Saudi Arabia launches cloud-seeding programme to increase rainfall

The aircraft will fly over the Riyadh, Qassim and Hail regions in first phase of programme

Cloud seeding is a process to generate more precipitation. Photo: Saudi Projects

Saudi Arabia said it has launched a cloud-seeding programme with the first batch of flights over the regions of Riyadh, Qassim and Hail.

The minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and chairman of the board of directors of the National Centre of Meteorology, Abdul Rahman Al Fadhli, announced the programme on Tuesday.

Cloud seeding is a method used to induce more rain from a cloud by shooting a salt flare into the cloud. Salt naturally attracts water, the water particles then collide with others, get bigger and hopefully fall as rain.

The kingdom's cloud-seeding programme aims to increase rainfall in the country, which does not exceed 100 millimetres a year.

Ayman Ghulam, chief executive of the National Centre of Meteorology and supervisor of the cloud-seeding programme, said that the operating room for the programme was launched yesterday at the headquarters of the National Centre of Meteorology in Riyadh, with the first flights over Riyadh implementing a successful cloud-seeding process in the desired time frame.

Dr Ghulam said that experts are working on studying the research and scientific framework of the scheduled seeding operations and its outputs, with the centre aiming to issue periodic reports on the programme's progress.

The aircraft chosen is designed to sow “environmentally friendly” stimulating materials in specific places in the atmosphere to stimulate the process of precipitation on the targeted areas and hopefully increase the amount of rain, he said.

Saudi authorities hope cloud seeding will improve rainfall rates in the kingdom. Photo: Saudi Projects

The first phase of the programme includes Riyadh, Qassim and Hail, while the second phase will cover the Asir, Al Baha and Taif regions.

The cloud-seeding programme is one of the outcomes of the Middle East Green Initiative Summit announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year, in accordance with the kingdom's Vision 2030.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 9:34 AM
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