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MENA Development Partners

www.menapartners.net

MENA Development Partners LLC

Developing successful business relationships in the Middle East.

**NEW - Collaborative research project on fracking.**

Doing Business in the Middle East

Blog

"Frack You!" "What the Frack?" "Frack-off!"

Posted on September 22, 2013 at 10:59 PM Comments comments (237)
"Frack You!" "What the Frack?" "Frack-off!"
These are some of the phrases I found when I first started to explore the business implications of fracking. There are a lot of sites dedicated to the evils of fracking. Many of the major energy companies have sections on all the positives of fracking. There are even sites that show the two groups fighting it out. What I could not find was anyplace that had unbiased, research-based, educated information on the topic.

I know a lot of people. I know a lot of people in academia, I know a lot of people in business, I know a lot of people across the world, I even know a few Heads of State but the bottom line is, I know some really smart people... so couldn't I pull together some of these people to find out "What the Frack"?

Saudi Arabia's Economic Cities Continued

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 9:36 PM Comments comments (34)


All of Saudi's new Economic Cities are being built with strong environmental specifications. One of the key ideas around building these cities is to create private sector opportunities (via jobs, new businesses, new ways of living as well as private investment opportunities.

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) is divided into six main components:
  • the industrial zone (including mfg., R&D, business services, hospitality, etc.)
  • the seaport, which will be the largest in the region
  • the residential area for 500,000 people
  • the sea resort, expected to be a major tourist destination
  • the educational zone (including several universities with R&D facilities)
  • the central business district

KAEC is the only one of the new cities that does not center around a specific industry. It is in an ideal for diverse commerce because of its location on the coast of the Red Sea.

In Hail, you will find Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Mousaed Economic City. The goal& planning is is to have a population of over 80,000 people. The intent is to be the hub of transportation routes in the Middle East through:
  • transportation,
  • logistics,
  • petrochemicals,
  • agribusiness,
  • minerals and construction materials.

Near the holy mosque of the Prophet, in Medinah is the Knowledge Economic City. Interesting, particularly given its proximity to the holy mosque, this city is planned around Islamic themes, Islamic civilization studies and eventually a theme-park based around the Prophet and Islam. Medinah will also have science, health & medical, technical and other colleges. This Economic City should have a population of around 200,000. (With that kind of population & the tourist and holy attractions, hotels and retail are also being planned.)
 
On the Red Seat in the southwestern part of the kingdom will be the largest of the new Economic cities, Jazan. Jazan's industry will be the more labor-centric, focusing on things like energy, agriculture, commercial fishing (both packaging and distribution). And of course, in Jazan, given their location on the Red Sea, there will include (my favorite), water desalination plants and power distribution centers. 

These are all very aggressive initiatives. It takes significant and long-term commitment to growth (both through population and economic) and innovation by both the government and the private sector. These initiatives could not happen in a country that did not have serious money to invest in the infrastructure and development of these cities. We need to applaud the progress in the Kingdom and hopefully when we come out of the economic toilet in the US & Europe, we too will be able to take-on such aggressive projects to also see cities of the future.

More on Water Desalination

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 8:24 PM Comments comments (44)
In my continued fascination (okay, obsession) with learning about water desalination in the Middle East, I saw today that the Governor of Riyadh is launching a 1.6 Saudi Riyals water desal effort. What makes this one so interesting is that he has VERY AGGRESSIVELY planned the project, which is normally an 18-month time frame into a 6-month window.

I hope they have some amazing project managers who work well together, realize the importance of the project time-line and who speak-up when necessary to ensure that the project does not fail. I really hope that someone invests in Joseph Grenny's books/ CDs on "Silence Fails" before they start the project on April 6th!

I found this very interesting article by George Pitagorsky he states that "It is usually when the project is over or under managed that we have failures.  Common project management causes of failure are:
 
  • “Wishful” Planning – Planning that is based on the desire to have something done by a deadline and within a budget limit without regard to the reality of the situation.
  • Lack of portfolio management – initiating projects without regard to whether they are justified based on sound business reasons
  • Poor project control communication – Hiding the reality of project trouble until it is too late to do anything but bemoan a horrible outcome
  • Lack of accountability – Allowing project stakeholders to fail to deliver what is expected of them without accountability.
  • Absentee sponsors – Sponsors failing to perform their functions to provide direction and leverage." - Project Times 21 December 2011

Water Desalination Projects in Middle East

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (29)
I must admit, until a few months ago, I really did not understand (or have an interest in) the whole water desalination process or its importance in the global water supply.

The process in a nutshell is simply taking non-potable water, "cleaning it out", taking out things like salt, waste, other chemicals, etc. and making it suitable for drinking. Clean water is something most Westerners completely take for granted. However, this is a struggle for most of the world's population. Clean water is just not that readily available.

Through the desal process, which can be done on salt water, or on the water that is "left behind" from such things as oil and gas drilling or power plant remnants, etc. So the Middle East due to much of its land being surrounded by salt water and the left over "stuff" in the water that comes-out of the drilling for oil, is a perfect candidate for utilizing water desalination... which they have been doing successfully for decades.

That said, given the major economic boom happening in the Middle East and all of the available jobs, there is just not enough clean water to go around to meet the demands of its new demographics. For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia just announced the building of the world's largest desalination plant with a capacity of 600,000 cubic meters of water daily. That is massive (but still not enough)!!

There are all kinds of global conferences and associations on water and governments and businesses realize the importance. Finding solutions is not cheap and it is certainly not easy. There are amazing new companies out there with brilliant scientists creating new technologies to try and help with the global water crisis. In my opinion, acknowledging the issue (which for the most part has been done) is the first step. Educating the Western world on the issue needs a lot more attention.

We have seen what happens when the fear of running out of oil can do to the world... just think about what happens when the fear of running out of water hits the main stream media. It is not something that just happens "to other people". Clean water should never be considered a luxury but unless the Western world (particularly the US) begins to be educated on the reality of the world's water supply, we will continue to be oblivious to what the situation really looks like!

We need to support these great scientists creating the next-generation water desalination technology and encourage out governments to take the issue of clean water very seriously. Because while it is currently a problem of "someone else", it can very quickly become our problem too.