USA based Meer Energy, Co-Founder Abdullah Han, was one of the speakers in June 2023’s 10th Arab China Business Conference, in Riyadh KSA, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, where he met with positive feedback for his concept of developing a Blockchain AI Bitcoin and carbon credit mining datacenter in the country.

In an interview with LaraontheBlock, Han explains why he participated at the Arab China Business Conference and how his business model was received.

According to Han, Meer Energy a US based company for Bitcoin mining which utilizes flared gas to power its datacenters is working to expand its business model which includes Blockchain, AI datacenter as well as Carbon Credit tokenization to the Middle East, African and Asian region.

Han believes that the future of industrialization will be driven by blockchain and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and this requires energy and hashpower, more specifically sustainable hashpower that can support AI and Blockchain development of use cases.  He states, “We are trying to use waste energy from oil and gas, flared energy and renewable energy to create cheap energy that powers AI and Blockchain, Bitcoin mining, and carbon credit tokens. We already have a joint venture with Asian investors to deliver datacenters in the USA.”

Meer Energy’s value proposition is to utilize the flare gas sites in the MENA region, such like those in Iraq, KSA and others to power big datacenters. As he explains, countries such as Iraq have a huge headache in dealing with their flared gas as they are unable to connect it to the electricity grid given their remote location, and the inability to connect pipelines to dry processed gas. So by combining energy from flared gas with AI and Blockchain a lot of projects become viable and economically  attractive.”

For Han, Meer Energy will use 95% of the hashpower of its datacenters to mine Bitcoin, and use the remaining 5% to power high performance blockchain, and AI projects. He gives the example of carbon credits NFTs which will be mined directly from the datacenter. The datacenter will use smart contacts to monetize carbon credits into NFTs creating revenues of $1 million per month.  He explains, “Each Megawatt produced by a datacenter can produce 5000 carbon credits, nearly 1 million dollars in revenue alone , I call it your mining.”

Another example that HAN gives for utilizing datacenters is in the mining of CBDCs. As Han explains, “While countries in developing nations start to issue CBDCs they will face two issues either using private blockchains such as for example Hyperledger or public blockchains such as Ethereum, they will face issues of not holding hashpower of these blockchains, not having a stake in them. By utilizing datacenters on the sovereign ground of a country, central banks can utilize flared gas to power their own CBDC.”

So Han believes that while governments may not want to discuss Bitcoin mining they are interested in discussing how integrated datacenters can support blockchain use cases in combination with AI while affording a sustainable climate program using carbon credits.

According to Han, he is approaching MENA governments and investors with a new concept. While in the USA, Bitcoin is connected to Wall Street, in developing countries the government is behind it. 

As per Han today we are seeing a move towards de-dollarization in KSA, Russia, Iran, and UAE. He explains, “All governments will realize that strong money will drive weak money out of the system. In the 1970s crude oil and dollar were anchored together, but today we can have what I call gas Bitcoin or energy Bitcoin, which could replace the petro dollar.  The new possible global monetary system could be Bitcoin, utilized as a new global reserve system and settlement system. Those leaders with a vision and forward looking approach understand this. They by mining Bitcoin can have a share of a global decentralized banking system. This is one way to understand Bitcoin from a geo-political perspective. So when I speak to MENA policy leaders I don’t invite them to mine Bitcoin, I invite them to subscribe in shares to a decentralized global bank.”

Han believes this could be tested in for example NEOM city which is powered by Blockchain and AI, because in the city of the future there is also need for the governance of the future and this includes circulation of money. This according to Han could be tested in a controlled environment to see what happens.

Meer Energy is seeking to raise $5-6 million at a valuation of $40-50 million. During Han’s trip to KSA there was very positive feedback not only from investors but policy makers. Han states, “The concept was well received.” 

As for the future Han believes that his proposal allows Bitcoin mining datacenters to survive the halving of Bitcoin. He states, “By combining bitcoin mining with carbon credits regardless of what happens to the price of Bitcoin after halving whether it remains the same or goes up to $50,000 we will still be able to make revenues from carbon credits and will survive while other companies go bankrupt.”

He also believes that these datacenters can create smart contracts for Islamic economy whether related to Hajj, Sukuk and others.

According to the data provided by the Hashrate Index, bitcoin miners in the UAE should produce approximately 13 EH/s, which is equivalent to 3.7% of the total Bitcoin hash rate at an assumed average energy efficiency of 30 J/TH. This comes as the UAE becomes an attractive hub for crypto mining. 

Marathon Digital Holdings confirmed earlier in 2023 that the company along with Abu Dhabi based Zero Two (Registered name FS Innovation), an emerging blockchain and digital assets infrastructure development company, will be launching the two digital asset mining sites with a combined capacity of 250 Megawatts in the sustainability hub of Abu Dhabi Masdar City and the port zone of Mina Zayed by the end of 2023.

The TRIPLE A January 2023 crypto ownership country report noted that the number of cryptocurrency users has increased since January 2022. In January 2023 there were 420 million crypto owners globally; this is up from their previous report in January 2022 where they had stated there were 300 million crypto owners globally. In the Arab world biggest growth was seen in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and even Iraq. 

More interesting is that if we compare the percentage of crypto owners in the Arab world between January 2022 and January 2023 in some countries the increase is exponential.

For example in Jan 2022 2.38% of Moroccan population owned crypto, by January 2023 this number had increased to 4.9% an increase of more than 2% in one year. The same goes for Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon were the increase was also significant.

CountryJan 2022 Crypto Ownership %Jan 2023 crypto ownership %Crypto Ownership Population 2023
Saudi Arabia1.31.6592,351

In another recent CoinGecko report, Lebanon placed first in the rankings as the country most interested in AI crypto, scoring the highest of 100 for almost all the search terms, resulting in a total score of 1,200. The 21.6% share in AI crypto search interest suggests that the Lebanese crypto community is keen to trade on trends like the pumping prices of AI tokens. Other Arab countries curious about crypto AI included UAE, followed by Kuwait and Qatar.

One can also go back to Chainalysis report in October 2022, where Middle East & North Africa (MENA) was the fastest growing region. MENA-based users received $566 billion in cryptocurrency from July 2021 to June 2022, 48% more than they received the year prior. The top three countries at that time were Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. This is once again mirrored in the stats showcased in this article. 

When Huda Kattan, an Iraqi American beauty Blogger launched her blog in 2010, she didn’t imagine that in 2022, she would head one of the fastest growing beauty brands in the world with over 50 million followers on Instagram and a net worth of 500 million USD.

Her success actually started in Dubai UAE, when Huda and her sisters Mona and Alya created a collection of false eyelashes under the Huda Beauty brand name which later launched at Sephora in Dubai Mall.

Recently Huda was invited to speak at Gary Vaynerchuk’s Web3.o and NFT conference Veecon, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.  

Only a handful  of women were present at the event, including Mila Kunis and Eva Longoria, Kattan spoke on her recent investments into NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) and how few women are involved in the crypto space.

Kattan currently owns hundreds of NFTs, including those from the project  World of Women NFT. As per their website, WoW’s vision is to build an inclusive web3 through its collection and community. According to research published in Nov. 2021, female artists accounted for just 5% of all NFT art sales in the prior 21 months. WoW is on a mission to change this. Kattan’s investment into digital art NFTs stems from her passion and is not based on pure financial gain.

In her interview with Yahoo Finance, Katan who discussed investing in NFTs states, “Passion is essential you with passion you can be patient when the market goes up and down. I know not everybody feels that way, but I do believe that when you have passion you bring so much more to the NFT community, more than just the value of buying NFTs, the community part is so important.”

“As much money as I’ve made, I’ve lost a lot of money,” Kattan said about her new investments. “And it’s very easy to be like, ‘Oh my god buy this lipstick. There’s no real downfall if you don’t like it, you lost $20. If you invest in an NFT project, you become part of the community, you invest so much time. And if that doesn’t go well, that’s your wealth that is your livelihood.”

The Veecon event had a ratio of 50 to 1 in terms of men versus women. Huda hopes that will change in the future with the help of NFT communities. She states, “The NFT space reminds me of the beauty space in the beginning. Things are shifting and changing.”

At the moment only 2 percent of VC money goes to women. Women still represent fewer than 15 percent of the crypto space.  “I am a strong woman, I’m a very confident woman, I have a lot of personality and am rarely uncomfortable in any situation and I am intimidated with that space so I can’t imagine how other women must feel,” she said. “Getting more women here needs to be a very conscious effort.”

Kattan’s presence in the NFT domain comes at a time in the MENA when institutions such UAE Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has partnered with Web3 identity platform and NFT domain provider Unstoppable Domains to provide free crypto domains to all women residing in Abu Dhabi. The giveaway aims to provide opportunities for more women to learn about and ultimately participate in Web3, a space where only 5% to 7% of all cryptocurrency users are women and just 12% work in blockchain.

The initiative was announced during a delegation visit to Abu Dhabi by the ‘Women of Web3′, a powerhouse group of disruptive female tech entrepreneurs from the United States exploring the emirate as a gateway for global expansion.

Eng. Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Acting Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi is ensuring the future of Web3 is built around powerful infrastructures that appeal to all members of the community. By supporting initiatives that invite and uplift women, we can champion diversity early in the Web3 era. The partnership with Unstoppable Domains to provide frees crypto domains to all women in Abu Dhabi and embodies the emirate’s promise of inclusion, while creating opportunities for private sector participation in a fast-growing space.”

Sandy Carter, SVP of Unstoppable Domains and Founder of Unstoppable Women of Web3, stated: “It’s great to see Abu Dhabi leading the mission to bring Web3 opportunities to women in the Middle East. It has been an honor to be a part of the ‘Women of Web3’ delegation, and I am grateful to Access Abu Dhabi and ADIO for providing such an immersive look into Abu Dhabi’s business and technology ecosystem.”

Sarah Omolewu, Managing Partner of Maven Global Access and founder of Access Abu Dhabi, said, “In a market of expats from more than 200 countries, this initiative could potentially impact the lives of generations of women around the world.” She added, “This is the legacy-building impact I envisioned for the Access Abu Dhabi program. While the financial gap between male and female founders still exists, the game is changing, and more women recognize the value of emerging technologies in growing and funding their businesses.”