The Middle East’s green horizon: A paradigm shift in energy markets

Historically, when discussing the Middle East and energy, one would often picture oil rigs and fossil fuel supremacy. However, recent times bear witness to a transformative evolution, with the region prominently embracing renewables – forms of energy that are naturally replenished, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. As global focus sharpens on environmental sustainability, the Middle East is emerging as an unexpected yet formidable player in the clean energy landscape. With the recent conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28), the stakes have never been higher or more critical for considering humanity’s approach to renewable energy.

Government initiatives fuelling the shift

Governments around the globe are increasingly focusing on clean energy, united by a shared goal to combat climate change and foster sustainable economic prosperity. This collective commitment is manifesting in real and tangible ways, from the implementation of competitive renewable energy auctions to dedicated investments in cutting-edge research and development. The global stride towards a greener future is more than mere rhetoric; it’s an actionable roadmap being earnestly pursued by nations far and wide.

Yet, it is the Middle East’s unexpected surge that captures attention, especially in traditional powerhouses like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

The UAE’s green commitment

The UAE is undeniably at the forefront of this regional transformation. With comprehensive strategies like the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050,[1] and the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030,[2] the UAE is actively reshaping its energy blueprint. Tangible projects, such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park,[3] Al Dhafra Solar PV,[4] and Shams 1 Solar Power Station,[5] further validate this commitment. The establishment of the Masdar initiative,[6] a trailblazing entity in renewable energy, solidifies the UAE’s role in leading the Middle East’s green transition.

Saudi Arabia’s renewable ambitions

Saudi Arabia’s efforts in this domain are equally noteworthy. As the world’s premier oil producer, its green initiatives may come as a surprise to many. The nation’s Vision 2030 plan,[7] coupled with the initiation of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP),[8] and ground-breaking projects like the Shuaibah Two (2) Solar Facility,[9] and the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project,[10] showcases its earnest transition towards renewables.

Emerging renewable players

Larger nations are not the sole protagonists in this tale. Kazakhstan, for instance, is showcasing its dedication to wind energy, with installations like the Shelek 1 Wind Farm[11] leading the charge. Their goal, as highlighted by the Green Economy transition plan, targets 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2050.[12]

Uzbekistan, too, is focusing on renewable energy.[13] Embracing diverse projects in solar and wind energy, the nation is proactively diversifying its energy sources, signalling a broader regional shift.

A new chapter for the Middle East?

In essence, the Middle East, once synonymous with oil and gas, is carving a new narrative for itself. Through strategic initiatives, impactful projects, and visionary policies, the region is not only reshaping its energy landscape but also cementing its commitment to a more sustainable future. This exploration into the Middle East’s renewable transition is just a glimpse of the broader picture. As we at Mantle Law deepen our focus on this sector, we remain committed to guiding our partners and clients through the evolving regulatory frameworks, ensuring that investments made today are both sustainable and future-proof.

Jackson Dixon-Best

Mantle Law

December 2023














Posted by: Jackson Dixon-Best

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