Khalid Irani, Jordan's energy minister, left, and Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland, at the Emirates Palace yesterday.
Khalid Irani, Jordan's energy minister, left, and Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland, at the Emirates Palace yesterday.

Icelandic clean energy solution in the desert

Iceland's president says the UAE could be the first of many countries in the Middle East to develop geothermal resources.

"What has already been proven here is there are geothermal resources in Abu Dhabi and possibly elsewhere in the region that can be used for formidable energy transformation," said Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. "Usually if you find geothermal in a space then it's not restricted to one spot."

Reykjavik Geothermal, an Icelandic energy company that has linked up with Abu Dhabi's clean energy company Masdar, found a geothermal pocket 2.5km under Masdar City in June. If the project is successful, Abu Dhabi would be the first place in the world to employ geothermal power for cooling, rather than more common uses such as electricity or industrial power.

By the second quarter of next year, Masdar plans to finish studying whether the site can yield enough water to make district cooling economically feasible, Frank Wouters, the director of Masdar's power unit, told The Nationalthis month.

The pockets in Abu Dhabi were 95°C, hot enough for district cooling but not for power production. Temperatures need to reach over 100°C to produce electricity. But with 40 per cent of the emirate's electricity consumed by air conditioning, geothermal could help Abu Dhabi to meet its goal to produce 7 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Masdar awarded the US$1.6 million (Dh5.87m, contract to Reykjavik Geothermal in September last year. Drilling began at two sites in Masdar City in January and ended in June, when drills hit hot water pockets 2.5km below the surface, said Magnus Asbjornsson, the Icelandic company's regional director for the Middle East and Africa.

If the Masdar City geothermal project is successful, water would pass through underground pipelines where heat from the earth's core would create steam.

Although Al Ain, with its hot springs, could also be promising for Reykjavik Geothermal, the company has not yet looked at sites "in detail". said Mr Asbjornsson.

"There are hot springs in Al Ain, and therefore there's some geothermal activity," he said. "We don't know if that's going to be significantly more than is available in Masdar City."

Mr Grimsson, whose country sources 81 per cent of its energy from renewables, said Abu Dhabi's sustainable energy goals were within reach. He recalled the dramatic shift he witnessed in Iceland, which once imported 80 per cent of its energy in the form of oil and coal. Today it sources more than half of its energy from geothermal resources.

Reykjavik Geothermal, which was founded in 2008 to pursue geothermal development outside Iceland, has also held talks with Saudi and Yemen officials.

"Are we looking? Absolutely," said Mr Asbjornsson. "There are geothermal resources in parts of the Arabian Peninsula, in particular in Yemen and western Saudi Arabia."

Geothermal power is also used in Kenya to maintain temperatures in greenhouses, in Iceland to heat homes, and elsewhere to power industrial production such as aluminium smelters.

"For a number of years I was advertising to my friends in Abu Dhabi that there should be drilling in the Masdar City desert," Mr Grimsson said in the capital, where he was deliberating with a jury the winner of a Masdar-sponsored sustainable energy prize.

"In the beginning, they sort of smiled politely. And then I brought the experts in."


Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, John Cena

Rating: 3/5

Three trading apps to try

Sharad Nair recommends three investment apps for UAE residents:

  • For beginners or people who want to start investing with limited capital, Mr Nair suggests eToro. “The low fees and low minimum balance requirements make the platform more accessible,” he says. “The user interface is straightforward to understand and operate, while its social element may help ease beginners into the idea of investing money by looking to a virtual community.”
  • If you’re an experienced investor, and have $10,000 or more to invest, consider Saxo Bank. “Saxo Bank offers a more comprehensive trading platform with advanced features and insight for more experienced users. It offers a more personalised approach to opening and operating an account on their platform,” he says.
  • Finally, StashAway could work for those who want a hands-off approach to their investing. “It removes one of the biggest challenges for novice traders: picking the securities in their portfolio,” Mr Nair says. “A goal-based approach or view towards investing can help motivate residents who may usually shy away from investment platforms.”

Zia Mashwani (PAK) bt Chris Corton (PHI)

Super lightweight:
Flavio Serafin (BRA) bt Mohammad Al Khatib (JOR)

Super lightweight:
Dwight Brooks (USA) bt Alex Nacfur (BRA)

Tariq Ismail (CAN) bt Jalal Al Daaja (JOR)

Abdullatip Magomedov (RUS) bt Sulaiman Al Modhyan (KUW)

Mohammad Fakhreddine (LEB) bt Christofer Silva (BRA)

Rustam Chsiev (RUS) bt Tarek Suleiman (SYR)

Khamzat Chimaev (SWE) bt Mzwandile Hlongwa (RSA)

Alex Martinez (CAN) bt Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR)

Jarrah Al Selawi (JOR) bt Abdoul Abdouraguimov (FRA)


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.