Green Buildings Certification in MENA – Issues and Challenges

Green building rating systems are increasingly gaining attention in the building industry in the MENA region. During the last 15 years, there has been a regional trend in developing and applying green building ratings systems. In several countries such systems have been developed in an attempt to follow the international green movement. For example, the Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS) was founded in UAE in 2007, the Green Pyramid (GPRS) and ARZ Building Rating System in Egypt and Lebanon respectively were founded in 2008, the Edama was proposed in Jordan in 2009 and Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS) was founded in 2010.  … Continue reading

Energy Efficiency in Arab World: Key Findings of Arab Future Energy Index 2017

Energy efficiency is the most cost effective means of reducing the energy intensity of the economy and promoting a low-carbon future in the Arab world. Energy efficiency further helps Arab states meet their SDGs on combating climate change and its impacts (SDG13), as it cuts down on GHG emissions resulting from excessive and inefficient consumption of energy. Energy efficiency improvements can save governments, companies, and citizens billions of dollars in the Arab region from reduced energy bills, while at the same time quickly reducing carbon footprints – a win-win solution. Many countries in the region are now moving ahead with … Continue reading

Garbage Woes in Cairo

Cairo, being one of the largest cities in the world, is home to more than 15 million inhabitants. Like other mega-cities, solid waste management is a huge challenge for Cairo municipality and other stakeholders.  The city produces more than 15,000 tons of solid waste every day which is putting tremendous strain on city’s infrastructure. Waste collection services in Cairo are provided by formal as well as informal sectors. While local authorities, such as the Cairo Cleanliness and Beautification Authority (CCBA), form the formal public sector, the informal public sector is comprised of traditional garbage-collectors (the Zabbaleen). Around 60 percent of the … Continue reading

An Adaptive Refugee Camp Model for the Middle East

Natural disasters and wars are two main reasons that force populations to leave their homes, which consequently push for an urgent need to provide temporary shelters or settlements as a disaster management plan. For many years, governments and aid agencies have worked on offering emergency relief camps. Solutions have ranged from short term to long-term shelters. Tents are the most common shelter structure used. However, studies show that the majority of current tent shelters do not satisfy comfort conditions for occupants and hardly satisfy privacy, hygiene and other social needs. They are also expensive to fabricate and deteriorate quickly. Several … Continue reading

Medical Waste Management in MENA

Healthcare sector in MENA region is growing at a very rapid pace, which in turn has led to tremendous increase in the quantity of medical waste generation by hospitals, clinics and other establishments. According to a recent Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs report, Egypt generated 28,300 tons of hazardous medical wastes in 2010. In the GCC region, more than 150 tons of medical waste is generated in GCC countries every day. Saudi Arabia leads the pack with daily healthcare waste generation of more than 80 tons. These figures are indicative of the magnitude of the problem faced by municipal authorities in … Continue reading

Carbon Market in the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa region is highly susceptible to climate change, on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones, and the presence of conflict-affected areas. Moreover, the region is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on account of its thriving oil and gas industry. The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Not surprisingly, the carbon emissions from UAE are approximately 55 tons per capita, which is … 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

Plastic Upcycling Initiative in Egypt

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. Plastic bags are notorious for their interference in natural ecosystems and for causing the death of aquatic organisms, animals and birds. In 2006, The United Nations Environment Programme estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile … Continue reading

Nile – The Lifeline of Egypt

The Nile always played a key role in the lives of Egyptians. It made living in the desert possible, provided drinking water; it was a source of irrigation and most importantly created fertile soil that allowed for growing crops to feed the masses. The Nile also offered an ideal means of transport for goods and people thus causing development of boats and other water traveling methods. During the course of history, using the Nile for trading with other countries proved easier and safer than land. The trip from northern to southern Egypt would have been very strenuous if it wasn’t … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources

Freshwater shortage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is posing a serious threat to economic growth, social cohesion, peace and political stability. Furthermore, today’s freshwater usage does not account for its present and future availability but rather is based on sectoral and geographical competing consumption needs. To make matters worse, this already dire situation is being exacerbated by the rapidly changing climate. Climate change affects water resources by its profound impact on water quantity, variability, timing, form, and intensity of precipitation. The MENA region, in particular, is highly vulnerable to the disruptive climate change effects because countries within this … Continue reading

Asbestos Waste Management in MENA

Each year countries from the Middle East and North Africa import large amount of asbestos for use in the construction industry. As per the last known statistics, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 20% of world demand for the material. Iran and the United Arab Emirates are among the biggest consumers of the material. Infact, the entire Middle East has been steadily increasing their asbestos imports, except for Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are the only two countries that have placed bans on asbestos but with questionable effectiveness. Iran alone has been reported to order 30,000 tons of asbestos each year. More than 17,000 … Continue reading

Mobile Agriculture in Egypt: Food for Thought

The phenomenal spread of smartphones and the fact that they are practically hand-sized computers, have opened way to the creation of countless ‘mobile applications’ or simply ‘apps’. The first apps that came to light were as expected, for social media and different entertainment channels. They were followed by ‘modern life’ apps in the areas of health, education, agriculture and many more. Almost every area imaginable in our life now has a mobile app that caters to it. Mobile Agriculture in Africa During the course of my work at Orange Egypt, I’ve seen a great amount of interest in mobile agriculture … Continue reading