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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thanks, but no thanks —Dilip Hiro

Under its $15 billion Masdar global initiative, inaugurated in 2006, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company is mandated to discover advanced solar technologies. Its photovoltaics and concentrating solar power schemes involve setting up a large polysilicon factory in Abu Dhabi to supply feedstock for the photovoltaic cell and module manufacturing. The Masdar initiative is also funding research in thin-film photovoltaics, spherical photovoltaics, beam-down solar towers and thermal storage for solar power.

During President George Bush’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, his hosts unveiled a model of Masdar City — the globe’s pioneering zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-less city — scheduled to be ready by late 2009 in the desert sands of the Emirate. The irony of the occasion was lost on Bush, whose presidency has been marked by disdain for reducing global pollution.

At the oil summit in Jeddah in July, Saudi King Abdullah let British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announce that the kingdom had agreed to cooperate financially with Britain to develop and deploy technology for carbon capture. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the CO2 capture-and-storage system could provide up to 55 percent of the emission reduction needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

In sum, the possession of untold riches has not led the Gulf SWFs to become either reckless or short-sighted.

Thanks, but no thanks —Dilip Hiro

With bourses falling worldwide, Gulf SWF managers explored opportunities outside the US. For instance, SAMA Foreign Holdings is in the process of buying agricultural land in Pakistan and Thailand to produce food grains for the Saudi kingdom


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