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Gulf oil producers scramble to catch up on renewables

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed Gulf leaders to realize the region needs to accelerate its shift toward renewables; environmental activists accuse the Gulf states of double-talk.
Exhibitors and visitors attend the Saudi Arabia Renewable Energy Investment Forum (SAREIF) on April 17, 2017, in Riyadh. / AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE        (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

When Christofer Rathke visited Saudi Arabia for the first time about five years ago, the CEO of the Solar and Sustainable Energy Fund, who lives in Singapore, informed investors and high-ranking officials of “the next big boom” in renewables. He warned fossil fuels could be “phased out quickly” as renewables will “soon be price competitive.”

The interlocutors of the fund manager expressed interest, but nobody turned the talk into action. “Instead, they all subscribed to the Aramco IPO, which is so ridiculous. I mean, they are doing exactly the wrong thing,” Rathke told Al-Monitor. The stock market listing of the Saudi oil giant in 2019 attracted $29.4 billion of investments.

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