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AUS to host AFED conference on future of Arab sustainable energy
American University of Sharjah (AUS) will host the sixth annual conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) on 28-29 October 2013. This was announced today at AUS an AFED academic member. The conference will cover topics including renewable energy prospects, future of nuclear energy, energy efficiency, mitigation options of climate change and the role of the private sector in financing energy supply.
The conference will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah and President of AUS. The theme of this year's conference will be sustainable energy in Arab countries, based on a comprehensive report prepared by AFED on the subject.
The Ruler of Sharjah received on Sunday a high-level AFED delegation, headed by chairman of Board of Trustees Dr. Adnan Badran, Former Prime Minister of Jordan and President of Petra University, who thanked H.H. Sheikh Sultan for his patronage of the event. The delegation comprised chairman of AFED executive committee Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Awadi, Executive Director of Regional Organization for the Protection of Marine Environment (ROPME), Secretary General Najib Saab, along with Board members Maroun Semaan (President of Petrofac International) and Majid Jafar (CEO of Crescent Petroleum). Badran praised the Ruler of Sharjah, for his "commitment to advance science and education, and his strides for human development and regional cooperation as the best means to address challenges facing Arab societies."
Acting AUS Chancellor Dr. Thomas Hochstettler emphasized the importance of environmental studies at AUS and the training of future generations of leaders. He also noted that AUS students will benefit tremendously from attending this milestone forum.
AUS Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs Dr. Nada Mourtada welcomed the choice of the AFED delegation, emphasizing the significance of hosting AFED annual conference on campus. She noted that AUS students and alumni had been particularly active in the Future Environment Leaders Forum organized as part of AFED annual conferences.
Around 36 Arab and world experts will speak at the AFED energy conference, which will be attended by 18 ministers of energy and environment and CEOs of key energy companies. Twenty percent of the delegate seats will be reserved for students of Arab universities as part of the Future Environment Leaders Forum, to be staged in association with AUS.
Dr. Awadi expressed gratitude to AUS "the leading educational institution serving the whole Arab region" for hosting AFED's event, and praised the forward vision of its President and Ruler of Sharjah." Awadi explained that Hydrocarbon resources are providing more than 98 percent of the Arab world's energy demands, leading to high carbon footprint. Increasing energy efficiency is believed to generate billions of dollars in gains to the region's GDP. On the other hand, "Arab countries also possess huge resources of renewable energy, especially solar and wind energy that haven't been tapped into yet. Still, 60 million Arabs are denied the services of modern energy. The transition to sustainable energy can enhance the chances of eliminating poverty, especially in rural and remote regions."
AFED Secretary General Najib Saab explained that AFED Board of Trustees chose AUS as the venue for its annual conference this year "to express their faith in the new generation of students and alumni as future leaders, and the importance of scientific research in protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development."
Saab revealed that AFED's anticipated report on sustainable energy in Arab countries, prepared with a group of prominent experts, will be launched during the conference. "AFED report attempts to answer questions about the consequences of shifting global energy demand governed by Climate Change and the prospects for developing Arab renewable energy and energy efficiency markets. The report will also discuss the future of nuclear energy in Arab countries and the challenges faced as well as policy conducive to the private sector role in financing energy supply," he noted.
The relation between energy, water and food production will be highlighted in the conference, as many Arab countries, especially the GCC member countries, depend heavily on energy-intensive desalination processes to satisfy their increasing demand for water. Sustainable Energy in the GCC countries will be the subject of a special session.
Saab noted that the conference allows independent debate among experts and decision makers, based on the findings of the AFED report on energy, leading to doable recommendations. "We attempt to suggest ways to move forward, not only to describe the problems," he explained. Among the topics that the report and conference will address are: natural gas and oil, renewable energy prospects, future of nuclear energy, energy efficiency, mitigation options of climate change, the role of the private sector in financing energy supply, and ultimately the path for transition to sustainable energy. "AFED is a regional organization keen on involving different Arab countries, as well as providing the right setting and facilities which secure the widest participation from across the world. We thought that the Gulf was a suitable location for a conference on energy, and AUS was the ideal partner," he added.
AFED's Board member and CEO of Crescent Petroleum Majid Jafar said: "The Arab World is the leading supplier of the world's energy, and sustainable solutions for our own management of these resources are vital to ensure long-term development and prosperity. As the oldest private oil and gas company in the region, Crescent Petroleum is proud to be co-hosting this year's Annual Conference of AFED on this important topic, and at the home of our corporate headquarters, Sharjah."
In addition to AUS, which is an academic member of AFED, Sharjah is the headquarter of two major AFED corporate members, Crescent Petroleum and Petrofac, which are co-hosting the conference. Other major supporting organizations include OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Islamic Bank for Development (IDB), Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science (KFAS), Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), Kharafi National, GE, Averda, AMSI and Bee'ah.