Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques issues royal order to establish King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy

UN human rights commission praises King Abdullah’s efforts to boost education

Saudi Arabia underlines importance of achieving universality of treaty on banning chemical weapons

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it would set up a scientific centre for civilian nuclear and renewable energy to meet rising demand for power and desalinated water, state news agency SPA said.

Fast growing power demand is forcing Saudi Arabia to look at all sources of energy, the kingdom’s deputy minister of electricity, Saleh Alawaji said last month.

Demand for power grew last year by more than 8% and is expected to grow to more than 60,000 megawatt (MW) by 2020.

The kingdom is investing $80bn to boost installed power generation capacity to around 67,000 MW by 2020, up from 46,000 MW now.

King Abdullah ordered the creation of a science complex named after him which would be headed by former trade minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani.

SPA gave no more details or timeframe for the project but said the complex would be based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The centre would be in charge of promoting research and sealing future deals, SPA said. It would also oversee activities related to the use of nuclear energy.

The King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energies is to draft a national policy on nuclear energy development and will be responsible for supervising all commercial use of nuclear power and the handling of radioactive waste, the official statement said.

“The kingdom is witnessing sustained growth in demand for power and desalinated water due to high population growth and subsidized prices of water and power,” SPA said.

“Thus the use of alternative, sustainable, reliable sources to produce electricity and desalinate water reduces reliance on hydrocarbons ...extends the lifespan of hydrocarbon resources and preserves it as a source of income for a longer time,” it added.

Saudi Arabia aims to increase the use of crude oil for power generation to 2.5mn barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) on a daily average by 2020 from 1.5mn BOE in 2009, Alawaji said earlier this month.

While Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and huge hydrocarbon riches, high population growth and heavy energy subsidies have driven up domestic oil and gas consumption at a rate that has sparked concern among planners.

While the kingdom has already been experimenting with alternative energy sources like solar power, the latest move confirmed its interest in nuclear energy.

Saudi Arabia is already pumping money into solar energy research and development.

In January the government announced a project for a solar power-fuelled desalination plant in the Gulf coast city of Al-Khafji that could produce 30,000cu m of fresh water daily from seawater.

The second phase of the project would expand the capacity 10-fold.

Last year, France’s economy minister said Saudi Arabia and France were close to finalizing a civilian nuclear energy co-operation agreement.

The kingdom’s minister of water and electricity then said the Middle East’s largest economy was considering building its first nuclear power plant.

Neighboring Kuwait agreed on Friday with France to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The United Arab Emirates was the first Gulf Arab country to take the nuclear route, in a bid to meet rising electricity demand for a fast-growing population.

In December, it awarded a deal worth up to $40bn, one of the largest ever awarded in the Middle East, to a South Korean consortium to build and operate four nuclear reactors on its soil.

The UAE, the world’s third-biggest oil exporter, has plans to build its first nuclear reactor by 2017. It will also host the International Renewable Energy Agency’s newly-created headquarters.

In an editorial entitled: ' The Kingdom and investment in alternative energies,' Al-Riyadh newspaper said the establishment of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) constitutes an important step for obtaining renewable energies like solar energy.

This means that the Kingdom is planning to find alternative for the oil which is liable for drying up,' said the paper, noting that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz is keen on finding alternatives for oil in the well-studied Eight Development Plan.

'Such a development may make the Kingdom one of the most important exporters of solar energy in the world, ' said the daily, adding that usage of atomic energy in the field of health, agriculture and water desalination is an urgent demand.

The Senior Scholars Council has congratulated the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on issuance of his order to establish KACARE.

Dr. Fahd Al-Majed, the Commission's Secretary General said this development embodies the determination to make this city a reality which benefits the Saudi society.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency, he affirmed that this development also reflects the great attention given by the King to the country and its citizens and shows his keenness on enabling them to go on the path of plentiful progress and prosperity which is not affected by energy and resource's changes as well as increase in cost of operations.

'This is an evidence of the farsightedness and wisdom of our leadership which should be appreciated,' he added.

Major General Mansour Al-Turki, Security Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, confirmed that the ministry has strenuously exerted great efforts to dismantle plans to smuggle drugs into the Kingdom and foil them before drugs being sent across the border.

In a press statement, Al-Turki said the ministry is aware of plans being designed outside the Kingdom to smuggle drugs into the Kingdom and accordingly spares no effort to execute successful pre-emptive plans to foil them while in their early phases.

He lauded cooperation with anti-drug authorities in a number of friendly countries to fight the phenomenon.

He said the Kingdom reached understanding with several world authorities that our religious occasions, particularly Hajj and Umrah, would not be exploited to bring drugs into the country.

Al-Turki paid tribute to the vigilance of Saudi security men and customs authorities who were successful to discover well-hidden quantities of drugs on their way across the border.

He underscored the importance of social contribution to the anti-drug drive together with illumination and preventive campaigns to help lessen the danger of the plague.

The Security Spokesman at the Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of 195 persons of various nationalities involved in smuggling and promoting drugs during a number of security operations carried out by security authorities in various provinces of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to thwart smuggling and promoting large quantities of pure heroin, hashish and Captagon tablets.

The Spokesman stated that security authorities have seized during these security operations 8,075,141 Captagon tablets, more than 2.7 tons of hashish and 20 kilograms of pure heroin.

The Spokesman elaborated the nationalities of the arrested persons including 108 Saudis, 29 Pakistanis, 17 Yemenis, 9 Syrians, One Turkish, One Sudanese, One Egyptian and One Indian in addition to 28 people from unknown-identity infiltrators.

The Spokesman stressed that security forces will continue to carry out their duties to protect the society from the scourge of drugs and its harm, affirming that anyone involved in drugs smuggling and promotion will be submitted to the judiciary for punishment.

In Jeddah, Mrs. Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah as part of her visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In welcoming the guests, the Secretary General appreciated the confident, objective and impartial manner in which the High Commissioner had performed the difficult task with a sincerity of purpose since the assumption of the important office.

The Secretary General informed the High Commissioner that the OIC was on the verge of establishing an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights.

'The statute of the Commission was near finalization and likely to be entered into force following adoption by the forthcoming Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers due to be held in Dushanbe next month,' Dr Ihsanoglu said in a statement carried by OIC web-site.

He emphasized that the establishment of the Commission must be viewed as a landmark event and a most positive development in the four decade long history of the Organization.

Briefing the High Commissioner on the OIC Human Rights Commission, the Secretary General expressed the hope that the establishment of the Commission will introduce a paradigm shift within the OIC in the way universal human rights and freedoms flow together with Islamic values to offer a coherent and strong system aimed at facilitating the full enjoyment of all human rights in the OIC member states.

The High Commissioner congratulated the Secretary General on the prospective establishment of the Commission and assured full support of her Office in its formative phase.

She also thanked Secretary General for his leadership and contribution to the successful outcome of the Durban Review Conference and indicated her hope for a continued cooperation with the OIC in the future.

The meeting afforded the opportunity of exchange of views on the whole range of issues pertaining to the OIC's engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner and ended with the agreement to continue to build on the cooperation and coordination between the two Organizations.

In The Hague, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stressed that it is one of the first countries that joined the agreement prohibiting chemical weapons based on its firm policy aiming at dismantling all weapons of mass destruction and banning their possession.

This came in the speech delivered by Prince Dr. Turki bin Mohammad bin Saud Alkabir, Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Multilateral Relations and Head of the Saudi National Commission for the Implementation of the Agreement Prohibiting Chemical Weapons, before the 60th session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons currently held in the Hague, the Netherlands.

The Saudi official highlighted the importance of the agreement and the steps taken by the kingdom to implement it. He said the steps included establishing the national commission for implementing the agreement, introducing laws governing its implementation, training personnel to implement the agreement and protect against the dangers of chemical weapons, forming inspection teams in this field, seizing violations and dealing with them.

Prince Dr. Turki called for boosting cooperation in the fields of useful use of chemicals.

On the Middle East, he called for making the region and the Gulf free of all weapons of mass destruction.

On the agreement's contribution to fighting terrorism, he called for the full implementation of the agreement, provision of immediate technical assistance to the countries that are parties to the agreement when needed and boosting security and safety at chemical installations.

Prince Dr. Turki stressed the importance of following up the efforts exerted by the kingdom in fighting terrorism including the importance of boosting international cooperation to prevent terrorists from possessing weapons of mass destruction.