Promoting a sustainable future

Promoting a sustainable future
Hans Sandee, Dutch Consul General and Commissioner-General

The Netherlands will showcase under the theme 'Uniting water, energy and food' at Expo 2020



Published: Tue 3 Sep 2019, 10:32 AM

Expo 2020 Dubai, the mega global event, is all set to throw open opportunities for businesses from Netherlands. Recently, the Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb visited the UAE with a trade mission, and in addition to business matchmaking, he travelled to Fujairah to sign an MoU with Fujairah Municipality.

Aboutaleb said: "The Expo 2020 Dubai is a platform for all and the UAE has welcome all the countries, which will surely benefit underdeveloped and developing countries to explore trade relations. We want to build and contribute towards a sustainable future for us and for our future generations. Conservation of water and energy and boosting food security should be top priority for every country."

The UAE is currently one of the 25 most important export markets for the Netherlands. Relationships between the UAE and the Netherlands are historically strong.

"We are also one of the first countries to have supported the UAE's bid for Expo 2020. We see the expo as a tool to strengthen our relationships with our UAE friends and partners here and worldwide, and to work with our partners on finding solutions for the challenges we face today and tomorrow, especially when it comes to water, energy and food. We believe that these challenges demand more collaboration in order to implement sustainable solutions. We want to use this expo to join forces and to make the necessary steps in the period towards and during the mega event," added Hans Sandee, the Dutch Consul General and Commissioner-General.

Van Oord, who designed the remarkable landmark Palm Jumeirah, partnered in the Dutch participation in Expo 2020 Dubai as they believe the expo will be a world-class event that brings people together from all continents and all walks of life.

Koen Sweers, Area Manager Middle East at Van Oord, said: "Van Oord sees the Expo 2020 Dubai as an opportunity to show the rest of the world what can be done when businesses, knowledge institutes and governments connect and work together. Van Oord's projects in the Gulf region and in the rest of the world are the tangible results of this cooperation."

Springboard for 'Uniting water, energy and food'

During Expo 2020 Dubai, the Dutch businesses are showcasing themselves under the theme 'Uniting water, energy and food'. Some 300 Dutch businesses are active in the UAE, with Dutch exports to the Gulf region totalling more than ?11 billion. Gulf countries are major consumers of water and energy and the majority of food in the region is imported. The challenges faced in the Gulf surrounding sustainable water, food and energy are also present in many other places across the globe.

In total, around ?19.4 million has gone into the Dutch participation. A range of Dutch companies will also act as partners within the Netherlands pavilion, with Rotterdam-based Van Oord among the first to announce their decision to become a national partner. The Dutch marine contractor has been involved in projects such as the Palm Island and Bluewaters Island, and is currently working on the new Dubai Harbour project, a waterfront development featuring a cruise terminal and a 1,400-berth marina.

The Netherlands pavilion at the Expo 2020 is circular, which means that the pavilion will be built with leased sheet piling and other locally available building materials. All materials will either be given back or recycled after the Expo closes, a strategy that will keep the pavilions ecological footprint as small as possible.

In Dubai's dry desert climate, the Netherlands will create a temporary biotope, which will use solar energy to harvest water out of air, and with this water a loop of natural events is triggered. CO2 will be harvested from mushrooms, oxygen will be harvested through photosynthesis and to close the loop, the food will be harvested too.  

The unique biotope, designed by V8 Architects, which the Netherlands plans to construct showcases the Dutch prowess in innovation, inventiveness and openness. The biotope connects water, energy and food in a circular way. The production of water from desert air powered by solar is one of the impressive inventions that will be on display from October 2020 in the Netherlands Pavilion.

Dutch artist-innovator-entrepreneur Ap Verheggen and his team are the people behind the SunGlacier technology that makes this feat possible. "Our solar-powered water-from-air technology will enable us to produce food in the future without being dependent on rainfall, rivers or other traditional sources of water."

Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) will be supplying the Netherlands Pavilion with solutions in connected lighting, design and integration. Signify has contributed to some iconic projects, including Dubai Lamp, Dubai Frame, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University and others, offering great added value and driving enhanced energy efficiency.

Olav Scholte, Strategic Alliances and Public and Government Affairs, Signify Middle East, said: "We believe that Expo 2020 will have a big regional spin-off. The innovations that will be shown can contribute to further economic development in the UAE and the wider region. Lighting can play a role when it comes to sustainability and energy saving with LED technology and smart lighting controls. Lighting is also a quintessential factor in new applications such as vertical farming, a new high-tech industry that will help to secure future food supplies and reduce food imports. Signify and other specialist companies from the Netherlands can help the UAE with solutions in this industry, and as such create mutual benefits.

Bob Hunsche, Manager Sales, Van der Hoeven, said: "Van der Hoeven is known as an innovative and leading greenhouse building company. Designing and realising our large-scale horticultural projects, we always have a strong focus on water, energy and food. A good example of this is the largest high-tech glasshouse project of 11ha in the UAE that we have built, recently commissioned in 2018. Unique for this project are the water and energy efficiency gained by using dehumidification technology. As well the local food supply and employment get a boost! We do hope that the Expo 2020 will stimulate investments in these technologies."

Over 300 Dutch companies have set up in the UAE, and in the last decades, the Dutch have built an excellent reputation in the Middle East in the field of food, water and energy. Willum van der Hoogen, Netherlands Business Council UAE, said: "In this region up to 80 per cent of the electricity is used for the cooling of buildings. There are currently Dutch innovations in the market like SoundEnergy that can reduce energy consumption by more than 50 per cent simply by using the heat of the sun and to convert this heat into cold.

Though at the same time there are innovative Dutch Architects like V8 Architects who design houses and buildings in such an insulated and smart way that they don't warm up that much during the day."

Trade facts

- The UAE ranks as one of the 25 most important export markets for the Netherlands
- The Netherlands were the third country to support Dubai's bid for Expo 2020
- 18th largest economy in the world
- 6th largest economy in the EU
- Ranked #2 in Global Innovation Index
- GDP per capita: 56.383 (2018)
- Ranked #5 in the World Happiness Index (2019)
- Over 300 Dutch companies based in the UAE
- Bilateral trade in goods (2017) approx. 3.8 billion euros
- Bilateral trade in goods (2018) approx. 4.8 billion euros
- Population density: 510 people per km2 (2018)
- The non-oil trade is spread across several sectors, with agricultural products being particularly important, and understandably so as the Netherlands is the 2nd largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. As the UAE continues to diversify its economy, the Netherlands serves as a trade and knowledge partner in healthcare, water, energy, food, and the creative sector.

- sandhya@khaleejtimes.com



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