Dr Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland, yesterday delivered a lecture on the Clean Energy Economy at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Dr Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland, yesterday delivered a lecture on the Clean Energy Economy at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K /

Iceland president: Arctic model offers prospect for Middle East peace

ABU DHABI // The Middle East should start looking at the Arctic model to settle conflicts and find peace in the region, said the president of Iceland.

Dr Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the country’s fifth president, said information technology and social media were gaining regional and global momentum but a clean energy transformation could help countries to build a sound future.

“By looking at the Arctic model, I think that the Emirates and the region can hopefully find an inspiration that your part of the world doesn’t necessarily have to be so,” he said on Wednesday during a lecture entitled “The Clean Energy Economy: A Road to Recovery from a Financial Crisis” at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. “Already, countries in the Himalaya region are looking at the Arctic model, some of which are nuclear powers.”

He said change and peace were possible and conflicts could be replaced by cooperation, even in the most militarised part of the world. “For more than 50 years, my part of the world saw the most extensive military build-up anywhere in the world during the Cold War,” Dr Grimsson said. “Now, 15 to 20 years after the Cold War ended, the northern regions have become one of the most cooperative, stable and peaceful parts of the world. From my generation, where every part of our political training and thinking was dominated by this military tension, to see this transformation in just over a decade is monumental proof that regions can be transformed from military conflict and hostile stand into a region of cooperation and peace.”

He said the vision of peace and cooperation was practical politics. “It’s not naive,” he said. “Trust the people – the ordinary people – because their inner wisdom is a better guide to a strong, peaceful, sustainable future than clever strategies. We should be guided by the wisdom of the ordinary people.”

Social media has empowered individuals, Dr Grimsson said, to challenge established institutions, such as during the Arab Spring.

“When protests gained momentum in Iceland in autumn 2008, the internet served as the rallying instrument,” he said. “This powerful instrument, which wasn’t even created five years ago, means that any leader now has to face a situation where democratic empowerment of anyone can challenge policies in a way that has never been possible before. It puts us in a completely new situation and most of us have not fully comprehended the implication of this.”

He said it was only the beginning of a fundamental global paradigm shift, but that the adoption of a clean energy transformation could help in the future.

“Clean energy transformation is not only a safeguard to financial crises in the future to come but it can also build a broad and profitable basis to a successful 21st-century economy,” Dr Grimsson said. “There are examples all over the Middle East that this transformation can be executed. Abu Dhabi found geothermal resources which might be sufficient to allow you to have the cooling system in your houses, driven by localised geothermal sources. We can come together in this profitable clean energy transformation in different parts of the world.”

Iceland is in discussions with Masdar to use clean energy to dry food products to enhance food security. “The UAE is taking this model forward of how we can make the single most important contribution to enhance food security in the world by modernising, based on solar, wind and geothermal [ways] of drying food,” he said.


Why it pays to compare

A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.

Meghan podcast

Meghan Markle, the wife of Prince Harry, launched her long-awaited podcast Tuesday, with tennis megastar Serena Williams as the first guest.

The Duchess of Sussex said the 12-part series, called "Archetypes," -- a play on the name of the couple's oldest child, Archie -- would explore the female experience.

Last year the couple told Oprah Winfrey that life inside "The Firm" had been miserable, and that they had experienced racism.

"I don't ever remember personally feeling the negative connotation behind the word ambitious, until I started dating my now-husband," she told the tennis champion.

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)


Company name: Terra
Started: 2021
Based: Dubai
Founder: Hussam Zammar
Sector: Mobility
Investment stage: Pre-seed funding of $1 million


Director: Atlee

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi

Rating: 4/5


Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5


Touch is derived from rugby league. Teams consist of up to 14 players with a maximum of six on the field at any time.

Teams can make as many substitutions as they want during the 40 minute matches.

Similar to rugby league, the attacking team has six attempts - or touches - before possession changes over.

A touch is any contact between the player with the ball and a defender, and must be with minimum force.

After a touch the player performs a “roll-ball” - similar to the play-the-ball in league - stepping over or rolling the ball between the feet.

At the roll-ball, the defenders have to retreat a minimum of five metres.

A touchdown is scored when an attacking player places the ball on or over the score-line.

Hydrogen: Market potential

Hydrogen has an estimated $11 trillion market potential, according to Bank of America Securities and is expected to generate $2.5tn in direct revenues and $11tn of indirect infrastructure by 2050 as its production increases six-fold.

"We believe we are reaching the point of harnessing the element that comprises 90 per cent of the universe, effectively and economically,” the bank said in a recent report.

Falling costs of renewable energy and electrolysers used in green hydrogen production is one of the main catalysts for the increasingly bullish sentiment over the element.

The cost of electrolysers used in green hydrogen production has halved over the last five years and will fall to 60 to 90 per cent by the end of the decade, acceding to Haim Israel, equity strategist at Merrill Lynch. A global focus on decarbonisation and sustainability is also a big driver in its development.


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

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