How Gulf energy powerhouses are blazing a trail for green industrialization

Special Gulf states have signaled their commitment to meeting global greenhouse emissions targets. (Green Riyadh Project)
Gulf states have signaled their commitment to meeting global greenhouse emissions targets. (Green Riyadh Project)
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Updated 22 October 2022

How Gulf energy powerhouses are blazing a trail for green industrialization

How Gulf energy powerhouses are blazing a trail for green industrialization
  • GCC members intend to supply Europe and the Asia-Pacific with environmentally friendly hydrogen power
  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have committed themselves to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions

DUBAI: As the effects of weather variations possibly linked to climate change intensify around the globe, many countries have set goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, hoping to prevent Earth from warming 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman — the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council — are home to around one-third of the world’s oil reserves and approximately one-fifth of its natural gas reserves.

As a strategy for effective climate-change mitigation, the GCC states see themselves as trailblazers of the hydrogen economy by unveiling ambitious plans to supply Europe and the Asia-Pacific region with the low-carbon, environmentally friendly fuel.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have committed themselves to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and 2060, respectively. Bahrain has pledged to meet the same target by 2060.

Net zero means that all greenhouse gas emissions produced are counterbalanced by an equal number of emissions that are removed from the atmosphere.

Achieving this important goal will require rapid decarbonization. Hydrogen, as a new energy carrier, can play a key role in successfully decarbonizing the most difficult sectors, such as shipping, aviation, steel, and chemicals.

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power will play a key role as Saudi Arabia and the UAE embark on the journey to net zero. (Reuters)

Replacing fossil fuels partly with hydrogen would be a big step toward meeting the targets for reduction in greenhouse emissions set in the Paris Agreement, an international treaty adopted in 2015 covering climate-change mitigation, finance, and adaptation.

In a report published in January, the International Renewable Energy Agency projected that hydrogen could cover 12 percent of global energy use by 2050, and that 30 percent of hydrogen could be traded internationally in the same timeline — another sign that fossil fuel assets could be devalued by mid-century, despite today’s high oil prices and record gas prices.

Looking to the future, Gulf states are exploring ways to diversify their economies and decarbonize by producing hydrogen using their vast reserves of fossil fuels, from which carbon capture, or blue hydrogen, is produced.

Among them, Saudi Arabia plans to expand beyond blue hydrogen into other, even cleaner forms, such as green hydrogen, which is made by using renewable energy to split water.

The NEOM Green Hydrogen Project, to be commissioned in 2026, will be the world’s largest green hydrogen plant powered entirely by renewables and will have a production capacity of 650 tons of hydrogen per day, according to Saudi energy developer and operator ACWA Power.

As Saudi Arabia continues to develop its clean, safe nuclear energy program in line with International Atomic Energy Agency regulations, it will also push for the production of pink hydrogen, according to statements made by Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman at the World Economic Forum last year.

Pink hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using nuclear power. This year, Prince Abdulaziz signed several memoranda of understanding on the use of hydrogen fuel cell-powered public transportation throughout the Kingdom.

The Saudi Green Initiative aims to reduce the Kingdom’s carbon footprint by safeguarding natural habits, through developments such as the green hydrogen project to be built in NEOM's Oxagon region. (Supplied/NEOM)

Early last month, IRENA joined 14 global companies to set up a new alliance that aims to decarbonize industries and help countries to achieve net-zero goals in line with the Paris Agreement.

The Alliance for Industry Decarbonization was unveiled during IRENA’s Investment Forum on Energy Transitions in Bali, Indonesia, on Sept. 1.

Speaking at the event, IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera said: “Climate action needs industry leaders.

“This alliance stands for the growing commitment of global industry to act on decarbonization and unlock opportunities that come with a green industrialization through renewables and other transition-related technologies like green hydrogen.

“By standing together we send a clear signal of solidarity ahead of COP27 (UN Climate Change Conference) and we invite new partners to join our common vision,” he added.

The first meeting of the alliance is scheduled to take place at this year’s COP27 meeting being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November. Members of the alliance include Abu Dhabi’s Taqa, Italy’s Enel Green Power, Egypt’s Taqa Arabia, Eni, and Technip Energies.


* World Energy Day is marked each year on Oct. 22 to raise awareness about energy usage, affordability, safety and sustainability.

* Launched in Oct. 2021, the Saudi Green Initiative established 60 schemes to cut emissions, plant 10m trees, and safeguard habitats. 

* Saudi Arabia also launched the Middle East Green Initiative — a first-of-its-kind regional alliance to combat climate change.

* The Kingdom is also involved in the Global Ocean Alliance, aiming to make 30% of the world’s oceans marine preserves by 2030.

Addressing the Bali forum, Karim Amin, a member of the executive board of Siemens Energy, said: “We need to slash greenhouse gas emissions urgently if we are going to tackle climate change.

“Accounting for more than a quarter of global emissions, the industrial sector is the second-largest emitter and requires rapid decarbonization. In this endeavor, partnerships are crucial.

“With our technologies, we at Siemens Energy constantly seek to create value with our partners toward a low-carbon future. I am convinced the alliance for decarbonization will accelerate decarbonization by installing a first-class exchange forum for industry, technology, and knowledge partners.”

In 2021, during COP26 in Glasgow, IRENA unveiled the $1 billion energy transition accelerator financing (ETAF) platform to support new renewable energy projects in developing countries. Both Masdar — the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. — and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development are supporting the platform.

In June, IRENA signed agreements with ADFD and Masdar to provide the anchor investment of $400 million to ETAF.

La Camera told Arab News: “Climate challenge is a universal challenge. It is one that requires a rapid, holistic transformation of our energy system and the decarbonization of industrial processes represents a major part of that challenge.

Saudi Aramco and Air Products open the Kingdom’s first hydrogen fueling station. (Supplied)

“However, it presents a great opportunity as well. It is a daunting task that requires the highest levels of cooperation between industry leaders. This alliance, led by IRENA and the private sector, will be instrumental in coordinating efforts and paving the way to net zero.”

For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, reconciling their ambitious environmental commitments with their present reliance on hydrocarbons will be at once a challenge and an expensive journey. For both countries, the journey begins with decarbonizing their oil and gas production to reduce their carbon footprint and increasing their domestic green-energy production.

This does not of course mean they will stop producing hydrocarbons completely. As Middle East energy expert Ruba Husari pointed out in an article for the Middle East Institute, though demand for oil and gas will continue past 2050, “albeit at lower levels than now — their net-zero target does not equate to zero oil and gas production. Instead, their transition will differ from that of other countries and will happen at a different pace.”

At the Youth Green Summit in Riyadh in October 2021, Prince Abdulaziz announced the goal of becoming the world’s largest hydrogen producer.

The same year, Saudi Aramco, the national petroleum and natural gas company, published its first sustainability report detailing its road map toward net zero. Aramco’s ambition, the report said, was to decarbonize its operations and achieve “a net-zero footprint by 2050 across its wholly owned operated assets.”

The report acknowledged that achieving net-zero operational emissions while also growing its business to meet global energy demand would be “a huge challenge.”

Aramco has set initial interim targets for 2035, planning to cut carbon emissions from 10.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per barrel of oil equivalent (CO2e/boe) in 2018 to 8.7 kg of CO2e/boe by 2035 — a 15 percent-plus reduction.

Aramco’s corporate strategy is based on its “ability to produce the lowest cost and lowest carbon oil and its intent to work with customers along the value chain to offer products that support their ambitions for low-carbon fuels.”

Since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, Saudi Arabia has taken significant steps to step up climate action and environmental protection through greater reliance on clean energy and offsetting emissions.

The Saudi Green Initiative, launched at the inaugural Green Initiative Forum on Oct. 23, 2021, consists of more than 60 initiatives, the first wave of which entails investments worth SR700 billion ($187 billion) designed to contribute to the growth of a “green economy.”

A new global alliance aims to help countries, including those in the Middle East, achieve their Paris Agreement targets by accelerating energy transition. (AN Archive)

Meanwhile, as part of its net-zero strategy, the UAE intends to invest 600 billion Emirati dirhams ($163.37 billion) in clean and renewable energy projects over the next three decades.

On Sept. 12, the UAE Cabinet approved an updated version of the second National Determined Contribution, setting a higher economy-wide emission reduction target for 2030 of 31 percent relative to business as usual, an increase from the 23 percent initially submitted in 2020.

Additional announcements were made on sectoral contribution to this target.

Evita Moawad, an international sustainable energy and decarbonization consultant, told Arab News: “The UAE was the first Gulf country to commit to net zero by 2050 and has defined interim targets for 2030.

“It is important that the UAE and other countries’ targets are consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit. The next steps are to define road maps to net zero for the different sectors and create a conducive framework to move forward toward decarbonization.

“The UAE has already achieved successes in clean energy supply; now efforts are needed in other sectors such as industry and transport. Such efforts have started. For example, the UAE is one of five countries to have so far joined the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative, which has been active since the start of this year,” she said.

To achieve decarbonization, all aspects of a country’s economy must change, including how energy is generated and how goods are produced and delivered. This, La Camera pointed out, “requires a dynamic approach to the energy transition, integrating new solutions and technologies as they become available.”

He lauded the UAE’s recent update of its NDC as “a great display of the country’s leadership ahead of COP28.”

The 2023 annual session of the COP conference will be held in Expo City Dubai toward the end of the year.


Lebanon fails for 9th time to elect a president

Lebanon fails for 9th time to elect a president
Updated 10 sec ago

Lebanon fails for 9th time to elect a president

Lebanon fails for 9th time to elect a president

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament has failed for the 9th time to elect a president, it was announced on Thursday.

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
Updated 01 December 2022

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
  • Israeli media: The two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group
  • The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank

JERUSALEM: Two Palestinians were killed Thursday during an Israeli military raid in a militant stronghold in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Reports by Israeli media said the two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as Naeem Jamal Zubaidi, 27, and Mohammad Ayman Saadi, 26, but did not confirm whether they were militants.
According to the reports, the military was conducting an arrest raid in the city of Jenin and was met by gunfire. The military responded, killing the two men.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank, prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the spring that killed 19 people. The military says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks, but the Palestinians say they entrench Israel’s open-ended occupation and undermine their own security forces.
The raids have ratcheted up tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, triggering another wave of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks that have killed an additional eight people.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed this year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2006. The Israeli military says many of those killed have been militants but local youths protesting the incursions as well as others not involved in the violence have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want those territories for their hoped-for future state. Substantive peace talks were last held more than a decade ago, and with Israel headed toward what’s likely to be its most right-wing government ever, there appears to be no prospect for a negotiated solution in the near future.

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time
Updated 01 December 2022

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time
  • A new launch date will be shared in the coming days

DUBAI: The UAE’s lunar mission has been postponed for the second time on Thursday, SpaceX said.

The Japanese HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander, carrying the UAE’s 10-kilogram Rashid rover aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, was due to take off at 8:37 a.m. (GMT) on Thursday, Dec.1, from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US.

“After further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review, we’re standing down from tomorrow’s launch of ispace inc.’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1,” said SpaceX in a statement.

A new launch date will be shared in the coming days, the company added.



If Rashid rover successfully lands on the moon, it will be the Arab world’s first lunar mission, placing the UAE as the fourth country to reach the moon.

The mission would also see the first spacecraft funded and built by a private Japanese firm to land on the moon.

Rashid rover is the latest of the UAE’s endeavors in space exploration after successfully launching an unmanned probe to Mars in the first Arab mission to the red planet.

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria
Updated 01 December 2022

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria and voiced concern over the escalating situation in the country, the Pentagon said.

Austin, in the call, expressed condolences over a Nov. 13 attack in Istanbul, the Pentagon said.

“He also expressed concern over escalating action in northern Syria and Turkey, including recent airstrikes, some of which directly threatened the safety of US personnel who are working with local partners in Syria to defeat ISIS,” it said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

“Secretary Austin called for de-escalation, and shared the Department’s strong opposition to a new Turkish military operation in Syria.” 

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods
Updated 01 December 2022

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods
  • Yemenis say militias placed mines as retaliation against those who resisted their ambitions

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Two Yemeni children were killed by a landmine laid by the Houthis in the central province of Marib on Tuesday, increasing the total number of civilians killed or injured by Houthi landmines in one week to nine.

The news comes as a government body confirmed the discovery of wide tracts of ground extensively polluted by Houthi landmines in six provinces.

Yemeni Landmine Monitor reported that two brothers, Abbad and Saleh Abdullah Al-Muradi, were killed and their sister Nemah was severely injured in a landmine explosion in the Rahbah district in Marib, bringing the total number of civilians killed in one week to four and the total number of civilians wounded to five.

The Yemeni group said that two additional individuals were killed and two more were injured in a landmine and ordnance explosion in the western province of Hodeidah, in addition to a child who was injured after touching a landmine in the central province of Al-Bayda.

The Iran-backed Houthis have buried thousands of landmines at previous flashpoints around the country over the last eight years to impede the military advances of their opponents.

The landmines have been planted in farms, schools, health institutions and residential areas and hindered individuals from reaching their places of employment or gaining access to food.

The UN-brokered truce that went into effect on April 2 has restored relative calm to certain hot battlefields, like the city of Marib, enabling some displaced individuals to return home.

Despite the cessation of hostilities, the threat of death and danger posed by Houthi landmines has not abated.

Locals have accused the Houthis of placing landmines in Marib and other Yemeni cities as retaliation against anyone who resisted their military ambitions.

“The Houthi battle in a specific territory does not stop with their loss. Instead, they plant landmines …to make the inhabitants of this area pay dearly for their persistent opposition,” Dhayfullah Al-Dahmashi, a Marib resident, said on Facebook.

Karama Naji, a 7-year-old from the Al-Juthan’an area of Marib, said that while playing outside her home, she tampered with a piece of metal she discovered. The metal was an explosive device left by the Houthis in her village, which detonated, injuring and paralyzing the child’s legs.

“I hope to be able to walk, receive treatment, and find a ride to my distant school,” the child said, according to the Saudi-funded demining program Masam in Yemen.

Yemeni government officials said that this year they uncovered landmine fields planted by the Houthis in the provinces of Abyan, Lahj, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah and Dhale.

Ameen Saleh Al-Aqeli, director of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center, praised the efforts of Saudi Arabia to help Yemenis clear Houthi mines.

During his speech on Saturday at the 20th meeting of signatory countries to the Ottawa Treaty, which aims to eliminate landmines around the world, he said the Saudi demining program, which operates in 29 Yemeni districts, has retrieved and destroyed roughly 70,000 anti-personnel mines, anti-vehicle mines and explosive devices since early this year.

Al-Aqeli said that this year 487 non-technical survey trips by deminers in Yemen’s mine-contaminated regions in six provinces uncovered 68 potentially hazardous locations with a total area of 16,571,000 square meters and 21 verified problematic areas with a total area of 25,917,000 square meters.