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Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan

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A story by Bea Mitchell on blooloop of 15 Jun 2021 illustrates well the ambitions of those countries around the Red Sea in terms of diversified economic development. It is about the Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan. The employment of Jordanian people will obviously improve as of this summer. But not only; here is the story.

The picture above is for illustration and is of Mashable ME.

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark set to open on July 3 in Jordan

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, the first world-class water park in Aqaba and the largest in Jordan, is scheduled to open on July 3.  

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark in Jordan features more than 25 rides, slides and experiences across more than 28,500 square metres. It opens in Aqaba on July 3.

The water park’s rides and attractions are inspired by Jordan’s iconic landmarks, including Dead Sea Drop, Wadi Rum Race and Aqua Jerash.

Dead Sea Drop guests will take a vertical plunge, while Wadi Rum Race is a competitive multi-racer. Aqua Jerash features play attractions for young guests, including slides, waterfalls and rotating water jets.

“We are excited to announce that Saraya Aqaba Waterpark will be the first of its kind waterpark in Aqaba and the largest in the kingdom,” said Chris Van Der Merwe, general manager of Saraya Aqaba Waterpark.

25 rides, slides and experiences

“At Saraya Aqaba Waterpark, guests from Jordan and around the world are in for an aquatic adventure like no other with slides, rides and experiences suitable for guests of all ages.

“The water park has been carefully designed with families in mind and as such guests can expect a family-friendly environment, both in and out of the water.

“We are looking forward to welcoming you at Saraya Aqaba Waterpark for unforgettable memories that will last for a lifetime,” added Van Der Merwe.

Also opening at the water park is the Rose City Diner, alongside refreshment kiosks around the park serving snacks, ice cream and drinks. The attraction’s signature shopping outlet is called Al Siq Souk.

Jordan’s landmarks inspire rides

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark is located within the Saraya Al Aqaba Residential City, which features a combination of residential, business, leisure and entertainment facilities.

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark was developed by Eagle Hills and is operated by Farah Experience LLC, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Miral Asset Management LLC.

“Over the years, Farah Experiences has garnered deep industry expertise managing and operating award-winning theme parks and attractions in Abu Dhabi,” said Julien Kauffmann, CEO of Farah Experiences.

Images: Eagle Hills Jordan

Bea Mitchell, A journalist specialising in entertainment and attractions, Bea loves theme parks (mainly Disney) and is particularly interested in things of a gothic, horror or fantasy nature

My Say: Sustainable finance a lever for growth

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Arina Kok of The Edge Malaysia in My Say: Sustainable finance a lever for growth, demonstrates how sustainability should be omnipresent in all development plans thinking as well as implementation.

Recent studies show that future years will be hotter than ever, and growing pressure from all sides to go beyond beautifully designed sustainability reports would be a must.
Consumers and suppliers ought not to just value sustainability; they should prepare to pay for it. For instance, assets in dedicated sustainable investment strategies went over $1 trillion by June 2020.

In January, the country was badly hit by floods that displaced nearly 50,000 people. This exacerbated the impact of Covid-19 on struggling businesses, livelihoods, the healthcare system and the economy.


My Say: Sustainable finance a lever for growth

The pandemic aside, the Malaysian economy had suffered RM8 billion worth of damages, owing to climate-related events between 1998 and 2018. Given the rising magnitude and frequency of climate risks and their impact on businesses and society, the call to action is clear — strong cooperation between financial institutions and policymakers, businesses and society will be critical to drive the coordinated transition to a resilient and low-carbon economy.

To accelerate the transition, increased mobilisation of sustainable finance is needed to fund mitigation initiatives such as clean energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport, and adaptation initiatives such as disaster management, infrastructure upgrade and sustainable land use.

Sustainable finance can be defined as any form of financial service that incentivises the integration of long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into business decisions, with the goal of providing more equitable, sustainable and inclusive benefits to companies, communities and society.

While negative screening, such as absolute avoidance of activities, and thematic investing in selected sectors, such as clean energy, are commonly practised in sustainable finance, there is also a growing focus on diversifying sustainable financial practices into three other areas:

  •     ESG integration — incorporating ESG information and analysis into investment decisions with the objective of enhancing risk-adjusted returns;
  •      Impact investing — targeting positive measurable ESG impact alongside financial returns; and
  •      Norm-based screening and best-in-class (positive) screening according to defined ESG criteria.

Risk aside, climate change also presents opportunities to increase the range of financial products and services for renewable energy, green buildings and climate-smart agriculture and cities. The International Energy Agency projects the need for US$3.5 trillion (RM14.4 trillion) in annual global investments to build the infrastructure for a green economy.

Our World in Data, publisher of research and date of the world’s largest problems, found that the cost of solar and wind power plummeted at a staggering rate between 2009 and 2019, with the price of new solar falling by 89% and the price of onshore wind by 70%. It is now cheaper to invest in new renewables than in new coal power in every major energy market in the world, and soon it will be cheaper to build new renewables than to continue operating existing coal plants.

As markets advance in factoring ESG into risk-adjusted returns and more sustainable funds build competitive performance records, the lingering doubts about sustainable finance will diminish. According to S&P Global Trucost, over the past six years, the Standard & Poor’s 500 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) portfolio increased by 136.2%. This compares with the S&P 500 portfolio, which generated a return of 125.8%. The research also indicated that companies with a higher proportion of their revenues coming from SDG-related products and services tend to outperform those with a lower proportion of their revenues.

Challenges

The challenges in driving sustainable finance lie in having a clear direction and incentives to pivot from traditional investing strategies. The availability of quality ESG information is also an ongoing challenge, as most businesses are at different maturity levels in managing and reporting on ESG practices. While regulatory and market standards continue to be developed, a coordinated transition requires a system-wide engagement and effective reporting policies to be implemented.

In response to the need for common industry standards and frameworks, Bank Negara Malaysia is collaborating with the local financial industry to issue Value-based Intermediation Financing and Investment Impact Assessment Framework (VBIAF) guides for the different sectors.

The sectoral guides will facilitate the practical implementation measures pursued by the Joint Committee on Climate Change, including the Climate Change and Principle-Based Taxonomy that will be finalised soon. The first set of VBIAF sectoral guides on palm oil, renewable energy and energy efficiency was issued on March 31, while the second set for the oil and gas, manufacturing, construction and infrastructure industries will be issued by year end.

The right strategy

With increasing pressure from the regulators, investors, organisations and society need to clearly define their sustainable finance strategies, resilience to emerging risks and their role in the global transition to the green economy. Successful sustainable finance strategies will be those that are actionable.

Setting the right strategy starts with defining just where and how organisations should engage in sustainability. It is not just a matter of figuring out the right policies, but of identifying the right actions to make sustainable finance a lever for growth. The board and senior management will have to think about the organisation’s purpose and mission. The right answers will help define sustainability goals that suit the organisation — those that are measurable, authentic, achievable, meaningful and aligned with stakeholders’ needs.

The right strategy is essential because greening the economy has huge potential upsides and may be the greatest commercial opportunity of our age.

This article first appeared in Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly of 10 to 16 May 2021.


Arina Kok is a director of Ernst & Young Advisory Services Sdn Bhd’s climate change and sustainability services (CCaSS) practice. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organisation or its member firms. This is the second of a three-part series on sustainability in conjunction with Earth Day 2021.

EAD’s new documentary: ‘Our Sea… Our Future’

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Abu Dhabi Media to air EAD’s new documentary: ‘Our Sea… Our Future’ now that all fossil fuels divestment appears to generalise for reasons known to everyone overwhelmingly. Rediscovering the sea and historical pearl-diving could well be a segment of diversification of the economy. It must be noted that Abu Dhabi-based Future Rehabilitation Centre is not also that far from the sea shore. Anybody sees anything wrong ?

Abu Dhabi Media to air EAD’s new documentary: ‘Our Sea… Our Future’

ABU DHABI, (WAM) — The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has unveiled its new documentary: “Our Sea .. Our Future,” as a part of its ongoing cooperation with Abu Dhabi Media.

The 35-minute documentary highlights the fisheries sector, which is an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s heritage. The film illuminates the pressure that Abu Dhabi’s fisheries face, and the actions were taken by EAD to contain the impacts of overfishing on the marine environment, to ensure the recovery and renewal of the Emirate’s fish stocks.

The documentary was produced by EAD to highlight the roles of some of its employees and the challenges they face while conducting their various tasks and responsibilities. It also features interviews with EAD experts and specialists who emphasise the importance of fishing, the work undertaken by many Emiratis as a main source of income in the pre-oil era. Despite the ubiquitous development in all aspects of life in the UAE and the wide diversity of income sources, fishing remains one of the main sources of income and a valued traditional craft.

The documentary also showcases the perspectives of various fishermen, who are key partners of the agency.

Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of EAD, commented, “Abu Dhabi is one of the key stakeholders in fisheries in the UAE, and the improvement of the fish stock and the abundance of demersal species represent very good indicators of the general condition of the country’s territorial waters in the Arabian Gulf.”

He pointed out that natural fisheries in the UAE, like others around the world, are subject to depletion due to several natural and human factors. Studies conducted by the agency show that the fishing sector in Abu Dhabi faced significant pressures, as the overutilisation of fisheries and the sharp depletion of the fish stock led to a more than 80% decline in the fish stock levels in the country. Moreover, several key commercial species declined to unsustainable levels.

He added, “As part of our efforts to protect the fish stocks and encourage sustainable use of fisheries and marine resources, the agency set several controls to manage fisheries in the emirate in a manner that would increase feasibility to utilise and preserve natural resources.”

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD, said, “Fisheries are not only a source of revenues or income, as they also have a significant cultural and historical importance. Therefore, Abu Dhabi’s government considers their protection a key priority.”

She added, “We cannot underestimate the importance of early response to protect the marine resources for the current and next generations. After fish caught in the UAE were sufficient to meet the population’s needs, we are now depending heavily on importing to bridge the widening gap between supply and demand. Therefore, we took strict actions and controls that would ease the pressure off fisheries in the commercial and recreational sectors.”

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, said, “This documentary enabled us to highlight some of the main threats facing fisheries in Abu Dhabi, and the internationally-recognised efforts taken by the agency, in cooperation with its partners to manage the fish stocks. Those efforts resulted in creating multiple marine reserves, in addition to deploying a system for licencing commercial and recreational fisheries, and regulating the use of fishing equipment, in addition to imposing a seasonal ban to protect fish during the breeding season. The agency also set a minimum size for fish to be caught for some of the key types and prohibited unsustainable fishing methods.”

According to her, policies, procedures, and administrative controls were taken by the agency led to significant improvement in the fish stocks of some of the main commercial species that were depleted. EAD hopes for further improvement as the compliance with current policies and measures continue in a manner that helps achieve the desired outcomes of environmentally sustained fisheries.

Acting General Manager of Abu Dhabi Media Abdul Raheem Al Bateeh Alnuaimi, said, “With its contribution to the community, Abu Dhabi Media is keen to consolidate its leading position through raising the community’s awareness of various topics and initiatives, as well as reaching its target audience through its various media channels.

“Through airing this documentary, we aim to support environmental and cultural initiatives, highlighting the efforts made by the government to preserve Abu Dhabi’s environment and biodiversity. ‘Our Sea…Our Future’ documentary highlights the efforts of the Environment Agency and the concerned authorities in addressing the environmental challenges resulting from overfishing.”

This is the second documentary produced by EAD about marine resources in the UAE. The first one was “Our Sea .. Our Heritage” produced in 2019 which highlighted the condition of fisheries in the UAE and the long-term protection and recovery plan for fisheries.

WAM / Esraa Ismail / Mohd Aamir

 

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

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Leading scholar says region must place more importance on liberal arts, not just science and engineering, to build better societies by Anna McKie could be an unprecedented way of covering the recurring issue of underdevelopment not through traditional knowledge but by using the art and humanities knowledge. Let us see what is proposed as per the very words of a Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development.

The picture above is for illustration and is of another article on how a MENA summit weighs liberal arts’ role in post-Covid recovery by the Times Higher Education.

Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development

April 8, 2021

Students in the Middle East and North Africa are too often more interested in “acquiring” a degree than developing the understanding that should come with it, a leading scholar has warned.

Safwan Masri, Columbia University’s executive vice-president for global centres and global development, said too many young people were steered into courses focused on science and engineering when critical thinking and intercultural understanding were desperately needed across the region.

Source: iStock

Speaking at Times Higher Education’s MENA Universities Summit, Professor Masri said future leaders being trained in institutions across the region were “not fully prepared to lead”, the product of “technocratic societies led by a global technocratic class”.

“Students – and the parents who bankroll them – are often more interested in acquiring professional certification than truly understanding the world and the role of an educated citizen within it,” said Professor Masri.

“Here in MENA, young people fortunate enough to attend university are almost unilaterally steered into STEM training.

“But STEM competency is only half of the equation. We need people who also know how to organise societies, articulate and secure alignment on political ideals, and build robust civil societies that expand rights and freedoms to historically marginalised groups.”

Professor Masri, an expert on the contemporary Arab world and the head of Columbia’s study centre in Amman, Jordan, said the solution had to be a greater embrace of liberal arts education across the region.

He acknowledged that this “won’t be easy” because generations of Arabs “have been indoctrinated with hyper-nationalist propaganda, exclusionary rhetoric and dogmatic religious discourse at the expense of critical thinking and questioning skills”.

“Progress cannot be achieved without deprogramming and reprogramming this mindset, to learn to coexist with different points of view and ways of life,” Professor Masri said.

“Unless liberal arts training is more highly valued in this region, the region’s ambitions will be thwarted. We must achieve balance. We must help students – and the parents who fund many of them – understand the crucial interplay between content [of academic training] and context [understanding of society].”

At the summit, held online in partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi, Professor Masri also argued that at a time of geopolitical turmoil and “historic levels of misunderstanding” between countries and the people within them, knowledge diplomacy led by universities “may be our last and best tool if we are to rebuild a broken world”. He highlighted Columbia’s decision to maintain its global centre in Istanbul even in the face of increasing persecution of academics.

“The solution wasn’t to give in, we contended, but to dig in – to support academics and students, to continue to share knowledge,” Professor Masri said.

But Professor Masri expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of knowledge, highlighting that while Gulf states’ attempts to exercise soft power by funding Middle East studies centres in Western universities ostensibly had “no strings attached”, there were “uncomfortable stories” of researchers at these centres coming under pressure after writing about issues such as human rights and democracy.

A better model of knowledge diplomacy, he argued, was that of the Covid vaccines, which were the result of thousands of researchers crossing the globe over decades, generating the knowledge that informed the vaccines’ designs.

“The Covid vaccine represents decades’ worth, perhaps even centuries’ worth, of university-generated knowledge – distilled down to little more than an ounce of liquid, all concentrated in a single shot,” Professor Masri said.

“This medical and scientific breakthrough will reconnect the people of the world.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

Twitter: @annamckie

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MENA countries weighed down by pandemic debts

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ARAB NEWS‘ article on the MENA countries weighed down by pandemic debts as these have already registered the advent of this pandemic inadvertently hit some declines in real GDP growth from their oil exports reduction. Since the beginning, these had difficulty coping with COVID 19 pandemic prevention for many reasons that are of a logistics nature but structural.

MENA countries weighed down by pandemic debts will struggle to grow – World Bank

  • Average MENA debt to GDP rose 9 points since 2019 to 55% in 2021
  • Countries with low external debt can still borrow cheaply
In early March UAE had the highest percentage of its population vaccinated, at 63.5%. (File/Reuters)Short Url

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The outlook for the Middle East and North Africa has worsened considerably over the past year as countries accumulated debt to pay for pandemic relief measures, leaving them with less to invest in post-pandemic economic recovery, according to the World Bank.

Average debt to GDP in the MENA region rose by 9 percentage points since the end of 2019 to 55 percent in 2021, the World Bank said in a report Living with Debt: How Institutions Can Chart a Path to Recovery in the Middle East and North Africa released on Friday. Debt among the region’s oil importers is expected to average about 93 percent of GDP this year, it said.

MENA economic growth will rebound by 2.2 percent in 2021 after contracting 3.8 percent in 2020, but will be 7.2 percentage points, or $227 billion, lower by the end of this year than it would have been had the pandemic not happened, the World Bank estimates. Real GDP per capita will be 4.7 percent lower in 2021 than in 2019.

“The MENA region remains in crisis, but we can see hopeful signs of light through the tunnel, especially with the deployment of vaccines,” said Ferid BelHajj, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. “We have seen the extent to which MENA governments borrowed to finance critical health care and social protection measures, which saved lives and livelihoods, but also boosted debt.”

As of the first week of March, the UAE had the highest percentage of its population vaccinated, at 63.5%, followed by Bahrain at 30% and Morocco at 12.2%, then Qatar at 11.4%, World Bank data shows. Saudi Arabia had a 2.2% vaccination rate.

MENA countries will need to keep on borrowing this year to prop up their citizens’ finances but will face high borrowing costs, particularly those with high debt and low growth, the bank said. However, those with low levels of public external debt, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Morocco, could issue debt at lower rates, it said.

The remedy for the increasingly precarious situation of many of the region’s economies is faster growth that makes it easier to roll over existing debt, the World Bank said. Those that cannot roll over debt face potentially painful restructurings and should enter into negotiations before they hit crisis point, the report advised.

Of benefit to the whole region would be enhanced debt reporting transparency and financial market vulnerability monitoring, it said. MENA countries should reveal all their borrowing, including those from China, as should debt become exposed during periods of distress it will be added to the public tally just as they are negotiating with lenders, the report said.

“Economic growth remains the most sustainable way to reduce debt,” the report said. “Boosting economic growth requires deep structural reforms to raise the productivity of the existing workforce and to put idle working-age people in jobs. Many MENA countries that have characteristics associated with ineffective fiscal stimulus, such as high public debt and poor governance, could consider fiscal reforms early in the recovery from the pandemic.”