Category Archives: Science

UAE consider to build man-made mountain to increase rain fall

After the extraordinary success of the cloud seeding operations that saw a significant increment of the quantity of rain fell over the United Arab Emirates, it seems that the government is seriously considering the opportunity to build a man made mountain in a bit to improve rainfall.

The United Arab Emirates invested a significant amount of 558,000 USD in the 2015 alone within the Rain Enhancement Program initiative activated by the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs (MOPA) and run by the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS). As reported by a local newspaper, the  Program provides grants to up to five innovative research and technology proposal over a three year period that are trying to find new ways to enhance rainfall in the Country.

“What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be. We will have a report of the first phase this summer as an initial step”

Said  National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes to ArabianBusiness.

He further clarified that the NCAR received funds to provide a detailed modelling study evaluating the effects of building a mountain on the weather.

For those not really specialized in climatology and how the rain process works, humid and warm air moving towards the mountains will be forced by them to raise. While raising the air temperature drops (almost 6.5 Celsius per km for humid air) causing the condensation of the humidity and the creation of rain drops.

In order to do so, the mountain shall intercept the predominant air currents forcing them to release their water content before passing through.

“Building a mountain is not a simple thing. We are still busy finalizing assimilation, so we are doing a spread of all kinds of heights, widths and locations as we simultaneously look at the local climatology. If the project is too expensive, logically the project won’t go through, but this gives them (the Government) an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term future” Bruintjes said.

“If it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not.”

 We have no other option but to wait the preliminary results.

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The slow but scaring propagation of MERS-CoV in Middle East and Asia

More than one year ago, in March/April 2014 to be precise, I was living and working in Saudi Arabia and was discretely preoccupied for the MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome) virus that was spreading in the Kingdom. It wasn’t a real breakout, since the daily cases were few, sometimes 1 sometimes 4 or 5. What scared me the most was the fact that the new cases reported were constant, meaning that the virus had a suitable carrier that was perfectly working.

Many associated the Virus with the camels new born season that in effect had caused the previous spike in the daily cases census. The spike had alarmed the international and local authorities that intervened to contain the infection. Saudi Arabia was the origin of the new Corona Virus and it was the Country with the highest number of cases reported.

After several weeks of general hysteria, the situation seemed becoming normal, with very few and isolated cases that seemed to happen just to remind us that the MERS Virus was still among us.

 After a period of relative tranquility, the MERS-CoV suddenly and powerfully appeared in South Korea where it spread and killed many people from May 2015 as reported by BBC News at the beginning of July 2015.

MERS CoV Global Situation Map by World Health Organization - photo from www.who.int

MERS CoV Global Situation Map by World Health Organization – photo from http://www.who.int

After the most recent outbreak, South Korea became one of the most severely hit Countries with hundreds cases that brought the local authorities to preventive quarantine measure for almost 7,000 people (as of end of July) and  provoked a collective fear of a pandemic in the population.

south-korea-mers-scare-wedding-photo

The level of alert in South Korea is so high that this wedding photo was taken with mask. – photo credit in the right corner

Surprisingly enough, concomitant with the recent outbreak in Korea, there has been a re-awakening of the virus even in Saudi Arabia with 22 new reported cases in the past 4 weeks. But while in Saudi we could have linked the presence of the virus to the camel farming activities, I am quite puzzled about its persistent presence in Far East. World Health Organization is strictly monitoring the evolution of the situation.

Cloud Seeding - How it works

What’s new in Dubai – UAE Hottest News

It has been an “exciting” week in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, not only for the festivities linked to the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan (the so called Eid Al-Fitr) but also for a series of shocking news that were reported on the most popular newspapers and websites and that I am going to summarize.

We have already discussed about the possibility that the United Arab Emirates might introduce VAT and Corporate Tax in the last Quarter of this year. Needless to say that the residents are following closely the evolution of this issue, since is going to directly affect their future financial status.

Breaking News: UAE to scrap Fuel Subsidies

Fuel Prices to increase

Local newspapers dedicate full coverage to the historical decision – Photo from http://www.gulfnews.com

In addition to that, the Government has recently announced a major and revolutionary change in the fuel subsidies that will be reduced starting the 1st August 2015 in order to have the fuel price to be in line with the worldwide average price. Currently petrol is sold at 1.72 AED per litre (USD 0.47), significantly below the calculated average price of 4.44 AED per litre and current government innervation is calculated to be 1.2 AED per litre for a total of 3.5 Billion USD spent every year.

The Government has established a dedicated committee to monitor the global prices and announce every 28th of the month the price that will be applied at pumps the following month. Analysts have predicted a bearable increase in the petrol price but a slight decrease of the diesel cost.

The decision was “based on in-depth studies that fully demonstrate its long term economic, social and environmental impact. The resolution is in line with the strategic vision of the UAE government in diversifying sources of income, strengthening the economy and increasing its competitiveness in addition to building a strong economy that is not dependent on government subsidies” as stated by Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and reported by Khaleej Times.

In the long term, this decision will discourage people from buying high-consuming cars and to be more prone to use the excellent public transportation system (Taxi, Metro, Tram, Bus and Monorail in Dubai) with a consequent significant benefit for the environment thanks to the reduced amount of carbon dioxide and pollution released in the atmosphere.

Breaking News: Rain in the Fujairah and Ras Al Khaiman, probably artificially created!

It can sound normal to experience some summer showers to the majority of us. However, here in the desert were drought can last several months, having rain in summer is a out of the ordinary event, especially in the mountainous area that divides the Arabian Gulf from the Indian Ocean.

Some meteorologists say it is normal that the humidity accumulated in the atmosphere as consequence of the very high temperature, can coalesce to form rain drops. In any case, it is unusual and it gained the first page in many news papers and numerous videos and photos were shared on several social media in amazement like the video video from Masafi area @lovestory351 shared on Instagram online.

The good thing is that the downpour had partially filled dams and reservoirs, guaranteeing a discrete water availability for the next months before the coming of the expected winter rains. Usually it rains once in November/December and once or twice in February and this is enough to guarantee the survival of the desert wildlife and to accumulate enough water to reduce the dependency on desalinated water, especially inland.Utilities-me.com has published a calculation that sees that a total of 48 million gallons of water were collected and stored in artificial lakes and dams with the consequent advantages.

However, The National published an article that can explain the unusual downpour: a massive cloud seeding strategy is being implemented in the UAEIn its article, The National report: “As soon as they see some convective cloud formations, they launch us on a flight to investigate,” to try “to seed the cloud”, said Mark Newman, NCMS deputy chief pilot. 

The amount of water that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi could store after having successfully seeded clouds for 4 times in the past years, was comparable to the average desalinated output of 9 year operation of a medium size desalination plant, and it is much cheaper.

Cloud Seeding - How it works

In the UAE, the cloud seeding procedure is common and it is giving brilliant results. Here how it works – Image from Google Image.

Breaking News: UAE promulgated anti-discriminatory Law

We already know that the United Arab Emirates, under the wise leadership of its rulers, is one of the most tolerant Country in the world. In the Emirates hundreds different nationalities find work and a source of income to sustain themselves and their family. Different cultures and religions are living in peace and harmony in this piece of land. In order to maintain this high standards of living and avoiding the spread of any seed of intolerance and hate as terrorist groups like Daesh (so called IS) are trying to do, a most welcomed Law has been recently promulgated.

The new Law was issued against “any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin following a decree by the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan” as reported by Emirates24/7.

The National reported the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who said the law “guarantees the freedom of individuals from religious intolerance … and underpins the UAE’s policy of inclusiveness”.