By Ryan Mallough - Friday, January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
The UAE is trying to change its image from that of a global polluter
The United Arab Emirates is announcing plans to develop a national strategy for green economic growth, an attempt by the major global polluter to burnish its image.
The UAE is the seventh-largest oil producer in the world and one of the world’s largest natural gas producers, but that energy production has come at a high environmental cost: the UAE has one of the largest ecological footprints of any country in the world. Cars, the main method of transportation in Dubai, a city with few sidewalks or cycling routes, are another major contributor.
A University of North Carolina study estimated that air pollution caused the deaths of 609 people—seven per cent of all UAE fatalities—in 2007, mostly due to infectious particulate matter carried through the air. The problem is even present inside, where indoor pollution—mould, second-hand smoke and other emissions that get trapped indoors—has also become a hazard for the sweltering-hot country. Former Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, head of the Global Green Growth Institute, praised the initiative, adding he hopes it will “demonstrate a compelling case for action from other hydrocarbon-based economies in the Middle East.”
By Erica Alini - Monday, January 16, 2012 at 5:32 PM - 0 Comments
Around $900 billion in assets across the globe are managed by Islamic banks that operate according to sharia, an interpretation of Islamic law. In recent years, so-called Islamic finance has been growing at a rate of 15-20 per cent a year, and proved remarkably resilient to the financial crisis. Proponents of the relatively new sector point to its back-to-basics financial structures, which have made it popular with a number of non-Mulsim clients who have little appetite for risk. Critics, though, say the restrictions it comes with–prohibitions, for example, on paying interest and investing in anything that involves porn, pork or booze–are archaic and unworkable.
Canada, with its 1.3 million Muslims, has lagged behind countries like the U.K. and the U.S. in embracing sharia-compliant financial products. None of the country’s big banks currently offer sharia-compliant services, though some smaller players do. Toronto-based UM Financial Inc., which issued home mortgages conforming to Islamic law, filed for bankruptcy last year, leaving 170 Muslim borrowers in limbo, and opening a legal can of worms. Is the firm’s failure evidence that Canada should steer clear of Islamic finance; or proof that the country needs more of it–i.e. that the banks and policymakers need to bring the practice into the mainstream, with tighter rules and better oversight? We asked the experts to chime in.
Tarek Fatah is the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a liberal-minded grassroots organization. He is also the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic lllusion of an Islamic State, among other works. Walid Hejazi is associate professor of international business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, where he is currently teaching an MBA course on Islamic finance.