Qatar expands fish farming as climate change affects sea stocks

Qatar expands fish farming as climate change affects sea stocks
Dr. Pedro Range, research assistant professor, looks into a microscope at Qatar University Marine Biology Laboratory, in Doha. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 April 2021

Qatar expands fish farming as climate change affects sea stocks

Qatar expands fish farming as climate change affects sea stocks
  • Coral bleaching a concern in Gulf waters
  • Samkna fish farm produces 2,000 tons of fish annually

DOHA: Qatar plans to expand fish farming to meet growing demand for fresh fish in local markets and maintain stocks in offshore Gulf waters in the face of devastating climate change.
Although fish in the Gulf have generally adapted to higher water temperatures, the frequency and scope of coral reef bleaching in recent years suggest the region is at real risk of losing its bio-diverse ecosystem in the coming decades, said Pedro Range, Research Assistant Professor at Qatar University.
Global warming damaging to coral reefs, coupled with overfishing, could cause a 30 percent decline in future fish catch potential in Qatari waters by the end of the century, he said.
“In terms of climate change unfortunately the actions we can take on a local scale are irrelevant. What we can do is control local pressures that interact with climate change, in terms of controlling fishery stocks and habitat availability.”
Last November, Qatar launched its first offshore aquaculture project, using floating cages producing seabass.
The Samkna fish farm, located 50 km (30 miles) offshore from Qatar’s Ruwais region, produces 2,000 tons of fish annually.
“We have started an expansion plan to double our production capacity to 4,000 tons. We are obtaining permits for the expansion and building new cages,” said Mahmoud Tahoun, operations and development director for marine aquaculture at Al-Qumra, the company running the Samkna fish farm. “Five years from now, we expect to cover 60 percent of local demand.”
Fish farm production is supposed to prevent the depletion of fish stocks in offshore waters, where access is regulated by Qatari authorities. But Range said if that the broader international problem of excessive production of greenhouse gases that create climate change is not tackled, then none of the local fish-preservation efforts can be effective.
A University of British Columbia study in 2018 found that a third of marine species could become extinct in the Gulf by 2090 because of rising water temperature, changing salinity and oxygen levels, and human activities such as overfishing.

UAE’s FDI inflows jump 44% in 2020

UAE’s FDI inflows jump 44% in 2020
Updated 8 min 48 sec ago

UAE’s FDI inflows jump 44% in 2020

UAE’s FDI inflows jump 44% in 2020
  • The oil and gas sector stood out as a number of deals were struck with foreign partners
  • The cumulative value of FDI reached $174 billion

DUBAI: Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the UAE grew 44.2 percent in 2020 to reach $19.9 billion despite the pandemic.
The oil and gas sector stood out as a number of deals were struck with foreign partners, the Ministry of Economy revealed.
The cumulative value of FDI reached $174 billion, representing a growth of 12.9 percent in the same period.
Outflows amounted to $9.2 billion, the ministry said, covering various economic sectors such as aviation, transportation, renewable energy, and agriculture.
“The investment landscape of the UAE has been steadily developing over the past years with the rapid introduction of progressive measures that have earned the nation a coveted position internationally,” Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri, the country’s economic minister, said.
He said the UAE is eyeing more measures to improve its investment landscape, particularly in priority sectors.

Massive Saudi presence at ATM travel show in Dubai

Massive Saudi presence at ATM travel show in Dubai
Updated 27 min 14 sec ago

Massive Saudi presence at ATM travel show in Dubai

Massive Saudi presence at ATM travel show in Dubai
  • 81 Saudi ehbitors at this year's travel meet
  • Kingdom prepares to resume international flights

DUBAI: The Saudi travel industry will have top billing in Dubai this week as the Kingdom showcases its biggest tourism attractions.
With 81 Saudi exhibitors the Arabian Travel Market, the Kingdom has the biggest regional presence at this year's event outside of the UAE itself.
It is the first major in-person international travel event since outbreak of pandemic with 62 countries represented on the exhibition floor. It comes as the regional travel sector slowly emerges from a year of crippling restrictions with international flights also set to resume in Saudi Arabia from May 17.
“This year more than any other, we, along with our partners and sponsors, have worked together closely, to enable an inspirational in-person event, that will set the tone for the Middle East travel and tourism industry for the rest of this year,” said Exhibition Director Danielle Curtis.
Under the theme of ‘A new dawn for travel & tourism’, the 28th edition of the four-day show will include a dedicated buyer forum for Saudi Arabia.

Dubai developer Damac reports widening loss as sales almost halve

Dubai developer Damac reports widening loss as sales almost halve
Updated 16 May 2021

Dubai developer Damac reports widening loss as sales almost halve

Dubai developer Damac reports widening loss as sales almost halve
  • Sales shrink despite recent rally in Dubai luxury homes

DUBAI: Damac, the Dubai developer behind some of the emirate’s glitziest property projects, reported a widening first-quarter loss as sales almost halved.
The developer reported a first quarter loss of 189.6 million dirhams ($51.6 million), compared to a loss of 106.1 million dirhams in the year-earlier period. Revenues dropped by about half to about 642.2 million dirhams, it said in a stock exchange filing.
Dubai property developers have reported a recovery in demand for high end properties in recent weeks as transaction activity in the secondary market picked up. But at the same time, off-plan sales remain under pressure.
S&P said in March it expected Dubai’s GDP growth to recover while real estate remained squeezed.
“We expect real estate companies’ profitability to remain under pressure and leverage to be high,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Sapna Jagtiani. “Absent a substantial recovery in revenue, companies are likely to focus on cost optimization, proactively managing their liquidity, and preserving their cash flows. Rated Dubai-based real estate companies still have good liquidity and access to funding, however, despite currently trying times.”

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.