What Makes the UAE a Green Leader?

The UAE is once again demonstrating its potential for progress and innovation, as it has been named to the U.S. Green Building Council’s list of Top 10 Markets for Green Building. The list incorporates 10 of the best places for companies to build structures that meet standards for sustainable, eco-friendly construction.  According to the USGBC, the UAE comes in as the country with the 8th-largest quantity of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings. In total, the nation has 3.1 million square feet of LEED-certified building space.

The UAE also ranks 5th in terms of the largest number of LEED-certified projects with nearly 1000 green construction projects. Like others in the UAE, frequent traveler and UAE culture enthusiast Hussain al Nowais sees this ranking as a touchstone moment for the UAE’s future as an international leader in sustainability.  Not only will the UAE’s effort to embrace green building benefit its immediate environment and that of the larger region, it’s also a highly-effective economic initiative because it will attract environmentally-conscious businesses from around the world. Al Nowais hopes that the UAE’s pursuit of green building will inspire other countries in the region to follow suit.

While the UAE has implemented the United States’ LEED criteria as a standard for green building, it has also taken the initiative to develop its own set of criteria, such as its Green Building Regulations and Estidama standards.

The Emirates Green Building Council, formed in 2006, is a major player in the UAE’s green building movement, and has just recently released a first set of technical guidelines for retrofitting existing buildings to meet green standards. The group notes that the guidelines are a part of the UAE government’s Vision2021 national agenda, which features a number of other green areas of focus, including:

  • Green Energy
  • Green Investment
  • Green Cities
  • Green Living
  • Green Technologies
  • Climate Change

The UAE was also one of the 190 nations that agreed at the United Nations Rio +20 Summit that green growth via a “green economy” is the key to facilitating economic growth while ensuring that ecosystems remain in place.

With such a strong focus on sustainability, the UAE is certain to become a global leader in green initiatives.

Could the UAE be a New Hub for Artificial Intelligence?

Were you to ask anyone the location of the world’s technology capital, there’s a good chance they’d say it was Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley has no doubt been the leader in global technological innovation over the course of the last thirty years, but a new hub may be emerging: the United Arab Emirates.

 

Those like international businessman Hussain al Nowais who have been attuned to the UAE’s progress over the course of the last decade won’t be surprised that this Middle Eastern nation has positioned itself to become a leader in technological development. The UAE’s economy is thriving, its government is advocating for a new era of progress, and its cities have become an international symbol of prosperity.

 

Not only is the UAE poised to become a leader in technology, it may also become a new hub for artificial intelligence (AI). According to the Huffington Post, the United Arab Emirates and surrounding MENA countries are burgeoning with Internet and smartphone users, precisely the demographic need to garner support and enthusiasm for AI technologies. At present, there are 151 million Internet users and 86 million smartphone users, the majority of which reside in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Businesses throughout the region have rapidly expanded their digital marketing efforts as a result. Experts predict that by the year 2018, mobile advertising alone will quadruple to reach $494 million. While citizens throughout the MENA region are engaging with these technologies, the UAE remains by far the nation in the best position to capitalize on it with new developments. With such high demand in the digital communications sphere, a nation like the UAE—armed with ambition and funding—is perfectly primed to make even more advancements.

 

Already, the UAE has launched its first-ever AI and Robotic Award for Good, a competition that will award 1 million U.S. dollars to the UAE innovator that creates the best AI robot to benefit health or education. A winner will be determined in February of 2016. The UAE has also established an official Board of Artificial Intelligence to serve as an overseeing body for new AI developments, while its major universities, like the University of Dubai, are offering Artificial Intelligence degrees that are attracting students from around the world.

 

The UAE may not be a leader in Artificial Intelligence just yet, but if it continues on its current trajectory, it very well may become Silicon Valley’s biggest competition.

 

 

 

How the UAE is Stealing the Spotlight at the World Expo

The year 2015 seems to be the year for the United Arab Emirates; not only has the UAE proclaimed 2015 to be its “Year of Innovation” (and is so far living up to this name), it’s also impressing on the world stage. As Hussain al Nowais, an avid follower of UAE culture and current events, argues, the UAE’s showing at the World Expo in Milan has once again demonstrated how the UAE has transformed into a major global player.

Journalists and attendees of the World Expo have made clear that the UAE’s pavilion is among the most attractive and original of all those present at the event. Crowds are flocking to get an up-close view of the UAE’s impressive array of foods, products, business opportunities, and much more. Even Italian Ambassador to the UAE Giorgio Starace noted that the UAE’s pavilion was the most distinctive and organized at the Expo. The pavilion’s structure—comprised of sleek rippled walls—is not only notable for its originality, but was also uniquely designed to be deconstructed and reassembled in back in the UAE, a choice reflective of the UAE’s overall focus on sustainability and innovation.

The UAE’s strong showing at the 2015 Milan World Expo is significant for two reasons, the first being that the UAE has emerged as one of Italy’s strongest trading partners. As of early summer, 2015 Italian exports to the UAE stand at 6 billion euros. The UAE’s participation at the World Expo therefore not only reaffirms important trading partnerships, but is the perfect platform to forge new business alliances and increase trade further.

Secondly, the UAE’s impressive showing at the 2015 World Expo is vital to building anticipation for its own World Expo hosting opportunity, to occur in 2020. The UAE’s ability to offer up a pavilion that showcases products, businesses, and technologies that visitors about which visitors are genuinely excited increases its ability to successfully market the 2020 World Expo and attract even more attendees from around the world.

As Hussain al Nowais notes, the 2015 World Expo is in many ways a well-deserved reward for the UAE’s tireless efforts to improve, adapt, and innovate.

Reasons to Watch Soccer’s Omar Abdulrahman

Who is the best player in all of Asian professional soccer? Were this question asked just a few years ago, the name Omar Abdulrahman wouldn’t have even been in the running, much less of any familiarity to soccer fans. But as avid soccer fan Hussain al Nowais points out, today Abdulrahman has emerged as the unrivaled star of the Asian Football Confederation, and remains the UAE’s most valuable player.

Abdulrahman’s rise to stardom was in many ways catalyzed by his breakout moment at the 2012 Olympics, in which the UAE faced off against Uruguay and Abdulrahman emerged as a dominant force on the field. Though Uruguay ultimately pulled ahead, the match showcased Abdulrahman’s undeniable talent, and he’s been a force to be reckoned with ever since.

Abdulrahman has gone on to lead the UAE to an impressive third-place finish at the 2015 Asia Cup, has earned the UAE league titles, and he’s just made what is perhaps his most impressive move yet: signing on to the UAE’s Al Ain for another 4 years.

Abdulrahman’s commitment to Al Ain is more surprising than most outside of the Middle East and Asia might think. While the Asian Football League has certainly evolved in a positive direction in recent years, it still doesn’t attract nearly the level of players, prominence, and overall prosperity that the European Football League does, and many players in the Middle East and Asia know this.  When players come along that seem to have what it takes to make it to a powerhouse team like Real Madrid or Manchester United, they usually take these clubs up on their offers, leaving home teams in the AFC behind.

Given this tradition of turning towards Europe, Abdulrahman’s decision is undoubtedly surprising, but it also makes a lot of sense. At 23, Abdulrahman is still on the upswing of his career, and a four-year commitment doesn’t count him out of European prospects should he be interested at the end of his contract with Al Ain. What’s more, Adbulrahman must also be cognizant of the fact that though European teams may offer more glamour, Asian players have typically watched their careers fizzle out once making the switch. Asian players aren’t as celebrated by European teams for a number of reasons, part of which involves being a newcomer, less play time, and the challenges players face in adapting to life outside of their home countries.

In choosing to sign on with Al Ain, Abdulrahman won’t be faced with any of those challenges, and will continue to benefit from the perks of his current stardom. As the UAE prepares to host the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the UAE has more reason than ever to pay attention to Abdulrahman, a player who has proven that his loyalties are stronger than his ambitions, and who just may lead the UAE to an Asian Cup victory on its home turf.

 

 

How the UAE is Tackling its Obesity Epidemic

It seems widespread concerns about health are no longer exclusive to Western nations like the United States, which has struggled to manage its obesity epidemic in recent decades. As recently modernized or modernizing countries throughout the world embrace new lifestyles, they’re increasingly faced with the consequences that can accompany modern living: poor health.

As reported by Al Jazeera, today almost forty percent of adults around the world are considered overweight or obese. The Arab Health Magazine reports that a new study finds 58% of men and 65% of women in the Middle East and North Africa are overweight or obese; the study tracked the percentage of overweight and obese individuals in these regions over the course of thirty years, and observed a significant increase in obesity levels in this duration of time. The International Diabetes Federation also reports that 37 million people in the Middle East and North Africa are living with type 2 diabetes; the IDF expects this number will double over the course of the next 20 years.

International health industry professional Hussain al Nowais, who frequently does business in the United Arab Emirates, finds the region’s rising rates of obesity troubling, noting that healthcare systems may be challenged to adapt to the increasing prevalence of diseases and disorders caused by obesity. However, while obesity may be on the rise, many officials in the Middle East are striving to reverse this trend.

On March 31st, leaders in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi participated in the country’s first-ever healthy living walk, called “Let’s Walk,” as part of an initiative to help children become more active. As The National reports, the Vice President of Dubai has stated that the national government is heavily invested in the health and well-being of the UAE’s children, and has created a Healthy Children 2021 campaign to help the UAE become one of the world’s most advanced countries by the year 2021. Specifically, UAE officials hope to decrease childhood obesity by 12% by this date. As of 2013, approximately 1/3 of children in the UAE were overweight or obese.

The UAE stands out as a leader in health initiatives in the Gulf region, the region most affected by obesity throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to government-sponsored events like Let’s Walk, the UAE has also set up biking paths, water sports, and volleyball nets on its beaches to promote more active recreation, and has implemented a policy of regular health testing to encourage early detection of diseases. The UAE has also restricted the number of carbonated beverages that can be sold in the country, and has created a nationwide health database to more effectively and efficiently track patient data and identify health trends.

Many like Hussain al Nowais believe that the UAE’s proactive response to its obesity epidemic will set a precedent throughout the rest of the region for leadership to take action as well. As the UAE pulls ahead in science, technology, investment, and all things related to building a knowledge-based economy, it’s astutely recognized that the health of its people will be critical to its overall success as well.

While reducing childhood obesity by 12% in less than ten years’ time may be a lofty goal, if any country in the Middle East has the determination and resources to accomplish such, it’s the UAE.

Traditional Cuisine from the UAE

Though perhaps not as familiar to the Western palette as Asian, Italian, or Latin-inspired foods, food from the Middle East is some of the finest in the world. Rich in savory flavors and spices, Middle Eastern cuisine is about more than just hummus (although that’s delicious, too).  As international medical salesman and food aficionado Hussain al Nowais points out, among Middle Eastern cuisine, the burgeoning nation of the United Arab Emirates offers some of its most delicious. In fact, dishes from the UAE often reflect a unique, yet tasty collaboration of Middle Eastern and Asian inspirations. What does Hussain al Nowais love to sample while on business in the UAE?

Stuffed Camel

Though it may sound unusual to the foreign ear, stuffed camel is actually a delicacy in the UAE, and for good reason. This elaborate dish is prepared by placing a combination of whole chickens, boiled eggs, fish, and a sheep inside of a whole camel, which is then slow roasted over a charcoal fire. Though complex in execution, to be sure, the stuffed camel has been a staple on menus for weddings, family celebrations, and other special occasions in the UAE for years.

Shawarma

Shawarma is perhaps one of the UAE’s most popular dishes, and is commonly eaten for both lunch and dinner. Shawarma is prepared as a pita wrap made of shredded lamb or chicken, and is typically dressed with tomatoes, garlic sauce, and pickles, among other spices. For those interested in experiencing the savoriness of Shawarma for themselves without boarding a plane, know that Shawarma can be prepared with relatively basic ingredients and can be ready to eat within just 35 minutes.

Matchbous (Kabsa)

Matchbous is another exceptional menu option when dining in the UAE, although this dish isn’t exactly exclusive to the country. A highly similar version of the dish is prepared throughout the Middle East in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where it’s known as Kabsa. Matchbous is a rice-based dish topped with lamb that’s been stewed in tomatoes and seasoned with dried limes (loomi).

Khabees

Have a sweet tooth? While in the UAE enjoy Khabees, a sweet yet simple breakfast dish prepared using just flour, oil, sugar, saffron, water, almonds, and cardamom, a spice incorporated throughout a variety of UAE recipes. While iconic of the UAE, Khabees is actually a variation of a Greek dish known as halva, although Khabees uniquely requires that flour be toasted before it’s combined with the dish’s other ingredients.

As Hussain al Nowais emphasizes, these dishes represent just some of the many food items popular in the United Arab Emirates, a country that, even though known as a hub for international influences, maintains a proud tradition of local cuisine. Guests from around the world can experience the best the UAE has to offer by attending its annual international food festival, held in Dubai.

Is the Paleo Diet a Feasible Lifestyle Choice?

The Paleo diet has emerged as one of the most popular options for weight loss over the last five years, rivaling the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, and the Mediterranean diet in buzz and popularity. The diet, which only includes foods akin to what our ancestors of the Paleozoic era would have ate, is apparently designed to work in tandem with our genetic makeup to keep us fit and energetic. When we look at what comprises the Paleo diet (vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats), there’s no question that if used as an approach to weight loss, the Paleo diet will certainly help individuals achieve their goals. But is the Paleo diet a sustainable lifestyle approach? Hussain al Nowais, an international salesman that frequently travels abroad or works on location in the UAE, combines his passion for healthy living with what he experiences as an on-the-go business professional to take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Paleo diet.

Strengths

  • The Paleo diet’s emphasis on consuming lean meats like turkey, pork, grass-fed beef, and chicken offers followers a key source of protein, which can be highly advantageous for those with busy schedules. Protein is not only what builds our muscles and bolsters our immune system, it’s what keeps us full. A diet rich in lean protein will therefore limit snacking and make a long work day more bearable. Swapping out most red meats for lean meat also lowers fat consumption, and in turn, improves heart health.
  • Among the Paleo diet’s ability to help followers lose weight, it also affords many other health benefits, including clearer skin, a reduction of autoimmune diseases, better sleep patterns, fewer allergies, sustained energy levels, and more efficient work outs. Again, for the working professional who seeks to make the most of their day, any diet that can eliminate hindering conditions like poor sleep and allergies is worth looking into.

Limitations

  • The Paleo diet excludes food groups that are a part of many typical diets. These include all dairy products, (most) red meats, starchy vegetables, grains, legumes and beans, processed foods, sugars, and salty foods. These restrictions may prove too limiting for those that don’t always have time to prepare freshly cooked meals or who are frequently on the go and simply don’t have access to these foods.
  • Because the Paleo diet excludes any processed food, followers of the diet may see their grocery bills rise in cost. The reality is that fresh organic foods are more expensive than packaged, processed items; for those on a budget, fully-committing to the Paleo diet simply may not be feasible.
  • For athletes and those that are highly active, the Paleo diet’s exclusion of carbohydrates may not provide the energy needed to make it through the day. What the diet does include will definitely help sustain energy levels, but for some, carbohydrates will remain a key part of their long-term diet.
  • The Paleo diet doesn’t make any recommendations for portion sizes; this means that even though the foods it includes are healthy, followers prone to snacking may find themselves consuming too many calories over time.

Ultimately, while the Paleo diet offers many health benefits, the contents of its diet can be both limiting and costly. For those that have the means to purchase and prepare Paleo foods, the Paleo diet is an attractive lifestyle choice, but for those like the UAE’s Hussain al Nowais, who don’t always have access to exclusively fresh meals, the tenants of the diet are perhaps something to partially incorporate, rather than wholly adhere to.

Why the UAE Will Become a Leader in Innovation

It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Home to the prosperous cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, its opulence is evident on practically every corner of every street. Yet, while the UAE stands as a symbol of prosperity and success, many believe it should also stand as a symbol of global innovation. According to international salesman Hussain Al Nowais, a man who frequently conducts business in the UAE, it’s easy to see how this country is approaching the forefront of global innovation.

The UAE has made no secret of its desire to embrace innovation. In fact, UAE officials have declared 2015, “The Year of Innovation,” and have already launched a series of initiatives to build upon their current endeavors and deploy new projects to ensure that the country continues to lead the region in scientific and technological advancement. The UAE has even created a “CEO of Innovation” position that will be filled within every department of government.

Because the UAE has focused so heavily on sustaining business in recent decades, it’s already cultivated an ideal environment for attracting investment in advanced technologies. When compared to the surrounding region, the UAE leads as the top attractor of investment among the twelve other MENA nations. These investments have helped propel forward the country’s space program, which aims to facilitate unmanned travel to Mars by the year 2021. The space program will be the first developed in the Middle East. The UAE’s plan for a space program is in many ways a logical extension of its already prolific investments in space technology, which has amounted to $5.4 billion dollars in mobile satellite development and earth mapping technologies.

The UAE is also increasing efforts to pursue joint ventures with technology firms, specifically companies focused on defense technologies. Nimr Automotive, an Abu Dhabi-based defense contract company, is one example of the benefits of the country’s pursuit of joint ventures for defense technology. The UAE military purchased 2,000 advanced vehicles produced by Nimr Automotive; Nimr was also able to sell its vehicles to Lebanon and Libya.

Additionally,  just last month the Minister of Environment and Water announced the introduction of new afforestation and horticulture technologies that present more efficient ways to expand greenery, improve agriculture, and conserve local wildlife. The UAE’s novel approach to afforestation stands as a landmark endeavor among other countries in the greater MENA region.

The UAE’s commitment to innovation is also reflected through the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s recent announcement that programs intended to cultivate innovation in school children will be developed through new clubs and competitions. Participants of these programs will be taught computer coding, computer design, and lab work, among other science and technology-centered skills. Though these programs will primarily operate in participating schools as extra-curricular opportunities, three centers exclusively designated for youth innovation will be built in the city of Abu Dhabi.