Abdulla Al Humaidi Blazes Sustainability Trail With New Themed Resort
May 22, 2021
In a modern world where climate change has provoked widespread concern, it’s hard to create a new large-scale construction project without being mindful of its impact on the world’s environment. However, some projects go above and beyond in this regard, showcasing the ability of human ingenuity to develop innovative projects that can still focus on sustainability goals. Such is the case with the new London-based themed resort being developed by Abdulla Al Humaidi. The Kuwaiti European Holding CEO has made sustainability such a focus of his work that it has drawn widespread praise from interested parties around the world.
Abdulla Al Humaidi Answers Call to Action
To better understand how the new project will create a sustainable tourist attraction in London, it can first be important to examine how development in urban areas has been problematic in the past. While cities across the globe have created hubs of commercial, social, and economic progress, they have also sometimes been singled out for the drain they place on resources. This can manifest through development projects that prioritize a variety of metrics besides sustainability, leaving the environment low on the list of priorities for design and construction.
Acutely aware of this paradigm, Abdulla Al Humaidi entered into the development of his new themed resort intent on breaking that mold. He knew from the start that he wanted the tourist attraction, set to open in 2024, to not only be a place that could bring entertainment and joy to visitors from across the globe but also to be a place that could step up to its responsibilities to the planet and the local community. To accomplish this goal, he made sure his design team placed environmental sustainability as a top priority throughout every phase of the project’s creation.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
One of the most serious environmental issues the world is contending with at present is the impact of climate change. As carbon emissions have collected in the planet’s atmosphere, global temperatures have warmed, creating some of the hottest years on record. This heat has contributed to a host of issues across the planet, including rising sea levels, intense weather events, and the endangerment of a range of animal species.
A major driver of this climate change has been the emission of carbon-containing gasses. These gasses, often a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels, have been singled out as one of the main sustainability concerns of the 21st century. The emergence of this threat has left many industries with a central question as to how to offset their usage of carbon-containing fuels while also providing for the energy needed to operate their commercial endeavors.
With a deep understanding of the problems that can be created by a large carbon footprint, Abdulla Al Humaidi has placed particular emphasis on alleviating these issues in the themed resort’s design. As a result, the resort has announced that it will be completely carbon neutral with respect to all of its operational activities. This announcement has been singled out as a major advancement for not only the global tourism industry but also for other major developments in London and beyond. When completed, the resort will have the distinction of being the only attraction of its kind to be operationally carbon neutral.
Focus of Abdulla Al Humaidi on Wildlife Habitats
While carbon neutrality is an important metric by which sustainability is measured, there are other concerns called out by environmentalists that also warrant consideration. One such concern is the impact that continued development can have on native wildlife populations. In the absence of efforts to create protected spaces for wildlife amidst development, urban centers run the risk of eliminating the entirety of a species’ natural habitat, leaving it no options for continued habitation in the area.
The Kuwaiti European Holding CEO has also taken steps to address these concerns in the design of his London resort. In this regard, he has allocated additional funds and resources for the creation of protected wildlife habitats along the River Thames to ensure that native wildlife populations will have spaces in which they can continue to make a home. The initiative figures to not only help maintain native wildlife populations but also to increase biodiversity as other animals find new homes in the area. In doing so, the development provides another win for the environment and for the continued protection of the area’s remaining wild places.
Of course, development is also of interest to residents of an area around a new construction project. While there has been much excitement about the new themed resort in London due to its potential to bring world-class entertainment and economic stimulus, there has also been a desire to maintain some community areas connected to the newly developed space. This has been another focus of Abdulla Al Humaidi, who has also listed sustainable community development as a high priority for his construction projects in London and elsewhere in the world. This has been done with a deep understanding that development can oftentimes be a balance between preserving elements of an existing community while also bringing it new opportunities for employment and enjoyment.
In the case of the London resort, one way this has been accomplished has been through the creation of numerous green spaces connected to the site’s overall design. These green spaces will be accessible by the public and will allow for a pleasing place to step away from some of the urban elements of the city and find a greater sense of peace and quiet. The green spaces will allow community members to engage in recreation, relaxation, and increased appreciation of the area surrounding their residences and gain greater access to the new development and the existing amenities present in the area.
While the above overview amounts to just a small look at the positive impact the new resort will have on the environment and local community, it begins to provide a picture of how it is breaking new ground when it comes to sustainability. In pursuing this course of action for his new development, Abdulla Al Humaidi is not only making a meaningful contribution towards alleviating these concerns, but he is also helping to further the global conversation on responsible development. This is a conversation that will no doubt feature his efforts often in the years to come as the resort’s construction showcases the manner in which an ambitious undertaking can be accomplished in a sustainable manner.
GLOBALFLEET‘s article authored by Alison Pittaway argues that Egypt’s new capital is a smart city in the making. So it will but some people are not happy. Let us see what’s it all about.
The image above is for illustration and is of Reuters.
Egypt’s new capital – a smart city in the making
18 May 21
Aside from the recent troubles in Gaza threatening war in the Middle East, decades of population growth and unplanned urban sprawl have taken their tole on Egypt’s economy.
The Government is building several cities, including a new capital, one million low-cost homes, plus an infrastructure of highways and bridges.
This bustling regeneration has helped Egypt remain in growth in 2020, despite the economic shock of the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, some people are not happy. Citizens have been displaced and lost their homes to the building work. Others have seen their neighbourhoods transform too quickly. Analysts wonder how much of a difference the infrastructure boom will make while economic problems persist.
A new capital city
Under construction in the desert, east of Cairo (due to open later this year) is a a futuristic-looking city that many are calling “the new capital city”. Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi recently referred to it as “Hope city”. It’s officially referred to simply as the “New Administrative Capital”. It will be Egypt’s first smart city and is expected to house 6.5 million people. Covering 700 square kilometres of desert, it’s the size of Singapore.
Some people worry that the pace of change in Egypt is too fast and that the “old ways”, such as selling tomatoes from a donkey cart or driving a rickshaw, are being bulldozed and the people who rely on them forgotten.
Investing in the future
On the positive side, in Eastern Cairo and beyond, 1.1 trillion Egyptian pounds ($70 billion) (€53.7 billion) will be spent on transport between now and 2024. A third of that is for the new road network, which will connect many more citizens to transport networks, basic services and create the foundations for a raft of mobility services.
While being interviewed on television recently, Sisi was emphatic about the new developments: “We need to do this so we can make people’s lives easier, so we can reduce the amount of lost time, reduce people’s stress and stop the fuel being used causing more pollution.”
A 2014 World Bank Study put the cost of congestion in greater Cairo at 3.6% of gross domestic product. But while new roads are being built, old ones are poorly maintained.
Middle East’s first mobile natural gas fuel station opens in Egypt
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has launched the first mobile facility to supply cars with compressed natural gas as part of the sector’s efforts to increase the supply of the fuel across the country.
The new station can transport and store up to 5,000 cubic meters of gas and supply up to 1,000 cars every 24 hours to public, industrial and commercial facilities.
The Ministry has plans for 10 new mobile stations across the country, especially in areas of seasonal consumption, such as tourist spots and resorts.
It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. Will Egypt’s smart city be a step too far or will it become a shining example to the rest of the world? Time will tell.
Analysis: Saudi Arabia’s Brand New Futuristic City
By Ramanath Jha
In 2017, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, announced the launch of the nation’s futuristic and fully automated business zone, NEOM. This hi-tech business hub, to be located in the Tabuk province in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea coast, is to be established at a cost of US $500 billion (INR 37.5 lakh crore). The region has been selected in view of its relatively mild climate. Most of Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with extremely oppressive day temperatures of above 45° Celsius. The project’s total area is slated to be 26,500 square kilometre and will link Jordan and Egypt via Saudi territory. The project is expected to generate 380,000 jobs and contribute US $48 billion (INR 36,000 crore) to the kingdom’s GDP by 2030.
More recently, in Jan 2021, the Crown Prince also announced that, as part of the NEOM project, a zero-carbon city called ‘The Line’ would be set up. The Crown Prince labelled the city project as a “civilisational plan that puts humans first”. ‘The Line’ is crafted as a linear city for one million people, running 170 kilometre long, with a width that would be walkable in five minutes. It is anticipated that people from all over the world would be drawn by the city’s excellent environment, state-of-the-art infrastructure and superior quality of life.
‘The Line’ is not designed to be a conventional city but a futuristic one. A city’s usual amenities such as schools, hospitals, and gardens will be carefully crafted in view of the residents’ expected proclivity towards the availability of top-quality education, health, and recreation. Additionally, the city would position itself as a top tourist destination. The Saudi administration also seeks to dispel any misgivings about the governance model that ‘The Line’ would follow. The entire NEOM area, including ‘The Line’, will be a free trade zone with its own tax structure and an autonomous legal system.
The technological and environmental plans of the “zero cars, zero streets, and zero carbon emissions” city have drawn the most attention. Drawings of ‘The Line’ show the city infrastructure and services arranged in three layers. The top layer, above ground, will be a pedestrian layer. It will be supported by two underground layers. The one immediately below ground will be the service layer of physical infrastructure. And further below the service layer will be the spine layer for transport. Project proponents stated that “High-speed transportation, utilities, digital infrastructure and logistics will be seamlessly integrated in dedicated spaces running in an invisible layer along The Line”. The high-speed transit is being designed to reach people anywhere in the city within 20 minutes. Alternately, people could walk to conveniences within five minutes. Artificial intelligence will have a critical role in the city. ‘The Line’ would be powered by 100 percent clean energy, rendering the city pollution-free, healthy, and sustainable. The city would be run totally on smart city technologies. Robots will play a key role in the areas of security, logistics, home delivery, and provision of care.
It is expected that the city infrastructure would cost between US $100 to 200 billion (INR 7.5 to 15 lakh crore). Investments are planned to be drawn from the US $500 billion allocated for NEOM, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is the Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, and local and global investors over 10 years. Construction on the project’s first phase has already begun. NEOM Bay, some hotel complexes, and luxurious apartments have been completed. In 2019, the NEOM Bay Airport was inaugurated. A huge complex of palaces for the Saudi king, prince, and royal family members has also been started.
NEOM and ‘The Line’ are projects with a larger objective. As the world moves towards a non-oil-based future, Saudi Arabia, as the largest producer of oil, finds its economy threatened unless it finds alternate sources of wealth creation. Global trade and tourism would be the key areas for Saudi’s new economy. NEOM, backed by ‘The Line’ as the first fully automated city, could emerge as the leading global destination. In this, there is commonality between Saudi Arabia and the other gulf countries. Bahrain (Economic Vision 2030), Oman (Vision 2040), Qatar (National Vision 2030), UAE (Vision 2021) and Saudi Arabia (Vision 2030) are all seeking to diversify their economies and reduce dependence on oil.
Information on many areas in regard to ‘The Line’ are scarce. However, based on the material available, a broad assessment is possible. Firstly, the history of megaprojects in Saudi Arabia has not been happy. “The Saudi landscape is already dotted with failed or abandoned megaprojects”. Furthermore, such projects do not always turn out the way they are planned. Adverse turns in the global economy, cost overruns, and reduced financial returns on investment are some of the most common failings. Even if the above cited observations are dismissed as speculation, the fact is that this urban endeavour incorporates certain technologies that do not exist. Robot maids, dinosaur robots, and flying cars are still in the making. Neither are high-speed transits today capable of speeds of 512 kilometre per hour, which the city would require for end-to-end travel in 20 minutes.
Furthermore, irrespective of whatever kind of city one builds, a city’s foundational philosophy ought to remain the same. The quality of a city rests on its economy, its environment, and its equity. A city that overstates one to the detriment of the others imbalances itself and over time becomes unsustainable. The project proponents have talked profusely about the economic, technological, and environmental angles, but nothing is known about how equitable the city would be and who could afford to live there.
NEOM and The Line, as cited earlier, would be governed by a set of laws different from Saudi Arabia. But given the nature of the Saudi polity, where some of the governance practices are among the most regressive, uncomfortable incongruities for residents may surface. Since the city is looking for people to move in from the rest of the world, such concerns may not enthuse populations to move in. Saudi Arabia is not very kind to dissent; hence, very few voices of disagreement from inside the country have emanated. Some have mildly sought to remind the Saudi administration that there is no point spending billions of dollars on a totally new venture when the already existing Saudi cities were in a state of disrepair and needed fixing.
The Saudi administration highlights its environmental concerns and is planning to build a totally eco-friendly city. As the Crown Prince said, “Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution? Why should we lose one million people every year due to traffic accidents?” However, this does not seem to be practiced on the ground. The city’s construction is cutting “through its surroundings, forcing its way through tough terrain rather than embracing natural features such as the coast line.”
The Saudi administration also faces criticism on account of the attempt to evict the 20,000-strong Howeitat tribe from its centuries-old homeland that falls within the territory of NEOM. The tribe is resisting eviction. When leaders of the tribe protested, several from the leadership found themselves behind bars. The most vocal critic of them all, Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti, lost his life. The negative publicity was sought to be countered through a public relations exercise, crafted by an American PR company. However, much of the disquiet around the project remains.
There are principles on all transboundary waterways, be they surface or of the aquifer type and they are taken into account in the United Nations Watercourses Convention Article 5, as the Convention states that utilization of an international watercourse equitably and reasonably accounts for all relevant factors and circumstances, including :
Geographic, hydrographic, hydrological, climatic, ecological and other elements of a natural character
The social and economic needs of the watercourse in the concerned States
The population dependent on the waterway in the concerned State;
The effects of the use or uses of the watercourse in one State on other States;
Existing and potential uses of the watercourse;
Conservation, protection, development and economy of the water resources of the watercourse and the cost of measures taken to that effect; and
The availability of alternatives, of comparable value, to a particular planned or existing use. The availability of other options, of equal value, to a specific intended or existing service.
The following essay by Raquella Thaman is a summary of her recently published monograph (under the same title), which appears in Brill Research Perspectives in International Water Law. In effect, the author reviews possible Implications for the Future Directions of International Water Law and concludes that the need for concerted global intervention to maintain the livability of Earth and increase resilience in the face of the rapidly changing availability of resources is vital.
The picture above is for illustration purpose and is that of the Nile bassin (the other watercourse controversy) with indication of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) location.
The fate of the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq provides us with a case study on the functional deficits of the existing body of international water law in managing conflict over transboundary watercourses. This monograph argues that international collaboration over transboundary watercourses is imperative for maintaining peace and stability and should force us into thinking of new ways to address these newly emerging and growing challenges in the field.
Water is a transient and finite resource. Moving through the hydrologic cycle, each molecule may find its way from a transboundary watercourse on one continent to a municipal water supply on another, and then back again. It is often said that every drop we drink has already been consumed by one life form or another.
One of the more perilous side effects of climate change is its threat to the water supply of hundreds of millions of people. In many regions the seasonal absence of rain has historically been compensated for by meltwater from glaciers and winter snowpack across international borders in distant mountain ranges. When these glaciers disappear, so will the water supply during the dry season.
As these pressures increase, the need for effective legal regimes to address the sharing of transboundary watercourses likewise increases. In some cases, the existing law governing the utilization of this ephemeral resource has proven inadequate to prevent conflict and ensure access to water and its benefits for people and ecosystems no matter where they lie along the length of the watercourse.
The history and ecology of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, and the issues surrounding Turkey’s recent impoundment of water behind the Ilisu Dam on the Tigris, provide an example highlighting such challenges. While the need for collaborative approaches to sharing transboundary watercourses is evident, barriers to such collaboration are complex and sometimes deeply entrenched. Additionally, the responsibility of the international community for helping at risk communities maintain access to adequate water supplies cannot be overlooked.
The first few chapters of the monograph set forth the context of the problem. Chapter one briefly introduces the hydrologic cycle and current state of Earth’s ecological systems underlying the need for new developments in international water law. The second chapter is an overview of the Tigris-Euphrates river basin including its hydro-geography, climate and early history of water use. The third chapter describes the significance of the Mesopotamian Marshes themselves as a harbinger for the well-being of the people of Iraq. The fourth chapter examines the water projects that affect the Tigris-Euphrates Basin including controversy surrounding Turkey’s most recent filling of the Ilisu dam and the flooding of Hasankeyf.
Chapter five of the monograph outlines the law governing the Tigris-Euphrates Basin. The stance of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin states and their seeming embrace of outdated and conflicting approaches to resource allocation are examined. Existing agreements between the states, both colonial era and post-WWII, and the application of the UN Watercourses Convention are then examined. Finally, other approaches to managing conflict over ecological conditions are examined including a brief analysis of the Rhine Salt Case and the human right to water recognized by the UN General Assembly in 2010.
Chapter six discusses the topic of collaborative water management using the illustrative example of the Senegal River Basin. Three examples of conflict over transboundary watercourses, one historical and two current, are then provided in order to illuminate some of the barriers to collaboration. The first is a nineteenth century dispute between the United States and Mexico over the water of the Rio Grande, which resulted in the production of the Harmon Doctrine. The second provides an example of upstream hydro-hegemony in an overview of the problems arising from China’s development of the upper Mekong River and its impact on those living in the lower Mekong Basin. The third example outlines the problem of downstream hydro-hegemony in the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt, its downstream neighbor on the Nile, over the building of Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
In conclusion, the need for concerted global intervention to maintain the livability of Earth and increase resilience in the face of the rapidly changing availability of resources will be explored and the clear need for a unified collaborative approach to such intervention reiterated.
The monograph is dedicated to Ms. Fadia Daibes Murad (1966-2009); in recognition of the courage, rigor, and dynamic intellect with which she advocated both for fairness in access to water resources and for gender equity in Palestine and the Middle East.
Ms. Thaman is an attorney and teacher in California. She can be reached at r_thaman @ u.pacific.edu.
The BBC‘s Could plastic roads make for a smoother ride? By Chermaine Lee is an eye-opener in one right way of ridding the World of those nasty tons of polymer derivatives that are encombering the World. When energy is transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables, it is more than reasonable to make fair use of that material. It would be even more useful if all those hydrocarbon related stranded assets have some usage in future infrastructural development. But that is another story.
On a road into New Delhi, countless cars a day speed over tonnes of plastic bags, bottle tops and discarded polystyrene cups. In a single kilometre, a driver covers one tonne of plastic waste. But far from being an unpleasant journey through a sea of litter, this road is smooth and well-maintained – in fact the plastic that each driver passes over isn’t visible to the naked eye. It is simply a part of the road.
This road, stretching from New Delhi to nearby Meerut, was laid using a system developed by Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a professor of chemistry at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in India, which replaces 10% of a road’s bitumen with repurposed plastic waste.
India has been leading the world in experimenting with plastic-tar roads since the early 2000s. But a growing number of countries are beginning to follow suit. From Ghana to the Netherlands, building plastic into roads and pathways is helping to save carbon emissions, keep plastic from the oceans and landfill, and improve the life-expectancy of the average road.
It has the benefit of being a very simple process, requiring little high-tech machinery. First, the shredded plastic waste is scattered onto an aggregate of crushed stones and sand before being heated to about 170C – hot enough to melt the waste. The melted plastics then coat the aggregate in a thin layer. Then heated bitumen is added on top, which helps to solidify the aggregate, and the mixture is complete.
Many different types of plastics can be added to the mix: carrier bags, disposable cups, hard-to-recycle multi-layer films and polyethylene and polypropylene foams have all found their way into India’s roads, and they don’t have to be sorted or cleaned before shredding.
As well as ensuring these plastics don’t go to landfill, incinerator or the ocean, there is some evidence that the plastic also helps the road function better. Adding plastic to roads appears to slow their deterioration and minimise potholes. The plastic content improves the surface’s flexibility, and after 10 years Vasudevan’s earliest plastic roads showed no signs of potholes. Though as many of these roads are still relatively young, their long-term durability remains to be tested.
The plastic that goes into roads would otherwise go to landfill or the incinerator (Credit: MacRebur)
In the Netherlands, PlasticRoad built the world’s first recycled-plastic cycle path in 2018, and recorded its millionth crossing in late May 2020. The company shredded, sorted and cleaned plastic waste collected locally, before extracting polypropylene from the mix – the kind of plastic typically found in festival mugs, cosmetics packaging, bottle caps and plastic straws.
Unlike the plastic-tar roads laid in India, the UK and elsewhere, PlasticRoad doesn’t use any bitumen at all. “[PlasticRoad] consists almost entirely of recycled plastic, with only a very thin layer of mineral aggregate on the top deck,” says Anna Koudstaal, the company’s co-founder.
Each square metre of the plastic cycle path incorporates more than 25kg of recycled plastic waste, which cuts carbon emission by up to 52% compared to manufacturing a conventional tile-paved bike path, Koudstaal says.
Gurmel Ghataora, senior lecturer at the department of civil engineering at the University of Birmingham, agrees that using plastics in the lower surfaces of the road minimises the risk of generating additional microplastics. “It is inevitable that such particles may be generated [at surface level] due to traffic wear,” he says.
With India home to one of the world’s largest road networks, growing at a rate of nearly 10,000km of roads a year, the potential to put plastic waste to use is considerable. Though this technology is relatively new for India, and indeed the rest of the world, Vasudevan is confident that plastic roads will continue to gain popularity, not only for environmental reasons, but for their potential to make longer-lasting, more resilient roads.
Originally posted on globalrhythmz: The music Aziza Brahim makes reflects both the sorrow and the hope of these people. She grew up in one of those camps in the Algerian desert, along with thousands of other Saharwai who were removed from their homes in the Western Sahara. The refugee camp was the place that formed…
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