RIYADH: Saudi minister of economy and planning, Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim, discussed the importance of investing in the Saudi youth in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
The minister said young people are “the guardians of tomorrow’s economy” and the key to driving the Kingdom’s economic transformation under Vision 2030.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that young people are equipped with the tools and knowledge to deliver value and impact at the tables of decision-making,” Al-Ibrahim said.
With the youth making up the majority of the Kingdom’s population, the minister highlighted some of the ways he believes Vision 2030 is opening new opportunities for younger generations.
“Vision 2030 was designed to lay the foundations for growth, bringing the Kingdom together on a journey towards a common, prosperous future,” he said.
With their digital-native skills, they can take our economy in exciting new directions, as we continue to accelerate the Kingdom’s diversification, boost the growth of our non- oil sector, and aim to become a top 15 global economy by 2030.
Faisal bin Fadel Al-Ibrahim, Saudi minister of economy and planning
“The new sectors being created by Vision 2030 provide an unprecedented opportunity for Saudi’s youth to drive the new economy. With their digital-native skills, they can take our economy in exciting new directions, as we continue to accelerate the Kingdom’s diversification, boost the growth of our non-oil sector, and aim to become a top 15 global economy by 2030,” he added.
Al-Ibrahim said that the work the Ministry of Economy and Planning is currently doing contributes to the realization of Vision 2030.
He stressed the ministry’s commitment to helping develop future economists, researchers, and policy planners is continuous, and will carry this work forward into the Kingdom’s future.
“I’m constantly amazed by what our youth can do when they are given the opportunity,” he said.
“Empowering young people to work on, and ultimately invest in themselves, will only serve to strengthen our future labor market, boost productivity and enhance our global economic competitiveness,” he added.
Al-Ibrahim was a speaker on day two of the Misk Global Forum that concluded on Thursday in a session titled “The Generation Remaking the World,” where he discussed the ways of empowering the youth and the Kingdom’s future leaders with the skills to navigate economic transformation inclusively and collaboratively.
“The energy and dynamism that is radiating from our young people today — which was on full display at the Misk Global Forum 2022 — is inspiring. They are our future and the guardians of tomorrow’s economy. And we must invest in them now to unlock the potential of the demographic dividend we have, with one of the world’s largest youth populations,” he said.
The minister discussed the importance of holding open discussions and gatherings to tackle global issues from all perspectives from the youth to older generations, such as the Misk Global Forum.
“There is tremendous value in opening your mind to young energy. Bringing different generational perspectives to any challenge only enhances the solutions we are able to design and execute,” he explained.
“As a nation, we are designing policies that work for all, in a forum that is open to people from across the generational spectrum to contribute to. This sends a very clear message to our youth that there is nothing stopping them from contributing meaningfully to the country’s economic transformation,” he added.
The minister also highlighted his ministry’s role in the Kingdom’s ambitions for sustainability under the UN’s Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, signed in June this year and running until 2026.
“The Ministry of Economy and Planning recently established the Sustainable Development Steering Committee to oversee performance and coordinate efforts toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“It’s led by government experts from the Kingdom who are committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the national SDG agenda,” he added.
“To further enhance our thrust towards SDG realization, we signed the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework in June to accelerate joint efforts to deliver progress on climate and sustainability.”
The framework is one of the main tools to map out cooperation between the UN and the government of Saudi Arabia in sustainability. Some of the 17 goals the Kingdom is working with the UN to achieve include gender equality, education, affordable and clean energy, climate action, and sustainable cities and communities.
The framework is a joint effort between the Ministry of Economy and Planning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UN.
The minister concluded the interview with advice to the younger generations in their roles in contributing to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“Developing a problem-solving mindset is crucial in today’s socioeconomic climate. And we’ve already seen clear evidence that they have it,” he said.
“Everyone rallied behind the cause (during the COVID-19 pandemic) and responded to the moment because of this sense of ownership that came with being involved in it. The young people of Saudi Arabia showed themselves to be up for the challenge,” he said.
“They are faced with several major challenges today, and they will have to develop resilience and agility to overcome them.”
DHAHRAN: The Saudi Fashion Exhibition, launched this week at Ithra in Dhahran, featured 45 Saudi designers who showcased a range of luxury creations, including intricately constructed garments, handbags and jewelry.
The exhibition is part of Tanween, Ithra’s flagship creativity festival.
Walaa Tahlawi, Ithra’s operations manager and supervisor of the exhibition, said the location chosen to display Saudi talent and innovation was ideal because the Ithra building itself was an architectural marvel.
The exhibition aims to explore the future of design in the Kingdom. The designers drew from their own experiences to weave a personal narrative into their creations.
In cooperation with the Fashion Authority, the exhibition will continue until the end of this month at the center’s headquarters in Dhahran.
The CEO of the authority, Burak Cakmak, said in a statement: “Saudi fashion is not like any other fashion, because it is exceptional, unique, luxurious and made with extreme precision.
“The fashion industry seeks to be a major part in meeting the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and there is huge potential for growth. In the untapped fashion sector locally and globally.
“The Saudi fashion sector has made amazing progress over the past two years through initiatives that have contributed to creating opportunities for local talent.”
Saudi jewelry designer Lillian Ismail provided a “simple, elegant unisex bracelet” in collaboration with Ithra for the occasion, which was given to the invited guests.
One such visitor was Dr. Patricia Davies who is an associate professor of mathematics at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Dhahran.
“I like fashion, I sew. So I was very curious to see the designs; the direction in which Saudi designs are going. I came to a previous exhibition that featured more historic design traditional designs — that was interesting. I could see how the designs had varied according to the region but this is different,” said Davies.
“These are people who are in the fashion business. You know, coming from Britain, I could see some similarities with the more traditional British outfits, which we would refer to as ‘cloaks.’ Well, I mainly make clothes for myself, I have done this since childhood. So I have really grown up with an eye for fashion. One of the things I was looking at here, I was thinking well, I might get some ideas of things to sew. I did get some ideas,” she told Arab News.
Those interested in seeing more artistic creations can visit Fashion Futures, which will be held at Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City in Riyadh from Nov. 17-19.
RIYADH: Two Saudi teams from the Riyadh-based all-female Apple Developer Academy have been selected to attend the Apple Entrepreneur Camp in California taking place between Nov. 7–11.
The first team qualified for their HOVER application which offers a market that links customers with drone operators to deliver the services they desire and the numerous tools a drone operator needs, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The second team qualified for their AWARE application which provides a service for people looking for reliable reviews and recommendations on skincare products and that determines their care routine.
The camp focuses on apps that participants have created or co-created, giving them the opportunity to work closely with Apple engineers and experts to accelerate and drive app growth.
RIYADH: Saudi illustrator and metal music enthusiast Narees Akbar, who enjoyed creating art for fun, found herself running a business when her designs became popular, both in the Kingdom and abroad.
Akbar has always been skilled at creating symmetrical designs freehand, and she works intuitively without using any references.
“I started doing these designs for fun in my early 20s, and they developed in the last couple of years. That’s when I started getting commissions for my work,” Akbar told Arab News.
Akbar’s clients are mostly foreigners who use her drawing as tattoo designs. Locally, Saudi metal bands such as Entropia, Ortoraton, Doomster, Metarust and Corvidae requested her art to use as their logos.
• Narees Akbar’s clients are mostly foreigners who use her drawing as tattoo designs.
• Locally, Saudi metal bands such as Entropia, Ortoraton, Doomster, Metarust and Corvidae requested her art to use as their logos.
Explaining the process, Akbar said that it takes time to create such finely detailed art, as she sketches on paper first before transforming her designs into digital products.
“I begin by asking the clients if they have a particular style in mind and, depending on their response, I create a few preliminary sketches on paper. Once they decide, I switch to digital design and keep them updated throughout the process. It typically takes four to seven business days, depending on the complexity of the logo,” she said.
With her unique style, Akbar aspires to become a well-known Saudi logo designer. “I want to be known more in Saudi Arabia as a logo designer, and I aim to have my own clothing line,” she said.
To see more of Akbar’s art, check out her Instagram @nars_sanity.
JEDDAH: Although the majority of Saudi Arabia’s terrain is covered by desert, a surprisingly large number of indigenous plant species are able to withstand the harsh climate. Now, under the umbrella of the Saudi Green Initiative, efforts are underway to preserve, and even increase, the amount of vegetation across the Kingdom.
From its desert vistas in the north to the southern region of Asir, the Kingdom is home to an abundance of vegetation, including more than 2,000 wild plant species belonging to 142 families. According to the Saudi National Center for Wildlife, however, about 600 of thee species are classified as endangered and 21 are already thought to be extinct.
The SGI, announced in March 2021, is the largest afforestation project the country has ever seen, with a target of planting 450 million trees by 2030. By the end of 2021, about 10 million trees had already been planted across all of the Kingdom’s 13 regions.
When one thinks of Saudi Arabia, forests might not be the first type of ecosystem that springs to mind. However, the Kingdom has about 2.7 million hectares of woodland, primarily in the remote southwestern highlands of Abha and Asir.
On the face of it, the goal of planting 450 million trees may sound ambitious, to say nothing of the planned greening of the desert, especially given the frenetic urban expansion the Kingdom is witnessing.
But in fact, to counter the potential harm of urban sprawl, the Saudi government has set specific SGI goals to incorporate green spaces harmoniously into urban expansion, including parkland and afforestation within the limits of the Kingdom’s desert cities.
The greening of unmanaged surfaces within these cities will not only help to curb rising temperatures but also cut carbon dioxide emissions, improve air quality, provide opportunities for more active lifestyles, and beautify cities in a sustainable way.
In more rural climes, meanwhile, the greening efforts have to work against encroaching desertification, limited water resources and record-high temperatures, all of which are thought to be the result of climate change caused by humans.
The SGI road map sets out to halt and reverse desertification and soil degradation, preserve the Kingdom’s unique biodiversity, and maintain limited water resources in a nation where rainfall in scarce and groundwater is being depleted.
Currently, Saudi Arabia has 15 areas that are protected because of their biodiversity; 12 are on land and three of them are marine. The National Center for Wildlife proposes to increase that number to 75, 62 on land and 13 in coastal and marine areas.
The King Salman Royal Nature Reserve in northern Saudi Arabia covers about 6 percent of the Kingdom’s landmass. It includes mountain terrain, vast plains and high plateaus, and is home to about 300 animal species along with rare archaeological heritage sites, some dating back as far as 8,000 BC.
The reserve’s management intends to plant 3.1 million trees there by 2027 to enhance the resilience and diversity of this precious natural habitat.
* 2,000 wild plant species are native to Saudi Arabia, belonging to 142 families. However, about 600 are classified as endangered and 21 are already extinct.
* 15 areas are protected in the Kingdom because of their biodiversity, 12 on land and 3 marine. The National Center for Wildlife plans to increase the number to 75.
“We are committed to increasing the vegetation cover, as we have already achieved in planting 600,000 plants as well as having many seed-sowing campaigns to increase the vegetation in the reserve,” a KSRNR spokesperson told Arab News.
“The trees and shrubs are perennial plants that restore the desert-degraded habitats. These plants are native species to the desert habitats and are adapted to the desert’s harsh conditions, such as drought and high temperatures, and do not require excessive water for irrigation.
“The reserve’s strategic objective is to establish a seedling program that includes many projects, such as installing the main nursery.”
Nevertheless, water remains a major challenge for conservation work and greening schemes in the Kingdom. Over the centuries, inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula found ways to sustain life and survive droughts by digging freshwater wells. Over time, and in the wake of the Kingdom’s economic boom in the 1970s, Saudis turned to modern farming methods, increasingly tapping groundwater reserves.
With no rivers or natural lakes, and very little annual rainfall to replenish sources, Saudi Arabia established seawater desalination plants in its eastern and western coastal areas to support inland cities. Nevertheless, the demand for freshwater is growing and natural aquifers are fast depleting.
The Saudi government is therefore exploring ways to preserve its water resources and use them more efficiently so that they can continue to meet the demands of a growing economy while also keeping green spaces well watered.
Maria Nava, a scientific consultant for Greening Arabia at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Center for Desert Agriculture, told Arab News that the SGI’s strategic team is likely to tap into treated wastewater to irrigate newly planted vegetation.
Another goal, she said, is “to reduce rainfall loss to the sea or through sand infiltration by the implementation and improvement of water harvesting in the Kingdom and remediation of soil for water retention where needed.”
Plants in urban areas tend to need much more water and canopy cover to provide shade than those growing in mountain, wadi and desert climates, Nava said.
“This vegetation requires more water compared with desert trees, which are drought-resistant and have fewer leaves,” she added.
Given the Kingdom’s diverse topography, much will need to be done to restore arid or semi-arid lands, prevent soil erosion, retain water, farm using permaculture techniques, and plant vegetation that is tolerant of local conditions, including the growing threat of dust storms.
“All areas in the Kingdom are important and are treated as such,” said Nava. “Each action zone has been deeply studied and analyzed for its potential for tree growth, water availability and aftercare of the vegetation.
“Within the scope of each zone, the propositions are based on being sustainable and that the vegetation can be kept and enhanced in the future. It is not that some have more attention than others; it is more that some, because of weather, water availability, soil, topography, etc., have a higher potential to ‘host’ vegetation than others.
“Nevertheless, all ecosystem changes will affect others, which has also been considered. Each strategy has been thought out in order to be sustainable.”
Driven by necessity, Saudi Arabia is rethinking its water-conservation strategy. Given the ambitious goals of the SGI, a shift from irrigation with desalinated water to the use of treated water was recommended because of the energy demands.
“Desalination is more energy-intensive than wastewater treatment,” said Nava. “It is possible to reuse all the wastewater for irrigation since the water quality is good for it and there are already plans for this to happen in the Kingdom.
“Currently there is already some reuse of treated wastewater, and as part of the national water strategy the reuse of treated wastewater will reach 70 percent by 2030, with plans to increase this percentage in the near future.”
As the nation becomes more aware of its natural bounties, communities across the Kingdom are also beginning to more actively participate in efforts to achieve the goals of the SGI and achieve a greener future.
“The communities are the base for all the initiatives to become real and succeed,” said Nava. “It is highly important to engage and involve the people, hear their needs, understand their traditions and make them part of the decisions.
“The implementation of the SGI has to be based on three main pillars: social, economic and sustainable.”
HAIL: Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Alex McInnes and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri took control of their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the first leg of Saudi Baja 2022–Hail concluded on Friday afternoon.
Competitors tackled a selective section of 229.52 kilometers to the west and northwest of Hail that was split by a neutralization link into two parts of 101.52 km and 128.00 km.
At the wheel of an Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz recorded a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 19 seconds, to move 9 minutes, 48 seconds ahead of rivals Miroslav Zapletal (Ford F-150 Evo) and Marek Sykora in the duel for the drivers’ title in both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.
“It was a nice stage and I enjoyed it a lot. There were a lot of technical places. We did a good time and Dirk did a great job. The weather was different and not too hot today. No rain but the ground is hard after the rain yesterday,” said Al-Rajhi.
Fernando Alvarez strengthened his grip on the T3 Championship in the FIA World Cup by setting the third-quickest time, and he moved into a similar position in the rankings in his Can-Am Maverick with French co-driver Xavier Panseri. The Spaniard’s nearest T3 rival was seventh-placed Hamed Al-Harbi, who is chasing glory in the FIA Middle East Cup.
Alvarez started the stage from seventh on the road. “We did very well and we are happy with third place. The car was perfect. We had no problems and stayed all the time on a good way. We will continue pushing all the way because I want to be on the podium for the overall with the T1s. Today was supposed to rain but we had no rain.”
Al-Harbi added: “The stage was very nice but it was very cold in the morning. It was full speed and taking care. Only Yazeed passed me on the stage today.”
Eduard Pons topped the times in the FIA T4 section and edged 29 seconds clear of Kees Koolen. With Kuwait’s championship leader Meshari Al-Thefiri suffering major time delays with electrical issues, that handed the initiative to Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Koolen in the three-way fight for the FIA title.
Al-Thefiri said: “We had changed the engine but still suffered in the car with some electrical problem which forced the engine to shut down many times. We managed to restart and pass De Sousa but the problem worsened after the neutral section.”
Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Al-Feraihi finished the day in fourth overall and second in T1 with French navigator Sebastien Delaunay. “Had a wonderful day. We had minor issues, as we expect in such stages, but we finished in safely.”
Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Attiyah teamed up with Emirati co-driver Ali Mirza, but the South Racing Can-Am duo were forced to retire after an accident. Mirza said: “Unfortunately, after 10 km, we had an accident and we broke the car. Mohammed and I are okay and, hopefully, we have enough parts so we can continue tomorrow.”
Al-Attiyah added: “We tried to overtake the driver (Camelia Liparoti) in front while descending a hill, but we landed on the front tires and rolled over.”
Dania Akeel was the highest-placed female driver in 11th overall and fourth in T3. The Saudi said: “I love Hail Baja, the crowds gathering to watch the stage. It was a good stage with its own challenges. We hope to finish in a good position for the next round in Dubai.”
Alex McInnes was the class of the motorcycle field on his Husqvarna FE 450. The Briton won the stage by 93 seconds from Makis Rees-Stavros and headed into the night halt in Hail with a lead of 1:43.0. Saudi Arabia’s Anass Al-Reheyani, Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers rounded off the top five.
Haitham Al-Tuwaijri got the better of his archrival Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi to lead the quad category by 8:43.0 on his Yamaha Raptor 700. The two Saudi riders were the class of the field that saw Hani Al-Noumesi and Abdulaziz Ahli both incur massive time penalties after technical issues.
Ahmed Al-Shammeri led Motab Al-Shammeri by 3:30.0 in the Saudi National Baja for cars and Yasir Al-Khuraif was the leading rider in the National section for motorcycles.
The seventh round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the FIM Bajas World Cup, round three of the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, and the third event in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship, is being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Motors.
Saudi Baja 2022-Hail positions (unofficial):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Saudi Arabia)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany) Toyota Hilux Overdrive: 2:39:28
2. Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic)/Marek Sykora (Slovakia) Ford F150 Evo: 2:49:16
3. Fernando Alvarez (Spain)/Xavier Panseri (France) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 2:55:07
4. Khaled Al-Feraihi (Saudi Arabia)/Sebastien Delaunay (France) Nissan Patrol: 3:00:51
5. Eduard Pons (Spain)/Monica Plaza Vasquez (Spain) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:01:28
6. Kees Koolen (Netherlands)/Paolo Ceci (Italy) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:01:57
7. Hamed Al-Harbi (Saudi Arabia)/Dmytro Tsyro (Ukraine) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:03:26
8. Aliyyah Koloc (UAE)/Stephane Duple (France) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 (T3): 3:05:21
9. Cristiano Batista (Brazil)/Fausto Mota (Portugal) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4): 3:05:22
10. Egidijus Valeisa (Lithuania)/ Mindaugas Varza (Lithuania) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo: 3:08:05
11. Dania Akeel (Saudi Arabia)/Sergio Lafuente (Uruguay) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:09:11
12. Mashael Al-Obaidan (Saudi Arabia)/Wouter Rosegaar (Netherlands) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:10:16
T1 unless stated
1. Alex McInnes (Great Britain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:07:41
2. Makis Rees-Stavros (Great Britain) KTM EXC F 450: 3:09:24
3. Anass Al-Reheyani (Saudi Arabia) KTM EXC F 450: 3:18:23
4. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (UAE) TM 450: 3:20:51
5. Martin Chalmers (Qatar) Honda CRF 450: 3:21:44
6. Abdullah Al-Shatti (Kuwait) Kawasaki KC 450: 3:25:53
7. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (Saudi Arabia) Husqvarna 450 Rally: 3:31:06
8. Ahmed Al-Jaber (Saudi Arabia) KTM 450 Rally: 3:32:03
9. Brett Hunt (Great Britain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:33:31
10. Abdullah Abu Aishah (Jordan) KTM 450 Factory Rally: 3:34:45
11. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (Saudi Arabia) KTM EXC 450: 3:35:19
12. Salman Mohamed Farhan (Bahrain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:45:23
1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 3:32:51
2. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 3:41:34
3. Hani Al-Noumesi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 27:04:11
4. Abdulaziz Ahli (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha YFZ 450R: 28:48:41