebrating Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of Arab and Islamic civilization.

It offers a multi-faceted educational and cultural experience, enriched by accompanying workshops and seminars that delve into the composition of perfumes, the intricate process of their creation, and the artistic design of perfume packaging.

Saudi Food Show features top global firms presenting their wares

Updated 22 May 2024

Saudi Food Show features top global firms presenting their wares

  • 1,000 exhibitors with 100,000 products from 97 countries
  • Firms seeking to expand into one of Gulf’s largest markets

RIYADH: The second Saudi Food Show, the Kingdom’s largest event for food and beverage sourcing, which began Tuesday and will continue until May 23, has been featuring some of the world’s leading companies showcasing their wares.

It is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources in collaboration with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON.

The event features around 1,000 exhibitors presenting 100,000 products from 97 countries. Also returning are the Top Table Saudi and YouthX Saudi competitions in expanded formats.

House of Pops, which specializes in vegan and plant-based ice cream, gelato, and popsicles, are participating because they are expanding into Saudi Arabia after having gained a foothold in the UAE.

“Health and wellness have been popular in Saudi Arabia, particularly following the pandemic. Everyone is highly aware of what they consume,” Marcela Sancho, co-founder of House of Pops, said. “Our products promote health and wellness. They are 100 percent natural, include no preservatives or food coloring, and are vegan and plant based. So, we really want to tap into the market and the opportunity here.”

The brand is also fully allergen-free, made without soy and gluten, and the creamy options are created with organic coconut milk and cream to create the milky texture.

House of Pops was among the participants at the Saudi Food Show. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)

Also at the event is Bakarman Foods, a top supplier of restaurants and theaters in Malaysia, India, Spain and Belgium.

“Saudi Arabia has one of the largest food markets in the GCC, and we plan to open a factory here in the future. The food quality and standards are high, surpassing those of other Middle Eastern countries. The degree of inspection and testing report is excellent,” said Mohammad Salim, Bakarman Foods’ procurement and supply chain director.  

From India, Bharat Industrial Enterprise Private Ltd., a leading basmati rice miller and exporter, has returned this year for the exhibition.

Tushar Aggawal, manager of exports, said the company operates in 55 countries and has been around from almost as many years. “Saudi Arabia is our main market … we are one of the largest suppliers of basmati rice (here).”

Through keynote addresses, panels and workshops, over 90 experts from the public and private sectors shared insights on how to maximize opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s markets.