Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists
A man receives a dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at St. Paul's Church in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 June 2021

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists

Abu Dhabi opens up free COVID-19 vaccines to tourists
  • Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is offering tourists free COVID-19 vaccinations that were previously restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders.
There is no indication that the change applies to Dubai, the most populous emirate, or the other five emirates that make up the UAE.
Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines, according to information provided by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), which operates the emirate’s public health infrastructure.
Holders of expired residency or entry visas are also eligible for free vaccinations, Abu Dhabi Media Office said on June 11.
Job losses and travel restrictions during the pandemic mean some people’s residency visas have expired or have been canceled when they were made redundant.
UAE Health authorities said this month nearly 85 percent of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose, but did not say how many had had two doses.
Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival. People driving from other emirates are tested to show they are not infected.
Travelers from 27 countries including China, Germany and the United States can enter without quarantine on arrival.
SEHA offers COVID-19 vaccines by China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and by Pfizer/BioNTech in Abu Dhabi.
Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether eligibility criteria was to change. Dubai Health Authority information says vaccines are given only to citizens and holders of valid Dubai residency visas.


Cryptocurrencies post record inflows in latest week

Cryptocurrencies post record inflows in latest week
Updated 25 October 2021

Cryptocurrencies post record inflows in latest week

Cryptocurrencies post record inflows in latest week

NEW YORK: Cryptocurrency products and funds had record inflows last week to the tune of $1.5 billion, their 10th straight week of investments, as optimism soared with the trading of bitcoin exchange traded funds, a report from digital asset manager CoinShares showed on Monday.

Inflows so far this year hit $8 billion, far exceeding the record set for the whole of 2020 of $6.7 billion, the data showed as of the week ended Oct. 22.

Total assets under management also hit a new record of $79.2 billion, although it ended the week at $76.7 billion.

The bulk of inflows for the sixth straight week went to Bitcoin, with $1.45 billion, data showed. Inflows to the world’s largest cryptocurrency year-to-date amounted to $6.1 billion.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF and the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF debuted last week, a defining moment for the crypto industry that is expected to lure more inflows from big institutional investors.

That pushed bitcoin to an all-time peak of $67,016.50 . It was last up 4.6 percent at $63,682.

“Bitcoin hitting new all-time highs shows both how far we've come and the capacity bitcoin has to upend the financial system and create a global economy, linking the developed and emerging markets like never before,” said Ray Youssef, co-founder and chief executive officer of Paxful, a global peer-to-peer fintech platform.

"While this recent price rally can be attributed to movements like the approval of the first bitcoin ETF for institutional investors, we can't ignore the impact of significant development and adoption in emerging markets," he added.

Ethereum, meanwhile, saw outflows for a third consecutive week totaling $1.4 million. 

CoinShares believed that the outflows were due to minor profit-taking as the price approaches record highs. Ether, the currency for the Ethereum blockchain, last exchanged hands at $4,224.30, up 3.5%.

Other altcoins saw inflows. Solana, Cardano and Binance posted inflows totaling $8.1 million, $5.3 million and $1.8 million, respectively.

Assets under management at Grayscale and Coinshares, the two largest digital asset managers, climbed last week to $54.6 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively. 


Greenhouse gas levels reach record amid COP26 worries

Greenhouse gas levels reach record amid COP26 worries
Updated 25 October 2021

Greenhouse gas levels reach record amid COP26 worries

Greenhouse gas levels reach record amid COP26 worries

GENEVA/GLASGOW: Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record last year and the world is “way off track” in capping rising temperatures, the UN said on Monday in a stark illustration of the tasks facing UN climate talks in Scotland.

A report by the UN World Meteorological Organization showed carbon dioxide levels surged to 413.2 parts per million in 2020, rising more than the average rate over the last decade despite a temporary dip in emissions during COVID-19 lockdowns.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the current rate of increase in heat-trapping gases would result in temperature rises “far in excess” of the 2015 Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average this century.

“We are way off track,” he said. “We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life,” he added, calling for a “dramatic increase” in commitments at the COP26 conference beginning on Sunday.

The city of Glasgow was putting on the final touches before hosting the climate talks, which may be the world's best remaining chance to cap global warming at the 1.5-2 degrees Celsius upper limit set out in the Paris Agreement.

Under countries’ current pledges, global emissions would be 16 percent higher in 2030 than they were in 2010, according to a separate analysis by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

That is far off the 45 percent reduction by 2030 that scientists say is needed to cap warming at 1.5 degrees and avoid its most devastating impacts.

“Overshooting the temperature goals will lead to a destabilized world and endless suffering, especially among those who have contributed the least to the (greenhouse gas) emissions in the atmosphere," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC.

“We are nowhere near where science says we should be,” Espinosa said.


World Bank warns of inflation in low-income countries as energy prices rise

World Bank warns of inflation in low-income countries as energy prices rise
Updated 25 October 2021

World Bank warns of inflation in low-income countries as energy prices rise

World Bank warns of inflation in low-income countries as energy prices rise

MOSCOW: Rising energy prices pose significant risks of inflation in many emerging markets and developing countries, World Bank warned on Monday.

In its semi-annual report “Commodity Markets Outlook,” the bank said the ongoing energy crunch is likely to weigh on the growth of energy-importing countries in 2022.

Energy prices are expected to increase more than 2 percent in 2022 after jumping more than 80 percent in 2021, supported by continued robust demand and gradual production gains. 

The bank has raised its forecast for average oil prices to $74/bbl in 2022 from $70/bbl in 2021 projected previously in April. Natural gas and coal prices are expected to decline only slightly in 2022 to $4/mmbtu and $3.9/mmbtu from $4.1/mmbtu in 2021, as demand growth eases and production and exports increase, driven by the US.

Prices of non-energy commodities like metals and wheat are also projected to remain at elevated levels. After rising more than 48 percent this year, metal prices are projected to decline 5 percent in 2022. Prices for US hard red wheat are projected to decrease to $250 per metric ton and $245 per metric ton in 2022 and 2023 respectively from $255/mt in 2021.  

The rally in energy prices has sharply increased agricultural input costs. This includes fertilizers, which have risen more than 55 percent since January this year, with several fertilizer manufacturers halting or reducing production capacity. Elevated food prices combined with the recent spike in energy costs is pushing food price inflation up in several low-income countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well as higher-income economies including Argentina and Turkey, the report pointed out.

The report provided its 2022 price forecast for energy and non-energy commodity groups revised from its previous estimate published in April this year. The most notable revisions include fertilizers (+11.8 percentage points), precious metals (+4.1 ppts), metals and minerals (+3.4 ppts), grains (-9.2 ppts), beverages (-2.7 ppts).


Egypt’s government projects to go 30% green by 2024

Egypt’s government projects to go 30% green by 2024
Updated 25 October 2021

Egypt’s government projects to go 30% green by 2024

Egypt’s government projects to go 30% green by 2024

RIYADH: Egypt aims to make 30 percent of all the government projects green by 2024 and then raise the level to 100 percent by 2030, said Yasmine Fouad, the country’s environment minister. 

Speaking at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Riyadh, she said Egypt spent 447 billion Egyptian pounds on 691 green projects in different sectors during the current fiscal. 

Egypt also became the first country to issue green government bonds in September 2020.

“We issued $750 million in five-year green bonds in order to focus on the climate change projects in transport and sanitation sectors,” the minister said.

Fouad said the Egyptian government is taking measures to change the overall investment environment by not just only supporting the private sector but also focussing on the banking sector to encourage it to adopt sustainable financing principles.


Saudi Arabia's Net Zero goals are important developments since Paris agreement: John Kerry

Saudi Arabia's Net Zero goals are important developments since Paris agreement: John Kerry
Getty Images
Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia's Net Zero goals are important developments since Paris agreement: John Kerry

Saudi Arabia's Net Zero goals are important developments since Paris agreement: John Kerry
  • He said no government in the world has the money to fight climate actions alone

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s nationally determined contributions and net zero carbon goals are important developments since the Paris agreement John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, told delegates at the Middle East Green Initiative.

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change signed at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015.

"I want to thank Saudi Arabia for its presentation of an updated NDC, and the next zero goal which is a major step forward since Paris, It cannot be under estimated what it means to have one of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers step up at a moment when all countries need to step up."

He said as a result of US diplomatic efforts, many countries are now taking bolder climate actions.

Science is playing a bigger role today in shaping climate actions, he said.

Special Envoy Kerry said today: "I would just say to everybody, that this is not about politics. This is not about strategic balance of power. This is not about ideology.

"This is very simple. This is about science, and it’s about physics and mathematics and those telling us that we must accelerate - that we can still get the job done, but only if we make the key decision and it is implemented over the course of the next few years."

Speaking about how climate action will create commercial opportunities across global markets, he added: "This is the biggest market opportunity the world has ever known. It’s the biggest the market has ever known.

"It’s the biggest transformation that has ever taken place on this planet, since the industrial revolution, if we do it.“This is the biggest market opportunity the world has known with 4 to 5 billion users. I see trillion dollars to be invested" in the energy transition market opportunities, he added.

He said no government in the world has the money to fight climate actions alone, and countries need the private sector to support these efforts.

He highlighted that the global financial industry is helping tens of trillion of dollars to be moved into the energy transition market.

He warned that countries must work to reduce emissions in the next 10 years.

“Action to combat climate change must be accelerated,” he said.

Special Envoy Kerry also praised the launch of the Middle East Green Initiative by HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, adding: "The Middle East Green Initiative is different - it’s a reflection of the urgency of the moment.

He continued: "I acknowledge with humility that our country was away from this for several years. But now President Biden is back, he has had a summit which many of you took part in.

"And as a result of that and the diplomacy of the last months, we've had countries that have not necessarily been that consumed by this step up. There is clearly a movement now where people are recognizing the science and what is happening.”