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A Green Oasis in the Desert

Dubai has created islands shaped like palm fronds, the world’s tallest building and even indoor snow skiing in the desert. Neighboring Abu Dhabi is taking the spirit of innovation even higher by building the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste metropolis.

The eco-friendly city of Masdar is scheduled to be completed in 2016. When finished, the city will have a working capacity of 110,000 people—50,000 residents and 60,000 commuters. The idea is to create an incubator for renewable energy and sustainable technology—a “Silicon Valley for clean, green and alternative energy.”

There will be no cars, buses or other transportation reliant on fossil fuels. Energy to power the 6-square-kilometer city will come from a mixture of solar panels, wind turbines and the largest hydrogen power station in the world.

All together, these will amount to about 130 megawatts of power, about 20 percent less than a conventional city of the same size, according to a report in ENI’s Oil magazine.

Abu Dhabi’s government has already contributed $22 billion to the project and it hopes to attract investment from foreign governments and multinational firms as well.

Last August, Masdar signed a deal with German chemical company BASF to provide construction materials, and just this week the head of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. announced plans for a “Korean Cluster” within Masdar that will be home to South Korean companies, universities and facilities.

Building a fossil-fuel-free city in Abu Dhabi, the world’s fifth largest oil and gas producer, may seem counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense. Masdar is a key part of the emirate’s long-term strategy to diversify its economy – that’s the same path Dubai started down several decades ago when it became clear that its oil wasn’t going to last forever.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. None of U.S. Global Investors family of funds held any of the securities mentioned in this article as of December 31, 2009. #10-150



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