The Middle East needs to fuel innovation to make desalination sustainable

Global desalination plants are expected to emit 218 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2040, which calls for the importance of government and private sector investments in solutions for the water industry. (Shutterstock)
Global desalination plants are expected to emit 218 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2040, which calls for the importance of government and private sector investments in solutions for the water industry. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 11 September 2022

The Middle East needs to fuel innovation to make desalination sustainable

The Middle East needs to fuel innovation to make desalination sustainable

CAIRO: With 70 percent of the world’s desalination plants located in the Middle East, the sector needs innovation driven by entrepreneurial talent.

Nearly two-thirds of the region’s population live in areas lacking sufficient renewable water sources. Some countries in the Middle East rely on water desalination to produce up to 90 percent of drinking water.

Moreover, water desalination requires vast amounts of energy to complete the process, and the role of innovation is starting to increase in reducing the operational cost and environmental impact caused by water issues.

Abu Dhabi-based startup Manhat is already pitching in to decrease the environmental impact with its patented solar energy-based water desalination products.

FASTFACTS

• Abu Dhabi-based startup Manhat is already pitching in to decrease the environmental impact with its patented solar energy-based water desalination products.

• The company’s technology is based on placing sealed constructs on open water surfaces where water evaporates due to solar radiation.

The company’s technology is based on placing sealed constructs on open water surfaces where water evaporates due to solar radiation.

“Our technology mimics the natural water cycle with zero carbon footprint or brine rejection. The water can be immediately used to irrigate crops which will benefit coastal countries and mitigate the looming threat of rising sea levels due to climate change,” Saeed Alhassan, founder of Manhat, said in a statement.

Global desalination plants are expected to emit 218 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2040, which calls for the importance of government and private sector investments in solutions for the water industry.

In a report by the Clean Energy Business Council in the Middle East and North African region, several barriers arise for startups trying to enter the clean-tech industry.

The report indicates that governmental barriers play a huge role in shaping the ecosystem. Firstly, the region’s regulatory structure limits entrepreneurs’ ability to explore new opportunities in the sector.

In addition to complex administration and market barriers, the region needs a regulatory framework that will spur innovation and privatization of the sector.

Moreover, venture capital investments made into startups in the industry are also meager compared to other sectors like e-commerce and fintech.

The report calls out to venture capitalists to start recognizing the potential opportunities that regional startups might offer by building innovation hubs within universities.

Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in the region that has seen startups grow out of universities like water desalination company, QualSens.

QualSens was established at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology as it aims to monitor and enhance the water desalination process using its technology.

“We combined different approaches to building a smart sensor that detects and identifies the fouling developed in the system and helps the operator mitigate it. The objective is to decrease the energy demand required for the production of drinking water,” Luca Fortunato, Co-founder of QualSens, said in a statement.

Although startups are still far from impacting the water desalination sector in the Middle East, governments and large corporations are starting to recognize the importance of innovation for sustainable water production.

Paddy Padmanathan, the CEO of ACWA Power, one of the largest water desalination companies in the region, had said earlier that innovation and entrepreneurship would play a crucial role in addressing the looming water crisis.

 


World tourism leaders gather in Riyadh as KSA gears up for WTTC Global Summit 

World tourism leaders gather in Riyadh as KSA gears up for WTTC Global Summit 
Updated 27 November 2022

World tourism leaders gather in Riyadh as KSA gears up for WTTC Global Summit 

World tourism leaders gather in Riyadh as KSA gears up for WTTC Global Summit 

RIYADH: Global leaders in the tourism sector will gather in Riyadh for the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit from Nov. 28-Dec. 1 as the Kingdom steadily pursues its journey to evolve as a global tourist destination, in alignment with its Vision 2030 goals. 

Touted to be one of the biggest tourism events of the year, the global summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future."

During the event, industry leaders will share their thoughts about the future of the sector and the challenges that should be addressed to ensure a safer, more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable travel and tourism industry. 

According to a press release issued by WTTC, former British Prime Minister Theresa May will be one of the key speakers at the event, along with other prominent personalities in the sector including Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai International Airports. 

South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-Moon, who served as the eighth secretary-general of the UN between 2007 and 2016, will also address delegates during the event. 

“We are delighted to have such influential speakers already confirmed for our global summit in Riyadh. Our event will bring together many of the world’s most powerful leaders in our sector to discuss and secure its long-term future, which is critical to economies and jobs around the world,” said WTTC's president and CEO Julia Simpson. 

Simpson also lauded Saudi Arabia’s tourism efforts and said that the Kingdom’s tourism sector will be the fastest growing one in the region by the end of this decade.

She added: “The government of Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in the recovery of the global travel and tourism sector following two years of crisis. Set to become a major tourist destination, our latest research shows that Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector will surpass pre-pandemic levels next year and will see the fastest growth across the Middle East over the next decade.”

This year’s WTTC Global Summit is also supported by a metaverse experience created for potential investors to explore investment opportunities and take part in sessions virtually, according to a press release.

“WTTC will arrive in Riyadh as tourism enters a new era of recovery and we welcome the world to join them virtually in our metaverse,” said Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmad Al-Khateeb.

He added: “Bringing together global leaders from both the public and private sector, the summit will be fundamental in building the better, brighter future the sector deserves and technology and innovation will be key to our collective future success.”

For the first time in history, this year’s WTTC Global Summit will be live streamed to the general public. 

The event in Saudi Arabia is timely with a new global consumer survey carried out by YouGov revealing that the appetite for international travel is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic. 

According to the survey report, 63 percent of the respondents are planning a leisure trip in the next 12 months, a strong indication of the sector’s bounce back after the economic headwind triggered by the pandemic.

The report also noted that 27 percent of the participants are planning three or more trips in the next 12 months. Earlier in October, while speaking at the Future Investment Initiative, Al-Khateeb said that Riyadh is set to become the capital of the global tourism industry, and the tourist destinations in the Kingdom are being built and will operate in a sustainable manner.

“We have the vision, we put the plan, and we put all the resources, especially the financial resources to deliver the plan,” said Al-Khateeb. 


Dar Al Arkan bags contract to develop ROSHN’s residential units in SEDRA

Dar Al Arkan bags contract to develop ROSHN’s residential units in SEDRA
Updated 27 November 2022

Dar Al Arkan bags contract to develop ROSHN’s residential units in SEDRA

Dar Al Arkan bags contract to develop ROSHN’s residential units in SEDRA

RIYADH: Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan has won a contract to develop residential units in SEDRA, an integrated community project being developed in northern Riyadh by national developer ROSHN, a Public Investment Fund-backed company.

This brings two of the leading property developers in Saudi Arabia together as both look to combine their expertise to bring more variety to ROSHN’s housing offering at SEDRA. 

“We will deliver beautiful and well-appointed villas in the community that will further raise the bar for luxury residences in Saudi Arabia,” said Yousef Al Shelash, chairman of Dar Al Arkan.

Being developed in eight phases, SEDRA is set to add 30,000 residential units to Riyadh’s housing stock once completed in three years. The project is being constructed over 20 million square meters of neighborhoods. 

A flagship development of ROSHN, SEDRA recently won the ‘Residential Project of the Year’ award at the Construction Week Middle East 2022 Awards held in Dubai. 

The project will offer a diverse mix of residences built around a ‘work, live and play’ model, the company said in a press release, adding that it will foster a sustainable community.

ROSHN said it seeks to bring a new concept of integrated, human-centric, livable communities to the Kingdom.  SEDRA’s facades are influenced by the ‘Salmani’ style of architecture, it said. The company said the project will have a blend of tradition and modernity, while it will have natural features including a wadi and an acacia forest. 

“Bringing the ROSHN concept to life requires novel ways of thinking, new partnerships with the top entities in their fields, and innovative solutions to address the challenges of the future. As a development sector enabler, ROSHN leverages its partnerships to ensure we bring the highest quality homes to markets, across the Kingdom,” said ROSHN Group CEO, David Grover. 

Dar Al Arkan Properties is fast growing its portfolio across the Kingdom and expanding its international footprint. It boasts a track record of delivering 15,000 residential units and over 50,000 square meters of commercial space. 

ROSHN's ethos is to develop communities that look both to Saudi heritage and the evolving aspirations of the Saudi people. The master developer operates across a broad range of asset classes and land uses, including residential, retail, commercial, hospitality, and public and civic facilities.


TASI sheds 142 points on dampening business sentiment, closes at 10,796: Closing Bell 

TASI sheds 142 points on dampening business sentiment, closes at 10,796: Closing Bell 
Updated 27 November 2022

TASI sheds 142 points on dampening business sentiment, closes at 10,796: Closing Bell 

TASI sheds 142 points on dampening business sentiment, closes at 10,796: Closing Bell 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell on Sunday as investors shied away from the market due to dampening business sentiment and uncertainty in global demand. 

The Tadawul All Share Index fell 142 points to close at 10,796, while the parallel market, Nomu, plunged 300 points to finish at 18,866. 

Of the 219 companies listed on TASI on Sunday, 33 advanced, while 173 declined. The total trading turnover closed at SR2.58 billion ($690 million). It had fallen to SR1.7 billion in the first three hours of trading on Sunday. 

The first important announcement on the bourse came from SNB Capital, the lead manager of Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co., also known as Luberef, intending to proceed with an initial public offering and listing of its ordinary shares on the primary market. 

The statement said the offer is expected to sell existing shares and result in a free float of 29.65 percent of Luberef share capital or 50.05 million ordinary shares. 

The offering price will be determined after the book-building period, the statement added. 

Middle East Paper Co. also announced the approval of its shareholders to its board’s recommendation to increase capital by 33.3 percent by granting one bonus share for every three shares held during an extraordinary general meeting on Nov. 24. 

The company shares, however, fell 2 percent to close at SR28.6 after reaching SR27.70. 

Meanwhile, Yaqeen Capital, the financial adviser and lead manager for the IPO of Molan Steel Co. on the Nomu-Parallel Market, announced that the issue was oversubscribed.  

The steel company offered 532,410 shares, representing 20.02 percent of its capital. The final offer price was set at SR 24 per share, the statement added. 

From an industry standpoint, the Pharma, Biotech & Life Science index fell for the bearish prowl as it fell 44 points to close at 3,015. Interestingly, the Healthcare Equipment & Services index rose 52 points to 8,872.  

Tourism Enterprise Co. has been under the spotlight in the top gainers’ list on TASI for a while now. It increased by 2.9 points to close at SR32.05. The other gainers included Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group, Arabian Drilling Co and Alhokair Group for Tourism and Development. 

The top fallers were Malath Cooperative Insurance Co., United Wire Factories Co., Al Yamamah Steel Industries Co, Red Sea International Co. and Nama Chemicals Co. 


Petromin’s National Motor Co. wins ‘Best Automotive Dealer’ award in the Kingdom for 2022

Petromin’s National Motor Co. wins ‘Best Automotive Dealer’ award in the Kingdom for 2022
Updated 27 November 2022

Petromin’s National Motor Co. wins ‘Best Automotive Dealer’ award in the Kingdom for 2022

Petromin’s National Motor Co. wins ‘Best Automotive Dealer’ award in the Kingdom for 2022

RIYADH: Petromin Corp’s subsidiary, National Motor Co., has been named as the ‘Best Automotive Dealer’ in the Saudi automotive sector for 2022.

The National Motor Co. received the accolade during an awards ceremony held in Jeddah, organized by PR Arabia.

Terence Byrne, CEO, National Motor Co., said, “We are happy to continue on the path of growth, through the resolute processes that were adopted years ago. With the principal aim of serving our customers, we are working to expand the coverage of our sales and after-sales services throughout the Kingdom. We aim to constantly be closer to our clientele in a bid to build bridges of trust and loyalty with them.”

The National Motor Co. holds a structured group of high-profile global automotive brands within its dealership portfolio in Saudi Arabia, such as Nissan, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, RAM, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Fiat, Mopar and Foton.

The National Motor Co.'s parent company, Petromin, is ramping up its electric vehicle interests in the Kingdom with its new venture Electromin.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News earlier this year, Kalyana Sivagnanam, group CEO of Petromin, called it a bold move since customers in the Kingdom are still reluctant to buy EVs.

“While it is a bold move, I think it is very timely. We also have plans to expand this further beyond 100 stations and, in due course, we will make that announcement as well,” Sivagnanam told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. The government wants three of every 10 vehicles in Riyadh to be EVs by 2030. Globally, passenger electric cars are surging in popularity, and the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates that 13 percent of new cars sold in 2022 will be electric.


ACWA Power signs MoU to back Thailand’s decarbonization journey 

ACWA Power signs MoU to back Thailand’s decarbonization journey 
Updated 27 November 2022

ACWA Power signs MoU to back Thailand’s decarbonization journey 

ACWA Power signs MoU to back Thailand’s decarbonization journey 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia-based energy company ACWA Power has entered into an agreement to support Thailand’s decarbonization ambitions through a green hydrogen and derivatives development project. 

The firm signed a memorandum of understanding with PTT Public Co. Limited, Thailand’s national integrated energy company; and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, an electric power-related state-owned enterprise, according to a press release. 

As part of the terms of the MoU, ACWA Power, PTT, and EGAT will begin collaborating exclusively on a comprehensive plan to establish large-scale, renewable-powered green hydrogen and derivatives production facilities in Thailand for local energy consumption and global market export purposes.  

With an estimated investment of $7 billion, the Southeast Asian country is targeting hydrogen production of around 225,000 tons annually which is equivalent to 1.2 million tons of green ammonia yearly. 

Paddy Padmanathan, vice chairman and CEO of ACWA Power, said: “We are excited at the prospect of supporting green hydrogen and derivatives exploration and advancement in Thailand, a nation that shares our vision for reliably and responsibly delivering clean energy that drives the sustainability agenda and complements essential climate action worldwide.” 

Thailand is aiming to use green hydrogen as an alternative energy source in the upcoming years in an attempt to fulfill its vow of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and net zero emissions by the year 2065, the press release said. 

Moreover, it added that using green hydrogen will help in supporting emissions abatement imperatives and in building a low-carbon circular economy at a domestic level. 

ACWA Power has been expanding its portfolio rapidly, with its asset hitting $75 billion as it posted a 110 percent profit jump in 2022 so far, according to Padmanathan. 

The company is set to reach assets of $230 billion by 2030, the executive told CNBC Arabia. 

While the firm’s current capacity currently stands at 42 gigawatts, he said there exists the capacity to increase the volume by up to three times to reach 150 gigawatts. 

Currently, the company produces 6 million cubic meters of desalinated water, but that figure is estimated to hit 15 million cubic meters by 2030, Padmanathan revealed. 

ACWA Power, which is part-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is also currently producing up to 240,000 tons of green hydrogen, he added.   

A recent bourse filing revealed the energy giant’s profits reached SR883.4 million ($235.1 million) during the first nine months of 2022, up from SR419.9 million during the same period last year. 

The rise was driven by lower costs of development, provisions, and write-offs during the current period. 

It was also attributed to robust growth in ACWA Power’s operating income before impairment and other expenses, as well as lower profit on account of one-off or non-routine expenses during the same period in the year prior, according to a statement. 

Operating income in the nine-month period was SR1.8 billion, an 11 percent increase of SR189 million, compared to the same period last year, which was achieved despite plant outages in four facilities.