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Oman Prepares for 4th Industrial Revolution

Oman Prepares for 4th Industrial Revolution

Omar Faridi of CROWDFUND INSIDER reports that Oman Prepares for 4th Industrial Revolution, Launches Fintech Innovation Lab with Help of Ministry of Technology and Communications, BankDhofar.
So why is Oman preparing for 4th Industrial Revolution? Let us hear Omar’s point of view.

March 17, 2020

Oman Prepares for 4th Industrial Revolution

Oman’s Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) has committed to a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with BankDhofar at the Sas Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), in order to manage a technology innovation lab at the center.

The MoC was reportedly signed by Dr Salim bin Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO at MTC, and Abdul Hakeem Omar Al-Ojaili, CEO at BankDhofar.

The innovation lab has been established to help students and local Fintech startups, as they focus on developing innovative financial technology products and services.

Dr. Salim bin Sultan al Ruzaiqi, stated:

“The Ministry has launched the SAS Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution to keep pace with the current developments in the ICT sector. Signing this MoC with BankDhofar reflects the significant role of the private sector in supporting this dynamic sector and the Omani youth initiatives in entrepreneurship.”

He added that through this cooperation, they aim to create an encouraging environment that can help develop useful Fintech solutions, which could become part of the 4th IR technologies.

He also said the project aims to encourage and support Oman’s private sector organizations to continue to empower the nation’s emerging technology fields.

Abdul Hakeem Omar Al Ojaili remarked:

“The innovative lab at Sas Centre for 4th Industrial Revolution serves our vision of contributing to such projects of national value, and it also contributes to the development of the Fintech field in general.” 

He continued:

“We are in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution where the banking sector has to seize the opportunity and take part, supporting the youth and encouraging them to become effective in a field which will positively contribute to the national economic growth in the future.”

MTC and BankDhofar will work cooperatively to establish, host, and manage the innovation lab. They will provide mentorship and training for Omani students, staff, local startups and Fintech firms.

In December 2019, Bank Muscat, the leading financial services provider in the Sultanate, revealed that the Central Bank of Oman had approved the institution’s request to establish a $100 million (appr. OMR38.5 million) nationwide, strategic Fintech investment program.

The investment program is reportedly part of Bank Muscat’s strategic growth initiative.Sponsored Links by DQ Promote

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The Middle East still looking for a growth model

The Middle East still looking for a growth model

Posted on March 8, 2020, in The Arab Weekly, Six decades after independence, Middle East still looking for growth model by Rashmee Roshan Lall is an accurate survey of the region that faces, as we speak, prospects of harshest times. How is the Middle East still looking for a growth model? Investing in the human capital of children and young people as well as enhancing their prospects for productive employment and economic growth is little more complicated than relying on Crude Oil exports related revenues. These are the main if not the only source of earnings of the region now plummeting perhaps for good before even peaking. In effect, all petrodollar inspired and financed development that, put simply, was transposed from certain parts of the world, using not only imported materials but also management and all human resources can not result in anything different from that described in this article.


Though a large youthful population would normally be regarded an economic blessing, it’s become the bane of the MENA region.


The Middle East still looking for a growth model
Dramatic changes. Employees of Aramco oil company at Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing plant. (AFP)

It’s been 75 years since World War II ended and the idea of decolonising the Middle East and North Africa began to gain ground but, while formal colonisation ended about six decades ago, the region seems unable to find a clear path to growth.

Rather than an “Arab spring,” what may be needed is a temperate autumn, a season of mellow fruitfulness to tackle the region’s biggest problems. These include finding a way to use the demographic bulge to advantage, reducing inequality of opportunity and outcome and boosting local opportunity.

Here are some of the region’s key issues:

Youth ‘explosion’

The MENA region’s population grew from around 100 million in 1950 to approximately 380 million in 2000, the Population Reference Bureau said. It is now about 420 million and half that population lives in four countries — Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and Yemen.

The 2016 Arab Human Development Report, which focused on youth, said most of the region’s population is under the age of 25.

The youth bulge is the result of declining mortality rates in the past 40 years as well as an average annual population growth rate of 1.8%, compared with 1% globally. The absolute number of young people is predicted to increase from 46 million in 2010 to 58 million in 2025.

Though a large youthful population would normally be regarded an economic blessing, it’s become the bane of the MENA region. The demographic trend suggests the region needs to create more than 300 million jobs by 2050, the World Bank said.

Jihad Azour, International Monetary Fund (IMF) director for the Middle East and Central Asia, said MENA countries’ growth rate “is lower that what is required to tackle unemployment. Youth unemployment in the region exceeds 25%-30%.” The average unemployment rate across the region is 11%, compared to 7% in other emerging and developing economies.

Unsurprisingly, said Harvard economist Ishac Diwan, a senior fellow at the Middle East Initiative, young Arabs are unhappier than their elders as well as their peers in countries at similar stages of development.

Last year’s Arab Youth Survey stated that 45% of young Arab respondents said they regard joblessness as one of the region’s main challenges, well ahead of the Syrian war (28%) and the threat of terrorism (26%).

The region’s population is expected to nearly double by 2030 and the IMF estimated that 27 million young Arabs will enter the labour market the next five years.

Poverty and inequality

Most Arab people do not live in oil-rich countries. Data from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) stated that 116 million people across ten Arab countries (41% of the total population), are poor and another 25% were vulnerable to poverty. This translates to an estimated 250 million people who may be poor or vulnerable out of a population of 400 million.

The MENA region is also regarded as the most unequal in the world, with the top 10% of its people accounting for 64% of wealth, although the average masks enormous differences from one country to another.

The middle class in non-oil producing Arab countries has shrunk from 45% to 33% of the population, ESCWA economists said. In a report for the Carnegie Corporation last year, Palestinian-American author Rami G. Khouri described what he called “poverty’s new agony,” the fact that a poor family in the Middle East will remain poor for several generations.

Egypt is a case in point. In 2018, Cairo vowed to halve poverty by 2020 and eliminate it by 2030. However, Egypt’s national statistics agency released a report on household finances last year that said that 33% of Egypt’s 99 million people were classified as poor, up from 28% in 2015. The World Bank subsequently nearly doubled that figure, saying 60% of Egyptians were “either poor or vulnerable.”

Wealth gaps between countries are greater in the region than in others because it has some of the world’s richest economies as well as some of the poorest, such as Yemen.

Inequality is not the only problem in the region. Former World Bank economist Branko Milanovic said the uneven picture means that last year’s protests in Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Iraq cannot be explained by “a blanket story of inequality.”

Indeed, Algeria, a relatively egalitarian country, was roiled by protests, first against a long-serving president and then against the wider political system.

French economist Thomas Piketty, who wrote the bestselling book on income inequality, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” said Arab countries must come up with a way to share the region’s vast and unequally distrib­uted wealth.

Lost decades of growth

In the decade from 2009, the region’s average economic growth was one-third slower than in the previous decade. The IMF said per capita incomes have been “near stagnant” and youth unemployment has “worsened significantly.”

The state is the largest employer in many Arab countries and over-regulation of the private sector left it underdeveloped and unable to overcome the significant barriers to trade and economic cooperation across regional borders. Meanwhile, inflexible labour laws stifled job creation and cronyism allowed inefficiency to stay unchallenged. In 2018, the average rank of Arab countries on the World Bank’s Doing Business survey was 115th out of 190 countries.

Along with structural factors, conflict has had a debilitating effect on economic growth. Three years ago, the World Bank noted that the Syrian war had killed approximately 500,000 people, displaced half the population — more than 10 million people — and reduced more than two-thirds of Syrians to poverty.

By 2017, conflict in Yemen and Libya had displaced more than 15% and 10% of their respective populations of 4 million and 6 million. Taken together, the Syrian, Yemen and Libyan civil wars have affected more than 60 million people, about one-fifth of the MENA population.

Infrastructural damage runs into the billions of dollars but it is the loss — or outright collapse, as in Yemen — of economic activity that has affected real GDP growth.

Countries in the region affected by conflict lost $614 billion cumulatively in GDP from 2010-15 — 6% of the regional GDP, ESCWA’s 2018 report on institutional development in post-conflict settings stated.

New thinking needed

This is the year when, for the first time, an Arab country holds the chairmanship of the Group of 20 of the world’s largest economies. It could be an opportunity to consider existing trends within the region, what needs to be changed and how.

In the words of Oxford development macroeconomist Adeel Malik, “the Arab developmental model… seems to have passed its expiration date.” In a 2014 paper for the Journal of International Affairs, Malik said “failure of the Arab state to deliver social justice is ultimately rooted in the failure of a development model based on heavy state intervention in the economy and increasingly unsustainable buyouts of local populations through generous welfare entitlements.”

It’s a good point, for the region’s richest countries just as much as its poorest. Oil-rich states are affected by dramatic changes in oil prices and the increasingly urgent suggestion that the world is at “peak oil.” An IMF report warned that, by 2034, declining oil demand could erode the $2 trillion in financial wealth amassed by Gulf Cooperation Council members. The IMF said “faster progress with economic diversification and private sector development will be critical to ensure sustainable growth.”

Creativity and courage will be needed if the Arab world is to meet the expectations of its youthful population and the challenges posed by its increasing inequality.

New Entertainment Complexes to Prime Locations across the Kingdom

New Entertainment Complexes to Prime Locations across the Kingdom

The Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (Seven), established by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and mandated to invest, develop and operate entertainment destinations in Saudi Arabia, has announced the expansion of new entertainment complexes to prime locations across the kingdom.

New Entertainment Complexes to Prime Locations across the Kingdom

Seven to build 20 leisure complexes in Saudi Arabia was confirmed by all local media.

RIYADH, These will delight residents and tourists alike and contribute to positioning Saudi Arabia as a hub for entertainment and leisure, said a statement from Seven.

The entertainment complexes will meet the fast-growing tourism sector and contribute to realising the goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, it stated.

These projects are being developed in key strategic geographic locations, providing large resident populations with innovative leisure choices that will appeal to all the family. Each complex will feature several entertainment and leisure choices including cinemas, play areas, rides, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, attractions and more, it added.

Chairman Abdullah Al Dawood said Seven is building the entertainment ecosystem of the kingdom, having already opened the first cinema in Saudi Arabia in 35 years.

“We have a clearly structured development plan to build 20 entertainment destinations, 50 cinemas and two large theme parks in prime locations across the kingdom,” stated Al Dawood.

In Jeddah, Seven will develop several entertainment complexes adding to the leisure choices for over four million residents and visitors.

With entertainment complexes coming up by the azure waters of the Red Sea as well as in areas that are popular among residents, the leisure ecosystem of Jeddah will witness a dramatic transformation.

In line with the vision of the leadership to offer more attractions that add to the quality of life of residents and visitors to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, Seven will open new entertainment complexes.

Another addition is in Taif, the fifth biggest city in Saudi Arabia and the unofficial ‘summer capital’, where the cool climes draw people to its location on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains.

Known as the spring by the sea for its popularity among tourists as a scuba-diving destination with white sandy shores, Yanbu is another strategic location. With easy connectivity from Riyadh and Dammam, Al-Kharj will also feature a Seven entertainment complex.

Another area which will feature a project by Seven will be Buraydah, located in the centre of Saudi Arabia, said the statement from Seven.

Abha and Khamis, set in the Asir Mountains and known for equitable all-year weather, will also have new entertainment complexes by Seven, adding to their touristic value.

The port city of Jazan by the Red Sea, serving as a large agricultural heartland of the kingdom, features several ambitious infrastructure projects and is another natural choice for Seven – along with Tabuk, one of the historic sites, rich in rock art, archeological sites, castles and mosques.

Adding to the entertainment ecosystem of the capital city of Riyadh is the development of the entertainment complex at Al Hamra that will serve the densely populated neighbourhoods in the north-east of Riyadh.

At the intersection of King Abdullah Road and East Ring Road, the project will serve over 2.5 million people within a radius of a 30-minute drive. Another exciting upcoming addition to Riyadh is the entertainment complex at Al Nahda, with the Nahda Park Metro Station just a few metres away. Announced last year, work on these projects is progressing as per schedule.

Further adding to the communities of  Dammam and Al Khobar, which serve as vital hubs for several key industries and global businesses, Seven is bringing waterfront attractions that will create unforgettable moments of joyful entertainment for everyone. Announced last year, these projects will also offer a range of entertainment choices for residents and visitors.

“We are committed to realising the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to accelerate the creation of world-class entertainment assets in the Kingdom that support economic diversification, create new jobs, and contribute to socio-economic progress. Our complexes will position the kingdom as an entertainment, culture and tourism hub of the region,” he stated.

“At Seven, we believe in promoting and creating opportunities for the private sector to thrive in the fast-evolving entertainment landscape of the kingdom,” noted Al Dawood.

“We are inviting the most ambitious and creative business partners and vendors to join us in our remarkable step forward to shape the entertainment landscape of the Kingdom,” he added.

TradeArabia News Service

MENA to see $23B in Hotel Building by 2023

MENA to see $23B in Hotel Building by 2023

HOTEL BUSINESS on February 17, 2020, informs that MENA to see $23B in Hotel Building by 2023, mostly in the Gulf region. A region that still knows a significant construction boom despite inevitable volatility in its primary revenue would be hosting crowds of visitors soon to two major international events. These are the International Exhibition of 2020 and the Football World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The other regions of the MENA, whether North African or of the Levant that mostly preoccupied with their respective geostrategic concerns, have smaller demand for hotels buildings.



INTERNATIONAL REPORT—The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2020 has released the third annual AHIC Hotel Investment Forecast, which reveals that more than $23 billion worth of hotel construction contracts are scheduled to be awarded in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) between now and 2023.

According to research conducted by regional project tracking service MEED Projects in Q4 2019, the hotel development sector will be most active in Oman, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia, making these the markets to watch in 2020.

“On the back of the more than 700 new hotels worth in excess of $53 billion having been built over the past seven years, the Middle East is rightly viewed as a high-growth region for tourism,” said Ed James, director of content and analysis, MEED Projects. “Growing economies, enhanced infrastructure and the opening up of the sector have acted as catalysts for development.”

He continued, “In terms of the hotel pipeline, Saudi Arabia is the leading future market with just under $9 billion worth of projects planned to be awarded over the next four years. This includes a minimum of 21,500 rooms, across 36 individual hotel, resorts and master-planned tourist destinations. The Kingdom has made tourism and the opening up of its cultural heritage and pristine Red Sea coastline key components of its 2030 Vision. Self-styled ‘gigaprojects’ like The Red Sea Project, Amaala, Neom and the Qiddiya entertainment hub are set to transform Saudi Arabia and the region over the next few years.”

The UAE is in second place, with $7.6 billion worth of hotel construction contracts on the four-year horizon. Oman has hotel developments worth more than $2 billion in the pipeline, while Egypt has some $1.9 billion worth of projects set to be awarded by 2023.

The levels of investment revealed by the AHIC Hotel Investment Forecast over the next four years are testament to an incredibly buoyant market, according to forecasters. “New hotel resorts like Jebel Sifah and the St. Regis Muscat in Oman, the Ritz-Carlton in Sharm el-Sheikh and the MGM Resort and Bellagio Hotel in Dubai are set to continue to make the Middle East one of the most vibrant and diverse tourism destinations in the world,” said James.

The regional hotel pipeline and the future outlook for hotel investment in the Middle East will be discussed in depth at the 16th edition of AHIC, which returns to Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai from April 14-16.

“The AHIC Hotel Investment Forecast is an incredibly valuable piece of research that clearly demonstrates that the Middle East still has so much to offer when it comes to future hotel expansion and investment,” said Jonathan Worsley, chairman, Bench Events, and founder, AHIC. “We’re especially excited to see markets such as Oman and Egypt, which offer incredibly rich and diverse tourism landscapes, return to the forefront of development in the region.”

AHIC Hotel Investment Forecast

IMF note on Gulf’s depleting wealth ‘a call to action’

IMF note on Gulf’s depleting wealth ‘a call to action’

In ZAWYA’s GCC, an article dated13 February 2020, by Nada Al Rifai is about the IMF note on Gulf’s depleting wealth ‘a call to action’ – Mubadala official referring to the IMF’s report on Oil demand declining is a huge challenge for GCC.

GCC countries need to absorb growing young population into future labor market.

IMF note on Gulf's depleting wealth 'a call to action'
The King Fahd highway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose
Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent report noting that GCC states could see their financial wealth depleted in the next 15 years is an important call to action for the region, a senior officer at the Abu Dhabi state fund said.

“The quest for economic diversification and the bridge that hydrocarbon has given us is something that we’ll continue to be looking at and focus on for the next 20 to 40 years,” Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Deputy Group CEO, Mubadala, told delegates at the Milken Institute Summit held in Abu Dhabi.

On whether the 15 years’ time horizon for the Gulf states is too aggressive, Al Muhairi said: “Whatever the number is, it is an important call for action. Everybody in the GCC is thinking about diversifying, but not everybody is at the same level of diversification.”

While the UAE’s hydrocarbon wealth was transformed over the last 45 years into world-class infrastructure, great education, and good healthcare, Mubadala’s Al Muhairi said, this would still not be enough.

“If you want to maintain relevance as an economic hub and to ensure the best quality of life for your citizens and the people who live in one of the most open economies in the region, we need to keep growing. To keep growing, we need to ensure that the economy is innovation-led, to become a technology developer and exporter, and to continue to look for ways to address some of the big issues of the day,” he said.

“We have one of the youngest populations on Earth, and while we don’t necessarily have an employment problem today, it is really important that we think about how we absorb all those young people and make sure they have productive ways to contribute to the overall wellbeing of society,” he said.

A recent report by Fitch Solutions said that Arab Gulf countries are expected to advance labour force nationalisation policies, yet some countries of the bloc will go in for stricter policy implementation than others.

Countries like the UAE and Qatar that are relatively wealthier, have more fiscal flexibility and smaller youth populations are under less pressure to implement labour force nationalisation than other GCC countries such as Oman and Saudi Arabia. Read more here.

(Reporting by Nada Al Rifai, editing by Seban Scaria)

(nada.rifai@refinitiv.com)

Nehmeh organises Mega Industrial Expo 2020

Nehmeh organises Mega Industrial Expo 2020

As reported by The Peninsula of Qatar of 11 February 2020, Nehmeh organises Mega Industrial Expo 2020.

Qatar-based Industrial Solutions leader ‘Nehmeh’ has organised the annual Mega Industrial Expo 2020 showcasing a range of the world’s leading brands in construction solutions,

Visitors during the annual Mega Industrial Expo 2020.

The two-day event was held on February 4 and 5 at a five-star hotel in Doha where Nehmeh showcased power tools, ventilation systems, light construction tools and machinery with a focus on concrete machinery along with demonstrations to let guests have a first-hand product experience of the machines and its applications.

An important part of the event was the launch of the Qatar’s first locally manufactured ‘Roof Top Package Unit’ by Nehmeh Air Conditioners and introduction of Belgium based ‘Beton Trowel’ brand renowned for Concrete & Compaction Equipment.

The event also featured key note address by experts from Beton Trowel, Nehmeh Air Conditioners and Makita over the two days.
‘Nehmeh App’ the region’s first industrial solutions mobile app was highlighted to guests at the expo. Nehmeh, one of the leading industrial solutions providers in the GCC, represents world class brands which are leaders in their respective categories.

For over 65 years, tens of thousands of people depend on reliable industrial performance solutions by Nehmeh. This mega event succeeded in attracting visitors including retail partners, suppliers, end-users and others related to the construction industry.

Visitors also included managers from Qatar looking for solutions to improve their efficiency and productivity on sites. Brands participating at the expo were Makita, Nehmeh Air Conditioners, Stampa, SDMO, Beton Trowel, Sofy, Portacool, Koshin, Awelco, Dr. Schulze among many more. Demonstrations were held on specially prepared areas showcasing tools, equipment and machinery. Expert professionals from Singapore, Germany and Belgium presented to the audience new introductions and technologies along with an informative Q & A session.

“Nehmeh range of Industrial Solutions cover major solutions required for the Qatari construction market. This concept event has been developed keeping in mind the requirements of our customers and I am glad to say that the event has been well received by the guests over the years,” said Emil A. Nehme, Chief Executive Officer at Nehmeh.

“With the support of our partners, we have the ability to cover major construction solutions as required here in Qatar. Witnessing the popularity of such an event, we are inclined to hold more such regular events as part of our calendar of activities,” he added.

‘The Nehmeh Corporate Catalogue 2020’ was launched during the event. Awards bestowed to various partners as tribute to their efforts and achievements. In addition, four lucky visitors also walked away with reward trips, gold coins and stay vouchers.

Oil demand decline a huge challenge for GCC: IMF

Oil demand decline a huge challenge for GCC: IMF

Manama, Bahrein, one day ago, TradeArabia News Service posted this article on Oil demand decline a huge challenge for GCC: IMF. Everyone around the world is currently aware of the new trend of moving away from any fossil fuel, at investments and even real-life levels. We were also informed per local media, that the GCC’s financial wealth could be depleted by 2034: IMF.

Meanwhile, here is anyhow Trade Arabia’s.


Recent oil market developments reveal a strong and sustained declining trend in the global oil demand, which is now expected to peak in 2040 or earlier. This outlook spells a significant fiscal sustainability challenge for the GCC region, says a new International Monetary Agency (IMF) report. The expected speed and size of the fiscal consolidation programmes in most GCC countries may not be sufficient to stabilise their wealth. These adjustments need to be accelerated and sustained over a long period of time, in line with the expected path of hydrocarbon revenue, says the study titled “The Future of Oil and Fiscal Sustainability in the GCC Region.”  The oil market is undergoing fundamental change; new technologies are increasing the supply of oil from old and new sources, while rising concerns over the environment are seeing the world gradually moving away from oil.  The combination of rising supply amid the global push to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is expected to continue, heralding what has been dubbed “the age of oil abundance”, the report says. This spells a significant challenge for oil-exporting countries, including those of the GCC who account for a fifth of the world’s oil production, says the report. The GCC countries have recognised the need to reduce their reliance on oil and are all implementing reforms to diversify their economies as well as fiscal and external revenues. Nevertheless, as global oil demand is expected to peak in the next two decades, the associated fiscal imperative could be both larger and more urgent than implied by the GCC countries’ existing plans. At the current fiscal stance, the region’s financial wealth could be depleted by 2034. Fiscal sustainability will require significant consolidation in the coming years. Its speed is an intergenerational choice. Fully preserving current wealth will require large upfront fiscal adjustments. More gradual efforts would ease the short-term adjustment burden but at the expense of resources available to future generations, it says. Anticipating and preparing for what comes next will be critical for oil-exporting regions. Oil remains critical to both external and fiscal revenues and overall GDP of the GCC states. A legacy of sharply rising fiscal expenditure during 2007–14 followed by a steep decline in hydrocarbon revenues have weakened fiscal positions in the GCC region. The decline in oil revenues sparked a period of intensive reforms, including sizable fiscal consolidations. Nevertheless, the effect of lower hydrocarbon revenue is yet to be fully offset. The resulting fiscal deficits have lowered the region’s net financial wealth during 2014–18, the report says. A path of prolonged deceleration in hydrocarbon revenue growth would add to this decline in wealth. At the current fiscal stance, the region’s existing financial wealth could be depleted in the next 15 years, warns the report.  Although the importance of non-oil sectors has increased in recent decades, many of them still rely on oil-based demand either in the form of public spending of oil revenue or private expenditure of oil-derived wealth. The 2014–15 oil price shock, which notably slowed non-oil growth in most of the region, was a stark reminder of this dependence, it says.  Recognising this challenge, the GCC countries are all implementing programmes to diversify their economies as well as fiscal and external revenues away from oil. The success of these programmes will be central to achieving strong and sustainable growth in the years to come, says the report.The report estimates that growth of global oil demand will significantly decelerate, and its level could peak in the next two decades. In assessing the long-term oil market prospects, it is useful to look beyond the geopolitical and cyclical factors and focus on trends that are robust to temporary shocks. Growth of global demand for natural gas is also expected to slow, although it is expected to remain positive in the coming decades. The fiscal policy need implied by this challenge is both larger and more urgent when compared to GCC countries’ existing plans. In the context of broader goals of sustainability and sharing of exhaustible oil wealth with future generations, all GCC countries have recognised the lasting nature of their challenge and are already planning continued fiscal adjustment in the context of their broader strategic long-term visions.  Managing the long-term fiscal transition will require wide-ranging reforms and a difficult intergenerational choice. Continued economic diversification will be important but would not suffice on its own. Countries will also need to step up their efforts to raise non-oil fiscal revenue, reduce government expenditure, and prioritise financial saving when economic returns on additional public investment are low. While fiscal starting positions are still strong in a global context in four of the six GCC countries, the longer-term fiscal challenges are substantial, the report adds. – 

THE MENA summit to explore innovation in the liberal arts

THE MENA summit to explore innovation in the liberal arts

University leaders from the Middle East and North Africa will convene in Abu Dhabi to discuss how a multidisciplinary model can help build knowledge economies and advance academic research. A THE MENA summit to explore innovation in the liberal arts article dated February 4, 2020, by THE World Summit Series team is republished here for its obvious pluses in the MENA readership.

THE MENA summit to explore innovation in the liberal arts

Twitter: @THEWorldSummits

THE MENA summit to explore innovation in the liberal arts
Source: iStock

The value of a liberal arts education has become a pivotal discussion within the global higher education sector over the last decade. No longer confined to the hallowed halls of ivy-covered American colleges, this multidisciplinary approach, which focuses on developing creative thinking skills, has begun to transform the curricula of institutions worldwide.

To examine this further, the Times Higher Education MENA Universities Summit 2020, taking place at NYU Abu Dhabi on 10-12 March, will explore the benefits and challenges of broadening the liberal arts educational model across Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Fostering discussions on how to prepare students for a variety of career paths after graduation is high on the list of the summit’s objectives. Hoda Mostafa, director of the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo, will share useful practices to facilitate the leap between an interdisciplinary education and careers both in and out of academia. 

Wasif Rizv, founding president of Habib University, Pakistan’s first liberal arts and science institution, will provide an instructional model from south-east Asia to demonstrate how a liberal arts education can develop talent to meet the demands of a global workforce.

Another key focus will be enhancing the research culture in countries where talent attraction has faced challenges. Rana Dajani, associate professor at Hashemite University, who established stem cell research ethics law in Jordan, will debate with other panellists which tools are needed to support the next generation of researchers in the MENA region.

Safwan Masri, the current vice-president for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University, who has written extensively on the role of Tunisia in the Arab Spring, will deliver the summit’s closing keynote, underlining the power of research and knowledge transfer in the region to ultimately promote a greater cultural understanding and bridge political boundaries.

The summit will include an exclusive THE rankings masterclass that will dissect the methodology behind the World University Rankings, giving an analysis of the MENA region’s successes and future opportunities. Additionally, delegates will enjoy a deep-dive into THE’s new University Impact Rankings, which are based on universities’ successes in working towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

John Gill, editor of THE, said: “We are at a crucial moment for the world on numerous fronts – from how to respond to global threats such as climate change, to how to navigate a path to greater understanding and collaboration. Higher education and research will play crucial roles in finding the answers.

“At this summit, we will discuss the role of liberal arts education, at a time of debate about how best to prepare students for the new economy, and how to support societies in transition. We will consider how a global perspective can transform the impact of education, and address the interplay between education and research in the MENA region. These topics touch on every aspect of what universities do, as institutions that educate, create new knowledge, and drive economic and social progress, so we are delighted to have such a diverse programme of speakers, and to be meeting at NYU Abu Dhabi, itself a great example of innovation.”

The Times Higher Education MENA Universities Summit 2020 will take place 10-12 March at NYU Abu Dhabi. Find out more. 

Knowledge Oman to step up support for Vision 2040

Knowledge Oman to step up support for Vision 2040

Times-News Service of February 2, 2020, informs that Knowledge Oman to step up support for Vision 2040, is fundamentally for enhancing skills and supporting job creation for the local population.

Knowledge Oman to step up support for Vision 2040
Tariq Hilal Al Barwanni, Knowledge Oman Founder. Photo: Supplied

Muscat: Enhancing skills and supporting job creation for locals is the new goal and vision 2020 for Knowledge Oman.

Speaking about the new plans, Tariq Hilal Al Barwanni, Knowledge Oman Founder said: “Supporting job creation by enhancing the necessary skills employers require from nationals to acquire is Knowledge Oman’s 2020 new goal and direction.”

This came as an announcement of the Sultanate’s multi-award winning knowledge-sharing platform’s strategic plan to make vision 2040 a reality. Knowledge Oman begins the new year with setting attainable goals, based on past achievements, which will support His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik in maintaining a prosperous and thriving country.

“Empowering the society with the necessary knowledge that is required to build a prosperous future is our key objective going forward. We will do this by aligning with vision 2040 and supporting His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s leadership,” he emphasised.

Since 2008, Knowledge Oman has managed within 12 years to solidify the vision of late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour of transforming Oman into a knowledge based society by impacting hundred of thousands of people with 74 initiatives in the form of projects, workshops, seminars that positively impacted students from college and universities, women, entrepreneurs and professionals from various industries.

Projects were supported by over 35 partners locally and internationally attracting over 80,000 registrations and 700 volunteers across the years.

Knowledge Oman received 4 awards that includes the Outstanding contribution to the cause of education from the World Human Resource Development (HRD) Congress.

Members of the platform consist of multinational group of both locals and expatriates living in the country with the passion of creating, sharing and exchanging knowledge.

“In planning our strategy for 2020, we are focusing on three key areas to support Oman towards a society which is rich in human, economic and natural resources that aligns with the 2040 vision. We are launching Knowledge Oman Talks, refining our Knowledge Oman Seminars and collaborating with like-minded partners to deliver initiatives that benefit the society” outlined Tariq.

Knowledge Oman Talks will manage and invite experienced professionals to schools, colleges, and universities to bridge the gap between academia & industry. Knowledge Oman Seminars will be enhanced to organise periodic events that discuss contemporary issues and offer suggestions for development to society. Moreover, Knowledge Oman will invite partners to collaborate on initiatives that benefit the society.

Knowledge Oman’s mission in the past was driven by the vision of late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour to create a knowledge-based society.

Optimistic about the year ahead and working under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Knowledge Oman will continue to build local and international partnerships and work towards providing people in Oman with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the Oman Vision 2040.

How Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant promises sustainable future

How Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant promises sustainable future

WAM Report: How Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant promises sustainable future is about how the UAE envisages its future in a diversified and knowledge economy.

ABU DHABI, 1st February 2020 (WAM) — Making the UAE the first Arab country to deliver safe, clean and peaceful nuclear energy, Barakah is the first major national achievement this year.

Nawah Energy Company, the subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, responsible for the operation and maintenance of nuclear energy plants in the UAE, has confirmed that the World Association of Nuclear Operators, WANO, has cleared Unit 1 of Barakah as ready for start-up.

After it’s fully operational, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant’s four Units will prevent the release of 21 million tons of harmful carbon emissions every year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the country’s roads on an annual basis.

Located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, approximately 53km west-southwest of the city of Ruwais, the plant’s four APR-1400 design nuclear reactors will also supply up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity needs in compliance with the highest standards of safety, security and operational performance.

The journey started in April 2008 with the issue of the Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy.

The Policy focuses on six key principles, which include the UAE’s commitment to complete operational transparency, pursuing the highest standards of non-proliferation and adhering to the highest standards of safety and security.

It also includes working directly with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and conforming to its standards when evaluating and establishing a peaceful nuclear energy programme, developing any peaceful domestic nuclear energy capability in partnership with the governments and firms of responsible nations, as well with the assistance of appropriate expert organisations, and lastly approaching any peaceful domestic nuclear energy programme in a manner that best ensures long-term sustainability. The UAE programme has since been successfully developed in line with all of these principles and continues to uphold these going forward.

In 2009, the Korea Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO, which is the largest nuclear power corporation in South Korea, was selected as ENEC’s Prime Contractor for the development of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the UAE.

KEPCO is one of the leading nuclear energy companies in the world in terms of safety, reliability and efficiency, as classified by WANO.

The UAE selected this company after a comprehensive year-long process conducted by a team of 75 international energy experts. The evaluation focused on several factors, most notably, safety and operational excellence. The APR1400 technology selected has since been certified by the US-based Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, highlighting the design’s strong safety and reliability characteristics.

In 2010, the environmental impact assessment and licensing requests for preliminary works were submitted, and approval was obtained from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR.

In March 2012, ENEC submitted a construction license application for Barakah’s Units three and four, and in May 2013, the safety nuclear concrete was poured for Unit 2 and the installation of major components had begun at Unit 1.

In October 2016, ENEC and KEPCO signed a Joint Venture agreement for a long-term partnership and cooperation for the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy programme.

Through the Joint Venture, Nawah Energy Company was established to operate and maintain the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

ENEC and KEPCO also announced the establishment of Barakah One Company PJSC, another independent subsidiary owned by both companies, which represents the commercial and financial interests of the Barakah project.

Under the JV, KEPCO has an 18 percent stake in Nawah Energy Company and Barakah One Company, while ENEC owns the remaining 82 percent.

In November 2016, Barakah One Company signed the first nuclear energy Power Purchase Agreement with Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, now the Emirates Water and Electricity Company, for the purchase of the electricity to be generated at Barakah.

The agreement establishes the contractual framework between the two entities for the sale of the safe, clean, efficient and reliable electricity produced at Barakah.

In March 2018, construction was completed of Barakah Unit 1, and the first batch of Reactor Operators, ROs, and Senior Reactor Operators, SROs, were certified to operate by FANR in July 2019.

Emirati citizens account for 60 percent of the employees in ENEC and its subsidiary companies, and the total number of reactor operators is 72, including 42 Emirati ROs and SROs.

In the past decade, the UAE has welcomed the IAEA and WANO to carry out more than 40 review and inspection missions.

The success of these missions and FANR’s stringent oversight has resulted in the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy programme being recognised as a role model for the development of a new civil nuclear energy programme and a global benchmark for a new-build nuclear energy project.WAM/Hazem Hussein