Flew to Tel Aviv on Wednesday – and was again helpfully and delightfully steered through the VIP channel. Next day up early for the trip to the UBQ Materials factory, which I first visited earlier in the year – as reported in a previous entry on this site and in a subsequent GreenBiz blog.
I knew President Trump would probably be making an inflammatory announcement this week, but had hoped that sanity would prevail – but it almost never does with the delinquent denizen of today’s White House. A cool assessment of the implications can be found here in the New York Times.
All of that seemed quite a long way away, however, as we began the kick-off meeting of the UBQ International Advisory Board – even though several of our group were heading to Jerusalem on Saturday, the day after the slated “Day of Rage”.
In alphabetical order of first name, the other IAB members are: Connie Hedegaard (former European Commissioner for Climate Action), Ilan Cohn (senior partner at Reinhold Cohn, Israel’s largest intellectual property firm), Oded Shoseyov (professor in plant molecular biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a pioneer in nano-composite materials and a renowned winemaker), Roger Kornberg (professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine and winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006) and Scott Tobin (managing partner at Battery Ventures, an international venture capital fund).
The visit included a trip to the UBQ factory, based on a kibbutz in the Negev, where things have been coming along by leaps and bounds. Fascinating conversations every step of the journey, and again fascinated to see the former desert areas where multiple crops now flourish. Including potatoes which, because of the irrigated sandy soils, apparently emerge from the ground perfectly formed.
After an intensive couple of days, I had much of Saturday off ahead off the flight back to London. Visible in the distance from the top floor of the Hilton Hotel, where I was staying, was the peninsula part of Jaffa. Having been there briefly on our last trip, ably guided by UBQ Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Sveen, I decided to walk there along the coast – around 5 kilometres either way.
To say the city has had a complicated history is to put it mildly. But I enormously enjoyed the opportunity to freewheel for a change – and spent an interesting half hour pottering around the old town before heading back to the hotel. Then out to the airport, passing through cordons of heavily armed plainclothes guards on the approaches.
During the trip, I read Andy Weir’s new novel, Artemis. Had enormously enjoyed both his earlier book, The Martian, and the subsequent film – and very much look forward to this one being filmed. The heroine, Jazz Beshara, is wonderfully rendered and, like astronaut Mark Watney in The Martian, funny.
With Artemis set some 70 years in the future, and this time on the Moon, it is tempting to imagine what sort of Middle East the 2,000 citizens of the first lunar city would be looking down upon. And also, a couple of generations post-Brexit, what sort of hinterland to my own city of London.