Khalid Abuleif is an engineering graduate from the University of Houston, and started working at Aramco – the Saudi government’s oil and natural gas company – in 1997. He became chief climate negotiator for Saudi Arabia in 2012, having been a member of the country’s delegation to the UNFCCC since 1991.
Largely seen as obstructionist and opportunistic, Saudi Arabia is an important player at the talks, and one of the most active Arab countries. Many question why – given its high per capita income – it still figures among the developing countries. In Lima, Abuleif argued that abandoning fossil fuels is premature, given the large share of the world’s population that lack access to energy, and that any deal would have to take into account the economic “vulnerabilities” faced by oil producing countries. Mostly concerned with the economic costs to the country if oil revenue has to be reduced, its position is ruled by fear of loss rather than the reality of climate change.