Dake Rechsand’s ‘Magic Sand’ Aims to End UAE’s Food and Water Deficit Within 5 Years

Addressing the UAE and larger MENA regions’ sustainability challenges of water conservation, green cover and food security, Dake Rechsands’ breakthrough sand technology can harvest and store rainwater to create a new water source for the region as well as transform deserts into lush tropical forests and organic farms. Dake Rechsand, a collaboration between South Africa’s Dake Group and the Rechsand Technology Group from Beijing, today announced the launch of their revolutionary ‘magic sand’ technology and its affiliated sand-made product range in the Middle East region. The joint venture is the result of their mission to take these innovative technologies to … Continue reading

Vanishing Aquifers in MENA

Aquifers are of tremendous importance for the MENA as world’s most water-stressed countries are located in the region, including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. However, aquifers in MENA are coming under increasing strain and are in real danger of extinction. Eight aquifers systems, including those in MENA, are categorized as ‘over stressed’ aquifers with hardly any natural recharge to offset the water consumed. Aquifers in MENA Aquifers stretched beneath Saudi Arabia and Yemen ranks first among ‘overstressed’ aquifers followed by Indus Basin of northwestern India-Pakistan and then by Murzuk-Djado Basin in North Africa. The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer in … Continue reading

Desertec: What Went Wrong?

A plan to power Europe from solar power plants in Sahara desert, popularly known as Desertec, seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future? If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’ Can this really be true? It is … Continue reading

Biomass Energy in Middle East

The major biomass producing countries in the Middle East are Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic energy purposes in the Middle East region, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Since most of the region is arid or semi-arid, the biomass energy potential is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and industrial wastes. According to conservative estimates, the potential of biomass energy in the MENA region is about 400TWh per year. Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Middle East countries. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, … Continue reading

Women Entrepreneurship in MENA: An Analysis

Women entrepreneurship is an important unexploited source of economic growth in almost all parts of the world. Unfortunately women in MENA have the lowest rates of Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) at merely 4% of the population. The highest rates, globally, are in sub-Saharan Africa, at 27%. Latin American and Caribbean economies also show high levels (15 percent). In just seven economies (Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda), women had equal or slightly higher levels of entrepreneurship than men. For the rest, women represented a smaller share of the entrepreneur population. Current Situation The recent interest in women entrepreneurship in the Middle … Continue reading

#InspireMENA – Storytelling on Sustainable Development in MENA

Over 350 million people live in MENA and share Arabic as a common language. To date, there is very little literature in Arabic about sustainable development in general and specifically on the United Nation’s new global goals and the associated agencies and initiatives. More than half of that population is below 25 and is currently going through a lot in terms of political, economic, and social change. Despite all of this, those young people are innovating and making positive change in their communities. It is of utmost importance to support such impact with credible information, more visibility for success stories, … Continue reading

Introduction to Biorefinery

A biorefinery is a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and equipment to produce fuels, power, and value-added chemicals from biomass. Biorefinery is analogous to today’s petroleum refinery, which produces multiple fuels and products from petroleum. By producing several products, a biorefinery takes advantage of the various components in biomass and their intermediates, therefore maximizing the value derived from the biomass feedstock. A biorefinery could, for example, produce one or several low-volume, but high-value, chemical products and a low-value, but high-volume liquid transportation fuel such as biodiesel or bioethanol. At the same time, it can generate electricity and process heat, … Continue reading

Water Scarcity in MENA

The Middle East and North Africa region is the most water scarce region of the world. The region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to measly 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water. The average water availability per person in other geographical regions is about 7,000 m3/year, whereas water availability is merely 1,200 m3/person/year in the MENA region. The region has the highest per capita rates of freshwater extraction in the world (804 m3/year) and currently exploits over 75 percent of its renewable water resources. Due to burgeoning population and rapid economic growth, the … Continue reading

Combating Desertification in MENA

Desertification is a worldwide phenomenon afflicting countries all over the world. The desert is making a comeback in the Middle East, with fertile lands turning into barren wastes. According to United Nation’s Development Program’s 2009 Arab Human Development Report, desertification is threatening around one-fifth of the MENA region. China is experiencing desertification at an alarming rate – as much as 1,300 square miles each year. Sub-Saharan Africa is drying up, as are regions of Turkey that were once rich agricultural lands. During the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the world’s leaders adopted the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and agreed on the desertification definition … Continue reading

Water Stress in the Mediterranean

For many years now, the Mediterranean has been facing problems leading to a situation of serious environmental degradation. An increase in the temperature and salinity levels has been recorded during the second half of the 20th century in the Mediterranean Sea. However, this increase does not follow progressive trend and periods of temperature alternation have been observed. Following several climate change scientific reports, sea level trend at the global scale is higher than at the regional scales. Furthermore, in the regional scale there are other influence factors such the atmospheric pressure and the wind. In addition, the small rises in temperature … Continue reading

Solar Energy in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over USD 3billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year. The National Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan was launched in 2008 which aims to develop renewable energy to meet 15 percent of the country’s energy demand and to increase the use of energy-saving methods.  According to the Moroccan Ministry … Continue reading

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