Water and the requirement for prostration

Water and the requirement for prostration

Water and the requirement for prostration or is it a Disruption to Earth’s freshwater cycle that exceeded the safe limit?

by Abdou BENABBOU

Rarely brought to the forefront, water has always been, for all countries, at the centre of their main concerns. 

Deaf conflicts between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia through which the Nile passes have been revealed without reaching significant exceedances. Just as the waters of the Euphrates have always suggested, arm wrestling and tensions between Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Israeli warmongering have hovered indefinitely on the subject because the Zionist state has made it a weapon of survival.

Water, the first source of life, has always been an element of discord between men, whether for the irrigation of small plots of land or to quench the thirst of entire territories. 

The current exceptional global drought that, in the long term, puts on the agenda a fabulous problem already announcing the downgrading of the priority given to the different and fundamental sources of today’s energies. 

As all emanate from this blue gold, the choice between gas, oil, wheat, and other resources that are objects of planetary tug-of-war and nerves will no longer be questioned. Water had never required idolatry, and its pressing solicitude is about to surpass that of oil.

It is no longer just a question of conforming to the usual vicissitudes of the agricultural world. But it is now a vital resource for humans.

The spread of land aridity and the relentless exceptional drought disintegrating the order of the hemispheres will create a massive breach for new world conflicts. That green Britain refrains from pampering the grass of its residences, about to lose their green lush or that farmers throughout Europe are forced to bow down to providence in the same way as the peasants of Niger is a warning shot to announce a new inevitable global disruption. It is doubtful that the powers will stand idly by in the face of thirst and the temptation to republish; by all means, the stranglehold on the water will become flush with the skin.

 

Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city

Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city

Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city

Madinah’s status as a holy city means a lot of the activity in the city is centred around the Holy Mosque

Madinah is primarily known as a holy city – where do your smart city ambitions intersect with that identity?

 

Abdulmajeed Albalawi: We’re mainly focused on solving city challenges and improving quality of life for our citizens. In that way, there’s no contradiction between Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city. We see our smart city strategy as an enabler to meet the needs of the city and its people, and to create positive experiences for those people.

 

Our aim is to become more holistic and to introduce more tools that will serve our citizens. That extends to the holy elements of the city and people’s lives and will make the city more suitable for those needs.

 

Our objectives are to improve city life for all citizens and create new jobs and economic opportunities – for example, around start-ups and technology. These are the driving forces behind the projects that Madinah has taken on so far, and as we see it, one influences and helps to solve the other – improving quality of life leads to better opportunities and a better urban economy.

 

As part of this work, we’ve designed an engine to capture the challenges the city faces so we can more easily connect together the issues and needs with solutions, with a view to meeting our main objectives.

 

When are some of the primary challenges that Madinah is facing?

 

AA: We have challenges split into two sections – business and operational. In terms of business challenges, we’re aiming to reduce the unemployment rate in the city through the projects we launch, and improve the digital skills of the workforce as part of that.

 

On the operational side, we’re looking at how we break down siloes between departments and promote a more open mindset. It’s a clear challenge for a lot of cities that needs to be solved, and for Madinah we want to overcome it to ensure that everyone can work towards our smart city objectives in the right way.

We see our smart city strategy as an enabler to meet the needs of the city and its people, and to create positive experiences for those people

There are other challenges out in the city that we’re facing, too. Madinah’s status as a holy city means a lot of the activity in the city is centred around the Holy Mosque, both for residents and visitors from around the world. As a result, there is a constant flow of people in and around the mosque which we need to manage to cope with crowding in the centre of the city. To deal with this challenge, we have launched an incubator in partnership with universities, experts and start-ups from around the world.

 

The incubator will be dedicated to solving further urban challenges in Madinah, too, identifying and defining the issues being faced and then engaging in a continuous problem-solving process with experts to overcome them. It’s a unique proposition for the city to work in this way and to have potential solutions being recommended on a continual basis from international experts.

 

What kind of technology-based solutions is Madinah looking to deploy to solve these challenges to become a smarter city?

 

AA: Our technology partners are crucial in achieving our goals as a smart city. We’re currently working with FIWARE and using their technology to create our own smart city platform. Madinah is the first middle eastern city to make use of FIWARE’s platform. We chose FIWARE’s open platform because our objectives call for us to view Madinah from a ‘city as a system’ perspective, and to solve problems based on what the system is telling us.

Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city

The smart city strategy seeks to improve city life for all citizens and create new jobs and economic opportunities

Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city

There’s no contradiction between Madinah as a holy city and Madinah as a smart city, said Abdulmajeed Albalawi

We’re now creating our city as a system via the FIWARE platform, meaning we’re connecting the dots between Madinah’s services, operations and departments, and beginning to break down siloes to identify the right solutions to issues at the right time. We’re collecting data from all over the city and connecting it together to enable data analytics, which will be really important in how we work out the kinds of solutions we require.

 

The main benefit of breaking down these operational siloes is being able to better define issues and challenges, as we have much more context on the city and its operations as a whole. It’s crucial for Madinah to be able to work in this way, and the challenge with crowds at the holy mosque illustrate why; we need to understand where the problem originates so we can solve it at the source.

 

Another benefit is that Madinah’s city departments have been able to collaborate more often and more easily. In turn, that has meant we have been able to push towards our primary objectives more collectively.

 

Outside establishing the smart city platform through FIWARE’s technology, we’re now looking into smart lighting. We see connected streetlighting as the beginning of a nervous system for the city, able to gather data about the city and monitor pedestrian and traffic flow, as well as air quality. We’re also exploring how we can use the same infrastructure to promote messages and information to citizens through digital signage. The streetlights and all associated monitoring will feed back into the smart city platform to give us a more holistic view of the city and how it is operating.

We have recently signed an agreement to build a full-scale digital twin of Madinah using satellite imagery, becoming the first city in the Middle East to do so

Coming back to the crowd challenges around the holy mosque and the central area of the city, we’re also developing a simulator to model those crowds. We’re currently designing the model and later will deploy sensors in the city to gather data to be able to monitor crowds and simulate scenarios. This won’t necessarily be a full digital twin of the mosque, but will be a mirror for the movement within and around it, including parts of the city infrastructure and operations that have an impact on movement and crowding.

 

We have recently signed an agreement to build a full-scale digital twin of Madinah using satellite imagery, becoming the first city in the Middle East to do so. We’ll use the 3D model digital twin for urban planning, traffic management, crowd management and urban analytics across the entire city, not just the centre and the holy mosque. We anticipate that we’ll have a digital twin of the city in the next three months.

 

How can innovation help to protect and promote Madinah’s history and culture?

 

AA: Through all of this smart city work, it’s important that we also look to promote the city’s culture and history, so we’re assessing how we can use technology to bring that history back to life. Here, Madinah is looking to use a combination of augmented reality and digital twin technology to illustrate our history in a more dynamic and modern way, both for the benefit of citizens and visitors.

 

I think innovation is all about how to open doors to experiences and the city’s unknowns. Technology is a great enabler for Madinah’s heritage and culture and can help to show everyone in the city how its identity has developed to become what it is now. We’re not designing the city around technology, we’re designing it around experiences, and how those experiences can create stories to be shared among people. Madinah’s culture flows through that process and innovation just helps us to draw it out.

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The world retracting from globalisation

The world retracting from globalisation

Connectivity will drive the world’s exchange of goods and services as it were from home, in the future, notably in those emerging countries of the Middle East.  In the meantime, let us know why the world retracting from globalisation.

The above-featured image is of the Fourth wave of globalisation saw China’s increasing role as a global powerhouse.  Getty Images

Is the world retracting from globalisation, setting it up for a fifth wave?

By Elsabe Loots, University of Pretoria
Over the past 25 years there has been lots of research and debate about the concept, the history and state of globalisation, its various dimensions and benefits.

The World Economic Forum has set out the case that the world has experienced four waves of globalisation. In a 2019 publication it summarised them as follows.

The first wave is seen as the period since the late 19th century, boosted by the industrial revolution associated with the improvements in transportation and communication, and ended in 1914. The second wave commenced after WW2 in 1945 and ended in 1989. The third commenced with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disbanding of the former Soviet Union in 1991, and ended with the global financial crises in 2008.

The fourth wave kicked off in 2010 with the recovery of the impact of the global financial crises, the rising of the digital economy, artificial intelligence and, among others, the increasing role of China as a global powerhouse.

More recent debates on the topic focus on whether the world is now experiencing a retraction from the fourth wave and whether it is ready for the take-off of the fifth wave.

The similarities between the retraction period of the first wave and the current global dynamics a century later are startling. But do these similarities mean that a retraction from globalisation is evident? Is there sufficient evidence of de-globalisation or rather “slowbalisation”?

Parallels

The drawn-out retreat from globalisation during the 30-year period – 1914 to 1945 – was characterised by the geopolitical and economic impact of WWI and WWII. Other factors were the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic ; the Stock Market Crash of 1929 followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s; and the rise of the Communist Bloc under Stalin in the 1940s.

This period was further typified by protectionist sentiments, increases in tariffs and other trade barriers and a general retraction in international trade.

Looking at the current global context, the parallels are remarkable. The world is still fighting the COVID pandemic that had devastating effects on the world economy, global supply chains and people’s lives and well-being.

For its part, the Russia-Ukraine war has caused major global uncertainties and food shortages. It has also led to increases in gas and fuel prices, further disruptions in global value chains and political polarisation.

The increase in the price of various consumer goods and in energy have put pressure on the general price level. World inflation is aggressively on the rise for the first time in 40 years. Monetary authorities worldwide are trying to fight inflation.

Global governance institutions like the World Trade Organisation and the UN, which functioned well in the post-WWII period, now have less influence while the Russian-Ukraine war has split the world politically into three groups. They are the Russian invasion supporters, the neutral countries and those opposing, a group dominated by the US, EU and the UK. This split is contributing to complex geopolitical challenges, which are slowly leading to changes in trade partnerships and regionalism.

Europe is already looking for new suppliers for oil and gas and early indications of the potential expansion of the Chinese influence in Asia are evident.

A less connected world

De-globalisation is seen as

a movement towards a less connected world, characterised by powerful nation states, local solutions and border controls rather than global institutions, treaties, and free movement.

There’s now talk of slowbalisation. The term was first used by trendwatcher and futurologist Adjiedji Bakas in 2015 to describe the phenomenon as the

continued integration of the global economy via trade, financial and other flows, albeit at a significant slower pace.

The data on economic globalisation paint an interesting picture. They show that, even before the COVID pandemic hit the world in 2020, a deceleration in the intensity of globalisation is evident. The data which represent broad measures of globalisation, includes:

  • World exports of goods and services. As a percentage of world GDP, these reached an all-time high of 31% in 2008 at the end of the third globalisation wave. Exports fell as a percentage of global GDP and only recovered to that level during the early stages of the fourth wave in 2011. Exports then slowly started to regress to 28% of global GDP in 2019 and further to a low of 26% during the first Covid-19 year in 2020.
  • The volume of foreign direct investment inflows. These reached a peak of US$2 trillion in 2016 before trending lower, reaching US$1.48 trillion in 2019. Although the 2020 foreign direct investment inflows of US$963 billion are a staggering 20% below the 2009 financial crises level, they recovered to US$1.58 billion in 2021.
  • Foreign direct investment as percentage of GDP started to increase from a mere 1% in 1989 to a peak of 5,3% in 2007. After a retraction following the global financial crises, it peaked again in 2015 and 2016 at around 3,5%. It then declined to 1,7% in 2019 and 1,4% in 2020.
  • Multinational enterprises have been the major vehicle for economic globalisation over time. The number of them indicates the willingness of companies to invest outside their home countries. In 2008 the UN Conference on Trade and Development reported approximately 82 000. The number declined to 60 000 in 2017.
  • Data on world private capital flows (including foreign direct investment, portfolio equity flows, remittances and private sector borrowing) are not readily available. However, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data show that private capital flows for reporting countries reached an all-time high of US$414 billion in 2014, followed by a declining trend to US$229 billion in 2019 and a negative outflow of US$8 billion in 2020.

These declining trends are further substantiated by the evidence of deeper fragmentation in economic relations caused by Brexit and the problematic US/China relations, in particular during the Trump era.

What next?

The question now is whether the latest data is:

  • indicative of either a retraction from globalisation similar to that experienced after the first wave a century ago;
  • or it is merely a process of de-globalisation;
  • or slowbalisation in anticipation of the world economy’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine?

The similarities between the first wave of globalisation and the existing global events are certainly significant, although embedded in a total different world order.

The current dynamics shaping the world such as the advancement of technology, the digital era and the speed with which technology and information is spread, will certainly influence the intensity of the retraction of the already embedded dependence on globalisation.

Nation states realise that blindly entering into contracts and agreements with companies in other countries, may be problematic and that trade and investment partners need to be chosen carefully. The events over the past three years have certainly shown that economies around the world are deeply integrated and, despite examples of protectionism and threats of more inward-looking policies, it will not be possible to retract in totality.

What may occur is fragmentation where supply chains becoming more regionalised. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz refers to the move to “friend shoring” of production, a phrase coined by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

It is becoming obvious that the process of globalisation certainly shows characteristics of both de-globalisation and slowbalisation. It’s also clear that the global external shocks require a total rethink, repurpose and reform of the process of globalisation. This will most probably lead the world into the fifth wave of globalisation.The Conversation

Elsabe Loots, Professor of Economics and former Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Saudi crown prince unveils design for NEOM’s . . .

Saudi crown prince unveils design for NEOM’s . . .

Saudi crown prince unveils design for NEOM’s . . .

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and chairman of the NEOM board of directors Mohammed bin Salman has announced the designs of ‘The Line’, a 170 kilometres long smart linear city.

According to the crown prince, the designs of The Line will embody how urban communities will be in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions. The city will run on 100 percent renewable energy and will prioritise people’s health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure as in traditional cities. It will also put nature ahead of development and will contribute to preserving 95 percent of NEOM’s land.

Last year, the crown prince launched the initial idea and vision of the city that redefines the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.

“We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues. NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upwards a reality,” said the crown prince.

Saudi crown prince unveils design for NEOM’s . . .

He added, “NEOM will be a place for all people from across the globe to make their mark on the world in creative and innovative ways. NEOM remains one of the most important projects of Saudi Vision 2030, and our commitment to delivering The Line on behalf of the nation remains resolute.”

The city’s design will be completely digitised, and the construction industrialised to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes.

The Line, which is only 200 metres wide, 170 kilometres long and 500 metres above sea level, will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometres, reducing the infrastructure footprint of the city.

Further into The Line’s design, NEOM revealed that the city will be designed with the concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism in mind. The idea of layering city functions vertically while giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions (up, down or across) to access them. Unlike cities with just tall buildings, this concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work, so that one can move effortlessly to reach all daily needs within five minutes.

The Line will also have an outer mirror façade, allowing it to blend with nature, while the interior will be built to create extraordinary experiences for people living within the city.

Link to ITP.net

Read the latest here: ‘Revolution in civilisation’: Saudi Arabia previews 170km mirrored skyscraper offering ‘autonomous’ services

.The featured image above is credit to Rojgar Samachar

 

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change

The MENA region is the most water-scarce in the world and possibly the most vulnerable to climate change.  Water scarcity is also caused or made worse by conflicts, population growth, poor water management, deteriorating water infrastructure, and governance issues.  All the above is millennia old and could only be aggravated by the increasingly apparent Climate Change impacting big and small countries.  In the meantime, critical drivers behind water scarcity in MENA include rising agricultural demand and expanding irrigated land from aquifers decreasing pockets of water.  The immediate effects are as elsewhere, the whole of the Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change.

The above image is of:

An Afghan girl warms up her hands as she is resting from carrying the water in Balucha, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 14, 2021. The Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change, and already the effects are being seen. This year’s annual U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November 2022, throwing a spotlight on the region. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change

CAIRO (AP) — Temperatures in the Middle East have risen far faster than the world’s average in the past three decades. Precipitation has been decreasing, and experts predict droughts will come with greater frequency and severity.

The Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change — and already the effects are being seen.

In Iraq, intensified sandstorms have repeatedly smothered cities this year, shutting down commerce and sending thousands to hospitals. Rising soil salinity in Egypt’s Nile Delta is eating away at crucial farmland. In Afghanistan, drought has helped fuel the migration of young people from their villages, searching for jobs. In recent weeks, temperatures in some parts of the region have topped 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change

Fishermen navigate on the Shatt al-Arab waterway during a sandstorm in Basra, Iraq, May 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

This year’s annual U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November, throwing a spotlight on the region. Governments across the Middle East have awakened to the dangers of climate change, particularly to the damage it is already inflicting on their economies.

“We’re literally seeing the effects right in front of us. … These impacts are not something that will hit us nine or 10 years down the line,” said Lama El Hatow, an environmental climate change consultant who has worked with the World Bank and specializes on the Middle East and North Africa.

“More and more states are starting to understand that it’s necessary” to act, she said.

Egypt, Morocco and other countries in the region have been stepping up initiatives for clean energy. But a top priority for them at COP-27 is to push for more international funding to help them deal with the dangers they are already facing from climate change.

One reason for the Middle East’s vulnerability is that there is simply no margin to cushion the blow on millions of people as the rise in temperatures accelerates: The region already has high temperatures and limited water resources even in normal circumstances.

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change

Trash piles up in the heavily polluted Litani Rver, in Saghbin, Bekaa valley, eastern Lebanon, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Trash piles up in the heavily polluted Litani Rver, in Saghbin, Bekaa valley, eastern Lebanon, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Middle East governments also have a limited ability to adapt, the International Monetary Fund noted in a report earlier this year. Economies and infrastructure are weak, and regulations are often unenforced. Poverty is widespread, making job creation a priority over climate protection. Autocratic governments like Egypt’s severely restrict civil society, hampering an important tool in engaging the public on environmental and climate issues.

At the same time, developing nations are pressuring countries in the Mideast and elsewhere to make emissions cuts, even as they themselves backslide on promises.

The threats are dire.

As the region grows hotter and drier, the United Nations has warned that the Mideast’s crop production could drop 30% by 2025. The region is expected to lose 6%-14% of its GDP by 2050 because of water scarcity, according to the World Bank.

In Egypt, precipitation has fallen 22% in the past 30 years, according to the World Bank.

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change FILE - A horse cart driver transports wheat to a mill on a farm in the Nile Delta province of al-Sharqia, Egypt, on May 11, 2022. The Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change, and already the effects are being seen. This year's annual U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November, throwing a spotlight on the region. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

A horse cart driver transports wheat to a mill on a farm in the Nile Delta province of al-Sharqia, Egypt, on May 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe. The Eastern Mediterranean recently saw its worst drought in 900 years, according to NASA, a heavy blow to countries like Syria and Lebanon where agriculture relies on rainfall. Demand for water in Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries is putting unsustainable pressure on underground water aquifers. In Iraq, the increased aridity has caused an increase in sandstorms.

At the same time, warming waters and air make extreme and often destructive weather events more frequent, like deadly floods that have repeatedly hit Sudan and Afghanistan.

The climate damage has potentially dangerous social repercussions.

Many of those who lose the livelihoods they once made in agriculture or tourism will move to the cities in search of jobs, said Karim Elgendy, an associate fellow at Chatham House. That will likely increase urban unemployment, strain social services and could raise social tensions and affect security, said Elgendy, who is also a non-resident scholar with the Middle East Institute.

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change FILE - People cross the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, where decreasing water levels this year have raised alarm among residents, near Baghdad, Iraq, June 29, 2022. The Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change, and already the effects are being seen. This year's annual U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November, throwing a spotlight on the region. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File)

People cross the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, where decreasing water levels this year have raised alarm among residents, near Baghdad, Iraq, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Adapting infrastructure and economies to weather the damage will be enormously expensive: the equivalent of 3.3% of the region’s GDP every year for the next 10 years, the IMF estimates. The spending needs to go toward everything from creating more efficient water use systems and new agricultural methods to building coastal protections, beefing up social safety nets and improving awareness campaigns.

So one of top priorities for Mideast and other developing nations at this year’s COP is to press the United States, Europe and other wealthier nations to follow through on long-time promises to provide them with billions in climate financing.

So far, developed nations have fallen short on those promises. Also, most of the money they have provided has gone to helping poorer countries pay for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — for “mitigation,” in U.N. terminology, as opposed to “adaptation.”

For this year’s COP, the top theme repeated by U.N. officials, the Egyptian hosts and climate activists is the implementation of commitments. The gathering aims to push countries to spell out how they will reach promised emission reduction targets — and to come up with even deeper cuts, since experts say the targets as they are now will still lead to disastrous levels of warming.

Mideast nations wake up to damage from climate change FILE - Afghan farmer uses donkey to carry water canisters across the dried-out river near Sang-e-Atash, Afghanistan, Dec. 13, 2021. The Middle East is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change, and already the effects are being seen. This year's annual U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November 2022, throwing a spotlight on the region. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov, File)

Afghan farmer uses donkey to carry water canisters across the dried-out river near Sang-e-Atash, Afghanistan, Dec. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Developing nations will also want richer countries to show how they will carry out a promise from the last COP to provide $500 billion in climate financing over the next five years — and to ensure at least half that funding is for adaptation, not mitigation.

World events, however, threaten to undercut the momentum from COP26. On emissions cuts, the spike in world energy prices and the war in Ukraine have prompted some European countries to turn back to coal for power generation — though they insist it’s only a temporary step. The Middle East also has several countries whose economies rely on their fossil fuel resources — Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf most obviously, but also Egypt, with its increasing natural gas production.

Persistent inflation and the possibility of recession could make top nations hesitant on making climate financing commitments.

With international officials often emphasizing emission reduction, El Hatow said it should be remembered the countries of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in the developing world have not contributed substantially to climate change, yet are bearing the brunt of it.

“We need to talk about financing for adaptation,” she said, “to adapt to a problem they did not cause.”

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