Qatar, China co­op­er­ate in dig­i­tal wa­ter-sav­ing ir­ri­ga­tion


Qatar's NAAAS Group has signed an agree­ment with China's Ningxia Uni­ver­sity and a Chi­nese com­pany to in­tro­duce into the Mid­dle East coun­try dig­i­tal wa­ter-sav­ing ir­ri­ga­tion tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment de­vel­oped by the uni­ver­sity.

Ningxia Uni­ver­sity said on Fri­day that the project worth 1.26 bil­lion U.S. dol­lars is an im­por­tant part of the mem­o­ran­dum of co­op­er­a­tion pre­vi­ously signed by China-Arab States Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer Cen­ter and Qatar Free Zones Author­ity, which covers projects rang­ing from food pro­duc­tion and wa­ter-sav­ing agri­cul­ture to af­foresta­tion and eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion.

Nasser Has­san Al Jaber, chair­man of NAAAS Group, said that the dig­i­tal wa­ter­sav­ing ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem is ex­pected to achieve max­i­mum use of wa­ter re­sources and pro­mote qual­ity agri­cul­ture in Qatar.

The sys­tem was de­vel­oped by a team of ex­perts from the Col­lege of Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence of Ningxia Uni­ver­sity in north­west China's Ningxia Hui Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion. It in­cludes tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment in­volv­ing wind­so­lar-pow­ered wa­ter ex­trac­tion, un­der­ground seep­ing pipes and a con­trol soft­ware sys­tem op­er­ated on smart­phones.

"The sys­tem can rem­edy the de­fect of blind ir­ri­ga­tion from the whole pipe, and save wa­ter in the un­cul­ti­vated area," said Sun Zhao­jun, dean of the col­lege.

Use of sur­face drip-ir­ri­ga­tion is com­mon in Arab coun­tries, but long-time ex­po­sure to the weather in dry ar­eas al­ways makes it easy for pipes to age, Sun said.

Ac­cord­ing to the uni­ver­sity, the dig­i­tal wa­ter-sav­ing ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem has been used in Oman and Egypt, where it was proved to save over 22 per­cent of wa­ter and 26.6 per­cent of en­ergy while ir­ri­gat­ing in­dus­trial crops.

So far, the sys­tem has been ap­plied over a to­tal area of 575,733 hectares in north­west China and Arab coun­tries, creat­ing an in­crease in out­put value worth 1.84 bil­lion yuan (264.9 mil­lion U.S. dol­lars) and a profit of 378 mil­lion yuan.

The uni­ver­sity has trained 2,360 tech­ni­cians from 23 coun­tries and re­gions on the tech­nol­ogy.

A UN-backed tri­bunal will hand down its ver­dict on the 2005 mur­der of for­mer pre­mier Rafic Hariri, two weeks after the Le­banese cap­i­tal was rocked by a mas­sive ex­plo­sion.

The Spe­cial Tri­bunal for Le­banon's long-awaited judge­ment comes days after a cat­a­clysmic blast at Beirut port blamed on state neg­li­gence left at least 177 peo­ple dead and deep­ened public dis­trust to­ward the govern­ment.

Ini­tially sched­uled for Au­gust 7, the Dutch-based in­ter­na­tional court post­poned its own ver­dict 15 years after Hariri's as­sas­si­na­tion "out of re­spect for the count­less vic­tims".

Four al­leged mem­bers of the pow­er­ful Shi­ite Mus­lim group Hezbol­lah were on trial in ab­sen­tia at the court in the Nether­lands over the huge Beirut sui­cide bomb­ing on 14 Fe­bru­ary 2005 that killed Sunni bil­lion­aire Hariri and 21 other peo­ple.

The judg­ment harks back to an event that changed the face of the Mid­dle East, with Hariri's as­sas­si­na­tion trig­ger­ing a wave of demon­stra­tions that pushed Syr­ian forces out of Le­banon after 30 years.

The court is billed as the world's first in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal set up to probe ter­ror­ist crimes, and it has cost at least $600 mil­lion since it opened its doors in 2009 fol­low­ing a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

But the tri­bunal faces doubts over its cred­i­bil­ity with Hezbol­lah chief Has­san Nas­ral­lah re­fus­ing to hand over the de­fen­dants, and the case re­ly­ing al­most en­tirely on mo­bile phone records.

Nas­ral­lah last week warned the pow­er­ful move­ment would ig­nore the ver­dict by the court based in Leidschend­am just out­side The Hague, say­ing "we do not feel con­cerned by the STL's de­ci­sions."

Mean­while the slain for­mer prime min­is­ter's son Saad Hariri, him­self a for­mer pre­mier, was ex­pected in The Hague for the ver­dict, sched­uled for 11.00 am (0900 GMT).

Due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the judg­ment "will be de­liv­ered from the court­room with par­tial vir­tual par­tic­i­pa­tion" the court said.

The four de­fen­dants went on trial in 2014 on charges in­clud­ing the "in­ten­tional homi­cide" of Hariri and 21 oth­ers, at­tempted homi­cide of 226 peo­ple wounded in the bomb­ing, and con­spir­acy to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act.

Salim Ayyash, 56, is ac­cused of lead­ing the team that car­ried out the bomb­ing, which in­volved a truck packed full of ex­plo­sives that det­o­nated near Hariri's mo­tor­cade.

As­sad Sabra, 43, and Hus­sein Oneissi, 46, al­legedly sent a fake video to the Al-Jazeera news chan­nel claim­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity on be­half of a made-up group.

Has­san Habib Merhi, 54, is ac­cused of gen­eral in­volve­ment in the plot.

The al­leged mas­ter­mind of the bomb­ing, Hezbol­lah com­man­der Mustafa Badred­dine, was in­dicted by the court but is be­lieved to have been killed in the Da­m­as­cus area in May 2016.

The sur­viv­ing sus­pects face life im­pris­on­ment if con­victed, al­though sen­tenc­ing will be car­ried out at a later date.

If the four are con­victed and not present, the court will is­sue ar­rest war­rants, a court spokesman said.

Both the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fence can ap­peal the judg­ment and sen­tence, while if a de­fen­dant is even­tu­ally ar­rested he can re­quest a re­trial.

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