The UAE has invested more than $40 billion in clean energy over the last 15 years, and has plans to invest an additional $160 billion in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades on the road to net zero, said a senior minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"Energy security is a high priority. And it’s something we need to really understand. The fragmentation that’s happening globally, and energy supplies, will really affect the aspects of energy going forward. With that, the UAE has a long-term plan." remarked its Minister of Economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, while giving a talk on a session titled 'Transitioning to a Green Middle East.'

The expert dialogue was on the collaborative action Middle East leaders must take to navigate between net-zero ambitions and socioeconomic realities. It came at a critical time, with the next two United Nations Climate Change Conferences, COP27 and COP28, both set to be hosted in the region, by Egypt and the UAE respectively.

Moderated by The National Editor-In-Chief, Mina Oraibi, the session convened leaders in government and business to share their insights on the path to a more resilient and sustainable future.

Besides Al Marri, the key participants included Faisal Alibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning in Saudi Arabia, Badr Jafar, the CEO of Crescent Enterprises, Yousuf Mohamed Al Jaida, the CEO of Qatar Financial Centre and Lamya Al Haj, the Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Sultan Qaboos University.

"The creation of the company Masdar, the implementation of solar panels, global projects helping the world to diverse their energy supply, all show the UAE’s investment in future energy security. The investment in diversifying energy aspects is important and vital for any future development of the region," he added.

According to experts, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is one of the most climate-vulnerable regions, with the destructive impact of climate change becoming increasingly evident in the shape of droughts, water scarcity, and elevated pollution levels.

Despite this, the region is regarded as well-positioned to become a leader in renewable energy and in green and blue hydrogen. And while oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in the regional energy landscape, the region has witnessed the promising emergence of a new, more circular economy.

Regional leaders are at a crucial crossroads as they foster more sustainable economies, while addressing the implications of the energy transition, they added.

"For years, I’ve been advocating sensible energy policy that supports a greener evolution of energy systems whilst ensuring we do not put energy security at risk or impede the economic and social progress of developing regions around the world," remarked Jafar.

"A green, resilient, inclusive approach to development can usher in a new model of growth for Mena, creating jobs while delivering the benefits of climate resilience, decarbonization, cleaner air and water, healthier oceans, and sustainable food and agricultural systems," he added.

As a global conglomerate, Crescent Enterprises, he stated, continues to invest in the energy evolution through its own operations, portfolio companies, and corporate citizenship initiatives.

"In the past three years, we have invested over $300 million across the world in sustainable investments, over 70% of which has gone into global growth markets," noted Jafar.

"It has also been particularly active in the transition to sustainable transport in the region through its shipping and logistics subsidiaries, Gulftainer and Momentum Logistics, and by co-launching a UAE-based sustainable transport company, ION, aimed at creating a zero-emissions transport infrastructure in the region," he added.

Session participants underscored a shared sentiment that mobilizing climate action in the region will require a localised, multi-stakeholder approach.

Optimistically, government, business, and civil society-led initiatives are on the rise in the region, with a notable growth in the capital, time, and talent invested in the infrastructure needed to progress.

Nearly 2,500 leaders across government, business, civil society from across the globe have participated in the forum's Annual Meeting 2022 this week with all discussions centred around the theme, “History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies.”

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