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

Environmental Perceptions and Attitudes in Qatar – A Survey

Measuring environmental knowledge, opinion and attitude is of paramount importance to the academics and policymakers for developing better policies for human well-being and protection of ecosystems. Self-reporting attitudes and behaviours are one of the ways to measure. A first-of-its-kind national opinion survey on environmental issues was conducted in 2016 in a series of three surveys including ten socio-demographic questions in each survey. The survey covered a wide range of topics from climate change to government policies to urbanization to food. The results show a large number of people are deeply aware of the local and global environmental problems. Overall, the … 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

Sustainability in the Middle East: Complications and Opportunities

The Middle East region is facing a unique set of natural, operational, political, economic and social challenges in efforts to adopt sustainability. The rapid development and increasing population in these countries have led to an increased consumption of fossil fuels, water, and other non-renewable natural resources, taking a toll on the environment. Though the Middle East countries have significantly contributed to the carbon emissions, over the past decade they have taken positive steps towards addressing the core environmental issues and improving sustainability situation in their respective countries. This article aims at sharing the common challenges and opportunities faced by the … Continue reading

Green Building Rating Systems in MENA

Green buildings not only contribute towards a sustainable construction and environment but also bring lots of benefits and advantages to building owners and users. Lower development costs, lower operating costs, increased comforts, healthier indoor environment quality, and enhanced durability and less maintenance costs are hallmarks of a typical green building. A wide range of green building rating and assessment systems are used around the world, including LEED and BREEAM. Sustainability is now a top priority in MENA region and countries like Qatar and UAE have come up with their own green building rating system to incorporate socio-economic, environmental and cultural … Continue reading

Recycling of E-Waste in GCC: Challenges and Opportunities

The growing amount of e-waste is gaining more and more attention on the global agenda. In 2017, e-waste production is expected to reach up to 48 million metric tons worldwide. The biggest contributors to this volume are highly developed nations, with the top three places of this inglorious ranking going to Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. In Norway, each inhabitant produces a massive 28.3 kg of e-waste every year. Not far behind the top ten of this ranking lie GCC member states, with both Kuwait and UAE producing each 17.2 kg e-waste per capita per year. Saudi Arabia with its many … Continue reading

Food Waste and the Spirit of Ramadan

In recent years, enormous generation of food waste during the holy month of Ramadan has been a matter of big debate in Muslim countries and elsewhere. As per conservative estimates, around one-fifth of the food purchased or prepared during Ramadan finds its way to garbage bins or landfills. This translates into thousands of tons of precious food which could have been used for feeding tens of millions of hungry people in impoverished countries of Asia, Africa and elsewhere. The staggering amount of food waste generation during Ramadan urgently demands a strong strategy for its minimization, sustainable utilization and eco-friendly disposal. Gravity of … Continue reading

A Holistic Approach to Tackling Food Waste Problem in Qatar

In a country that imports 90% of its food, discarded food accounts for about half of Qatar’s municipal garbage. These statistics point to the loss of millions of riyals each year, in the form of food wastage. The food in landfills rots to release greenhouse gases like methane which are responsible for the rise in temperatures which contributes to global warming. According to Project Drawdown, the global leader in quantifying climate change strategies, reducing food waste is the single greatest solution to reverse climate change, which could draw 87 gigatons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, way ahead of a global plant-based … Continue reading

Food Security in the Middle East

Despite the fact that the Middle East is blessed with a rich geological inheritance of hydrocarbons and mineral resources, it is a water-scarce and arid region that has its share of demographic and socio-economic problems. It is difficult to grow food crops in the Middle East due to scarcity of water supply and limited availability of arable land. The region is highly vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity markets because of heavy dependence on imported grains and food items.   According to a report issued in 2009 by the World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and … Continue reading

District Cooling in the Middle East: Potential and Challenges

District cooling produces chilled water in a centralized location for distribution to buildings like offices and factories through a network of insulated underground pipes. The chilled water travels to different buildings, where the water circulates through refrigeration coils or uses absorption technology to enter the air-conditioning system. During winter, the source for the cooling can often be seawater, so it is a cheaper resource than using electricity to run compressors for cooling. What is District Cooling District cooling provides effective control over internal temperature of a building, requires less maintenance than a standalone air-conditioning system, consumes lesser space and reduces … Continue reading

Green SMEs in Middle East: Obstacles and Challenges

With ‘green’ being the buzzword across all industries, greening of the business sector and development of green skills has assumed greater importance all over the world, and Middle East is no exception. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in eco-design, green architecture, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability are spearheading the transition to green economy across a wide range of industries. Green SME sector in the Middle East has been growing steadily, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. Regulations One of the major obstacles in the progress of green SMEs in the Middle East the has been poorly-designed regulation. According … Continue reading

Solid Waste Management in the Middle East – Major Challenges

Middle East is one of the most prolific waste generating regions of the world. Solid waste management in the Middle East is bogged down by major challenges like lavish lifestyles, ineffective legislation, infrastructural roadblocks, indifferent public attitude and lack of environmental awareness. High standards of living are contributing to more generation of waste which when coupled with lack of waste collection and disposal facilities have transformed ‘trash’ into a liability. Major Hurdles The general perception towards waste is that of indifference and apathy. Waste is treated as ‘waste’ rather than as a ‘resource’. There is an urgent need to increase … Continue reading