UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies

UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Infrastructure and Projects Authority's commercial finance specialist, Philippa Eddie and Zouk Capital's Managing Partner Samer Salty (R) with Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Al-Ramahi and British Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke (R) at the the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) conference in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Al-Ramahi and British Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke sign the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) agreement in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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The UK already has one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in Europe, and this investment will help make it the fastest by installing state-of-the-art technology. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Al-Ramahi and British Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke address the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) conference in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Al-Ramahi and British Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke sign the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) agreement in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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The UK already has one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in Europe, and this investment will help make it the fastest by installing state-of-the-art technology. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Infrastructure and Projects Authority's commercial finance specialist, Philippa Eddie, addresses the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) conference in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
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Khaled Al-Qubaisi, CEO of Aerospace, Renewables & ICT for Mubadala, addresses the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) conference in London. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
Updated 08 October 2019

UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies

UAE’s Masdar invests in British green technologies
  • Masdar has a long history of putting money into renewable energy and is a cornerstone investor in the CIIF
  • UK pioneer in tackling climate change by becoming first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050

LONDON: UAE renewable energy investor Masdar is pouring millions into a UK government fund to make Britain one of the world’s best-served countries for electric vehicles.
British ministers announced more than £500 million (SR2.29 billion) of new investments in green technologies, including a £400 million fund to bolster Britain’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, with cooperation from private-sector investors.
“We were absolutely delighted that Masdar chose to invest 35 million in this fund, which the government topped up to 70 million for the installation of 3,000 rapid charges across the country,” British Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said during a conference held in London.
This more than doubles the number of rapid charges across the UK, producing a dense network of stopping points where cars can be charged in 20 minutes, compared to existing technology which can take 40 minutes.
The Masdar investment, in partnership with the UK Treasury and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), is part of the UK’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so, a law that was passed by former premier Theresa May in the last few weeks before she stepped down.
“I think today is such a good news day for both Britain and the UAE, but also our global environment in the long-term, which will allow us to start to transform our EV (electric vehicle) infrastructure, because, of course, we’ll only be able to persuade large numbers of people to switch to using EVs when we have the right infrastructure to make that possible,” Clarke told Arab News.
Masdar has invested more than £3 billion in the UK over the past 10 years, predominantly in offshore wind farms that produce enough clean energy to power more than 1 million households, which “shows Masdar’s continued participation in the UK’s clean energy commitment.”

Masdar’s CEO Mohamed Al-Ramahi told Arab News: “Decarbonization and electrification of mobility is a strategic target for us and we are very excited to be a cornerstone investor in this fund, alongside the UK and the Abu Dhabi government, and hopefully this will be replicated in other countries around the world as well.”
The Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) is managed by Zouk Capital, a London-based private equity and infrastructure fund manager that invests in clean and efficient economies and has also helped finance major projects throughout Europe, including Germany and Italy.
“The opportunity for the CIIF is actually huge and the EV market is on an ever-steepening growth curve with record numbers of EV vehicles being sold every month,” said Samer Salty, Zouk’s managing partner.
With climate issues on the rise, there is a heightened sensitivity to air pollution, and as a result, more European governments are seeking alternative energy methods, particularly in the EV market.
When asked if this initiative sets an example to other governments, IPA’s commercial finance specialist, Philippa Eddie, told Arab News: “I think this will make a big difference in terms of catalyzing private-sector investment into this very fast-growing electric vehicle charging sector… in terms of having public-sector money directly alongside private-sector money.”
It is part of a larger initiative that would ensure a cleaner and healthier Britain and increase sustainability to support the government’s commitment to tackling climate change.
A further £142.9 million was unveiled in green projects, including combating air and water pollution, removing greenhouse gases, cleaner food systems, reusing and recycling materials in innovative ways and sustainable management of marine resources.
Moreover, the UK committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.
Khaled Al-Qubaisi, CEO of aerospace, renewables and ICT for Mubadala, said: “The UAE has made huge strides in recent decades to become a leader in energy production and green energy practices, but it is essential that we continue to partner and share our knowledge and learn from other countries. Our governments are tightly aligned on climate commitments.”
The UAE government has also set a target of achieving 50 percent clean energy by 2050 and is well on the way to achieving that even earlier.
“I hope that we continue to find strategic partnerships that work for both our countries, because together we’re showing that change is possible and providing leadership to governments and private companies around the world, showing that by working together we can affect real change,” Clarke said.


US fuel supply to normalize ‘fairly soon’

US fuel supply to normalize ‘fairly soon’
Updated 16 May 2021

US fuel supply to normalize ‘fairly soon’

US fuel supply to normalize ‘fairly soon’
  • Gas station outages down about 12 percent from the peak, says official

WASHINGTON: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says the nation is “over the hump” on gas shortages following a ransomware cyberattack that forced a shutdown of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline.

Problems peaked Thursday night, and service should return to normal in most areas by the end of the weekend, Granholm said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

“The good news is that ... gas station outages are down about 12 percent from the peak” as of Friday afternoon, with about 200 stations returning to service every hour, she said. “It’s still going to work its way through the system over the next few days, but we should be back to normal fairly soon.''

A cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them hit the Colonial Pipeline on May 7. The hackers did not take control of pipeline operations, but the Georgia-based company shut it down to prevent malware from affecting industrial control systems.

The Colonial Pipeline stretches from Texas to New Jersey and delivers about 45 percent of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast. The shutdown has caused shortages at the pumps throughout the South and emptied stations in the Washington, DC.

President Joe Biden said US officials do not believe the Russian government was involved, but said “we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia.'”

As Colonial reported making “substantial progress” Friday in restoring full service, two people briefed on the matter confirmed the company had paid a ransom of about $5 million.

Granholm, like other Biden administration officials, urged drivers not to panic or hoard gasoline.

“Really, the gasoline is coming,'' she said. “If you take more than what you need, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of the shortages. Let’s share a little bit with our neighbors and everybody should know that it’s going to be okay in the next few days.'”

Granholm’s agency is leading the federal response to the ransomware attack. She said the incident shows the vulnerability not only of US infrastructure, but also personal computers. Her 86-year-old mother recently suffered a ransomware attack on her iPad, Granholm said.

“So it’s just happening everywhere,'' she said. “All these cybercriminals see an opportunity in the cloud and in our connectivity. And so we all have to be very vigilant. That means we’ve got to have security systems on our devices and individually we shouldn’t be clicking on any email with attachments from people you don’t know. I mean it’s just around us.'”

Biden signed an executive order on cybersecurity this week, and the Energy Department and other agencies are working to protect critical infrastructure, she said.

Much of the US pipeline infrastructure, like Colonial, is privately owned. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate pipelines, said this week that the US should establish mandatory cybersecurity standards for pipelines similar to those in the electricity sector.


Survey shows Saudi entrepreneurs ‘most optimistic in the world’

Survey shows Saudi entrepreneurs ‘most optimistic in the world’
Updated 15 May 2021

Survey shows Saudi entrepreneurs ‘most optimistic in the world’

Survey shows Saudi entrepreneurs ‘most optimistic in the world’
  • Kingdom tops rankings among 43 countries for confidence in starting a business

RIYADH: Saudi entrepreneurs are among the most optimistic in the world, a new survey shows, with an overwhelming majority believing the Kingdom offers good opportunities to start a business despite the economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2020/2021 report, which surveyed adults aged between 18 and 64, found that 90.5 percent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia believed there were good opportunities to start a business in their area, ranking it first in the world among 43 countries surveyed.

At the same time, 91.5 percent of respondents said that it was easy to start a business, again ranking the Kingdom first in the world on this issue, while 86.4 percent said they believed they possessed the skills and knowledge to launch a business, second only behind Togo.

Despite the high level of optimism, the pandemic has had an impact on the business community’s outlook. The percentage of Saudi adults who said they were planning to start a business within the next three years has dropped from 32 in 2019 to 25 percent in 2020.

The main reason for this was fear of failure, cited by 51.6 percent of respondents and earning the Kingdom sixth place in the global rankings.

Of those who were looking to start a business, 90 percent said they had delayed their start date as a result of the pandemic, with only Italy seeing higher delayed business launches.

The survey also found that 41.6 percent of respondents said that they knew someone who had started a business during 2020, while 57.1 percent said they also knew someone who had stopped working on a new venture as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19. 

A positive factor for Saudi entrepreneurs was the Kingdom’s performance on access to funding. Saudi Arabia earned a score of six on this category, up from five in 2019 and placing it third overall globally.

This is demonstrated by the fact that Saudi Arabia saw a surge in financing awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2020 by the Kingdom’s banks and financial companies.

Figures released by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) in late January showed that in the third quarter of 2020 the total amount of credit awarded to SMEs was SR176.2 billion ($46.99 billion), up from SR115 billion in Q3 2019 and SR106.7 billion in Q3 2018.

While the total figure rose 8.3 percent in 2019, it surged 52.4 percent in 2020. Among the four categories of companies monitored by SAMA, the biggest increase was for micro companies — classed as those with fewer than five employees — which saw an 89 percent rise in the total credit awarded to them.

Commenting on the results, Wassim Basrawi, managing director for Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco, told Arab News: “In 2020, we also experienced rising demand for our loan, venture capital and incubation services at Wa’ed. The demand was there. We are doing this because we have full confidence and trust in our entrepreneurs and are deeply committed to supporting new ideas, solutions and products that fill critical gaps in the Kingdom’s economy and promote economic diversification.”

Basrawi also confirmed that Wa’ed is planning to double its deal volume in the next three years to meet this increasing demand for financing by SMEs.

The GEM survey also showed that Saudi Arabia has a high percentage of adults who have supported entrepreneurs, with one in 10 revealing that they have personally helped fund a startup business. This compares to one in 20 in many other developed nations. The average amount invested by Saudi adults was $6,000.

In May, the monthly IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index survey found that firms in the Kingdom also boosted staff numbers for the first time in five months, as business activity in the non-oil private sector accelerated at its fastest pace in three months.

This backs up the results of the GEM survey, which found that 9.4 percent of Saudi adults said that they planned to hire six or more employees within the next five years, one of the highest rates among all countries surveyed.


More than 89k families benefit from Sakani program

More than 89k families benefit from Sakani program
Updated 15 May 2021

More than 89k families benefit from Sakani program

More than 89k families benefit from Sakani program
  • Various projects are underway in parts of the Kingdom in partnership with real estate developers

RIYADH: A total of 89,493 families benefited from the various housing solutions offered by the Saudi Housing Ministry’s Sakani program since the beginning of 2021 until April 30, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A total of 66,651 families have already moved into their new homes, according to official data.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 with the aim of facilitating home ownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals and financing their purchase. It has a goal of reaching 70 percent home ownership by 2030.

In April alone, 19,373 families benefited from the different housing options offered by Sakani.

The program recently launched new e-services to serve people effectively.

The app, which allows users to access four new services, can be downloaded at: qrco.de/bc5N3L.

HIGHLIGHTS

● A total of 89,493 families benefited from the various housing solutions.

● In April alone, 19,373 families benefited from the Sakani program.

● The program recently launched new e-services to serve people.

The services include electronic financing, ready-made units, approved contractor, and interactive maps.

The services had been added to ensure Sakani becomes “the go-to destination for housing services and solutions, in order to make it easier for Saudi families to own their first home.”

Various projects are underway in parts of the Kingdom in partnership with real estate developers.

About 178 infrastructure projects covering 244 million square meters have been developed at a cost of more than SR8 billion ($2.13 billion), said National Housing Company CEO Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Bati.

“In 2017, housing options under construction were limited, but now developers are racing to obtain licenses,” said General Supervisor of Real Estate Development Deputyship at the Ministry of Housing, Sultan Al-Sheikh. 

“Reservation of residential units on new developments is often complete within a few days and in some cases hours.”


L’Oreal pledges $340k to help women’s aid group expand into KSA

L’Oreal pledges $340k to help women’s aid group expand into KSA
Updated 15 May 2021

L’Oreal pledges $340k to help women’s aid group expand into KSA

L’Oreal pledges $340k to help women’s aid group expand into KSA
  • As part of the L’Oreal Fund for Women, the pledge will be given to Shamsaha

RIYADH: L’Oreal, the world’s biggest cosmetics group, has pledged SR1.26 million ($340,000) to help a women’s domestic abuse support group expand its operations into Saudi Arabia.

The French beauty giant last year launched a $60 million endowment fund to support initiatives to help women around the world affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As part of the L’Oreal Fund for Women, the pledge will be given to Shamsaha, a Bahrain-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to women’s empowerment, to help fund its two-year plan to expand into Saudi Arabia.

Shamsaha provides 24/7 crisis support for victims of abuse and domestic violence, and the funding from L’Oreal will be used to set up partnerships with key stakeholders in the Kingdom to offer Saudi women medical, therapeutic and legal support, as well as food, supplies and transportation.

“The pandemic’s lockdown measures created a very trying environment for everyone across the globe, but even more so for victims of domestic abuse. As a group that has been committed to empowering women, it was essential to take action to help the most vulnerable, particularly those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Remi Chadapaux, managing director of L’Oreal Middle East, said in a statement.

L’Oreal, the owner of brands such as Maybelline, Lancome and Garnier, in February predicted there would be a rebound in makeup sales once the impact of the pandemic had declined and people begin to return to work.

This was evident in first-quarter sales, which rose 10.2 percent year-on-year to €7.6 billion ($9.1 billion), beating analysts’ expectations, mainly due to strong sales in China.


Tourists return to US capital as pandemic ebbs

Tourists return to US capital as pandemic ebbs
Updated 15 May 2021

Tourists return to US capital as pandemic ebbs

Tourists return to US capital as pandemic ebbs
  • Reopening highlights the country’s steady transition back to normality

WASHINGTON: With the park in front of the White House reopening this week, selfie-snapping tourists have suddenly reappeared.

Washington DC, home to some of the toughest anti-virus regulations in the country, is now reopening, highlighting the US’ steady transition back to normality.

Boasting imposing landmarks such as the US Capitol and the Supreme Court, Washington began reopening the doors of its museums on Friday, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Portrait Gallery, which will soon host a painting of former President Donald Trump.

By next Friday, six museums run by the famed Smithsonian Institution, and the National Zoo, will once again welcome visitors as vaccination rates climb and infections continue to plunge.

The question now is how to attract more tourists and spur an economic rebound after a year of pandemic restrictions that left the US federal capital city, normally a hub for conferences and meetings of international institutions, stricken.

“For the moment, I have very few customers,” said Ngre Phung, whose mobile souvenir shop is parked near the African American museum.

So far, DC residents, who are packing the terraces of restaurants and bars, have not rushed downtown to peruse Phung’s selection of caps, T-shirts and other trinkets. Instead the shopkeeper relies heavily on visitors to nearby museums.

“It’s very key with the museums opening,” said Anne Purcell, director of hospitality market analytics for the northeast region at CoStar Group.

Between the 555-foot (170-meter) Washington Monument obelisk and a memorial to World War II, Read Scott Martin sat on his pedicab, patiently waiting for customers to emerge from the crowd.

At the moment he gives about three or four tours a day, but that can double on weekends.

“The last few weeks, it was improving,” he said, especially since the city’s Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring. His optimism is boosted by increasing arrivals of tourists from Asia and Latin America.

One of them is 17-year-old Valeria, who came from Peru for a week-long visit, posing for photos in front of the White House with her little sister and parents.

“We wanted to come before the COVID-19 but we have to cancel our trip,” she said.

However, the overwhelming majority of visitors are from other US states coming to see family, or tourists stopping by on their way to New York.

Ghania and Abdel, who live in Los Angeles, were in Washington to visit their daughter Shiraz, 26, who just graduated from Georgetown University.

“This is our first trip in just over a year,” the couple originally from Algeria said in French. “We were waiting to be fully vaccinated and for the city to get a little busier.”

But these leisure travelers are not the ones who typically fill hotel rooms.

Hotel occupancy in Washington, DC on Saturday, May 1 was only 43.4 percent, slipping to 42.4 percent the following Saturday, according to STR, which provides data and analysis for the industry.

That is far from the 80.3 percent and 78.6 percent recorded on the first two Saturdays in May 2019.

“Tourism is only one component of the city’s business,” said Purcell, noting that Washington is “very reliant” on conventions and business travel.

With travel restrictions still in place for many countries including large parts of Europe, the tourism sector is still struggling and its recovery is uncertain.

“It’s still very unclear whether business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels because everyone has gotten so used to doing so much online,” Purcell said.

In 2019, Washington welcomed 1.8 million visitors from abroad, led by China, Britain and India, and 22.8 million domestic visitors, according to Destination D.C.

While waiting for the return of international business travelers, the organization will soon launch a major advertising campaign to target the American public.