Tag Archive | "government"

Green building trends in the Middle East

Carrier and Otis convened their Distinguished Sustainability Lecture Series in the Middle East last month to inform participants about green building opportunities. John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer at UTC Building & Industrial Systems, speaks to Lorraine Bangera about emerging green practices in the UAE

The lecture series provided participants the opportunity to obtain LEED training, learn more about green building and gain insight into world green building trends from experts. It was held in Kuwait City, Riyadh and Dubai, connecting over 350 industry professionals, local building owners and operators with international green building experts.
John Mandyck, also one of the experts, said: “Green building is a smart, long-term business decision with equal economic and environmental value.”
Looking at the popular construction trends in the UAE, Mandyck said: “According to McGraw-Hill, environmental regulation is the number one trigger driving future green building activity in the UAE, which is a rate significantly higher compared to other parts of the world. This result confirms the key role that government is playing. In the United States, federal, state and local governments are some of the strongest green adopters and help move the early green market. The UAE could see the same result with the government’s commitments making the case for green buildings in other sectors.
“Rapid global urbanisation also strengthens green building. In fact, green building activity is doubling every three years on a global stage and it’s not just new buildings – industry research shows that existing buildings are going green, too. In the UAE both new and retrofit projects offer payback for investment within six years. The same data shows up to 7% operating cost savings for green retrofit projects in five years and up to 12% for new green building projects.
It is important for developers, contractors, architects and engineers to attend such lectures and seminars which highlight sustainability. Mandyck said: “According to a recent report by McGraw-Hill Construction, client demand, both private and public, among UAE firms for green building construction is a strong driver of green building activity – significantly more so than in other parts of the world. Seminars such as our recent Distinguished Sustainability Lecture Series connect international green building thought leaders with local professionals. They share best practices, learn the latest trends and even gain LEED training – all of which can help position them to better address their clients’ needs.”

Dubai Expo 2020
As sustainability is one of the main themes of Dubai Expo 2020, it would play a major role in driving sustainable practices in the construction industry. Companies like UTC Building & Industrial Systems believe that green building will accelerate with education. According to Mandyck, there is no better platform to raise the profile of sustainability than the World Expo. He said: “The event offers a valuable opportunity for Dubai to not only demonstrate sustainability before a global audience, but to educate them as well. The fact that Expo 2020 includes sustainability as a main theme illustrates the seriousness with which Dubai is working to establish itself as a green building leader.”
Dubai winning Expo 2020 also influences other cities in the region to take up sustainable practices. Mandyck said: “During the lecture series, we spent three days meeting with nearly 400 industry professionals in the Middle East. Given the level of engagement in green practices during that visit coupled with the fact that this was our twelfth lecture in the area, I can tell you that there is already a great deal of interest in the region. I think that strong baseline will only be magnified by the Dubai Expo 2020. Since this marks the first time the Expo will be held in the Middle East, I imagine the entire region will take great pride in the event and hopefully support it through additional sustainability initiatives. “
The construction industry taking up energy efficiency is inevitable, concludes Mandyck. He said: “The business case is clear – there are real, proven financial, environmental and human health benefits from green building. For those who are still unsure about the advantages of green building, I encourage them to educate themselves and I personally extend an invitation for them to attend our lecture series the next time we are in the area.”

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Sultanate’s billion dollar plan

Oman is undergoing infrastructure investment on a scale to equal any country in the GCC as it strives to create jobs for its people and build an infrastructure fit for the 21st century

Oman is undergoing one of the most exciting transformations in the GCC with billions of dollars of its oil wealth being pumped into infrastructure projects.
The Sultanate has a population of 3.2 million of whom 1.3m are foreigners and a key focus for the government’s huge investment – and for any company wishing to succeed there – is the employment of Omanis.
The country is midway through its eighth five-year plan, launched in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring with an $11 billion budget, which will bring airport and seaport expansion, hospitals, roads and a rail network.
During 2013 the government simplified its tender process in an effort to support the construction industry, widely regarded as the most important growth sector.
Sustainability in Oman does not have the visibility of its neighbours in Saudi and the UAE but the big oil companies have recognised their responsibility for several years, arguably because they are scrutinised internationally.
Orpic (Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company) launched its Annual Sustainability Report for the first time last year using the Global Reporting Initiative. Orpic is aiming to raise its sustainability performance in four different ways: by extending its Environmental Improvement Plan; improving its economic achievements; continuing with social policy across its immediate communities, and by supporting growth projects to promote economic development.
“Sustainability is at the heart of our business as Orpic’s report shows that placing sustainability at the heart of policy and decision-making is not only right for the environment and our communities, but will also drive future growth and prosperity for our business,” said Orpic’s CEO Musab Al Mahrooqi.
And Petroleum Development Oman, the country’s biggest oil and gas producer has made huge strides to meet sustainability targets and set standards copied around the world.
Unlike the UAE, most of the construction in the Sultanate is by Omani companies, many of which have been long established. They are introducing sustainability policies even though they say profit margins are being squeezed, especially following the pressure in 2012 from an enforced 47% increase in Omani wages.
Urban migration over the past 40 years has seen hundreds of thousands move out of the countryside and almost 90% of people now live in Oman’s cities and towns.
Oman is the 84th largest country by area in the world (212,460 km2) – making it almost as big as the UK and three times larger than the UAE – but it is 75% is desert with mountains in the north and south. As residential areas grow, land for agriculture decreases putting pressure on scarce water supplies and the environment.
In January 2013, Oman’s Council of Ministers appointed a consultancy to evaluate the country’s property industry “in terms of organsational, legislative and commercial aspects”.
It is charged with producing recommendations for a regulatory framework following the huge growth of the country’s construction industry with the aim of increasing the size of the sector.
Current government investment in infrastructure has seen an explosion in multi-million rials projects across the country including a 288km fence and wall along the border with Yemen, worth $300 million which is expected to go to an Indian contractor.

Tourism
The capital city Muscat is a main focus of investment as the government seeks to alleviate pressure on its port and airport moving heavy industry out and encouraging tourism.
In 2012 1.6m visited the country and tourism is a major focus for income and job creation and the government is aiming for 12 million visitors a year within a decade, boosting its current 3% of GDP for the sector. Oman recognises its pristine beaches must remain that way to attract foreigners.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mehrzi called in an international agency in 2013 to formulate a long-term strategy and defy the World Travel & Tourism Council’s forecast of 2.83m by 2022 and meet the ambitious target.
At the time he said “weakness in basic infrastructure” was holding back both domestic and international tourism. The sector has spent more than $260m in the “past few years” but returns had not lived up to expectations. Al Mehrzi admitted: “There was no clear vision for the sector, so the government began evaluating it to find out why it did not reach its set goals and decided to set a long-term strategy for the next 30 years.”

Railways
Rail investment is coming too with a target date for operation of 2018, the design stage is expected to be completed by 2014 and the first stage due to begin by the third quarter of that year.
In February last year more than a dozen companies had collected tender documents to grab a slice of the $15.6bn project, according to the Oman Daily Observer. The mainly dual track phase one is 1,061km with nine tunnels, extending to six to kilometres and 130 flyovers, 17km of viaducts, 20kms of bridges and 15km of wadi bridges.
It will be partially funded by a GCC grant of $10bn and as well as linking the main industrial centres in of Sohar, Duqm and Salalah, the new railway will link with the wider GCC network.

Airports
Muscat’s airport was built in 1973 and the new International Airport where work began in 2009, is the biggest single construction project in the Sultanate.
The Omanis ’think big’ vision has been questioned by The Times of Oman, which asked “Can Oman airports projects justify spiraling costs?’ in an article in October last year when it examined the $4.29bn spend over five years on airports alone.
It said: “Oman is upgrading two airports and building four new ones though such projects have already proved to be very expensive but the question remains whether such ambitious plans can justify the spiralling costs.
“The overall air transportation plan suspiciously seems based on an exaggerated prediction about passenger numbers. Official statistics show that about 7.5 million passengers flew in and out of Oman in 2012, a growth of 16.5% over the previous year. When completed, the Muscat airport is expected to handle 12 million passengers per year.”

Hospitals
A $1bn Medical City is set to be built just east of Salalah developed by The Apex Medical Group. The International Medical City will be the country’s first major hospital build in more than 20 years.
Apex president Dr Abdullah Al Joaib said: “Building on the rising trend of medical and health tourism, the International Medical City will be developed in a serene setting on the coast.”
The 530-bed multi-speciality hospital will include a transplant and dialysis centre along with rehabilitation and diagnostic care facilities.

Foreign trade
Seaports are also receiving a $1.3bn spend, $1.17bn on water and $1.16bn for housing projects.
And in a country where personal transport still relies heavily on the car, there is $3.2bn set aside for roads.
As well as focussing on job creation, foreign trade is another area the government is keen to encourage. A short drive from the new Muscat International Airport is the $1bn Oman Convention Centre, which had been due to open this year but is now delayed until 2016.
Economic forecasters say so long as there is no crash in oil prices, Oman can easily sustain its ambitious plans. But as one observer remarked: “The real challenge for the government is turning oil money into employment.”

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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2014

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week from January 18 to 24 is one of the region’s biggest green events and will attract delegates from across the region… and the world. In 2013, it welcomed more than 30,000 participants from over 150 countries, this year is expected to be even bigger

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, brings world leaders, policy makers, thought leaders, decision makers, experts, scientists, business leaders and academics together.
They will discuss, debate, and ultimately address the energy and sustainability challenges for the future. Last year it concentrated on tackling energy, water and environment issues, along with empowering younger generations and entrepreneurs of the region.
The 2014 programme will feature a series of complementary events, conferences and exhibitions, including: The International Water Summit; The Abu Dhabi Renewable Energy Conference; The Zayed Future Energy Prize Award Ceremony; The International Renewable Energy Agency meeting; and Ecowaste.
Full details of all the ADSW events at www. abudhabisustainabilityweek.com

World Future Energy Summit
The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) is the dedicated to renewable energies, energy efficiency and clean technologies. The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The summit includes a conference, an international exhibition, the Project & Finance Village, the Young Future Energy Leaders programme, as well as a number of corporate meetings and concurrent social events. It is hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renowned renewable energy company, and will be held on January 20-22.
Creating a sustainable, solar energy industry should be a top regional priority, according to a senior executive of First Solar, one of the world’s leading solar energy companies, and exhibitor at the World Future Energy Summit.
In an interview for the World Future Energy Summit, Christopher Burghardt, First Solar’s vice president of business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said: “The MENA region obviously has the sun, a fantastic and abundant resource, making it a natural hub for solar energy. The eyes of the world are on the MENA region in terms of development of solar energy, with a lot of leading companies here, making big investments. We believe that MENA will be one of the leading regions, if not the leading region, for solar energy in the future.”
More details of attendees at www. worldfutureenergysummit.com

International Water Summit
The International Water Summit (IWS), also held from January 20-22, is a unique global platform for promoting water sustainability in arid regions. IWS fosters innovation, best practice and collaboration to offer tangible solutions to the pressing issue of water scarcity.
Dr Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council, who will be attending IWS, said that with the Middle East being one of the driest zones in the world, the issue of water must be taken seriously to help meet the challenges of water security.
He said: “Governments need to address the priority needs to ensure there is sufficient water for their populations. They can start by preparing water plans for the short, medium and long term. They can also assess the available fresh water resources and develop them, and consider the non-conventional water resources including wastewater, salt water, wadi water and non-renewable groundwater.”
“The International Water Summit is undoubtedly a key event for the Middle East as it faces increasing pressure to find solutions to the issue of water scarcity caused by its hot climate and arid environment,” said Lila Thompson at British Water, water experts from the United Kingdom have announced they will be sharing their vast knowledge in this area at the IWS 2014.
Ara Fernezian, Divisional Managing Director – UAE for Reed Exhibitions, said: “The issues of water scarcity, especially in arid regions like the Middle East, require global collaboration, and equally regional companies and authorities can share their own unique expertise with the world. The international water community is committed to raising the key issues of water sustainability to governments and corporations, and they view the International Water Summit as a critical platform to facilitate discussion and dialogue.
“The IWS 2014 exhibition will offer unlimited business opportunities to network and share case studies, bestpractice and new technologies for longterm water solutions. The key topics for the IWS conference programme include integrated water resource management, water governance and strategy, water security and future water sustainability.” More details at www.iwsabudhabi.com

EcoWASTE
EcoWASTE is a new exhibition from January 20 to 22 for sustainable waste management and recycling. In its first edition, EcoWASTE is expected to attract over 50 leading local and international suppliers and more than 2,000 regional buyers and professionals.
Several companies from the UAE, including Averda Waste Management, Green Mountains and Emirates Environmental Solutions (Mualaja) Holding, will showcase their latest and most innovative technologies. They will be joined by international organisations from Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States, such as the ALBA Group, Eldan Recycling, MariMatic Oy and MTB.
In addition, a series of seminars presented by many EcoWASTE exhibitors and partners will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange, networking and business opportunities. Systems for waste collection and sorting, waste treatment infrastructure and innovative solutions for waste management are only some of the topics up for discussion. Seminars are open to all 2,000+ expected visitors during the exhibition open days.
More details at www.ecowaste.ae

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly Meeting
IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, dedicated to promoting the adoption and sustainable use of all forms of energy from renewable sources.
As of January 2012, the membership of IRENA comprises 155 states and the European Union (EU), with 86 of its member states and the EU having endorsed the Statute. The assembly meeting is closed to the public. GA meeting is on January 18 and 19. More details at www.irena.org

Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards and Gala Dinner
The Zayed Future Energy Prize is an $ 4 million annual award, established by the UAE leadership to recognise and award excellence in renewable energy and sustainability across the globe. Held in honour of the founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who championed sustainability and environmental stewardship, the Prize is awarded across five categories – Large Corporation, Small Medium Enterprise, Non-Governmental Organisation, Lifetime Achievement and Global High Schools. Winners of the sixth edition will be announced at the awards ceremony, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. January 20.
More details at www. zayedfutureenergyprize.com

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Empower discusses US-UAE trade ties with US Consul General

Empower, a district cooling provider in the Middle East, has received the US Consul General, His Excellency Robert Waller in a move to further boost US-UAE trade relations.

Both parties discussed the need for boosting cooperation and exchanging expertise within the energy and industrial sectors in the UAE and the US. In addition to promoting US exports to the UAE, the aim of the meeting was to discuss ways of increasing UAE investment in the US and bolstering bilateral trade.

Ahmad bin Shafar, CEO of Empower said: “The meeting between Empower and the US Consular team proved to be inspirational and further strengthened the already strong trade relations between our two countries, particularly in the areas of sustainability and energy efficiency.

“With Empower being the first Middle Eastern board member of the International District Energy Association and in light of Dubai being elected as host city of the World Expo 2020, this meeting between the US Consul delegation and the Empower team has significant strategic value.”

Dubai has seen a surge in both foreign and domestic investment and efficient government spending has resulted in the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure and a world class business and tourism destination.

Accompanied by Robert Bannerman, Foreign Commercial Attaché at the US Consulate in Dubai, Robert Waller praised Dubai’s development as a global business hub. Waller described the emirate as a business model for the entire Middle East region, due to the long-term vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

 

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Growth in global energy consumption underlines the need for unconventional gas

With worldwide energy consumption projected to surge by approximately 50% in just two decades, there has been growing urgency for unconventional solutions in the gas sector – particularly in Gulf countries like Oman, where hydrocarbons make up 86% of government revenues and fuel economic growth.

While the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA region) holds 40% of the world’s proven gas reserves, it only accounts for 15% of global gas production, indicating the massive untapped potential. In order to tackle the evolving challenges, opportunities and trends in the global gas sector, Knowledge Expansion – a leading regional oil and gas knowledge transfer consultancy – is organising the International Unconventional Gas Conference and Exhibition (IUGCE), from 20-22 January 2014 at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace, Muscat in Oman. Oman is an ideal host, being the Middle East’s largest oil and gas producer that is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The high profile event will be chaired by His Excellency Salim bin Said Al Aufi, undersecretary for Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas. As a platform for futuristic ideas that will shape gas exploration and production, the event will attract influential decision makers, thought leaders and stakeholders in the global industry to maximise the potential of unconventional gas. This refers to gas that requires higher than industry-standard levels of technology or investment to extract.

The high-powered line-up of international speakers includes Mr Raoul Restucci – Managing Director of PDO; Mr Jerome Ferrier – President of the International Gas Union (IGU); Mr Menahi Al Anzi – Deputy CEO: Exploration & Gas for KOC; and Mr David Dalton – Middle East Regional President for BP.

Considering the growing demand for gas – driven by the recovering global economy and population growth – the Middle East is seeking to strengthen its position at the forefront of the gas sector by diversifying from conventional gas reserves to its largely untapped unconventional gas reserves. However the major challenge is that unconventional gas types like tight gas and shale gas require much more advanced technologies and expertise.

While the region’s existing conventional gas fields remain highly productive, Gulf governments have opted for a proactive approach by exploring alternative solutions rather than waiting for conventional gas production to peak or dwindle. Tight gas exploration and appraisals in countries like the Sultanate of Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt and Libya have increased and are expected to gain momentum with time. This will ultimately strengthen energy security, unlocking new economical energy sources.

Commenting on the upcoming conference, Mr Rafeeq Kunhi, Director at Knowledge Expansion elaborated: “On one hand the region has enormous potential in unconventional gas, but on the other hand we have pinpointed a technological and knowledge gap in this field. Therefore we have organised this high profile platform where some of the world’s most respected experts will converge to empower regional experts through knowledge transfer. This will greatly enrich the region’s knowledge reservoir, boosting long-term sustainability and positioning the region at the forefront of the world’s unconventional gas sector.”

Among other highlights at this year’s conference, international experts will share emerging findings from groundbreaking research, success stories and lessons learned from international developments.

The event will identify, explore and showcase untapped opportunities for oil and gas companies to transfer skills and knowledge, thereby taking advantage of developments planned in the Middle East and further afield. Key discussion areas include the elements of success for an Unconventional Gas Development; Sustainability and Technology in this sector.

In addition to generous support from Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas and PDO, the event is supported by OPAL (Oman Society for Petroleum Services). The sponsors include Baker Hughes, Weatherford, BP, Shell, STS, Packers Plus, CC Energy and Petrogas E&P.

 

 

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Increase in building projects highlights the need for more sustainable FM

Growing in tandem with the region’s population and following government directives to increase business and tourism, extensive construction in the region is fuelling the need for smarter and more sustainable cities and communities. As a central part of this task, the creation and maintenance of sustainable, cost efficient buildings, has brought natural synergy between three core industry sectors: facilities management, waste and cleaning.

As a medium to support the accelerated growth in these sectors, while showcasing sustainable and cost-efficient products, services and technologies from around the world, two niche trade events, Middle East Waste & Recycling and Commercial Cleaning & Hygiene, will debut in May 2014. The events aim to facilitate dialogue between government bodies, developers, architects, contractors and facilities managers, set to take place alongside the well-established FM EXPO and launched by the region’s leading event for construction, The Big 5.

Andy White, Group Event Director, said: “At the core of sustainability in the built environment lies, what most industry leaders dub as, an ‘integrated design approach’, where architects, building contractors, project managers, facility managers, cleaning contractors and waste management teams need to be involved at the outset. These events therefore underscore this by bringing these key stakeholders together to see the latest innovations and discuss ways to combat challenges within the industry.”

Recent announcements, including the new Green Building Codes from Dubai Municipality, provide clear indications on the direction the industry must move in, embracing sustainable construction across a range of sectors and applications. The new events, together with the return of FM EXPO will provide a much needed platform for discussion between regulators and the private sector, as well as access to new solutions and technologies.

The events will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 19-21, 2014. Beyond its role as a showcase for the industries on the exhibition floor, the events will also host a range of educational forums. The renowned World FM Congress will return for its third year, with Middle East Waste & Recycling hosting a dedicated conference and a number of free-to-attend seminars onsite.

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