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.