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Hi there,

What happens when Elon Musk moves to town?

This is what The National's correspondent Willy Lowry set out to discover when he went to Brownsville, Texas recently (see The Big Story below), to check up on the new home of SpaceX. It lays out competing forces like demographics, laws and the environment that, as so many of the best told stories from small-town America do, challenge assumptions about progress.

While that is a perfect 4th of July weekend read, there is also no shortage of future-forward local news.

I was at Hub71 yesterday, Abu Dhabi's start-up community, where a new AI Centre of Excellence was opened with telecom e& enterprise. And Pure Harvest, a UAE AgTech start-up we have been covering since its very first crops, is eyeing expansion to Asia after its latest funding round. Both stories are about homegrown innovation, which, I think you'd agree, is its own kind of progress.

Be well.

Kelsey Warner
Future Editor

 

The Big Story

How a quiet Texas town has adapted to life with Elon Musk and SpaceX

Elon Musk has not landed quietly in Brownsville. Photo: Willy Lowry/The National

In brief | Among family ranches, the world’s richest man has built a space facility called Starbase, which has transformed the tranquil town of Brownsville, Texas into a bustling hive of high-tech workers, welders and engineers. Elon Musk and his team of 1,600 are working on building the largest rocket ever created, the 120-metre-tall Starship, a reusable spacecraft meant to one day carry equipment and people on missions to the Moon and Mars.

Quoted | “We have trouble getting home, because every time they want to do something, the road gets closed." - Bobby Lerma, Brownsville, Texas resident

Why it matters | Starbase rises above a pristine wildlife refuge and abuts one of southern Texas’s last remaining public beaches. The facility's presence in the quiet Texas town has brought changes to the state's constitution, sent real estate prices soaring and angered wildlife conservationists. But many in Brownsville say SpaceX has also brought in much-needed capital and innovation. Mr Musk's move calls into question what progress can and should look like.

 

Future in Focus

Medical advice delivered via hologram in Madinah. Photo: Handout

Holo, MD | A hologram of a doctor is offering up diagnoses and prescriptions to people arriving to Madinah, Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage in the holy city.

Organic growth | Pure Harvest is looking at an Asia expansion for its climate-controlled growing operations after the Abu Dhabi AgTech start-up raised $181 million in its latest funding round.

Truth in advertising | France will become the first country in the EU to ban the use of terms such as “steak” and “sausage” to describe plant-based food amid surging demand for plant-based imitation "meat".

 

Predicting the future | Signal or noise? Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, is rolling out a platform for "VIP" investors as other market players hunker down. Major tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to plunge, but Binance Institutional aims to upgrade the company's offerings to high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), family offices and hedge funds.

This is noise. Binance is working hard to create a counter-narrative to the recent crypto market crash by rolling out products, expanding its workforce and entering into promotion deals with the likes of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. Rivals like Coinbase, and cryptocurrency lender BlockFi however, are reportedly cutting staff by up to 20 per cent.

 

In Case You Missed It

A long-range solar-powered car that soaks up the sun. Photo: AFP

The world's first solar-powered car, the Lightyear 0, is coming to the UAE under a new agreement with the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park.

We were first warned about C02 emissions in 1851. Why didn't we listen?

And a robot will be flipping burgers soon at Wimpy in Dubai Mall.

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