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CEO appointments in the UAE surpass pre-pandemic highs

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ZAWYA informs that 42% of UAE CEOs are non-nationals, and 5% are women, compared to global averages of 24% and 6%, therefore CEO appointments in the UAE surpass pre-pandemic highs per a recent report. Would this statement of fact have any meaning other than those consequent to the pandemic?

The image above is for illustration and is of the UAE appointing a new Governor.

Businessman wearing a mask in the office for safety during the pandemic. Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

The appointment of new CEOs has surpassed pre-pandemic highs as companies demonstrate confidence about their prospects and their ability to find the right leader, according to a new report.

The Route to the Top 2021 by Heidrick & Struggles showed that the number of CEOs appointed across 14 countries was up 22.6 percent in the first half of 2021 when compared with the first half of 2018, and up 181 percent compared with the second half of 2020.

The report showed that 42 percent of CEOs in the UAE are non-nationals, compared with a global average of 24 percent, and five percent are women, compared with a global average of six percent. Of the 14 countries surveyed, Ireland had the highest proportion of female CEOs at 14 percent, while Hong Kong had the highest proportion of non-national CEOs at 76 percent.

More than a third of UAE CEOs (35 percent) had previous CEO experience in their last two roles.

Globally, newly appointed CEOs are more likely to be women (11 percent) and to be from countries other than where the company is headquartered (30 percent) and to have cross-border experience 46 percent.

In the UAE, 42 percent of new CEOs have advanced degrees, 16 percent have cross-border experience, and 23 percent have less than one year of experience as CEOs.

Other findings are that 42 percent of UAE CEOs were appointed before the age of 45 but the average age is 55, 30 percent were formerly heads of divisions but only two percent had previous COO experience, compared to 14 percent globally.

“Looking ahead, COVID 19 has raised expectations on the role of businesses in addressing concerns such as climate, equality, cybersecurity and other external realities; boards are rethinking the process of the CEO succession to cope with these changes, said Alain Deniau, head of CEO and board of directors practice, Heidrick & Struggles, MENA.

“This means that companies will open up to new perspectives and ideas. In addition, we expect more attention to shift towards leadership skills rather than specific skills.”

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; Editing by Seban Scaria)

Imogen.lillywhite@refinitiv.com 

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Syria reservoir dries up for first time

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Water supply in the Levant like in the whole of the MENA region, is raryfying especially in Syria where a reservoir dries up for the first time.

The above image is that of a rowing boat that lies grounded on the exposed lake bed of Syria’s Duwaysat Dam reservoir after it dried up completely for the first time in its 27-year history Abdulaziz KETAZ AFP.

Duwaysāt (Syria) (AFP) – Low rainfall, structural damage and extraction by struggling farmers have emptied a key reservoir in northwestern Syria, leaving it completely dry for the first time, farmers and officials told AFP.

With man-made climate change increasing the frequency of drought and wildfires worldwide, Syria is experiencing one of its driest and hottest years on record after historically low rainfall last winter.

The reservoir formed by Al-Duwaysat Dam in Idlib province, a key irrigation source for thousands of farmers, has completely dried up for the first time in its 27-year history.

The exposed lakebed is parched to a crisp in many places, a sinister expanse littered with stranded rowing boats, animal skulls and dead trees.

A few shallow pools remain, around which small flocks of sheep graze on new shoots.

According to the World Bank, the reservoir has a capacity of a 3.6 million cubic metres (38.8 million square feet) and is mainly used for irrigation and water supply.

“Because of drought and low rainfall, we can now walk on the floor of the reservoir,” its managing engineer Maher al-Hussein said, recalling that it was full to capacity just two years ago.

Low rainfall last winter left the reservoir half-full and all the water was used for irrigation by farmers trying to save their crops, Hussein said.

Damage to the main pipeline that feeds water from the reservoir to irrigation networks has led to significant leakages, further reducing the volume that reaches the fields, he added.

A shepherd waters his flock from the small pools that are all that is left of the reservoir following successive years of low rainfall Abdulaziz KETAZ AFP

“It is the first time the reservoir has dried out since it was built in 1994,” Hussein said.

He said around 800 families depended on the reservoir to irrigate 150 hectares (370 acres) of farmland.

“For 10 years we have come to this reservoir,” said cattle farmer Abu Joumaa. “If God does not send us good rainfall that could fill the reservoir this year… people won’t be able to grow crops they rely on to make a living.”

© 2021 AFP

Iraqi farmers feel the heat of extreme climate events

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A greater number of Iraqi farmers feel the heat of extreme climate events. It is a story by Kareem Botane and Robert Edwards in Arab News and it does give us a down to earth picture of this region of the MENA as illustrated by the image above of AN Photos/Kareem Botane.

All along the banks of the once-mighty Tigris River, farmers and fishermen have seen their livelihoods evaporate in recent years.

  • Once flourishing communities along Tigris River face existential crisis as high temperatures become the norm
  • Iraq’s President Barham Salih says climate change is by far the most serious long-term threat facing the country

MOSUL / BOGOTA: Caked in the fine yellow dust kicked up by his tractor-drawn planter, Farman Noori Latif jumps down to survey his work. He has spent the morning sowing wheat seed on his farm near the banks of the Tigris River, just south of Mosul in northern Iraq.

It is late in the season to be sowing wheat, but the 30-year-old has been holding out for a much-needed spell of autumn rain. The earth might still be parched under the baking sun but it is now or never if he wants his crops in the ground before winter sets in.

“Today is November 2 and the weather is hot. It shouldn’t be like this,” Latif told Arab News as he inspected the soil he and his family have farmed for four generations. “We are supposed to have this weather in September, not now.”

Latif is not alone in fighting a losing battle against the elements. The UN Environment Program’s sixth Global Environmental Outlook report, published in 2019, ranked Iraq fifth on the list of countries most vulnerable in terms of water and food availability and extreme temperatures.

All along the banks of the once-mighty Tigris River, farmers and fishermen have seen their livelihoods evaporate in recent years, forcing many among the rural population to abandon the land in search of work in the cities.

“We have lost everything due to the lack of rain and the hot weather,” Ameer Khthr Yousif, a 30-year-old farmer and fisherman selling his catch on a Qayyarah roadside, told Arab News.

“We farmers depend on the Tigris River for our agriculture. If the situation continues, everyone here will leave farming to find other sources of income.”

Average temperatures in Iraq have risen by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past century, and extreme heat events are becoming more frequent. According to the World Bank, mean annual temperatures in Iraq are expected to rise by 2 C by 2050, and mean annual rainfall to decrease by 9 percent.

Iraq’s 2020-2021 rainy season was the second-driest in 40 years, according to the UN, leaving the country’s aquifers unreplenished and raising the salinity of the remaining groundwater.

“The groundwater has dried out here,” Latif said. “I have a well that is 30 meters deep without any water in it. All the wells here have dried out. Even if there is water in any of these wells, it will be red in color or salty.”


Hazim Mahamad Ebrahim, 60, a farmer from Hoot Al-Fouaqni, Qayyarah, Mosul. (AN Photo/Kareem Botane)

Soil degradation is causing dust storms to increase in scale and frequency. Between 1951 and 1990, Iraq experienced an average of 24 days a year with dust storms. In 2013, there were 122, according to the UN.

In an op-ed for the Financial Times, published on Oct. 31 to coincide with the start of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, Iraq’s President Barham Salih said the economic and environmental effects of climate change are “by far the most serious long-term threat” facing the country.

“Very high temperatures are becoming more common, drought more frequent and dust storms more intense,” Salih said. “Desertification affects 39 percent of Iraq’s territory and increased salinization threatens agriculture on 54 percent of our land.”

Neighboring countries are also experiencing more frequent droughts and rising temperatures, leading to regional water disputes. Iraq’s water ministry said this year that water flows from Iran and Turkey had fallen by 50 percent during the summer.

“Dams on the headwaters and tributaries of the historic Tigris and Euphrates Rivers — the lifeblood of our country — have reduced water flow, leading to shortages,” Salih said. “According to Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources, our country could face a shortfall of as much as 10.8 billion cubic meters of water annually by 2035.”


Farman Noori Latif, 30, a farmer and contractor from the village of Muhssin, Qarach area, Makhmur, Qayyarah, Mosul. (AN Photo/Kareem Botane)

Salih said he is all too aware of the threat climate change poses to a country utterly reliant on oil revenues, whose booming youth population is simmering with pent-up frustration.

“Iraq’s population is projected to double from 40 million people today to 80 million by 2050, just as our income, largely based on oil production, will be drastically reduced as a result of the world abandoning fossil fuels as it moves to sustainable, clean energy,” he said.

“The loss of income may very well result in migration to cities whose infrastructure is even now incapable of supporting the existing population. This migration may well result in extremism and insecurity as young people are unable to find jobs that give them a decent standard of living.”

FASTFACTS

* Average temps. in Iraq have risen by at least 0.7 degrees since 1921.

* Iraq’s 2020-2021 rainy season was the second-driest in 40 years.

* In 2013, Iraq experienced at least 122 days with dust storms.

Mohammed Abdullah Ibrahim, who has farmed his patch of land in Qayyarah for decades, said he has seen dramatic changes in the climate during his lifetime.

“I have been a farmer since the 1970s and I have never seen it this bad before,” the 64-year-old told Arab News.

Water shortages have forced local farmers to abandon many of the water-intensive fruit and vegetable crops once grown here. Among those that still grow, yields have halved, said Ibrahim.

“Before, it was sufficient,” he added. “You could grow enough and make a profit. In the past, we were employed only in farming; we did not need a job or salaries. But things have changed now. We have to find another job to make a living.

“If the situation continues like this, we will be entering a very dark future. The young generation will end up unemployed.”

Ibrahim’s neighbor, Hilal Faraj Mohamoud, has also observed a significant change in the local climate. “The heat wave we had last year, we have never had it like that before,” he told Arab News. “I am 56 years old; I have never experienced heat like that in my life.


Hilal Faraj Mohamoud, 56, a farmer from Hoot Al-Fouaqni, Qayyarah, Mosul. Credit: (AN Photo/Kareem Botane)

“I know many farmers who have left their land and given up on farming. If the situation continues, I am afraid we will all move to the cities and leave farming behind, migrating from the villages because there will be nothing left for us to stay for.”

It is not only arable crop farmers who are struggling in the fierce heat. Sparse pasture, limited fodder and a shortage of fresh water have forced livestock farmers to sell or even cull their animals.

“Our animals have begun dying due to drought and the lack of rain,” Jamal Ali, a 49-year-old shepherd from Makhmur, told Arab News.

“Animals are very expensive these days. We have to buy fodder for our sheep and cows because our land cannot produce enough food for them due to the late rainy season and drought. We had to sell our sheep in order to compensate (for the loss). We have lost 50 percent of our income from animals and farming due to climate change.”

Dehydration has led to serious veterinary health problems among livestock, affecting their reproductive health.

“The changing climate has created many diseases among the animals,” said Ali. “The most common is birth defects. It is all due to the lack of rain and water.”


Rayid Khalaf Al-Wagaa, 51, a farmer and mayor of Hoot Al-Foqani, Qayyarah, Mosul. (AN Photo/Kareem Botane)

Rayid Khalaf Al-Wagaa, mayor of the Qayyarah village of Hoot Al-Foqani, said the federal government in Baghdad has done little to subsidize farming and help prevent climate-induced rural displacement.

“We have lost more than 100,000 hectares of land due to the lack of rain and water. We have fewer animals compared to before, especially sheep,” he said.

“About 50 or 60 farmers have left here so far. We need support from international organizations as we already know that the government has limited capabilities. We hope they can do something for us, otherwise, the number of animals and farmers will decline in the coming years.”

Although the Iraqi government has launched a UN-backed National Adaptation Plan to improve the country’s resilience to climate change, few of the benefits have trickled down to sun-scorched farming communities along the Tigris.

Kneeling in the powdery earth to uproot a spindly yellow plant, Latif said Iraq’s farmers urgently need outside help if their way of life is to survive the relentlessly changing weather patterns.

“We have lost our hope in the Iraqi government; we want foreign countries to help us,” he said. “We do not have any other means of making a living. Farming is our only hope and without it, I cannot imagine how it will be.”

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Oil-rich UAE to burn waste to make power

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Oil-rich UAE to burn waste to make power using electricity generated for more than 90 percent from gas-powered plants. A story that does not take us far from good old internal combustion of materials.

Oil-rich UAE to burn waste to make power

By Carolyn Lamboley

Engineer Nouf Wazir is pictured in front of a waste management facility under construction in the Gulf emirate of Sharjah.

With rubbish piling up in the desert, the United Arab Emirates has found a new way to get rid of its trash—incinerators that will turn it into electricity.

The UAE, one of the world’s top oil exporters, is building the Gulf region’s first waste-to-power plants to ease its chronic trash problem and, at the same time, its reliance on gas-fuelled electricity stations.

Green groups are unconvinced. They say advanced recycling, composting and changing habits amid grossly wasteful rates of consumption would be better for the environment, warning of pollution risks from the greenhouse gas-intensive incinerators too.

But engineer Nouf Wazir, from waste management company Bee’ah, argues they are a way to make use of refuse that cannot be recycled.

“Not everyone knows that waste has value,” said Wazir, a senior engineer on the project. The Sharjah facility is expected to launch this year, burning more than 300,000 tonnes of waste per year to power up to 28,000 homes.

In the neighbouring emirate of Dubai, another plant is being developed at a cost of $1.2 billion, according to Hitachi Zosen Inova, one of the partner companies.

When it is completed in 2024, the Dubai plant will be one of the largest in the world, capable of gobbling up 1.9 million tonnes of waste per year—about 45 percent of the household waste currently produced in the emirate.

‘People consume a lot’

As the UAE has mushroomed from a desert outpost to a thriving business hub, waste has multiplied.

So has power use, which has soared 750 percent since 1990 according to the International Energy Agency.

Now with about 10 million people, five times the population of 30 years ago, the wealthy UAE uses more electricity and creates more waste per head than almost any other country.

Authorities put waste production at 1.8 kilos (four pounds) per person per day.

In the UAE, “people consume a lot, and they throw away a lot”, said Riad Bestani, founder of ECOsquare, a Dubai-based consultancy specialising in eco-friendly waste management.

Landfills are strewn across the country. In Dubai alone, six cover an area of about 1.6 million square meters (395 acres), according to the municipality.

The wealthy UAE uses more electricity and creates more waste per head than almost any other country.

In the absence of other solutions, it estimates that landfills will occupy 5.8 million square meters of the emirate by 2041, an area the size of more than 800 football pitches.

Fees for landfills are “pretty much nonexistent, so it’s quite cheap and easy to dump all materials into the desert”, said Emma Barber, director of Dubai-based DGrade, which designs clothes and accessories from recycled plastic bottles.

The UAE has set about diversifying its electricity generation, more than 90 percent of which comes from gas-powered plants.

Last year, the UAE inaugurated the Arab world’s first nuclear plant and, making use of its location in one of the world’s hottest regions, it has significant solar power resources.

In the run-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which started on Sunday, the UAE said it was targeting carbon neutrality by 2050.

‘Separate, sort, recycle’

While supporters of the plants say the incinerators carry minimal pollution risks, activists say other approaches would be better for the environment.

Workers at the Bee’ah waste management company, which seeks to tackle growing landfills strewn across the country.

According to Janek Vahk of Zero Waste Europe, incinerating rubbish may be “easier” than having space-consuming landfills, but it is far from green.

“The most beneficial for the climate (and) the environment would be recoverage” and composting, Vahk told AFP.

“But this is not really happening because… it’s easier to simply burn it than to separate, sort and recycle.”

The Brussels-based NGO has called for a moratorium on new waste incinerators and the phasing-out of old ones by 2040, warning the electricity they produce is greenhouse-gas intensive—even compared to fossil fuels.

Vahk argues that incineration is “more efficient” in colder Nordic countries when the heat produced is also harnessed, but not in hot deserts.

“If you only produce electricity, the greenhouse gases’ intensity of this energy is very high,” Vahk said, adding that incinerators are also “very expensive to build—and they need to have continuous input to run.”

Rami Shaar, co-founder of Washmen, a Dubai-based start-up that collects customers’ laundry and recycling at the same time, said waste-to-electricity is not “necessarily green energy“.

“It’s a bit of a solution towards not extracting more oil… but it doesn’t solve the full problem,” he said.

Read original on Phys.org

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Greening deserts: India powers renewable energy ambitions

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Greening deserts in which India powers renewable energy ambitions with solar push could be a good inspiring move for all those countries of the MENA region. An initiative commensurate with this country’s Prime Minister’s words at the COP26.

Greening deserts: India powers renewable energy ambitions with solar push.

By AFPRELAXNEWS


The image above is of The arid state of Rajasthan, where Bhadla Park takes up an area almost the size of San Marino, sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution, officials say. Image by Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images

The arid state of Rajasthan sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution


As camels munch on the fringes of Thar desert, an oasis of blue solar panels stretches further than the eye can see at Bhadla Park—a cornerstone of India’s bid to become a clean energy powerhouse. Currently, coal powers 70 percent of the nation’s electricity generation, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged that by 2030, India will produce more energy through solar and other renewables than its entire grid now.

“First, India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts… Second, by 2030, 50 percent of our energy requirements will come from renewable resources,” Modi told the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The arid state of Rajasthan, where Bhadla Park takes up an area almost the size of San Marino, sees 325 sunny days each year, making it perfectly placed for the solar power revolution, officials say.

Once an expanse of desert, authorities have capitalised on the sparsely populated area, claiming minimal displacement of local communities. Today robots clean dust and sand off an estimated 10 million solar panels, while a few hundred humans monitor.

This pursuit of a greener future is fuelled by necessity.

India, home to 1.3 billion people and poised to overtake China as the most populous country, has a growing and voracious appetite for energy—but it is also on the frontline of climate change.

In the next two decades, it has to add a power system the size of Europe’s to meet demand for its swelling population, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), but it also has to tackle toxic air quality in its big cities.

“India is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world for climate change and that is why it has this big push on renewables to decarbonise the power sector, but also reduce air pollution,” Arunabha Ghosh, climate policy expert from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, told AFP.

But experts say the country—the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter—is some way from reaching its green targets, with coal set to remain a key part of the energy mix in the coming years.

‘Huge transformation’

Although India’s green energy has increased five-fold in just over a decade to 100GW this year, the sector now needs to grow by the same proportion again to meet its 2030 goals.

“I believe this is more of an aspirational target… to show to the world that we are moving in the right direction,” Vinay Rustagi from renewable energy consultancy Bridge to India, told AFP.

“But it would be a big stretch and seems highly unrealistic, in view of various demand and supply challenges,” Rustagi said.

Proponents point to Bhadla Solar Park, one of the largest in the world, as an example of how innovation, technology, and public and private finance can drive swift change.

“We’ve huge chunks of land where there’s not a blade of grass. Now you don’t see the ground anymore. You just see solar panels. It’s such a huge transformation,” Subodh Agarwal, Rajasthan’s additional chief secretary for energy, told AFP.

Authorities are incentivising renewables firms to set up in the region, known as the “desert state”. Agarwal says demand has “accelerated” since 2019.

“It will be a different Rajasthan. It will be the solar state,” he said of the next decade.

If this surge is sustained then coal-fired power for electricity generation could peak by 2024, according to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) projections.

Currently, solar power accounts for four percent of electricity generation. Before Modi’s announcement the IEA estimated solar and coal will converge at around 30 percent each by 2040 based on current policies.

India’s billionaires, including Asia’s two richest men Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, are pledging huge investments, while Modi is setting up a renewables park the size of Singapore in his home state of Gujarat.

Show me the money

But reshaping an entire power network takes time and money, analysts warn.

Around 80 percent of India’s solar panels are still imported from China, the world’s biggest producer.

Gyanesh Chaudhary, chief executive of Indian panel manufacturer Vikram Solar, insisted there should be “more than 30” local firms like his already.

“That’s the kind of demand (and) ecosystem that India would essentially need… It should have happened sooner.”

Experts say domestic growth has been stymied by insufficient policies, funding shortages, cheaper panels from China, and infrastructure and energy storage issues.

“A lot of these plants are located at very long distances from power stations, so you have to think of linking them,” explained Apurba Mitra, World Resources Institute India’s climate policy chief.

Modi, who announced at COP26 that India would be carbon neutral by 2070, made it clear that such emissions-cutting pledges would require finance from rich, historic emitters.

“India expects developed countries to provide climate finance of $1 trillion at the earliest. Today it is necessary that as we track the progress made in climate mitigation, we should also track climate finance,” he told more than 120 leaders at the critical talks.

Empowering lives

Farmer and doctor Amit Singh’s three-acre family farmland in Rajasthan’s Bhaloji village was running out of water and hit by frequent power outages.

“I always saw the sun and its rays and wondered… why not harness it to generate electricity?,” he said.

Singh first installed rooftop panels at his small hospital which generated half of its energy needs.

He then invested family savings into a government-linked project on his land.

The mini-solar farm cost 35 million rupees ($450,000) and Singh sells electricity to the grid for 400,000 rupees a month.

“It’s the ultimate source of energy, which is otherwise going to waste… I feel I’m contributing to the developmental needs of my village,” he added.

Ghosh said it was vital to bring down costs.

“When a farmer is able to generate power from their solar plant near their farm and pump out water—we are then able to bring the energy transition closer to the people,” he added.

Pratibha Pai, the founder-director of Chirag Rural Development Foundation which has brought solar to more than 100,000 villagers, believes in clean energy’s transformative role.

She said: “We start with solar power… we end with safe drinking water, power for dark village roads, power for little rural schools which will hopefully script the story of a ‘big’ India.”

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