Home » Accelerating action on solar: Majid Al Futtaim & engazaat on their new partnership 

Accelerating action on solar: Majid Al Futtaim & engazaat on their new partnership 

by Madaline Dunn

The MENA has huge solar power potential, receiving between 22 to 26 per cent of all solar energy on Earth, with large tracts of land available for solar energy projects, something which the region is now beginning to capitalise on. 

The cost of solar energy production in the MENA region is also now at a fifth of the global average, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), positioning the region as a key hub for the solar energy revolution.

Facilitating this shift to solar are a number of regional partnerships, including from the likes of Majid Al Futtaim & engazaat.

ESG Mena’s Sal Jafar spoke with Khalifa Bin Braik, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim – Asset Management Business and Muhammad El Demerdash, Co-founder and CEO of engazaat, to discuss the companies’ recent solar power agreement and their role in driving forward solar energy capacity in the region. 

Facilitating clean technology for all

Muhammad El Demerdash, Co-founder of engazaat – a company that carries the message of “clean technology for all” – explained that in Egypt, the sustainability narrative, amid a “very inflationary scene,” is also now an economic narrative of sustainability, laying fertile ground for the transition to green energy technologies. 

Further, he noted that while the scene has been on hold for the past five to six years on grid-connected projects, he foresees that the situation will evolve differently over the next few years and build on the potential demonstrated by the Benban Solar Park.

“We have felt that this is the right anchor for resuming the green energy transition,” he said.

Through the partnership with Majid Al Futtaim Properties, engazaat will cover four assets, three in Egypt and one in Lebanon at the Mall of Egypt, City Centre Maadi, City Centre Alexandria, and City Centre Beirut.

“The total capacity is over 20 megawatts peak,” said El Demerdash.

Further, the solar plants, which will be powered by CHINT PV technology, are set to generate 737 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity across the project’s lifetime.

“That’s around $20 million of investments that we are doing with the Majid Al Futtaim properties anchoring for around than 100 megawatts in the pipeline,” he added.

Further, as the project’s Independent Power Producer (IPP), the company will develop the solar assets installed at Majid Al Futtaim’s retail properties based on a “design, finance, build, own, and operate” model with zero-capex, it was explained. 

This solar project is one of a number of such projects that Majid Al Futtaim is involved with to facilitate the transition to renewable energy across its portfolio. 

Last year, for example, the company entered a partnership with Yellow Door to provide renewable energy across 18 shopping malls located in the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman; it also inaugurated a 6.2 megawatt-peak solar power plant with Yellow Door Energy at The Bahrain Mall. 

Embedding sustainability at the core of operations

Speaking about how this partnership aligns with Majid Al Futtaim’s overarching business approach, CEO Khalifa Bin Braik said: “Sustainability is an embedded practice within Majid Al Futtaim.” 

As such, he noted that the assets included in the deal with engazaat, and its wider property portfolio adhere to the highest green building standards. 

The company has achieved a number of firsts when it comes to green credentials, as the first in the region to achieve LEED and BREEAM certification across its properties portfolio and the owner of the world’s largest operating LEED Platinum mall.

Alongside this, the company shared its 2040 net positive goal, 2030 net-neutral goal and 2040 net positive carbon and water goal. 

“Obviously, we’re far more advanced in the UAE, but now, we’re fast-tracking our aspirations in Egypt,” said Bin Braik.

El Demerdash noted that in Egypt, there’s never been a better time to do this: “Now with the current situation, fossil fuels are fluctuating, food bills have really gone up; power supply and reserves stress; these kinds of things are enabling green transition, and localising the industry.”

Indeed, the project, the two shared, is set to introduce around two thousand new jobs, mostly employing locals. 

The EV revolution & upskilling for the green transition

Speaking about Majid Al Futtaim’s EV charging capabilities, Bin Braik outlined that close to 45 per cent of its malls have EV charging stations, with a view to deploying EV charging stations across all of its malls. 

Green mobility has been identified as a central pillar of the net-zero economy, and global electric car sales rose 31 per cent in 2023 alone, although adoption is still low across the MENA region. 

A lack of charging infrastructure is a significant challenge contributing to range anxiety and hesitancy around adoption, and in the Middle East, deployment has a high degree of variability, with the UAE taking the lead. 

Other essential components of the green transition include reskilling and upskilling, a topic which is increasingly coming to the fore. 

Globally, there’s a green skills gap, and both engazaat and Majid Al Futtaim shared their commitment to addressing this.

Majid Al Futtaim is also driving forward its Emiratisation push, set to hire 3,000 Emiratis by 2026. 

Meanwhile, engazaat shared that it has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the CHINT Global and Suez Canal Economic Zone, to develop a Cleantech Industrial Park across 2 million square metres, in the Suez Canal Economic Zone in Egypt.

“This area is dedicated to clean technologies that will be localising the Chinese global technologies to serve projects like Majid Al Futtaim Properties and the market in general in the EMEA region,” said El Demerdash.

“The beauty of the transition is that when we spearhead that, we start localising the industry in our region, we start collaborating on the human power and talent development to take this to the ground with much, much bigger value,” he added. 

You may also like  | About Us | Careers | Privacy & Policy

 © 2024 ESG Mena