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UAE to host GCC and MENA regional climate dialogue

ABU DHABI, UAE, 1 April 2021: The United Arab Emirates will host the Regional Climate Dialogue for climate action on April 4 in Abu Dhabi, in advance of the Leaders Summit on Climate, to take place in Washington DC later this month and in the run up to COP26. The UAE regional dialogue will include the participation of John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and Alok Sharma, COP 26 President, together with ministers and high-level climate representatives from the GCC and Mena regions.

As part of its well established role as a convener on climate action, the UAE has also invited International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director-General, Francesco La Camera, to attend the Dialogue. The event will focus on national and regional preparations for the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), set to run from November 1 to 12, 2021. The COP26 Summit, hosted this year by the United Kingdom in Glasgow, will bring together countries from across the globe to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said: “We look forward to welcoming Special Envoy Kerry and COP26 President Alok Sharma, along with Ministers and high-level representatives of the key economies of the GCC and MENA region to Abu Dhabi for this important dialogue. The UAE has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to progressive climate action and sought to promote sustainable development throughout the region.  By coming together for this dialogue, I believe we can create greater momentum for progress. The UAE views climate action as an opportunity for economic development, while contributing practical solutions to a global problem that affects us all. As the world seeks new pathways to ‘building back better’ in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Special Envoy Kerry’s visit will help consolidate efforts on smart sustainable solutions with tangible benefits for the global community.

“We are already seeing great examples of climate leadership throughout our region, including the recently announced initiative by our brotherly neighbors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The regional climate dialogue will provide a constructive platform for the MENA region to unite around progressive, practical solutions that can help the world reach global climate goals, while also fostering innovation for sustainable growth.”

Speaking in advance of the meeting, COP 26 President Alok Sharma said: “It is vitally important that the world works together to tackle climate change. That means countries coming forward with net-zero targets and near-term emissions reduction targets (the 2030 NDCs) that keep 1.5 degrees within reach. The transition to a clean economy is one which can benefit us all: through creating jobs, spurring sustainable development, and cleaning our air. We are already beginning to see progress, and countries in the MENA region are well placed to take advantage of the economic opportunities of this transition. However, the consequences of climate change are already being felt across the region, and the UK will use its COP26 Presidency to build momentum on adaptation to help to keep countries, communities and people safe from the impacts of climate change.”

The Regional Climate Dialogue will provide an ideal platform for the participating countries to exchange experience in their responses to climate change and build momentum for increased global ambition in the run-up to COP26. In addition, it will enable the United States and the MENA region to examine new areas of collaboration in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation with the aim of transforming the climate challenge into an economic opportunity.

Core themes will include accelerating the deployment of renewable energy solutions, exploring the potential of new zero-carbon-energy sources, such as green and blue hydrogen, maximizing the impact of mitigation technologies, including carbon capture, and reducing the carbon emission intensity of hydrocarbon fuels, on which the world will still rely during the energy transition. The conversation will discuss policies for adaptation to the impacts of accelerating climate change trends that are of particular concern to the region, such as food and water security, desertification mitigation and environmental conservation.

The participants will seek to develop a common understanding of climate action priorities, as well as a roadmap for cooperation towards COP26 and related milestones.

UL delivers training to KSA customs officials to fight counterfeiting

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 13 May 2019:  Safety science company, UL in end-April conducted a training programme for customs officials in Saudi Arabia to help the Kingdom implement an array of anti-counterfeiting solutions towards safeguarding customers from counterfeit products.

UL’s Global Security and Brand Protection team hosted the training sessions for customs officials from King Abdulaziz Airport and Jeddah Islamic Sea Port, who were briefed on the registered Marks owned by UL. During the training programme, the officials also saw counterfeit products seized in the region. UL’s team, which included Ahmad Chok, Country Manager for Saudi Arabia, and Natalie Wong, Regional Investigations Manager, advised officials on how to spot counterfeit equipment and the importance of brand protection. They explained the importance of developing and implementing solutions that halt the flow of these illegal and potentially dangerous goods.

Saudi Arabia customs officers at the brand protection workshop recently held by UL

Wong said: “UL’s Global Security and Brand Protection team works with law enforcement across the world to remove products bearing counterfeit UL Marks from the marketplace. We work closely with the authorities to identify those responsible for manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit products, and our program continues to grow and adapt to combat counterfeiting activities.” UL said its customers benefit from access to a wealth of support, knowledge and assistance, including investigation support in partnership with global law enforcement authorities and e-learning development resources to utilise in the creation of custom courses delivered through the IP Crime College (iipcic.org).

Hamid Syed

Hamid Syed, Vice President and General Manager, UL Middle East, said: “The recent anti-counterfeit training programme was an opportunity for UL’s team of highly trained experts to meet with KSA customs officers in Jeddah. Counterfeiting is a direct threat to customers, brands and the brands bottom line. We leverage our global partnerships, expertise and experience to help protect consumers, products and brand reputation.”

Sustainable solutions, digitalisation are the way ahead

As the new BASF Vice President for operations in the Middle East, could you take us through the roadmap of the company?

BASF is an active partner in the industry in the UAE. We have been present in the region for over a century, and our office in the UAE dates back to the 1970s. You can, therefore, say that we are deeply rooted in the region. In addition to our regional headquarters in Dubai, we have offices in Abu Dhabi, Al Khobar and Cairo. In the UAE, we operate a state-of-the-art polyurethane system house in Dubai Industrial City and a production facility for construction chemicals in Dubai Investment Park. Our construction chemicals business also has sites in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. In Bahrain, we operate a production facility for customised plastic additives. We have always aligned our business with the strategic vision and economic agenda of the governments in the region. What the visions have in common is not only a strong drive towards growth and economic diversification but also the realisation that having a commitment to sustainability is key to achieving long-term growth. We see unprecedented opportunities in various sectors to support these national priorities, and hence, we share our knowledge and expertise. After all, our commitment to sustainable solutions is anchored in the corporate purpose of BASF, which is to create a sustainable future.

Dr Udo Huenger, Vice President, Middle East, BASF

To what extent is BASF reinforcing its commitment to sustainability, innovation and digitalisation, while also expanding its footprint across the region? 

Our new strategy, which we presented in November 2018, aims at profit and a CO2-neutral growth. This means that we will decouple our greenhouse gas emissions from organic growth. To achieve this, we will improve the management, efficiency and integration of our manufacturing sites, and wherever possible, we plan on purchasing a greater share of electricity from renewable energy sources. We have already reduced emissions by 50% in absolute terms, compared to 1990 levels, while doubling our production in this period. In addition, we are working closely with a number of relevant stakeholders to drive sustainable water action and have been awarded a top ‘A’ rating by the international organisation, CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project. We also want to grow our share of so-called ‘accelerator’ products, including in the Middle East. Across all customer industries, we have identified 13,000 accelerator solutions. These are products that have made a substantial contribution to making the value chain more sustainable. An example of an accelerator product that is performing very well in this region is Neopor, an insulation material that offers improved insulation performance and contributes to climate protection and energy efficiency. Another example is Elastocool, a system made for the insulation of fridges and freezers. The material has a low-thermal conductivity by approximately 0.5 mW/mK, which enables the achievement of energy classes A++ and A+++. The fast cycling time leads to higher output in production, while high compressive strength values lead to lower material consumption per unit. In addition, digital solutions are helping us achieve our sustainability-related goals. Digitalisation presents opportunities, and by using digital technologies and data, we are able to create additional value for our customers and increase efficiency along with the effectiveness of our process. Digitalisation makes our business smoother and eventually makes it cheaper.

You mentioned that there is a strong drive towards localised, advanced manufacturing. What are the challenges you foresee, and how do you plan on tackling them? 

When we look at Egypt, a key market in our region, we are increasingly serving local customers, whereas, in the past, a large part of our customer base was multinationals with a presence in Egypt. Other countries in the region, including countries in the Gulf, are also moving in a similar direction. Therefore, I see opportunities for BASF, rather than challenges. One driving factor will be localisation. We are already producing locally and will expand this in the future with the mixing, blending and packaging of materials. Local storage is also becoming increasingly important.

USD 25 bn Al Faisaliah Project to provide 995,000 housing units by 2050

Dubai, UAE, 21 March 2019: The USD 25 billion Al Faisaliah Project in Saudi Arabia will play a vital role in the country’s move to diversify its economy, said Faizal Babu Pallathody, Managing Director, VTS Clima, naming the project as one of the key developments that will cultivate private-sector engagement as part of Saudi Vision 2030. Pallathody said the city, spanning 2,450 square kilometres, will be located in the western part of Makkah, starting from the Haram boundary and will extend up to the Red Sea coast of Al-Shuaiba in the west. “The project is a giant extension of the Holy City of Makkah and will provide 995,000 housing units and accommodate 6.5 million people by 2050,” he said.

Pallathody said that the country is proactive in its efforts to transform its economy and move to a post-oil era, underpinned by ambitious mega-projects, such as NEOM, which aims to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country. The USD 500 billion industrial zone of NEOM, Pallathody said, will feature a 26,500-square-kilometre business zone that will link Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and aims to be a futuristic hub for both industry and citizens.

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