Your round-up of the stories shaping tomorrow's world from The National
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Hi there,

My colleague Nilanjana Gupta has an enviable knack of uncovering unexpected stories. This week she was in the desert outside Dubai harvesting pineapples with an Emirati farmer.

Although hydroponic farming has been used for millennia, Abdullatif Al Banna's wildly successful effort to grow tropical fruit in our arid climate shows what we are capable of — a feel-good reminder in a time of food insecurity and climate anxiety in the wider world.

Further afield, in Davos, geopolitics cast a long shadow over the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, which gathered 50 heads of state and government. But for the hundreds of corporate executives who also attended, the big debate is over the return to offices and the future of work. The current consensus seems to be there's no right answer just yet.

Be well.

Kelsey Warner
Future Editor


The Big Story

Adnoc, Masdar and BP to develop clean hydrogen projects

Industrial-scale hydrogen storage is a bright spot in the energy transition. Bloomberg

In brief | Adnoc, clean energy company Masdar and British energy multinational BP agreed to develop clean hydrogen. As part of the partnership, Adnoc and BP have advanced to the design phase of the H2Teesside low-carbon hydrogen plant, the largest blue hydrogen project in the UK. Masdar and BP signed a preliminary deal to explore collaboration on the HyGreen Teesside green hydrogen project in the UK’s Teesside industrial cluster, which will be powered by offshore wind.

Quoted | “In the UK, our role in Teesside will represent Adnoc’s first investment into the UK and help to accelerate innovation in decarbonisation of energy in industrial sectors. Similarly, the partners’ collaboration in Abu Dhabi is expected to further position the UAE as a leader in low-carbon energies and technology-driven industrial growth.” - Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Adnoc managing director and group chief executive, and Masdar chairman.

Why it matters | Hydrogen is a critical element in achieving a global transition to green energy. Both the UAE and the UK are pivoting to cleaner fuels as they race to achieve net zero by 2050. The UAE set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23.5% by 2030 while the UK has a goal of producing 10 gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030.

The UAE is aiming to capture a quarter of the global hydrogen market and is in discussions with many countries to export it, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei said earlier this year.


Future in Focus

A royal portrait by a robot: Is it art? Photo courtesy Midas

Hues of change | A portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II painted by robot artist Ai-Da has been unveiled ahead of the platinum jubilee. Titled Algorithm Queen, the work aims to reflect different aspects of technological change that have taken place during the Queen’s 70-year reign.

Getting schooled | Abu Dhabi's artificial intelligence university is teaming up with US technology company IBM to open a research centre at its Masdar City campus. The AI Centre of Excellence will bring together students and faculty from MBZUAI and IBM researchers to develop natural language processing tools in Arabic, as well as AI applications that address challenges in climate and health care.

Charting a new path | DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, is exploring metaverse technology to help solve supply chain challenges. The goal is to show customers "the whole supply chain from end to end ... and create alternate routes in case of logistics bottlenecks", the company's digital lead said.


Predicting the future | Signal or noise? Tesla has blown past another deadline. When Elon Musk unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019, he opened up orders to much of the world and said it would be available by 2021. Now, the EV maker has stopped orders on its website for the model outside the US, Canada and Mexico due to overwhelming demand, according to Musk, while the company struggles to start up production, which he said will begin "hopefully next year".

This is noise. Even though Tesla sidestepped the microchip shortage that stymied other auto manufacturers, customers regularly experience long lead times on orders. Buyers of the Tesla X SUV are facing up to a two-year wait for delivery, while Model X customers in some markets are waiting around six months. The company's quarterly car production fell in the first quarter of 2022, its first dip since the start of the pandemic. Add the Cybertruck to a long track record of uneven production performance.


In Case You Missed It

A bird's eye view of development progress at Neom. AP

Flights from Dubai to Neom will begin in June. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's tourism minister clarified this week that the country is not planning to legalise alcohol for tourists at the futuristic mega-project.

Space is no longer a peaceful domain, as some countries are increasingly seeking to use it for military advantage, the head of French Space Command said.

And a successful double hand transplant performed in the UK is hailed as ‘world's first’.