Middle East making the switch as decarbonized energy future becomes a reality

Middle East making the switch as decarbonized energy future becomes a reality
EDF recently won a stake in a $3.6 billion project to develop and operate a transmission system alongside ADNOC and TAQA. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 January 2022

Middle East making the switch as decarbonized energy future becomes a reality

Middle East making the switch as decarbonized energy future becomes a reality
  • Large-scale initiatives speed transition to renewables, while meeting growth, development targets

As countries strive to meet growth and development targets, many are also considering climate change and its implications, such as turning to clean and renewable energy.

How can economies today ensure global decarbonization in the private, consumer and industrial sectors? Achieving carbon neutrality requires energy efficiency in everything that can be electrified, or turning to carbon neutral hydropower.

The delivery of clean energy solutions is already playing a significant role in the sustainable energy revolution.

French multinational electric utility company EDF, one of the main actors in the industry, is studying the possible synergies between nuclear, renewable energies and hydrogen generation, including the hybridization of electricity production.

France has made a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as consolidating its nuclear assets in coming decades to achieve carbon neutrality. The French pavilion at Expo 2020 brought together energy experts to share insights and best practices.

EDF’s strategy

“CAP 2030” is EDF’s main strategy to double the group’s net renewable capacity from 28 GW, including hydro, to 60 GW. The additional 30 GW that the group aims to produce in the years leading up to 2030 will consist of renewable power, such as wind, on-shore, and off-shore solar and PVs.

To speed up their energy transition, countries in the Middle East region are developing large-scale projects in line with the goal to develop their GW targets, which is consistent with the group’s strategy.

“The Middle East is a strategic area for EDF Renewables, and ultimately for the EDF Group. We have currently secured 4 GW of projects in the Middle East and Africa, and we have a pipeline of five additional GW in the Middle East,” said Olivier Bordes, EDF Middle East’s managing director.

EDF’s portfolio consists of 14 GW of renewable assets worldwide. The strategy applies in 23 countries where the group is present.

Shifting away from the historical market of Europe and North America, the strategy follows two trends: First, rebalancing the business toward regions including Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, which is expected to be one of the major contributors to the business in coming years.

The second trend is rebalancing solar and wind production, with more than 70 percent of the company’s portfolio concentrated in wind energy historically.

Projects in the region

The Parc eolien de Dumat Al-Jandal in Saudi Arabia is the largest wind farm in the region, with an installed capacity of 416 MW. The tender, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Energy, was awarded to EDF, along with its partners Masdar and Nesma Company in 2018, based on the lowest tariff (less than $20 per MWh).

Dewa 3 in the UAE, with installed capacity 1 GW, was developed by a consortium led by EDF Renewables in partnership with Masdar.

Projects under construction include the Dhafra PV2 solar scheme in Abu Dhabi (power capacity 2 GW), the largest single-site PV initiative in the world.

EDF’s first PV project in the Kingdom is a 300 MG PV solar power plant in Jeddah being built by a consortium led by EDF Renewables, Masdar and Nesma Company.

The projects are expected to begin operating by late 2022.

Partnerships

 “Partnership is a key factor for success. We have partners to develop our market in the region, particularly in the UAE and in KSA,” said Bordes.

In the energy sector, complementarity and innovation are fundamental for value creation, to offer the market more competitive proposals, and to participate in the energy transition.

“The Middle East program has ambitious targets. One of the main challenges is to continue to accelerate the development to reach the energy transmission targets, while ensuring EDF’s quality and durable design, mitigating potential outages and maintenance requirements,” said Bordes.

EDF recently won a stake in a $3.6 billion project to develop and operate a transmission system alongside ADNOC and TAQA. This subsea transmission network, the first of its kind, will decarbonize the offshore production of ADNOC, supporting the UAE’s goal of being net zero by 2050.

The EDF Group has developed energy services around district cooling and energy efficiency. All the value chain is covered, to change the energy mix and achieve carbon neutrality.

“We believe that the best energy is the one that is not consumed. The energy mix is changing. In the coming decade, the objectives announced by countries in the region are in terms of development of renewable energy in GW, namely 60 GW for KSA,” said Laurent Clement, CEO and managing director of EDF Middle East.


UAE’s KRUSH Brands raises $4.5m in a pre-series A funding

UAE’s KRUSH Brands raises $4.5m in a pre-series A funding
Updated 2 min 39 sec ago

UAE’s KRUSH Brands raises $4.5m in a pre-series A funding

UAE’s KRUSH Brands raises $4.5m in a pre-series A funding

RIYADH: UAE-based omni-channel food and beverage company, KRUSH Brands, raised $4.5 million in a pre-series A funding round by Skelmore Holdings.

The funding is aimed at the company’s recently launched marketplace, Locale, which is an ecosystem for food-preneurs.

The brand will use its funding to grow Locale’s proprietary portfolio into a food-preneur group of around 20 innovative brands as well as boost its technology operations, MAGNiTT reported.


Saudi Cabinet approves fintech strategy

Saudi Cabinet approves fintech strategy
Updated 5 min 31 sec ago

Saudi Cabinet approves fintech strategy

Saudi Cabinet approves fintech strategy

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Kingdom’s financial technology strategy. 
It seeks to develop a diversified and effective financial sector that supports the national economy.

The launch of Open Banking in Saudi Arabia in 2022, which allows firms to share consumer current account data once permission has been given, is also expected to speed up the pace of fintech development.

Experts expect this move will provide existing fintech investors with more opportunities, and will attract funds to the sector.


Google drives digital business worth $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia in 2021

Google drives digital business worth $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia in 2021
Updated 12 min 14 sec ago

Google drives digital business worth $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia in 2021

Google drives digital business worth $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia in 2021

DUBAI: Google drove SR12.2 billion ($3.5 billion) in economic activity in Saudi Arabia in 2021, signaling a new era of digital enterprises powering the economy of the Kingdom.

The search engine giant announced the figures in its latest impact report released on Tuesday. The report was based on public polling, economic modeling and third-party data.

“Saudi Arabia is young, smart and digital, and we’re proud to be an engine of growth in the country and an enabler in its digital transformation journey,” said Anthony Nakache, the new managing director of Google MENA.

“We’re excited to see what great things people can do there given the right tools and skills, and we are committed to doing more through programs and local partnerships.”

The report further stated that people in the Kingdom were using Google to learn new skills (75 percent), research COVID-19 (72 percent), and entertain their children with YouTube Kids (64 percent).

It further highlighted that 61 percent used Google to find new jobs, including an astounding 5 million Saudi women every month.

“Women were disproportionately hit by the pandemic,” said Nakache. “And so, being able to give them an opportunity to find a job and stay in the workforce is something that we are proud of and can have a massive impact.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Sixty-one percent people in Saudi Arabia used Google to find new jobs, including an astounding 5 million Saudi women every month.

Job search was also crucial for people in the UAE, with 67 percent turning to the search engine to look for employment opportunities, including 1.8 million women.

The total number of developers making $10,000 per month on Google Play grew by 15 in the Kingdom and 16 percent in the UAE last year.

In October 2020, Google announced a $13 million fund to help 1 million people and businesses in the MENA region learn advanced digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021.

Fueling the economy in UAE

Job search was also crucial for people in the UAE, with 67 percent turning to the search engine to look for employment opportunities, including 1.8 million women.

On the other hand, businesses also turned to Google and YouTube for their needs, with 71 percent of people in the UAE using Google Maps to find a local business.

The company drove 11.3 billion dirhams ($3.08 billion) in economic activity in the UAE in 2021.

Saudi Arabia is young, smart and digital, and we’re proud to be an engine of growth in the country and an enabler in its digital transformation journey.

Anthony Nakache

“So, to put things in perspective, this is the GDP contribution of Portugal and Denmark together,” said Nakache. “This is a big number.”

The tech giant is also working with the creator and developer ecosystem. For example, internal Google data showed that YouTube channels making six figures or more in revenue are up by 20 percent year-on-year in Saudi Arabia and 40 percent in the UAE.

According to Google data, the total number of developers making $10,000 per month on Google Play grew by 15 in the Kingdom and 16 percent in the UAE last year.

The Android Developer ecosystem supports at least 50,000 jobs in the UAE and 29,000 in Saudi Arabia.

“That’s a sign of a very healthy developer ecosystem,” said Nakache. “As the region attracts more developers, the contribution to the overall economy will grow. Developers often learn and study our technologies through some of our learning programs.”

Anthony Nakache, the new managing director of Google MENA, said: “We're excited to see what great things people can do there (Saudi Arabia) given the right tools and skills. Supplied

Encouraging startups in MENA

Google for Startups Accelerator in the Middle East and North America has also harnessed local entrepreneurial spirit. A case in point is Lamsa World, an Arabic education platform for children between the ages of two and eight.

Badr, the founder of Lamsa, built the app to encourage more Arabic-speaking children to read and learn Arabic. He took part in the Google startup program and registered a 300 percent increase in content downloads.

In October 2020, Google announced a $13 million fund to help 1 million people and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa learn advanced digital skills and grow their businesses by the end of 2021.

The program aims to accelerate the MENA region’s economic recovery through digital transformation by offering digital tools, training and financial grants to support local businesses and job seekers.


ROSHN announces first integrated community in Jeddah, Al-Arous

ROSHN announces first integrated community in Jeddah, Al-Arous
Updated 17 min 24 sec ago

ROSHN announces first integrated community in Jeddah, Al-Arous

ROSHN announces first integrated community in Jeddah, Al-Arous
  • First integrated community in Jeddah will extend over approximately 4 million square meters

JEDDAH: ROSHN, Saudi Arabia’s national mixed-use developer, and a fully owned company by the Public Investment Fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced its new venture, the Al-Arous community, during the Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad match in Prince Mohammed bin Salman Cup Professional League.
The Al-Arous community will extend over approximately 4 million square meters, and includes more than 18,000 different residential units to suit all segments of society. Al-Arous is ROSHN’s second community, and part of a larger strategy of developing modern and vibrant neighborhoods in four regions and nine cities in the Kingdom.

The Al-Arous community will extend over approximately 4 million square meters, and includes more than 18,000 different residential units. (Supplied)


Al-Arous is located in north Jeddah, at a site that connects the population with the city’s main roads and public transportation network. The community will include parks, pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths, restaurants, cafes, schools and mosques, all of which will be developed to the highest standards. Like other ROSHN communities, Al-Arous is designed to offer a modern, open lifestyle, while preserving the Kingdom’s rich heritage and local urban designs. 
The development of ROSHN’s latest community is another important step toward the Vision 2030 ambitions of raising the quality of life of all Saudi citizens and boosting homeownership levels across the country.


Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency
Updated 5 min 56 sec ago

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency
  • ICC estimates the death toll from the anti-drug campaign could be 30,000
  • Rodrigo Duterte’s term will end on June 30

MANILA: Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he will carry on with his “war on drugs” even after the expiry of his term in office next month.
The Philippines has come under pressure from the UN to investigate allegations of systematic killings of drug suspects under the anti-drug campaign, which Duterte has led since assuming power in 2016.
According to official data, Duterte’s war on drugs has led to the deaths of over 6,000 Filipinos, but the International Criminal Court estimates the death toll could be 30,000.
The court’s prosecutors launched an investigation into the anti-drug campaign in September last year, saying it appeared to have been “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population” and could amount to crimes against humanity.
The probe was suspended two months later to assess a deferral request from the Philippine government and has not resumed since.
As Duterte’s six-year term expires on June 30, he said in a televised meeting with Cabinet members that drugs would make Philippine society “dysfunctional.”
“We can continue this fight even if I am already a civilian,” he said, adding that he would rather see drug lords and drug peddlers “dead than alive.”
“If you destroy my country, it is as if you ended our lives. So, I want drug lords to know I will forever remain your enemy. Remember that.”
Once he leaves office, Duterte will not have the official power to pursue his war on drugs.
“He cannot do that in his official capacity anymore,” the president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Edre Olalia told Arab News. “But, of course, you and I know that he’s still in power through proxies.”
Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the running mate of Ferdinand Marcos, who scored a landslide victory in this month’s presidential election and is set to be inaugurated on June 30.
During his presidential campaign, Marcos vowed to continue Duterte’s policies, although he told the media he would also focus on education and rehabilitation in dealing with the country’s drug problems.
For Olalia, the fact that the drug problem still exists proves that Duterte’s approach has not helped address it.
“Otherwise, we will be harvesting the fruits of such an approach, if indeed there was now a lower supply of drugs in the market, fewer drug addicts, and if there were no more drug lords. That’s the best proof that it really is not working.”