Renewable Energy in GCC: Need for a Holistic Approach

The importance of renewable energy sources in the energy portfolio of any country is well known, especially in the context of energy security and impacts on climate change. The growing quest for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been seen by many as both – a compulsion to complement the rising energy demand, and as an economic strength that helps them in carrying forward the clean energy initiatives from technology development to large scale deployment of projects from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh. Current Scenario The promotion of renewable energy (RE) is becoming an … Continue reading

The Consequences of Ocean Acidification

The relentless rise in the percentage of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution is a well-known fact. Carbon dioxide is considered as one of the key players among the greenhouse gases that has contributed the most towards global warming, the current hot topic among environmentalists, scientists and even politicians. Another key issue is increasing being discussed nowadays is Ocean Acidification. Ocean acidification is an ongoing change in the chemistry of the ocean caused primarily by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What is Ocean Acidification Around 1/4th of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere via … Continue reading

Biogas Feedstock in the Middle East

Anaerobic digestion (or biogas technology) is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. It is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat. Almost any organic material can be processed with anaerobic digestion.  A wide range of organic wastes are available in the Middle East for anaerobic digestion. In addition to MSW, large quantity of waste, in … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts on Public Health: Perspectives for Arab World

Climate change is not only affecting the economies of Arab world but also having detrimental impacts on the very fabric of society, through threats to public health and livelihoods. Climate change in the Arab world is also exacerbating social inequalities, hitting the rural poor the hardest. This is not a reason for complacency amongst the wealthy urban classes. Basic humanitarianism aside, history suggests that physical hardships can breed wider unrest: a body of evidence suggests that poor harvests caused by a major Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 1783 triggered no less an event that the French Revolution. Extreme weather events … Continue reading

Agricultural Scenario in MENA

Agriculture plays an important role in the economies of most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The contribution of the agricultural sector to the overall economy varies significantly among countries in the region, ranging from about 3.2 percent in Saudi Arabia to 13.4 percent in Egypt.  Large scale irrigation is expanding, enabling intensive production of high value cash and export crops, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, and sugar. Egypt Egypt is the 14th biggest rice producer in the world and the 8th biggest cotton producer in the world. Egypt produced about 5.67 million tons of rice and 635,000 tons … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts in MENA

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is known for being one of the hottest places on Earth, and highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. In an IPCC special report on regional climate change, models projected that average temperatures in the region will increase by 1-2˚C by 2030-2050. Decision makers and citizens in all 21 countries realize that they are faced with an immediate need to reshape energy, agriculture, water and environmental policy to adapt to changing climate conditions. Steep Rise in Temperature Satellite data provided by Climate Engine from 1979 to present shows the mean max (average maximum) temperatures … Continue reading

Storm Alexa – Positive Aspects for MENA

The year 2013 saw history being made when Storm Alexa swept across the Middle East and North Africa bringing blizzards, torrential rain and icy winds to a region that hasn’t experienced such a storm in over 100 years. Storm Alexa caused devastating floods in Arab cities, such as Gaza, and power cuts in certain areas of Jordan. Heavy snowfall in Jordan covered the streets, hindering mobility and forcing people into their homes for several days. The storm has also brought hardship and misery upon the Syrian refugees enduring the bitter cold in fragile tents and makeshift shelters. Positive Aspects However, … Continue reading

Habitat Loss in MENA

Habitat loss of native species in MENA region is increasing at a sensational rate as a consequence of natural and human causes. MENA has diverse ecosystems, including aquatic and terrestrial, with different climate patterns. The region have three globally recognized hotspots; the Irano-Anatolian region, the Mediterranean forest region and the Horn of Africa region. According to 2015 IUCN Red List, approximately 2476 species in MENA are under threat comprising of mammals, fishes, birds, molluscus, amphibians, reptiles, and other species.  28% of threatened species comprises of fishes, 18% plants, 12% birds, 9% mammals and rest others. IUCN data show highest threatened species in Turkey (379), … 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

Environmental Best Practices for MENA Cement Industry

Cement production in MENA region has almost tripled during the last 15 years, mainly on account of high population growth rate, rapid urbanization, increasing industrialization and large-scale infrastructural development. The growth of cement industry in MENA is marked by factors that are directly connected with sustainability, energy efficiency and raw material supply. Although the factors differ from country to country and cannot be generalized, there are major concerns regarding shortage of raw materials, GHG emissions, dependence on fossil fuels and lack of investment in technological innovations. For the MENA cement sector, key points for an environment-friendly industry are use of … 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

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