RIYADH: SHARIF M. TAHA | ARAB NEWS STAFF
Published — Saturday 13 July 2013
Last update 17 July 2013 3:45 am
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are strenuously working to diversify income sources and minimize reliance on oil through investment in leading industrial activities, local media reported.
Saudi Arabia, in particular, is leading the GCC region to develop nonoil sector where the value of the ongoing nonoil projects is estimated at $ 17 billion (SR 63.7 billion), Al-Riyadh daily said quoting a report by Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC).
The Kingdom has reportedly occupied the 12th rank among the world's biggest 40 countries concerned with renewable energy sources.
In other GCC countries, the UAE has spent $ 5 billion in solar energy projects, currently under construction, whereas the value of nonoil projects is estimated at $ 2.1 billion, which are mostly concentrated in Abu Dhabi Emirate.
The Kingdom recently announced four solar energy projects, notably the solar energy project in Makkah, announced in the last quarter of 2012, whereby the holy city will become the first area to use an alternative energy source in the Kingdom, the local media said.
In Qatar, meanwhile, nonoil projects captured some $ 2.8 billion, mostly in iron and steel industries. Cement industry is predicted to lead business sector in the next five years at the growth rate of 11.2 percent followed by consumer industry sector at 7.7 percent.
On the other hand, the GCC countries will continue to achieve high rates of economic growth in the current year despite a slight decline in the oil prices and lower exports, which dropped by 5 percent compared to last year’s figures, the local media said.
Based on the above situation, levels of personal incomes have steadily increased, which led to the expansion of bank deposits, particularly in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, and encouraged the banks to expand banking credits.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has topped the MENA countries in terms of solar energy projects where it got 4.1 points out of 5 points, according to a report released by VtM, a US solar research firm.
Turkey came second at 3.9 points, followed by Abu Dhabi and Morocco jointly at 3.6 points in the third rank, Jordan in the fifth rank (3.2 points), Dubai in the sixth rank (3.1 points), Algeria and Egypt jointly in the seventh rank (3 points), and Qatar in the ninth rank (2.4 points).
The MENA region has the biggest solar energy potentials globally whereas Saudi Arabia and Turkey will lead the regional countries in terms of the highest energy demand and will become the first two countries to use the electric scale of GigaWatt (or billion watts) by 2015, according to the VtM report.