Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Energy Industry, Technology Sector and Abu Dhabi

There has been much talk about Abu Dhabi's faliure to diversify itself from oil into other fields. While the UAE only depends on oil for 1/3rd of its GDP, Abu Dhabi depends on it for about 90% of its GDP and export earnings. With oil reaching $100 per barrel, people and buisnesses are learning to be more rational with their oil use. I personally expect a correction in oil prices sometime soon, as nothing but speculation seems to be driving them up. I think we will see a sharper correction than we expect.

But while we are making all of this money, wouldnt it be useful to actually spend it on something that would assist the country in the long term ? While Dubai has diversified into tourism, financial services and regional logistics, Abu Dhabi has the choice to take a different route in order to improve its future outlook.

The first in my opinion should be in dominating the future Energy sector. In this part of the world, we have more sun than we can handle. And with the world unlikely to cool off in the future, Solar power is the only viable, non exaustible long term energy source in the world. Ethanol is driving food prices up, Geothermal is too difficult to extract, Coal is too messy, and all other suggestions either cost too much or generate too few electricity. So in my opinion the only viable future energy source is solar energy. We need to dominate the solar energy sector, by pioneering research, setting up some world class companies and supporting SME's operating in this field.

The second should be in dominating the desalinization sector. The supply of water will be one of the biggest challenges the world will have to face in the future. We have grown from partially dependent, to dependent, and will grow fully dependent on desalinized water in order to fufill our daily water needs. I expect the same will be true of the rest of the world in the future.

The third will be to better adjust our capabilities in the oil sector. We need to train alot of Engineers and Geologists to be able to produce more oil in the future. We need to stop relying on foreign companies who charge extortionist rates for simple pieces of equipment.

In order to accomplish these three goals, we will need to embark on a massive educational and research drive to be able to develop the nessecary technology. Firstly we begin by bringing in highly qualified researchers from all over the world, giving them citizenship, housing and good salaries. These researchers will form the backbone of what should be the largest and most advanced educational system in the world. We choose as many highly qualified teachers as we can get. We then hand-pick extremely talented students from all around the world, put them through school and then university. Then you have them work on site as researchers and instructors. Im talking about an entire self-sufficent educational zone, from kindergarten to university level, that could possibly finance itself in the future through partnerships with the private sector. That would give massive funding for daring, intelligent and qualified researchers to produce more papers and research than the entire arab world put togehter.

If we can create a research, technology and industrial hub in Abu Dhabi, we might be able to find a new role for the city after the end of the oil era.

12 comments:

BuJ said...

ah ya emirati.. if i could, i would vote for you!

we need such forward thinking AND action on the ground.. allah yir7ama sheikh ZAYED had this in mind when he emphasised the need for education and the youth ever since he went up there in 1966.

the guy knew what he was doing.. but perhaps the old guard do not like to move away from oil.. but like you so correctly argue in your blog, we should use oil to position AD into a world leader in the energy sector.. and why not? we've got all the ingredients.. now we just need the equation.. and someone to hit ENTER.

PS: good to see u back on the postings.

SevenSummits said...

Wow Emirati,
You will get my vote as well!!! Finally after a long break you came up with an excellent post. :-))) LOL from Germany for saying "Abu Dhabi has the choice to take a different route" :- )))) (no f***** tourists pls)
Mmmmh, although you forgot a few variables (e.g. kinetic energy – Morrocco is already exporting that to Europe!), but in general the idea is pretty good.

However here comes the first trap to solve:
"… by bringing in highly qualified researchers from all over the world, giving them citizenship, housing and good salaries.
That will unfortunately not work, because the first thing a highly qualified researcher will need is freedom of expression and no government involvement whatsoever – now this problem alone will make your fantastic idea unrealistic – unfortunately!

Anyhow: أول الشجرة بذرة
I am really glad you posted this! :-)

Keefieboy said...

7s: yeah. It would be great if solar power could be made realistic: up until now the panels are staggeringly inefficient. There must be a way to to make solar power cost-effective - but at the moment that's relative to the cost of other energy sources: if oil goes past $500/barrel, then existing solar technology will become cost-effective.

The idea of trying to attract brainy people by giving them citizenship? Weird! Sheikh Rashid founded Dubai's infrastructure on the expertise of 7 Brits, who were never given citizenship (and didn't want it), but were given nice houses to live in till they died.

rosh said...

Positive thoughts indeed - however, agree with 7S: absolute freedom of thought and minimal governmental interference, increases chances of best output.

Al Falasi said...

Assalam-3alaikum everyone,

I whole-heartedly agree with Emirati's first suggestion, we must utilize the sun to generate solar energy.

I'm currently an undergraduate architecture student, in Arizona State University. and durning one class (Sustainability in Arid Environment)the professor told us that the current power technology penetration is mostly in environments that are in the higher latitudes, ie Scandinavia and Japan. where there is a lot less sun than we have back home in the U.A.E., and what ME gulf countries are attempting is importing those technologies and testing them out. but as one would expect, little has come out from the trials. this was due to the fact that the photo-voltaic panels where not designed for the arid enviroment and the solar angle of our latitute.

The professor also talked about the draw backs of electric energy, which are: limited time of energy generation (the sun is in the sky for 12 hours only, and just four hours of maximum energy collection)and the second disadvantage was the batteries that would hold the generated charge (they would be unsustainable on the longer run, and no current batteries do not have the voltage to power a city)

After the presentation, i told the professor that i have an idea that could eliminate both those disadvantages. i said what if you used satellites to collect the energy, not the ones with solar panel, but satellite in geosynchronous orbit relative to earth with movable mirrors that would direct the reflected sunlight to the collection panels back on the earth. he was surprised with my reply, and told me he wasn't an expert in photo-voltaics... too bad there isnt any department in this university that would research this...

its just something to think about, sorry for talking alot, and if you made it this far then congratulations =)

anyway, great blog Emirati... keep them coming =D

Al Falasi said...

Correction:

the professor told us that the current power technology penetration

should be

the professor told us that the current SOLAR-power technology penetration

sorry about that!

Emirati said...

al falasi

I am proud to see young Emirati men such as yourself and many other of my distinguished posters, who are thinking outside the box, trying to dream up solutions, and apply their creativity.

Gentlemen, your country needs your help. We Emiratis must prove ourselves worthy of our country and never rest in its advancement.

Anonymous said...

I like your post. I think you can always have good time in Dubai, you can try to look at http://www.linkexpats.com. This website will connect you with other expats in Dubai. I just checked it out, and it seems very interesting...

Other than that, you will totally get my vote... Wa ssalam :)

Dubai Nikolai said...

why do "highly qualified researchers" need "freedom of expression" and "no government interference", as Seven Summits suggests, in order to become UAE nationals? Surely not all the suitable energy and power researchers/scientists who could be possibly persuaded to take UAE citizenship need to have these guarantees? If you work for a private corporate based in the west, or the east, do you have freedom of scientific, much less political, opinion? What does freedom from government interference mean if you are already working in the public sector in your own country? Surely the point is that no amount of money will be enough if these foreign experts already have citizenship somewhere else and are happy with that. Some kind of right to slag of fthe leadership or be published in international specialist energy journals would surely be unlikely to tip the scale in favour of becoming an emirati...

Ousama said...

I do want to point out that Abu Dhabi has an organization purusing alternative energy. you can learn more about them at www.Masdar.ae they have a huge ambition to build a 200megawatt solar farm and the first zero carbon city. They have alot of ambition also in the desalination industry. I believe that Abu Dhabi will be well poised in the CleanTech industry of the future.

Bladewidth said...

Despite all the commotion created over the 'DPWorld-P&O Ports Deal', I guess the Dubai govt and its investments arm as well as Mubadala/ADIC, the investment arm of the govt of Abu Dhabi have adopted the right attitude by using the oild income as investments in the western as well as the emerging world.

Under the current situation with most of the real estate opportunities going for a song, it would be really unwise to let go of the chance.

The result of these measures would not only be financially prudent, but also would provide the platform to excercise influence and lobbying in the global geo-political arena.

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