The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a massive problem with a limited supply of rainwater. With an average rainfall of just 100 mm per year, the constitutional monarchy is ranked among the most water-stressed countries in the world.
For years now, the country’s government has been investing heavily in various cloud-seeding missions aimed to increase the annual rainfall. For example, the UAE has been relatively successfully triggering rain by firing salt particles into clouds from airplanes to make individual water particles heavier and more likely to punch holes in the clouds.
Now, UAE scientists have partnered with their colleagues from the University of Reading, England, to make it rain more in the parched country by literary giving clouds electric shocks.
“Equipped with a payload of electric charge-emitting instruments and custom sensors, these drones will fly at low altitudes and provide an electric charge to air molecules, which should stimulate precipitation,” explains Alya Al-Mazroui, the Director of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science.
By deploying an electric current with negative and positive ions, the drones will basically attempt to recreate the natural phenomenon that causes dry hair to be attracted to a plastic comb. Since particles with opposite charges attract each other, the electricity unleashing drones should theoretically cause small droplets of water to merge into more subscription cloud formations and eventually lead to rain.
“Our project aims to evaluate the importance of charge in affecting the cloud droplet size distribution and rainfall generation through modifying the behavior of droplets and particles and studying the microphysical and electric properties of fog events,” says Professor Giles Harrison, a Professor of Atmospheric Physics in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading.
The effectiveness and safety of various cloud-seeding practices, including those explored by the UAE, are still debated by scientists. Concerns have been raised about their geopolitical implications, with wealthy, technologically advanced countries potentially “stealing” rainwater that would otherwise naturally end up in poorer countries.
Stripe Enters The Middle East With Its UAE Launch
Stripe will initially only be available to UAE businesses, allowing them to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and attract customers from around the world.
Stripe, a provider of online payment processing for internet business, has finally expanded to the Middle East with its official launch in the United Arab Emirates. The Irish-American company also opened an office in Dubai Internet City, allowing it to be closer to its new customer base.
At first, Stripe will only be available to UAE businesses, allowing them to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and attract customers from around the world.
“The UAE is a thriving hub for technology, supported by strong investor appetite, internet-savvy consumers, and an open, innovative ecosystem of business leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Matt Henderson, EMEA Business Lead at Stripe. “Our launch today also means we can now connect our global user base to the Gulf, enabling them to seamlessly expand their operations in the region.”
Stripe’s entry into the Middle East market comes just weeks after its latest round of funding, which has resulted in the company’s value jumping up to $95 billion and making it one of the most valuable fintech companies in the world.
The UAE is the perfect entry point for the online payment processing provider because the total value of digital payment transactions in the gulf country has doubled in the last two years alone, reaching $18.5 billion in 2020. If the UAE remains on the current growth trajectory, its e-commerce sector is expected to add nearly another $10 billion over the next two years.
Another factor that makes the UAE such an ideal expansion point is the fact that accepting online payments in the country has historically been incredibly challenging. Stripe provides a straightforward setup process and developer-friendly APIs, making it easy for companies of all sizes to improve their online presence.
Last year, Stripe launched in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta. The company also expanded into Africa via Nigeria technology startup Paystack. In total, Stripe currently processes hundreds of billions of dollars each year.