Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023


Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023 as stimulus spending fails to match net-zero ambition says IEA executive director Fatih Birol. Would the man nevertheless be heard at the oncoming COP 26 of Glasgow?

The picture above is for illustration and is of the Middle East in 24.

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023 as stimulus spending fails to match net-zero ambition

By: Terence Creamer, CREAMER MEDIA EDITOR

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023
Fatih Birol

The financial resources allocated by governments globally to clean-energy measures in response to the Covid-19 crisis currently represent only 2% of the $16-trillion in total fiscal support set aside for economic stimulus, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) new Sustainable Recovery Tracker shows.

The $380-billion announced to support clean-energy actions as of the end of the second quarter of 2021 is set to be supplemented by an additional $350-billion a year between 2021 and 2023.

The IEA warns that such spending will fall well short of what is required to meet global climate goals and is expected to result in a surge in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The IEA calculates these allocations to represent only 35% of what is required to meet the Sustainable Recovery Plan outlined in its recent special report, titled ‘Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’.

The economic recovery measures announced to date would also result in CO2 emissions climbing to record levels in 2023 and continuing to rise thereafter.

While the CO2 trajectory is 800-million tonnes lower in 2023 than it would have been without any sustainable recovery efforts, it is still 3 500-million tonnes above the pathway set out in the Net Zero by 2050 report, which recommended $1-trillion of spending globally on clean-energy measures in recovery plans.

“Since the Covid-19 crisis erupted, many governments may have talked about the importance of building back better for a cleaner future, but many of them are yet to put their money where their mouth is,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“Not only is clean energy investment still far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, it’s not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record,” he warned.

The IEA found that governments have mobilised $16-trillion in fiscal support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, most of it focused on emergency financial relief for households and firms.

Based on an analysis of over 800 policy measures across more than 50 countries, the tracker shows that government spending for energy-related sustainable recovery measures has been channelled mostly through programmes that already exist, such as energy efficiency grants, public procurement, utility plans and support for electric transport options.

In addition, most of this spending is in G20 economies, with recovery measures announced to date in advanced economies expected to meet 60% of the investment needs set out for these economies in the Sustainable Recovery Plan.

In emerging and developing economies this share falls to 20%, where many countries have focussed their more limited fiscal leeway primarily on emergency health and economic measures.

The tracker shows that, while advanced economies have earmarked about $76-billion a year in government spending from 2021 to 2023 for clean energy, emerging and developing economy governments have earmarked only $8-billion yearly over the same period.

A report published in March by the Global Recovery Observatory, an initiative of Oxford University’s Economic Recovery Project and the United Nations Environment Programme, also concluded that recovery spending was falling short of nations’ commitments to a sustainable recovery.

The analysis concluded that only 18% of recovery spending announced to the end of February could be considered ‘green’ and that this spending was mostly accounted for by a small group of high-income countries.

It also concluded that global green spending, to date, had been incommensurate with the scale of the ongoing environmental crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution. 

A stadium that is the first built in World Cup history meant to be torn down

A stadium that is the first built in World Cup history meant to be torn down

Posted by Zeena Saifi, CNN on 18 July 2021, is the story of Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium that is the first built-in World Cup history meant to be torn down after the games. Would the same authorities, at this conjecture, have second thoughts?

Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium is the first built in World Cup history that was meant to be torn down  after the games

It was once a quiet waterfront, only enjoying the occasional sounds from the nearby Gulf shores. Now, it’s a dizzying burst of color and life — soon to be filled with up to 40,000 screaming fans.

It is Qatar’s Ras Abu Aboud stadium — the first built in World Cup history that was meant to be torn down.

Molded out of 974 shipping containers atop Doha’s port, the Ras Abu Aboud will host seven matches up to the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup.

All the containers are made from recycled steel, and the number — 974 — symbolizes Qatar’s dialing code.

It’s both a symbol of the country’s sustainability pledge and a reflection of its identity.

After the tournament is over, many parts of the arena — including all the removable seats, containers and even the roof — will be dismantled and repurposed for use in other sporting or non-sporting events, either inside or outside of Qatar.

“The 40,000-seater venue can be dismantled in full and transported to be built again in a different country; or you could build two 20,000-seater venues,” Mohammed Al Atwan, project manager for Ras Abu Aboud told CNN.

“Really, all parts can be donated to countries in need of sporting infrastructure. This is the beauty of the stadium — the legacy opportunities are endless.”

Along with the opportunities he says it offers, Qatar is hoping the stadium will be a trailblazer for future football tournaments.

Sustainability challenge

FIFA report in June estimated the 2022 World Cup to produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, that’s 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 more than the 2018 tournament in Russia created.

Nonetheless, the Gulf state is committed to delivering a carbon-neutral World Cup through offsetting emissions — before, during and after the event.

Organizers have promised sustainable building methods during the construction of the tournament’s infrastructure, such as the Ras Abu Abboud stadium, adding that they have procured “building materials that maximize resource efficiency and reduce emissions, waste and impacts on biodiversity.”

The SC says it is committed to keeping sustainability a main focus throughout the tournament — an example of this is planting trees and plants around the World Cup’s infrastructure to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

The onus, however, isn’t just on the organizers. Qatar says it will give recommendations to attendees and participants of the tournament on how they can reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, including from travel, accommodation and food and beverage.

Once the spectacle is over, Qatar says it will offset any emissions generated during the tournament through building two mega solar power plants over the following 10-15 years, and by proactively supporting sustainable and low-carbon events in Qatar and the region

The reusability of the stadium’s parts is a reflection of that effort.

“Sustainability and legacy have always been at the forefront of Qatar’s planning and preparations for the World Cup,’ said Al Atwan.

When coming up with the stadium’s design, Al Atwan said movability was the main consideration for choosing shipping containers as the building blocks.

Containers are designed to be transported, either by air or sea, but when joined together to form a whole, they transform into a sturdy structure.

That ended up reducing the waste created on site during construction, says Al Atwan, adding that the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium has set a benchmark for sustainable and green mega-sporting event infrastructure.

Unlike the other seven Qatar 2022 venues, Ras Abu Aboud’s temporary nature meant that fewer building materials were required, keeping construction costs down and shortening the time needed to complete it.

Construction on the 4.8 million square feet (450,000 square meters) site commenced in late 2017 and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year, according to organizers.

Cooling sea breeze

When a fan steps outside Ras Abu Aboud, they’re met by Doha’s West Bay skyline. So when the sun goes down, a symphony of color — exchanged between the shimmering skyscrapers on one side and the stadium on the other — reflects off the shores and lights up the city.

And that proximity to the water doesn’t only offer attractive views.

All of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums are equipped with highly efficient cooling systems that maintain a comfortable atmosphere regardless of the hot temperatures outside.

But Ras Abu Aboud doesn’t need one because it gets a natural cool breeze from the sea nearby.

“Post-2022, the redevelopment of the site could take many forms and its legacy plans are still being finalized. It could be redeveloped into a public green space or used for a mix of commercial and residential projects,” said Al Atwan.

“It’s prime location means it’s suited to many projects and has an exciting future,” he added.

That future is not only physical, Al Atawan tells CNN. “Mega-sporting events like the FIFA World Cup have the power to inspire, prompt innovation and push existing boundaries to achieve new levels of success.”

Read: World Cup 2022: Qatar is ready as it strongly contests accusations of workers’ rights abuses

Role of Indigenous Knowledge & Innovation in Water Management

Role of Indigenous Knowledge & Innovation in Water Management

 EcoMENA produced writing on the role of indigenous knowledge in water management that, together with innovation, should always be considered for any space to live, work, and leisure not through far off concepts but local essentials of life itself. Let us see what the author put forward to justify such thoughts.

The picture above is for illustration and is the United Nations University.

Role of Indigenous Knowledge & Innovation in Water Management

  By Ruba Al-Zu’bi 

Our ancestors have created astounding water management systems and applications that helped them combat the harsh climate and scarce natural resources in many parts of this universe. Read on to know how ancient civilizations used indigenous knowledge in water management and how innovation and entrepreneurship can ward off the water crisis facing the entire MENA region.

The Golden Past

Within MENA and since the 4th century BCE, the strongest civilizations made it through arid and semis arid conditions mainly due to their robust water technologies and hydraulic engineering. In the 14th century, the deliberations of the great Tunis-born social scientist and scholar Ibn Khaldun indicated that resilient dynasties were supported by the establishment of cities. He also highlighted the provision of fresh water as one of the few critical requirements for anchoring cities and sustaining civilizations.

The Nabataeans

Petra, a 2,000-year-old capital of the Nabatean Kingdom (South of Jordan nowadays), contains invaluable evidence of such indigenous innovations. Using sophisticated water technology, the Nabataeans were able to ensure a continuous water supply throughout the year and simultaneously mitigate the dangerous effects of flash floods. They focused on the deep understanding of all sources of water available and on adopting techniques to best monitor, harness, maintain, and utilize those resources. They balanced their reservoir water storage capacity with their pipeline system and utilized particle-settling basins to purify water for drinking purposes.

The Nabataeans’ extensive understanding of their constraints and strengths allowed them to create a system that maximized water flow rates while minimizing leakage and supported a prosperous life for many years later.

Oman

Innovation is not about engineering and science only; water markets and decentralized management of water resources are important aspects in times when regulatory bodies and water user associations struggle to master. Oman enjoys one of the most ancient community-based water management schemes that was based on water rights, institutions, and markets.

Water prices were adjusted to respond to changes in demand and supply. Well established water rights, transparent management and allowing for water trading were major contributors to improved management of irrigation water back then.

The Future is Here

While the potential to innovate in the water sector is limitless, it is still underexploited in the MENA region. Information technology, data management, telecommunication, artificial intelligence, and many other tools create opportunities to innovate and contribute to robust water management solutions and to socio-economic development.

In the MENA region, innovation and entrepreneurship have never been as central to development plans as they are today. Creating an enabling environment for tech startups that would attract investment, create jobs, and boost socio-economic development is a common goal across the region.  As far as water is concerned, and despite the strategic significance of the sector, water innovations that could enter the market and find their way within and beyond the region are very few.

Most recently, the trending concepts of green growth and climate-smart solutions are reigniting the spark for more locally anchored water innovations to help alleviate both the economic and social stresses associated with water scarcity and poor management systems. In parallel, impact investing is becoming more popular, and today’s investors are searching for companies with a strong environment, social and governance (ESG) framework to invest in.

If one is to find a positive side for the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be the refocus it brought to local production and self-dependence. Whether in food, energy, or water, availability and affordability cannot be jeopardized. Since 2019, programs targeting innovations and startups in the food security and agri-tech domain have been expanding. Special innovation hubs, accelerators, incubators, and competitions were launched to support the water, energy, and food nexus with a strong link to climate change and social inclusion.

One example is the WE4F MENA Regional Innovation Hub which supports innovators with proven solutions tackling water and/or energy issues in urban or rural food production to scale up through multiple financial and non-financial tools. As such efforts gain more momentum, local needs started to emerge, including up-skilling and knowledge management. Young graduates carry relatively enough theoretical information about a single topic/speciality, yet most of those engineering, science and business graduates lack the practical skills and understanding of the nexus and the interconnectivity between water, food, energy, society, and environment. This led to the design of several upskilling and training programs to bridge the knowledge gap and introduce the young generation to the future.

A promising example of such upskilling modules is the one implemented through a partnership between The Sahara Forest Project and Al Hussein Technical University (HTU) in Jordan. This Upskilling Program for Female Engineers in Agritech and Food Security is being piloted on 30 young females from various Jordanian governorates that got selected based on an open application and preset criteria. The participating trainees are exposed to field training at The Sahara Forest Project in Aqaba, technical lectures and seminars by practitioners, mentorship by female leaders, and inspirational talks by market experts.

The objective of such programs should not be to only help the unemployed youth find jobs but rather to widen their perspective to be able to create opportunities for themselves and for their peers and local communities. Re-anchoring the value of agriculture, water, energy, and nature is by itself a trigger for transformation in the future of work in the MENA region.

Ruba Al-Zu’bi

Ruba Al Zubi is a Sustainability Policy and Governance Advisor/Expert. She is a staunch advocate for policy-enabled action and has gained unique experience in the areas of policy and planning, institutional development, sustainability mainstreaming into economic sectors, donor relations and research and innovation management. She recently served as Advisor to the President for Science Policy and Programme Development, Royal Scientific Society (RSS – Jordan). Prior to that, Ruba led the Scientific Research Department at Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, served as the first Policy Director at the Ministry of Environment, established and led several departments at the Development and Free Zones Commission, and served as the Chief Executive Officer of EDAMA Association for Energy, Water and Environment. In the nonprofit world, Al Zubi is a Plus Social Good Advisor with the United Nations Foundation and a Founding Member of Jordan Green Building Council. She is a global volunteer, mentor, speaker and blogger. View all posts by Ruba Al-Zu’bi →

UNEP guide calls for ‘green-blue’ building solutions

UNEP guide calls for ‘green-blue’ building solutions

Perhaps more so than most sectors, construction could significantly benefit from a shift towards more sustainable practices. But because all construction endeavour starts with a design phase, 

Don Wall writes in Canada Construction Connect that the UNEP guide calls for ‘green-blue’ building solutions. For it advises for natural solutions to climate-related building design problems—no more minor. Let us see what it is all about.

The picture above is for illustration and is of UNEP – UN Environment

UNEP guide calls for ‘green-blue’ building solutions

UNEP guide calls for ‘green-blue’ building solutions
NELSNELSON WIKIPEDIA C.C. 3.0 — A new UN Environment Program document calls for natural solutions to climate-related building design problems. Retention of existing wetlands is recommended; pictured, an engineered wetland in Germany.

A new guide to climate-resilient building around the globe documents the escalating property and human costs of climate disruption, highlights the need to develop green and blue infrastructure solutions and targets improved knowledge transfer throughout construction.

Released July 6 by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the document is called A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings and Communities. A live-steamed global presentation featured the UNEP’s Eva Comba, the report co-ordinator, and lead authors Rajat Gupta of Oxford Brookes University, Mittul Vahanvati of RMIT University and Jacob Halcomb of SEfficiency.

The guide has a heavy focus on climate resistance in developing nations but with transferrable lessons to developed nations such as Canada and the United States and warns that floods and wildfires are creating accelerating risks on this continent as well.

“Why did we decide to focus on the buildings and construction sector? Because buildings can be key drivers of vulnerability when they are ill-suited to their local environment, and when they are strongly exposed to extreme climate conditions they largely contribute to high human and economic losses,” said Comba.

“On the other side we also see that smartly designed and constructed buildings can ensure the safety and well-being of the residents and they can actually protect them against climate change impacts.”

UNEP’s new Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings and Communities warns of heat islands in large cities, where density without adequate shading and other mitigation leads to higher temperatures.
FILE PHOTO — UNEP’s new Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings and Communities warns of heat islands in large cities, where density without adequate shading and other mitigation leads to higher temperatures.

Comba noted a World Bank study showed that investing in more resilient infrastructure could save humanity more than $4.2 trillion, and another recent study indicated that adopting the latest building codes produced by the International Code Council will save on average $11 per dollar invested, “which makes it a very cost-efficient adaptation measure,” Comba said.

There were 91 million people affected by natural disasters across the globe in 2019, and US$210 billion in global losses from natural disasters in 2020.

It’s expected 1.6-billion urban dwellers will be exposed to extreme high temperatures by 2050 and 800 million people living in 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding by 2050.

Comba said the actual adaptation costs for the developing world alone are estimated to be currently at $70 billion per year, and it’s a number that is going to increase to reach an estimated $300 billion per year by 2030.

Gupta referred to record-setting heat episodes in Canada and the U.S. in recent weeks in pointing to the need for heat-mitigation strategies even in temperate climates. The need is heightened in high-density areas, he added.

“This gets even more exacerbated because of poor building design and operation because the buildings are not designed to manage heat,” he said.

“We also have in cities what we call the urban heat island effect where you have higher temperatures in the city than the rural areas and this can further be exacerbated by the housing density and the housing quality, so building design matters.”

Offering comment from a Canadian perspective, Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), sent a statement noting that enhancing climate-resilience is imperative for all buildings in cities large and small.

“Last month’s heat wave in British Columbia is just one example of how the built environment must adapt to face more extreme weather events and keep people healthy and safe through unforeseen weather events.”

The federal government and agencies like the CaGBC have a major role to play through adopting and promoting green building programs and standards such as LEED and the Zero Carbon Building Standard, Mueller said.

He also praised the guide’s espousal of nature-based solutions (NBS), which he called an area of tremendous potential.

“Nature-based solutions, tied to low-impact development and green building practices, can help to mitigate risks,” stated Mueller.

Referring to NBS, the report argued the vulnerability of an individual building is greatly influenced by its broader context. Green-blue solutions will mean an increased focus on preserving and enhancing ponds, wetlands and riparian zones.

NBS to combat heat vulnerability can have broader co-benefits such as flood management, drought management, dust reduction, improving biodiversity, increased health and well-being of residents, and improved air quality.

Gupta discussed how trees and other buildings can provide shading and that vegetation and buildings on sites can capture and direct wind flow for natural ventilation or cooling effect.

Designers need to minimize east-west-facing wall lengths and develop high albedo (reflective materials) strategies to cool roofs, added Gupta.

The UNEP has prioritized passive design solutions over those that require more technical or complex inputs such as mechanical heating or cooling systems.

Halcomb expanded on one theme of the guide, which is that resilient people beget resilient buildings.

“They really come together, hand-in-hand, and attention should be paid to the needs of the inhabitants and building users of all ages, genders, financial means and physical ability,” he said. “Risk reduction and adaptation really benefit from whole-of-life thinking.”

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

Arab Narratives About Artificial Intelligence Are Explored

Arab Narratives About Artificial Intelligence Are Explored

Al-Fanar Media elaborates on a report where the so-called Arab narratives, about Artificial Intelligence, are explored. AI is also predicted, it could change the MENA region more profoundly than anything else before. How would that happen?
Is it through using a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building intelligent machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human beings’ brains?
Or is it just another way of procuring the ability of a computer or computer-controlled or robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings? Or put another way, is it needed to cover humans’ unpredictable performance by a more stable and well-controlled machine?

But what are Arab narratives?

The MENA region is culturally dominated by the Arab ethnocultural authoritarianism in the current socio-political systems and finds it difficult to get their respective populations to come up with some added value in any domain.

They might, though, have some success with the AI. Let us see.

The picture above is for illustration.

Arab Narratives About Artificial Intelligence Are Explored in New Report

By Tarek Abd El-Galil 

CAIRO—The Middle East and North Africa region needs to be more involved in the global debate about the development of artificial intelligence-related technology, says a new report that examines the narratives about technological futures that are widespread in the Arab world.

Narratives about future uses of robots and intelligent machines—how a culture portrays them in areas including history, literature, art and films—can influence the development and reception of artificial intelligence (AI), says the report. Yet Western perspectives typically dominate AI discussions, it says, and Arab perspectives are largely missing.

Arab Narratives About Artificial Intelligence Are Explored
The authors examine the ideas about artificial intelligence that are prevalent in the Arab world and seek to bring them into the wider debate (Image: Pixabay).

Titled “Imagining a Future With Artificial Machines: A Middle Eastern and North African Perspective,” the report was issued earlier this month by the Access to Knowledge for Development Center at the American University in Cairo’s School of Business and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Cambridge.

It notes the MENA region’s rich history and culture and the ability of its youth to employ technology as a means of expression, by presenting  literary works based on science fiction or by their economic participation in technology-based start-ups, which can help create new business models suitable for the future and contribute to providing job opportunities in an area where young people make up a large majority of the population

Joining the Global Dialogue

“The region might not be rich in technology compared to developed countries,” said Nagla Rizk, a professor of economics and founding director of the Access to Knowledge for Development Center, who is a co-author of the report. “However,” she added, “it has a rich stock of culture and history that manifests in technological narratives in different ways.”

“Our participation in this initiative was an excellent opportunity to include the voice of our Arab region in the global dialogue platform on artificial intelligence narratives.”

Nagla Rizk  A professor of economics and founding director of the Ac cess to Knowledge for Development Center

The report comes as part of the Global Artificial Intelligence Narratives Project, an initiative within the Leverhulme Centre to build a network of experts around the world to analyze different cultures’ perceptions of the risks and benefits of AI. The initiative holds a series of workshops outside the English-speaking world, with local multidisciplinary groups of researchers and practitioners from fields related to AI narratives, such as science fiction, scientists, artists, AI researchers, philosophers, writers and anthropologists.

“Our participation in this initiative was an excellent opportunity to include the voice of our Arab region in the global dialogue platform on artificial intelligence narratives,” Rizk said.

She noted that because modern technology, especially artificial intelligence, is usually developed in technologically advanced countries in response to the needs and aspirations of their people and in a way that expresses their cultures, this can result in a kind of inequality, given that the rest of the world does not share those countries’ needs in developing this technology.

Not a Technology ‘Desert’

The report refutes the common notion that the MENA region is a technology “desert” devoid of ideas and the real development of technology. It reveals the existence of rich, rapidly growing technological oases that mix the influence of Western, Eastern and local cultures, and have their own independent character. (See the related articles “Genetics and Artificial Intelligence Drive Qatar University’s Covid-19 Research” and “Arab Researchers Use Artificial Intelligence in Bid to Thwart Fake News.”)

For example, technological development is being pushed at breakneck speed by the governments in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as in less affluent countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Such initiatives are often influenced by Western models, in contrast with the current grass-roots efforts and start-ups, which usually rely on simple technologies and local techniques that reflect the concepts of individuals.

“Stories about AI that are grounded in the realities of people living in the Middle East are the best way to explore local visions of the future using smart machines.”

Tomasz Hollanek  A media and technology researcher at the University of Cambridge and a student fellow at the Leverhulme Centre

“Stories about AI that are grounded in the realities of people living in the Middle East are the best way to explore local visions of the future using smart machines,” said Tomasz Hollanek, a media and technology researcher at the University of Cambridge and a student fellow at the Leverhulme Centre. Hollanek, who is also one of the report’s authors, believes it is important for these visions to reflect the aspirations and needs of the region’s people, rather than importing ideas from elsewhere, particularly from the English-speaking West.

Fear of Reinforcing Stereotypes 

The report expresses concerns that some narratives about artificial intelligence in the region will reinforce gender stereotypes in the future. It cites an example from a popular Egyptian comedy skit from the 1980s, in which a female robot named “Ruby” appears as a domestic servant who responds to orders from the play’s main male character.

In contrast, “Ibn Sina,” the first Arabic-speaking robot, created in the U.A.E., is anthropomorphized as male and is not a servant. Named after a famous 11th-century philosopher, physician and poet, the robot symbolizes the region’s scientific heritage and reflects strength and wisdom, the main traits of masculinity in patriarchal societies.

Another local example is a robot named “Zaki”—which means “smart” in Arabic.  Zaki is a chatbot used in an Internet banking platform in Egypt, and thus reflects men’s control of the financial sector, the report says.

Hollanek points out that narratives can have a direct impact on how technologies are conceived and developed. For example, the representation of certain groups on screen can have a realistic effect on who performs certain jobs: the more female AI researchers appear in films and TV series, the more likely young, ambitious women will pursue a career in AI research.

“We hope for a better reality and future for Arab women, away from stereotypes, which will naturally be reflected in their portrayal in technological narratives,” said Rizk.

Obstacles and Opportunities

“We just need to be able to discover talented people and properly employ them to build a base for technology development.”

Mohamed Zahran  A professor of computer science at New York University

According to Hollanek, the report reveals how post-colonial perspectives—both in the region and among MENA citizens and beyond—continue to significantly influence perceptions of the Arab region’s potential for full realization of the benefits of AI. That’s why he says it’s important to imagine a future with intelligent machines as a decolonial activity, as a way to resist the Western ideas of “progress” or “development.”

Mohamed Zahran, a professor of computer science at New York University, believes there are obstacles facing the region’s acceptance of the development of artificial intelligence. These include the fear that robots will take people’s jobs, and the fear of Western dominance in the technology market; fears the report also highlighted.

However, Zahran agrees with the report’s authors that the region will be able to overcome these obstacles, with its capabilities, talents, and emerging artificial intelligence start-ups, in addition to the ability to rent supercomputers that are now available.

While technology is Western, Zahran said, the report draws the world’s attention to the Middle East and what it can contribute to developing the future of artificial intelligence. “We just need to be able to discover talented people and properly employ them to build a base for technology development,” he said.

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