The Menace of Single-Use Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most objectionable types of litter in urban areas. The sheer volume of plastic waste generated coupled with energy and material resources required for production, as well as emissions resulting from these processes paint a grim picture of the environmental havoc created by plastic bags. Single-use plastic bags are a huge threat to the environment as an estimated 1 trillion such bags are consumed worldwide every year. In the United Arab Emirates alone, nearly 12 billion plastic bags are used annually. Major Hazards Single-use plastic bags are notorious for their interference in natural ecosystems … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts in GCC

The GCC countries face multitude of climate change challenges including desertification, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and sea level rise. The region is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and arid lands resulting in seriously degraded soil and land damage in addition to salt intrusion in the aquifers affecting the small scale agricultural lands thus enhancing the food security threat in the region. All of the above geographical threats have therefore increased and activated the participation of GCC states in global negotiations recently as evidence are uncovered and impacts being felt across the region. If a couple of days of rain … Continue reading

Dubai’s Journey Towards a Sustainable City

Only a decade ago, Dubai was considered one of the world’s worst polluters. The ecological footprint of this single city was huge, however, by 2050 it could be a sustainable city with the smallest ecological footprint of any city in the world. Why Sustainability Matters Over the last couple of decades, the need for a renewed focus on our global commitment has become obvious. We have started to see an unusually high rate of extreme weather events across the globe, events which many scientists are attributing to global warming. Time is running out to take decisive action on climate change. … Continue reading

Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal.  Food Waste in Ramadan Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality … Continue reading

Hazardous Wastes in UAE

The United Arab Emirates signed the Basel Convention* in November 1992 and established a legislation called ‘Regulation for Handling Hazardous Materials, Hazardous Wastes and Medical Waste (Law 24 of 1999)’. Article 12 of the law states ‘Transportation and disposal of locally produced hazardous waste through land borders, marine environment limit and air space shall be controlled in accordance with the rules, procedure and controls mentioned and specified in Basel Agreement and in coordination with Federal Environmental Agency’. UAE is not yet a signatory to Basel BAN amendments of Sep 1995 thus there is no mention of the Basel BAN amendments in … Continue reading

Freshwater Management Outlook for UAE

Per capita water consumption of freshwater in the United Arab Emirates is the highest in the world. Over the last several decades, the demand on municipal water supply has increased significantly in the UAE. This is mainly due to increase in population growth, economic development and changes in lifestyle of the people. Though water is used by many sectors such as manufacturing industries, agriculture and domestic purposes, residential  and commercial uses of water during the operational phase of the building is one of the biggest contributing factors that puts a strain on freshwater supply in the country. Desalination and Sustainability … Continue reading

Countries Driving Solar Surge in MENA

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are known for their abundance of fossil fuels, yet they also have another energy resource at their fingertips – solar power. Some countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have great solar resources, are transitioning to utility scale solar energy production.  This allows them to export more of their fossil fuel instead of using it to produce power domestically. However, the decision to switch to solar power isn’t just to preserve oil resources for export. The countries in the MENA region are also experiencing increased demand for electricity due to rising … Continue reading

Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies

Environmental protection has become an increasingly important item on the social and economic policy agenda of Middle East nations. As I read last week’s piece titled “Environmental Impacts of Plastic Bags” I was struck by the succinct summary of the main problems with the ongoing use of plastic bags and how their effects can be felt in many ways, some widely publicized and others not. The article prompted a series of reflections upon other environmental initiatives emerging in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In this article, I wish to share my … Continue reading

Green Building Trends in the Middle East

The Middle East region faces a unique set of environmental and socio-economic challenges in the form of water scarcity, harsh climatic conditions, ecological degradation and abundance of fossil fuels. Commercial and residential buildings in the Middle East consume more energy than those in other parts of the world, mainly on account of extremely hot weather, rampant use of glass exteriors and heavy reliance on air-conditioning. The Middle East building industry, in recent years, is actively trying to make widespread use of eco-friendly architecture, traditional building methods and sustainable construction practices. Some of the other drivers for the progress of green buildings sector … Continue reading

Green Building Sector in the UAE: Perspectives

The focus on sustainability is one of the biggest trends in the GCC’s building sector. This is underpinned by Dubai being ranked third in the list of global cities with the highest number of green certified buildings in the ‘Sustainability and Wellness in Dubai’ report by Core Savills with over 550 projects under LEED certification and the implementation of the Estidama framework in Abu Dhabi. Paving the Way In the UAE, the directives by the Federal and Local Government entities to establish a sustainable economy that advocates demand side-energy management, and water & energy use efficiency has encouraged real estate … Continue reading

Waste Prevention in Middle East – Prospects and Challenges

The best way of dealing with waste, both economically and environmentally, is to avoid creating it in the first place. People and businesses that use resources wisely not only save money but also have much less impact on the environment. That is why waste prevention rightly occupies the top spot in the so-called “Waste Hierarchy” set out in EU and national waste legislation.  Waste prevention is about the way in which the products and services we all rely on are designed, made, bought and sold, used, consumed and disposed of. For example: Making products that are more durable, repairable, re-usable … Continue reading

Energy Efficiency Perspectives for UAE

With Abu Dhabi alone on track to generate more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity for the first time, discussion about improving energy efficiency in the United Arab Emirates is taking on a more critical tone. Daytime energy use in the hot summer months is still experiencing rampant year-on-year growth, with peak demand this year growing by 12 per cent. Lying at the heart of these consumption levels is the need for air conditioning, which accounts for about half of total electricity demand. Business and Government Action At the commercial level, considerable steps are being taken to reduce the Emirate’s carbon … Continue reading

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