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
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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.

FASTFACT

• 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.

DID YOUKNOW?

• 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.

 


Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 

Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia condemns Israel’s continued acts of genocide in Rafah 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned on Tuesday the Israeli forces’ continued “genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people without deterrence” by targeting the tents of defenseless Palestinian refugees in Rafah.

The Kingdom holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for what is happening in Rafah and all the occupied Palestinian territories, a foreign ministry statement read.

Israel’s military denied striking a tent camp west of the city of Rafah on Tuesday after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in what Israel has designated a civilian evacuation zone.

Earlier, defying an appeal from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israeli tanks advanced to the heart of Rafah for the first time after a night of heavy bombardment, while Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognized a Palestinian state, a move that further deepened Israel’s international isolation.

Saudi Arabia reiterated that the Israeli forces’ blatant violation of all international and humanitarian laws and norms, amid the silence of the international community, exacerbates the unprecedented Palestinian humanitarian catastrophe, and puts the credibility of international legitimacy institution at stake.

“The Kingdom stresses the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities to stop the massacres against the Palestinian people and hold those responsible accountable,” the statement concluded.

- With Reuters. 


Saudi Ministry of Media, Microsoft Arabia sign memorandum of understanding

Updated 28 May 2024
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Saudi Ministry of Media, Microsoft Arabia sign memorandum of understanding

  • Deal aims to advance media sector in the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft Arabia in Riyadh on Tuesday covering several areas of cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Assistant Minister of Media Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, and Ziad Mansour, Microsoft’s executive vice president of data and artificial intelligence.

Bassem Al-Hazmi, the general manager of digital transformation and information technology and the general manager of cybersecurity, was also present, along with the President of Microsoft Arabia Turki Badhris.

Cooperation will include developing technical aspects in the areas of data analysis, self-learning, AI, security and privacy solutions, and various software and service development solutions.

It will aim to raise the quality of local media content and keep pace with global transformations to serve the future goals of the Ministry of Media.

The memorandum also bids to advance the media sector in the Kingdom, enabling it to contribute to the local economy while benefiting from the developments of AI and its multiple applications in the field of media.


Who’s Who: Mansour Al-Babtain, VP of commercial partnerships and liaison at World Defense Show

Updated 28 May 2024
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Who’s Who: Mansour Al-Babtain, VP of commercial partnerships and liaison at World Defense Show

Mansour Al-Babtain is the vice president of commercial partnerships and liaison at the World Defense Show.

A former fighter pilot, Al-Babtain has extensive experience working with high-level government figures and private-sector leaders.

He joined the WDS in April 2021. His current role is to oversee the sales, sponsorship and customer experience divisions, in addition to maintaining his liaison responsibilities with Saudi government entities including the General Authority for Military Industries and international delegations.

The department links WDS business owners with the appropriate government entities, ensures the security of the location and people prior to, during and following the show, and manages WDS committees.

From the initial show license to security support, Al-Babtain effectively manages the challenges of ensuring the smooth entry and exit of military supplies, technology, and personnel.

Having graduated from King Faisal Air Academy, he served 12 years in the Royal Saudi Air Force as a fighter pilot, squadron leader and tactical intelligence officer before moving to the Ministry of Defense and later to several government entities.

In addition to his degree in aerial sciences, Al-Babtain holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from Air University in Alabama and a diploma in diplomatic and political relations from the International Arbitration Commission in Cairo.
 


AI and intellectual property in the spotlight at Arab League meeting

Updated 28 May 2024
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AI and intellectual property in the spotlight at Arab League meeting

RIYADH: Intellectual property and artificial intelligence will be discussed at a regional meeting of the Arab League’s Intellectual Property and Competitiveness Department on Wednesday.

The virtual gathering, which will be hosted via video link, will include experts from the World Intellectual Property Organization and governmental intellectual property offices from several Arab nations, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Key topics on the agenda are optimizing intellectual property frameworks for AI development, the impact of AI on patenting processes, legislative efforts to address legal challenges, and implications of AI for copyright regulations.

Minister Plenipotentiary Dr. Maha Bakheet, director of legal affairs at the Intellectual Property and Competitiveness Department, said the meeting aimed to safeguard AI models through intellectual property mechanisms and enhance services.

It also hopes to drive service delivery and management progress within regional intellectual property offices.


Saudi recruiters to face heavy fines for visa violations

Updated 28 May 2024
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Saudi recruiters to face heavy fines for visa violations

RIYADH: The General Directorate of Public Security announced that recruiters who postpone reporting the departures of employees as soon as their entry visas expire will be subject to a fine of about SR50,000 ($13,300), imprisonment for up to six months, and deportation of recruitees if they are expatriates.

The directorate called for reporting residency, work and border security regulation violations by dialing the numbers (911) in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and (999) in the rest of the Kingdom.

According to the Saudi Press Agency report, the directorate said that from May 23 until June 21, anyone holding a visit visa of any type is not permitted to enter or remain in Makkah.

A visit visa of any type and name does not entitle its holder to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, added the directorate.