How the GCC countries have fared on their net-zero commitments so far

Special How the GCC countries have fared on their net-zero commitments so far
Above, attendees at the opening ceremony of the Saudi Green Initiative forum on Oct. 23, 2021, in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
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Updated 06 November 2022

How the GCC countries have fared on their net-zero commitments so far

How the GCC countries have fared on their net-zero commitments so far
  • Four out of the six Gulf states have pledged net-zero by at least 2060, with others greatly reducing carbon emissions
  • They have begun to transition to renewables, implement afforestation initiatives and adopt carbon removal projects

RIYADH: According to the UN, net-zero emissions can be achieved by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal or by eliminating emissions.

Net-zero emissions are also referred to as carbon neutrality or becoming climate neutral. This specific climate goal is key to reducing global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The agreement calls for countries to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

For the oil and gas dominated Gulf Cooperation Council countries, this means translating net-zero emissions ambitions into tangible action.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. The country has undertaken $1 billion in climate change initiatives as part of the Saudi Green Initiative program, which seeks to establish a regional carbon capture and storage center, an early storm warning center and cloud seeding programs as part of its efforts to create a greener future.

Saudi Arabia has committed to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030. (Supplied)

The Kingdom will also join the Global Methane Pledge to cut global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 to deliver a cleaner, greener future.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the Kingdom will plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate 8 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030, reducing 200 million tons of carbon emissions with additional initiatives to be announced in the years to come.

According to the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, the Kingdom will achieve this ambition through numerous programs and initiatives, which include energy efficiency, renewable energy, hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage.


Saudi Arabia established the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center in 2010 and launched the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program in 2012.

“Since then, the program has led to many actions to improve energy efficiency. For example, insulation standards for buildings were introduced, the minimum energy efficiency levels for appliances like air conditioners were increased, fuel economy standards for cars were launched and various awareness campaigns were implemented,” Anwar Gasim, a researcher at KAPSARC, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia launched and built several major renewable energy projects, taking advantage of its natural potential in solar and wind. For example, there is the Sakaka solar power plant, the first “utility-scale” solar power project in Saudi Arabia, with 1.2 million solar panels arranged in an area of over 6 sq. km. and a capacity of 300 MW.
“This project, which is fully operational, has set a new world record for the lowest solar power generation cost,” Gasim said.

Power efficiency is one of the central themes of Saudi Vision 2030. (SPA)

Another example is Dumat Al Jandal, Saudi Arabia’s first utility-scale wind project. “With a capacity of 400 MW, Dumat Al Jandal is the largest wind farm in the Middle East,” he added.“Furthermore, Saudi Arabia very recently announced five new renewable energy projects, with a combined capacity of 3,300MW,” he said.

Moreover, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. has been pioneering the capture and storage of carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery from its fields. At its plant in Hawiyah, Saudi Aramco can capture 45 million standard cubic feet of the gas, which they pump and store in an oil reservoir, leading to increased oil production.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. has built one of the largest CCUS plants, which uses the captured gas to produce liquified carbon dioxide that can be used in the food and drink industry. It also uses the captured gas to produce valuable chemicals like urea and methanol.

The Kingdom aims to become the world’s leading hydrogen producer and exporter in hydrogen production and has already taken the first step globally. Saudi Aramco and SABIC, in partnership with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, announced in 2020 the world’s first blue ammonia shipment from the Kingdom to Japan.

“Ammonia, a form that makes transporting hydrogen easier, is obtained by combining hydrogen with nitrogen,” Gasim said.

“The blue ammonia was shipped to Japan to be used in zero-carbon power generation,” he added.

Furthermore, NEOM announced its plans to build one of the world’s largest green hydrogen plants.

Saudi Arabia also announced its ambition to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030, with the remaining 50 percent coming from natural gas.

According to the state’s government portal, the UAE was the first country in the Middle East to establish the Net-Zero by 2050 strategy, pledging to cut carbon emissions by 23.5 percent, equal to 70 million tons by 2030.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy announced new clean energy generation projects focusing on solar and nuclear sources to help meet these goals. In addition, the Dubai Future Council of Energy released a detailed path to establishing a carbon-free economy.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has also pledged $400 million to a new energy transition program to finance renewable energy projects in developing countries that would otherwise be unable to raise funds.

The deployment and use of clean energy solutions are one of the main pillars of the UAE’s model of addressing the challenge of climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. 

EGA’s CelestiAL aluminum is made using electricity generated at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park, located in the desert outside Dubai. (Supplied)

The UAE government portal reported that the country began financing clean energy projects more than 15 years ago and has invested over $40 billion in the sector to date.
Current trends predict the production capacity of clean energy, including solar and nuclear, to reach 14 GW by 2030, up from about 100 MW in 2015 and 2.4 GW in 2020.
The country has also invested in renewable energy ventures worth around $16.8 billion in 70 countries, focusing on developing nations.

It has also provided more than $400 million in aid and soft loans for clean energy projects.

Qatar, which has the highest carbon intensity per capita in the world, reaching 34.3 tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 2021, has created a national climate change action plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030 and liquefied natural gas facility carbon intensity by 25 percent by the same year.
Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas and aims to expand its production to 127 million tons annually by 2027.
It says its gas production helps combat climate change globally because it can help the world shift from high-polluting fuels like oil and coal to renewable energies.
The plan pledged to intensify efforts at carbon capture and storage at its gas production facilities, Reuters reported.


Kuwait has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.4 percent by 2035.

The country estimates greenhouse gas emissions at around 142 tons of carbon by 2035, 65 percent more than in 2016. The 7.4 percent cut would limit GHG emissions by nearly 11 tons to 132 tons.

Most of the reduction in GHG emissions would come from an oil-to-gas substitution in energy production, according to Enerdata intelligence and consultant.

In 2016, fuel combustion activities accounted for 95 percent of the country’s total GHG emissions, amounting to 86 tons, followed by industrial processes and product use 2 percent and waste 2 percent.

In 2018, Kuwait implied a commitment following the Paris Agreement to transitioning to a low-carbon economy without a quantitative target, Enerdata reported.


Bahrain committed to net-zero emissions by 2060 and pledged a 30 percent reduction by 2035, including investments in renewable energy, carbon removal solutions and afforestation.

The state’s action plan includes an integrated strategic plan for afforestation, aesthetic landscaping and green patches in all parts of the country.

More than 120 public parks and gardens have already been constructed all over the governorates in addition to a series of construction projects underway in which it has been observed that they should satisfy the housing, urbanization needs in each region, according to the UK-based Climate Action platform.


Oman is the latest country to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, announcing its plan recently. The target involves reaching zero routine flaring by 2030 and a 7 percent reduction in emissions by that year.

According to media reports, renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts are among the country’s interim goals, aiming to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2027.

In October, Oman also established the state’s Sustainability Center to supervise and follow up on zero-carbon emission plans and programs.

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris agreement, signed by 192 countries, including Oman, requires states to balance anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, The National reported.


World’s first commercial shipment of blue ammonia leaves Saudi Arabia

World’s first commercial shipment of blue ammonia leaves Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 November 2022

World’s first commercial shipment of blue ammonia leaves Saudi Arabia

World’s first commercial shipment of blue ammonia leaves Saudi Arabia

A consignment of blue ammonia has left Saudi Arabia for South Korea, representing a new milestone in the development of decarbonization solutions.

The development was first announced during the recent Saudi Green Initiative conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, and Vessel Seasurfer, carrying 25 kilometer-tons of low-carbon blue ammonia, is expected to reach its destination between Dec. 9 and 13 in the world’s first commercial shipment of its kind.

The accomplishment, which is an alternative to conventional gray ammonia, is part of a collaboration between Saudi Basic Industries Corporation Agri-Nutrients and Aramco.

Lotte Fine Chemical, which has a long-standing relationship with SABIC AN, will receive the low-carbon “cradle to gate” blue ammonia.

Abdulrahman Shamsaddin, SABIC AN CEO, said: “This shipment is another milestone in our journey toward carbon neutrality.

“We are proud to be a part of this pioneering solution, paving the way for further decarbonization efforts.

“Looking to the future, we are constantly working on breakthrough solutions to decarbonize our assets and deliver low-carbon solutions to our customers.”

Yong Suk Kim, LFC CEO, said: “We are delighted to enter this meaningful agreement with our long-term supplier, SABIC Agri-Nutrients, to receive the world’s first certified blue ammonia cargo. 

“Building on our shared history, we are looking forward to moving forward together into a new era for ammonia. We believe that this shipment of blue ammonia will help lay the foundations for a global supply chain." 

Earlier this year, SABIC AN and Aramco received the world’s first independent certifications, recognizing blue ammonia and blue hydrogen production, from TUV Rheinland, a leading independent testing, inspection and certification agency, based in Germany.

The shipment of blue ammonia to South Korea will be the first to capitalize on this major certification achievement. 

The new developments are aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, which focuses on low-carbon fuels, products, solutions and clean energy. 

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets
Updated 28 November 2022

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

RIYADH: The restaurant group that runs KFC, Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme and others across the Middle East has announced share allocation to investors as well as the scheduled date for its initial public offering in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, according to a statement.

Americana Restaurants’ IPO poses the first simultaneous dual listing process on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange and the Saudi Stock Exchange, also known as Tadawul.

Taking into consideration obtaining all the required regulatory approvals, the IPO’s listing and trading process is set to commence on Dec. 12.

As of Nov. 24, the firm disclosed that the final share price to be offered for subscription stands at 2.62 dirhams ($0.71) per share in the UAE and SR2.68 ($0.71) per share in the Kingdom respectively.

Subscription requests hit $105 billion garnered from several qualified and eligible institutional investors across diverse countries including both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Apart from that, other investors belonged to what is known as an “individual segment” in both the UAE and the Kingdom respectively.

Subscription requests for individuals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia exceeded 48.2 times and 2.8 times, respectively. On the other hand, subscription requests for qualified institutions exceeded 65.5 times.

A total of 283,245 individual investors in Saudi Arabia subscribed to the IPO. 

“We are looking forward to the next step of our growth journey and working towards future value creation. We are equally proud to have taken the final step towards a historic first-ever concurrent dual listing on ADX and the Saudi Exchange – further enhancing the depth and maturity of the UAE and Saudi capital markets. We look forward to welcoming our new shareholders in December,” said Chairman of Americana Restaurants Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar in a statement.

While 80 percent of the normal shares were allocated to a qualified institutional tranche, 10 percent were allocated to individual tranches in the UAE, and 10 percent were allocated to the individual tranche in the Kingdom.

In addition to this, the food and beverages firm also allocated over 1,000 shares for each subscriber in the retail segment in the UAE and more than 892 shares for each subscriber in the retail segment in Saudi Arabia.

The remaining shares were allocated on a pro-rata basis to the retail tranche in the UAE and an allocation percentage of 0.01 percent to the retail tranche in the Kingdom.

The shares have been allocated to the tranche of eligible constitutions in consultation with financial advisors as well as international coordinators.

 As per the updated schedule, any surplus subscription amounts are set to be returned to retail investors in the UAE on Nov. 30 and prior to Dec. 8 for those in the Kingdom.

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD
Updated 28 November 2022

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

RIYADH: Reflecting Abu Dhabi’s robust performance and the ability of the economy to sustain growth despite global economic challenges, data released by the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi, shows expansion of the emirate’s gross domestic product in the first half of 2022 to 11.2 percent compared to the same period last year. 

The quarterly GDP growth rate reached its highest value in six years during the second quarter of 2022 when it hit 11.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to estimates reported by SCAD. 

At the end of the first half of 2022, the real GDP value (at constant prices) exceeded 543 billion dirhams ($148 billion), and the value of the non-oil sectors’ GDP increased 28.4 billion dirhams compared to the same period last year to reach 273 billion dirhams in total. 

Furthermore, the statistical estimates reveal that all non-oil economic activities and sectors showed positive growth rates at constant prices during the first half of 2022, most notably, the health and social work activity rising at a rate of 29.9 percent. This was followed by accommodation and food services at a rate of 29.3 percent, and professional, scientific and support services at a rate of 27.2 percent. The emirate's wholesale and retail trade activity also recorded a positive growth at a rate of 23.7 percent, whereas real estate activities grew at a rate of 19.1 percent. Abu Dhabi's electricity, gas, water, and waste management registered a growth rate of 18.0 percent, followed by 13.8 percent for transportation and storage. 

The leading economic activities that contributed to the GDP of Abu Dhabi at constant prices during the first half of 2022 included manufacturing activities with the contribution of 8.1 percent, while showing a growth rate of 10.2 percent, according to the results.
In addition, the construction and building activity contributed to the real GDP with 7.7 percent, and achieved a growth rate of 6.9 percent, followed by the wholesale and retail trade activity that contributed 5.9 percent to the GDP.
The financial and insurance activities contributed 5.5 percent to the GDP, with a growth rate of 9.1 percent during the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year. 

Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said, “Economy’s positive growth rates in Abu Dhabi reflect the profound strength and success of the economic diversification policy, which contributed to the economy’s resilience and ability to address global changes posed by geopolitical and economic factors that directly affected strategic sectors such as energy and international trade.” 

He added: “The Abu Dhabi economy continues to reap the benefits of the effective policies guided by the wise leadership to strengthen the pillars and foundations of the economy, maintaining a competitive performance while attracting investments with more initiatives to achieve the strategic objectives of Abu Dhabi.” 

According to data released by SCAD, the mining and quarrying activities (including crude oil and natural gas) contributed 49.7 percent to the real GDP of Abu Dhabi during the first half of 2022, which means non-oil activities contributed 50.3 percent at constant prices defying the noticeable increases of global oil prices during the same period.
The increase in the non-oil sector’s contribution to the real GDP bears testimony to the success of the ambitious strategic plans for diversifying the economic base in Abu Dhabi. 

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector
Updated 28 November 2022

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

RIYADH: More than 6,000 Saudis are currently being trained up for technical roles in the Kingdom’s growing tourism industry, according to the government agency leading the charge.

Saudi Arabia's Technical and Vocational Training Corp. has announced it is currently training 6,189 people in preparation for jobs in the tourism and hotel industries.

The Kingdom’s tourism sector continues to grow, with the Kingdom expecting to attract 100 million annual visitors and creating one million jobs by 2030.

TVTC spokesperson Fahad Alotaibi said the entity focuses on designing and providing specialized training programs to train citizens to work in this sector and lead its facilities through diversified training programs in the tourism and hospitality fields.

TVTC's aims align with Saudi Vision 2030, under which efforts are exerted to cut the unemployment rate in the Kingdom from 11.6 percent to 7 percent by 2030.

In August this year, TVTC announced that it had received more than 230,000 trainees — new starters and returnees — in over 260 training facilities and partnership institutes distributed throughout the Kingdom.

To achieve its Vision 2030 goals, Saudi Arabia is not only encouraging the recruitment of nationals to private sector jobs, but is also encouraging adequate investment in their future to ensure their retention by employers as well as their contribution to a vibrant and diverse economy.

Saudization, officially known as the Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat, is considered a crucial step towards economic success.

Saudi Arabia launched the ‘Saudization’ labor market strategy to enhance the economic participation of its citizens, with the aim of reaching 60 percent by 2030.

Although the process of Saudization has been going on since 1985, major regulatory and economic reforms have accelerated in recent years under the Vision 2030 agenda, with the aim of increasing the participation of young Saudis in the economy, promoting non-oil sectors and improving the overall quality of life.

According to Saudi Arabia's Central Department of Statistics and Information, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom decreased to 5.80 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years
Updated 28 November 2022

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

RIYADH: The World Travel and Tourism Council members will invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, as the Kingdom steadily evolves as a global tourist destination in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC. 

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the WTTC Global Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 28, Simpson noted that Saudi Arabia is showing incredible commitment to developing the tourism sector, and is planning to attract 100 million visitors globally by 2030. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmad Al-Khateeb said the sector is still recovering from the pandemic, but the number of international arrivals in the Kingdom has already climbed to 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels. 

“I am proud of the progress we made in building resilience in this sector. We believe in the power of partnership, and we want to bring the global community together. Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing destination in the world,” said Al-Khateeb. 

WTTC also announced that American actor, environmentalist and entrepreneur Edward Norton will be a keynote seeker at its global summit in Riyadh on Nov. 30.

Norton, who has been a long-time advocate for sustainable business practices, will speak about the vitality of maintaining healthy environmental operational standards in the tourism sector as he will be in a conversation with Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin during the event, according to a press release.

“It is clear that people who have such a global platform as Edward Norton help to transcend borders and reinforce the work that we do in promoting sustainable development strategies and we are delighted he is with us at the WTTC Summit in Riyadh,” said Hamidaddin.

This year’s WTTC Global Summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future.”

Some other prominent personalities who will speak at the summit include former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Jerry Inzerillo — Group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai International Airports. 

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will also address delegates in person during the event. In October, 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.