As Saudi Arabia prepares for a new era in climate action, this gallery of images reminds us of the natural beauty of this historic landscape
Spanning almost the entire length and width of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is the biggest country in the Middle East.
It’s known for its arid landscape, where there are no rivers or lakes, and where temperatures out in the desert can soar to 55C.
But when you delve deeper, you’ll soon discover that this country has enormous diversity in its landscape.
Across its southern borders you’ll find Rub’ al Khali, a vast desert known as the Empty Quarter where undulating sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see.
As you approach the Red Sea, this dusty landscape suddenly sweeps up into the cloud-piercing highlands of the Asir mountains, the highest point reaching more than 3,000m.
Off the west coast, there’s a cluster of paradisal islands, each one with pristine sandy beaches. Much of their treasures are found beneath the waves, in the shape of colourful coral reefs and mesmerising marine life.
And then there are the oases, a flush of green against the beige of the desert sand.
So yes, Saudi Arabia has a wealth of captivating and beautiful landscapes.
But like other countries around the world, Saudi Arabia has been suffering from the effects of climate change.
The summers are only getting hotter, while unexpected storms are causing flash floods. Not to mention the ease with which its landscape could succumb to desertification.
Nå, the country has launched the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) – a series of sustainability pledges that it hopes will help limit and reverse some of the damaging effects of climate change.
The most ambitious of these is perhaps the goal to generate 50 per cent of the country’s energy supply from renewable sources.
It also wants to drastically cut down its carbon emissions to 4 per cent of global contributions, plant 10 billion trees and make 30 per cent of the country into protected areas that will preserve the wildlife and habitats for generations to come.
As wide-ranging as they are ambitious, the SGI is really the country’s move to lead the conversation in climate action.
To celebrate the launch of the first SGI summit, The Independent has curated a collection of photographs that perfectly capture the stunning landscape the country is trying to preserve.
De Saudi Green Initiative is Saudi Arabia’s whole-of-government approach to combat climate change.