UAE licenses second unit of Barakah nuclear power plant

The plant is the first nuclear power station in the Arab world. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 March 2021

UAE licenses second unit of Barakah nuclear power plant

  • Barakah to supply one quarter of peak demand
  • Nuclear joins gas and solar power projects

DUBAI: The nuclear regulator in UAE has issued an operating license for the second unit of the Barakah nuclear power plant, an official from the regulator said on Tuesday.
The plant in the Al Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates making up the UAE and the nation’s capital, is the first nuclear power station in the Arab world and part of the Gulf oil producer’s efforts to diversify its energy mix.
Barakah’s Unit 1 was connected to the national power grid in August and in December reached 100 percent of reactor power capacity during testing.
Unit 1’s commercial operations are expected to start this year, Hamad Al Kaabi, deputy chairman of Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and the UAE’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told journalists.
The project has faced delays, some related to training staff as the country builds a nuclear industry from scratch.
Construction on Unit 1 began in 2012 and the plant was expected to start up in 2017, but FANR did not grant a license to the operator Nawah Energy Company until February 2020.
Nawah first applied to FANR for licenses for the two units in 2015.
When completed Barakah, which is being built by Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), will have four reactors with 5,600 megawatts (MW) of total capacity — equivalent to around 25 percent of the UAE’s peak demand.
Construction of Unit 3 is 94 percent complete and Unit 4 is 87 percent complete, Kaabi said.
Asked about security at the plant, Kaabi said measures were in place to protect the site from physical and cyber threats. He did not provide details.

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Amazon denies plans to accept bitcoin payments

Updated 19 min 53 sec ago

Amazon denies plans to accept bitcoin payments

  • The electric carmaker’s balance sheet for the second quarter of 2021 showed a net digital asset value of $1.311 billion as of June 30

RIYADH: Bitcoin traded higher on Tuesday, rising 0.55 percent to $38,379.02 at 5:02 p.m. Riyadh time. Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was down 1.3 percent to $2,298.85, according to data from CoinDesk.

Below is the latest cryptocurrency news:

Amazon has denied a British newspaper report that it plans to accept bitcoin payments this year. “Notwithstanding our interest in the space, the speculation that has ensued around our specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true,” an Amazon spokesperson said on Monday. “We remain focused on exploring what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon.”

According to a report from Bloomberg, the popular stablecoin Tether is under criminal investigation by the US Justice Department. Prosecutors are looking into whether Tether’s executives committed bank fraud, a development with potentially seismic consequences for the broader crypto market. Tether released a statement saying that the Bloomberg report follows a pattern of repackaging old claims as news, but did not deny awareness of the pending charges, according to CoinDesk.

Goldman Sachs is liquidating and settling cryptocurrency traded products for some of its hedge fund clients in Europe, it was reported last week. The investment banking giant has submitted an application to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that would showcase public companies in decentralized finance and blockchain around the world. The filing indicated that the fund plans to invest at least 80 percent of its assets in companies that are developing blockchain technology and digitizing funding. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently reviewing more than a dozen Bitcoin ETF applications and has approved decisions on several of them, CoinDesk reported.

Tesla released its second quarter earnings report on Monday. The electric carmaker’s balance sheet for the second quarter of 2021 showed a net digital asset value of $1.311 billion as of June 30. It also showed that Tesla owns $1.311 billion in bitcoin. The company did not buy or sell any bitcoin during the second quarter, but it did report a bitcoin depreciation of $23 million. Tesla’s action reaffirms Musk’s prior statement that neither he nor Tesla had sold their coins, according to Bitcoin News.

A survey conducted by the cryptocurrency exchange of the Independent Reserve Asia Pacific found that 43 percent of respondents said they own cryptocurrency, while 46 percent plan to purchase digital assets in the next 12 months.

The survey of 1,000 Singaporeans from a representative background of gender, age and location, also found that two-thirds of respondents in the 26-45 age group said they own cryptocurrency. Nearly 40 percent of respondents described bitcoin as an investment asset and 25 percent described it as a store of value. Three-quarters of respondents aged between 26 and 35 said they believe that cryptocurrency will become more widely accepted. Singapore’s financial authorities have confirmed that they are working with their French counterparts to explore cross-border applications of central bank digital currencies, according to a report by Cointelegraph.


Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

Updated 27 July 2021

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

  • Souq.com sellers in Egypt encouraged to set up on Amazon.eg

CAIRO: Amazon said it plans to rebrand the Egyptian version of Souq.com as Amazon.eg this year, following similar moves in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sales partners previously registered on Amazon’s Souq.com affiliate can access their accounts through the Amazon Seller Center in preparation for selling their products on the Amazon Egypt website immediately after its launch.

Amazon acquired Middle East etailer Souq.com in 2017 from Syrian entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.

On May 1, 2019, Souq.com UAE became known as Amazon.ae. On June 17 last year, Amazon launched its dedicated Saudi website Amazon.sa, rebranding the old Souq.com website.

Amazon announced plans in March to hire 1,500 new employees in Saudi Arabia and add 11 buildings to its network. The expansion will boost storage capacity in the Kingdom by 89 percent and its geographical delivery network by 58 percent.

The company operates an extensive logistics network and local operations across Egypt, which includes the main warehouse supported by 15 delivery stations across the country.


Sawiris launches billion-dollar gold mining investment fund

Updated 4 min 15 sec ago

Sawiris launches billion-dollar gold mining investment fund

  • The company said the fund will manage assets worth more than $1.4 billion and is studying new opportunities

CAIRO: La Mancha Holding S.a.r.l, owned by the Sawiris family, has announced the creation of La Mancha Fund SCSp, a Luxembourg-based billiom-dollar investment fund primarily focused on gold mining.

The company said the fund will manage assets worth more than $1.4 billion and is studying new opportunities.

The company indicated that the first closure of the fund was completed with the receipt of all the gold mining assets of La Mancha, in addition to an investment of $100 million from a partner who will invest alongside the Sawiris family.

The fund will be available to other investors at a later time.

“The step to establish an investment fund is the result of what we have been doing since 2015 when we sold our operating assets to Endeavour Mining in exchange for capital shares ... We anticipate many opportunities in the gold mining sector, which is still fragmented and needs more consolidation,” Naguib Sawiris, chairman of the board of directors of La Mancha, said.

“The fund ... will include a number of well-known personalities in the mining sector, many of whom have a long history of working with and providing advisory services to La Mancha,” he added.

“The fund’s primary investment objective is to create investment resources for the gold and precious metals mining sector. It will also have the flexibility to invest in electric car battery metals. It will invest primarily in a specific portfolio focused on long-term listed stocks, but it may consider investing a smaller portion of its assets are in private equity,” Sawiris said.

He said the fund will seek to acquire large stakes in small and startup mineral resource companies with strong management and geological capabilities that will enable them to create value within three to five years.

The strategy plans to unlock organic growth opportunities, launch value creation opportunities by developing long-term exploration plans, develop assets, and establish new mines and increase factory productivity.

The strategy includes enhancing and supporting accumulated external growth opportunities through acquisitions, regional mergers and exploring mergers with larger players.

One of the fund’s objectives is for its management to seek to improve environmental, social and governance standards within its portfolio companies during the investment period.


Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector

Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Central Bank steps up efforts to increase locals in financial sector

  • SAMA working with Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and Human Resources Development Fund
  • Initiative could create 200,000 jobs - economist

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has signed an agreement with other government entities to increase the number of locals in the financial sector, a move that might lead to the creation of more than 200,000 jobs for nationals.

SAMA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD), in partnership with the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf), SPA reported on Monday.

“This MoU aims to increase localization, provide human competencies capable of meeting the requirements of the financial sector, and create more than 203,000 jobs in the sector,” independent economist Fadhel Al Buainain told Arab News.

The measures will establish sustainable strategic steps to ensure the creation of more jobs and prepare young people to fill them, he said.

For decades, the Saudi financial sector was made up only of banks, but since the entry of new financial entities such as investment institutions, financial companies and the insurance sector, localization of jobs has become more important, to achieve sufficiency, strategic security and address unemployment, said Al Buainain.

Supporting specialized financial colleges and creating a college for banking sciences are among the tools that will help achieve the sector’s localization goals, he said.

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Global interest in clean hydrogen surges as Mideast works to boost supply

Updated 27 min 9 sec ago

Global interest in clean hydrogen surges as Mideast works to boost supply

  • Hydrogen could account for 25 percent of global energy consumption by 2050

DUBAI: Interest in clean hydrogen is rising across the globe, as countries explore ways to decarbonize, a new World Energy Council report showed.

Hydrogen could account for between 6 percent and 25 percent of global energy consumption by 2050, according to the publication titled Hydrogen on the Horizon: ready, almost set, go?.

Different regions play a role in the current hydrogen energy transition, the report said, with countries in the Middle East and North Africa focusing on the supply side.

Saudi Arabia, in July, unveiled plans for a $5 billion green hydrogen facility – the world’s largest such project at the time. Other Middle East countries, including the UAE, Oman and Egypt have also announced major projects to exploit the expected demand.

An earlier report by Dii Desert Energy and Roland Berger said the Gulf region alone could create a $200 billion green hydrogen industry by 2050.

The region also benefits from its strategic geographic location being between the European and Asian markets, which the World Energy Council report described as demand-focused markets.

Different countries also have different ideas of how to utilize clean hydrogen, the report said.

Asia shows a greater focus on hydrogen as a liquid fuel in the form of ammonia, and as a fuel for shipping and road transport, while Europe wants to use hydrogen to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy industries and mass transportation.

“How countries want to produce and consume clean energy, and their immediate national priorities, will shape large-scale hydrogen development and end-user uptake,” Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General and CEO of the World Energy Council said.

It is important to identify user priorities to “better understand hydrogen’s real potential,” she said.

Jeroen van Hoof, global energy, utilities, and resources leader at PwC said this decade is crucial to develop hydrogen projects – including infrastructure to produce, import, distribute and use hydrogen at a large scale.

“If we do this successfully over the next few years, it can pave the way for hydrogen demand to grow exponentially beyond 2030,” he added.

But the report identified several challenges in this global endeavor, including concerns on the cost of low-carbon hydrogen, which is still more expensive than other energy sources.

The report said countries need to collaborate to create a global value chain and unlock the potential of hydrogen for the global economy.