Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

What You Need to Know about MENA Infrastructure and Climate Change

What You Need to Know about MENA Infrastructure and Climate Change

Worldwide temperatures in summer 2018 have highlighted the impact of climate change and stressed the urgency for global leaders and organizations to expedite and improve their carbon-reduction solutions. Sweden, for instance, is in the middle of its hottest-recorded summer in more than 100 years, while Japan is experiencing dangerously high temperatures up to 41 degrees Celsius. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been particularly hot, with temperatures soaring beyond 46 degrees Celsius in Saudi Arabia. While climate change has an obvious impact on health, safety, and availability of resources, its effects have and will continue to impact infrastructure as well.

 

General Concerns and Disruptions

Naturally, large urban centers are most at risk in regard to climate change and its adverse effects. Cities require more essential infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and power plants—all of which require occasional maintenance to remain in working order. However, heat waves and rising sea levels, among other byproducts of climate change, can make required repairs more frequent and place a strain on the economy. Additionally, those same problems can lead to a disruption in essential infrastructure services and create a trickle-down effect in which other services suffer. For instance, an electrical grid failure can negatively impact transportation services, public health, and water treatment.

 

dubai

 

Coastal Regions at Risk

While no region is immune to the effects of climate change, coastal areas are at particular risk due to rising sea levels, which could eventually displace millions of people and severely impact regional development. According to the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Department for the MENA Region, low-lying coastal areas such as Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, and the UAE, among others, are especially at risk considering that, by 2050, global models anticipate a 0.2-meter rise in sea levels. In total, rising sea levels may affect 43 port cities, 24 of which are in the Middle East, and eventually lead to an estimated $35 billion in losses of property and infrastructure.

 

Green Building Efforts

Construction comprises roughly 25 percent of global Greenhouse Gas emissions, so utilizing energy-efficient practices and resilient design in new projects is more crucial than ever. “There has been over $1.5 trillion of natural disaster impacts since 1980,” says Lisa Dickson, associate principal and director of resilience for the Americas at the Arup Group. “This is layered on top of a nearly $4 trillion gap in infrastructure funding needs by 2025 … We fundamentally have to change the way we approach infrastructure to be much more proactive in making it resilient, looking longer term.” In addition to following common Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, simple measures, such as using light colors and reflective materials, as well as adorning roofs with vegetation, can lessen the urban heat island effect and reduce carbon emissions.

 

The World Bank’s Support of Renewable Energy in MENA

Through its MENA Climate Action Plan, the World Bank is committing $1.5 billion in annual funding to countries in the region as they transition to low-carbon energy and establish sustainable cities. Jordan, Iran, and Egypt, for example, have all launched government-led initiatives to attract investors to their expanding renewable energy sectors, while the UAE has $163 billion worth of ongoing or planned green energy projects. Another big Middle East proponent of renewable energy is Saudi Arabia, which aims to raise its capacity to 9.5 gigawatts by 2023. Iraq, attributing its crumbling infrastructure to decades of conflict and rising temperatures, recently asked the United Nations for help in alleviating concerns caused by climate change.

 

photovoltaic cells

 

Beyond its financial support of sustainable infrastructure projects to MENA countries, the World Bank is hoping to enact positive change in a country-by-country basis through two other broad areas: knowledge strengthening and policy reform. The Bank is already conducting analytical work in International Development Association countries such as Yemen, Tunisia, and Djibouti, and is in the process of preparing a regional-based program for technical assistance relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation that will complement its Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Program.

 

The GeoMEast Conference

In 2017, 600 professionals and representatives from 60 countries visited Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort as part of the first-ever GeoMEast conference, which was established by the Egyptian Housing and Building National Research Center (HBRC) and the Soil-Structure Interaction Group in Egypt (SSGIE) to discuss issues and solutions relating to sustainable civil infrastructure. “GeoMEast’s discussions aim to maximize the outcomes of national projects that are being carried out by Arab countries, especially Egypt,” notes Hany Farouk Shehata, general secretary of the GeoMEast organizing committee.

Organizers expect the second annual GeoMEast conference to take place near the end of November 2018. Discussions will primarily focus on sustainable initiatives relating to the New Capital and the Suez Canal Area Development Project, but they will also touch on highway, tunnel, and bridge construction in the Middle East. Other topics include Smarthomes, Middle East urbanization, energy geotechnics, and sediment management.

Spotlight on the Development of 5G in the Middle East

Spotlight on the Development of 5G in the Middle East

Smartphones and other mobile devices have become increasingly ubiquitous in today’s society. Thus, it is important that network providers adapt to the changing telecommunications landscape by offering technology that will improve download speeds and allow for greater connectivity between devices. In recent years, 3G and 4G networks have proven capable of connecting people who are… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the GCC Rail Network

What You Need to Know about the GCC Rail Network

The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises six Middle Eastern countries and was established in 1981 to achieve political and cultural unity among the participating nations, which share a belief in Islam. While the countries—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—have political, economic, religious, and cultural ties, they will soon be further… Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know about the Latest Saudi High-Speed Railway

Everything You Need to Know about the Latest Saudi High-Speed Railway

In addition to shifting its economy away from its reliance on oil, Saudi Arabia is implementing numerous rail transport projects. This will not only diversify its economy, but alleviate traffic congestion on its roads. The Saudi Landbridge Project will connect the capital, Riyadh, with Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. While it will primarily be… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Saudi Arabia’s Entertainment Infrastructure

What You Need to Know about Saudi Arabia’s Entertainment Infrastructure

Saudi Arabia’s economic growth was stagnant in 2016 and 2017. However, the Kingdom’s government announced its highest-ever budget in early 2018 and, among other measures, its effort to diversify its economy stands out. Whereas the production and sale of oil was a major facilitator of economic growth in the past, the development of mega-cities is… Continue Reading

Five Middle East Telecom Developments You Need to Know About

Five Middle East Telecom Developments You Need to Know About

The telecom sector in the Middle East had been growing at a steady rate until 2017, when mobile penetration reached 120 percent and, as a result of a reduction in expatriate population and the economy losing momentum, mobile subscriber growth reached its lowest-ever rate. The market grew only 1 percent year over year in 2016… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

What You Need to Know about the Riyadh Metro Project

Despite being home to more than 6 million citizens, the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh lacks a major public transportation system. However, that won’t be the case by early 2019, as the Riyadh Metro Project is expected to be completed by then and, in turn, expected to significantly alleviate traffic congestion on the city’s streets.… Continue Reading

4 Megaprojects in Saudi Arabia That Will Amaze You

4 Megaprojects in Saudi Arabia That Will Amaze You

There are projects, and then there are megaprojects. For countries looking to upgrade their infrastructure and improve quality of life for their citizens, megaprojects are often required. By definition, they are large-scale, complicated ventures with costs exceeding $1 billion, so they usually take years to develop and construct, not to mention finance. Megaprojects are typically… Continue Reading

A Look at the 4 Cities Meant to Boost the Saudi Arabian Economy

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, or SAGIA, has begun a long-term economic growth project that involves the development of four cities across the country. These urban hubs, called Economic Cities (ECs), are meant to boost the country’s economy by creating new jobs, training Saudis in new skills, and fostering market competition. Each city is… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about 5 Massive Saudi Arabian Transportation Projects

What You Need to Know about 5 Massive Saudi Arabian Transportation Projects

Saudi Arabia boasts one of the largest construction sectors in all of the Middle East, with more than $40 billion currently dedicated to infrastructure projects alone. Among these are initiatives to improve and expand existing rail lines, as well as create new ones, to better connect people and move commodities. These projects hold promise for… Continue Reading