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Dhabi is obviously the most prominent of the numerous projects that the UAE has undertaken. Just like many others around the world, I am curious how such a revolutionary concept will ultimately play out, mainly because there is nothing to compare it with. The influential International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), has awarded the UAE to host its headquarters, which will be located in Masdar City and various international summits such as the World Future Energy Summit, the International Green Awards Sustainability Summit are hosted by UAE. The UAE’s enthusiasm to adopt a sustainable model for the future is now being echoed across the region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has recently announced plans to invest over USD 100 billion to develop 41 GW of solar capacity, while similar, albeit smaller renewable energy projects have been announced all over the region. Moreover, GCC states are now proactively adopting green building codes that serve as one of the foundations towards building a green economy. Qatar went even further by instituting its own green building certification system, the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), which has been integrated into the Qatar Construction Specifications (QCS) making the implementation of certain criteria mandatory for buildings developed in Qatar. The UAE’s enthusiastic shift towards a sustainable future is surely driven mainly by the practical challenges the UAE’s society is facing, especially in light of the aggressive socio-economic development initiatives undertaken by the government. For instance, studies

have shown that the UAE has the highest energy consumption per capita in the world, mainly due to massive development projects underway across the country as well as the heavy use of cooling equipment, which is a basic necessity in light of the region’s unique weather conditions. Waste production is another topic, with Dubai alone witnessing a 16 per cent increase annually between 2000 and 2009. The dramatic surge in the UAE’s population – a direct result of the country’s economic success – has been cited as the primary cause of the increased level of waste in the country. These challenges, however, are not unique to the UAE. Consider that more than half of the world’s population now live in cities, and experts believe this figure could increase to 70 per cent by 2030. Cities around the world are now responsible for more than 70 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Given this scenario, the groundbreaking efforts being undertaken by the UAE to improve the sustainability of its major cities therefore have a monumental impact on the global landscape, paving the way towards achieving genuine sustainability in the future. Despite being a relatively young country, I believe that the UAE has done a lot in promoting global sustainability and setting a good example in terms of environmental accountability. And while I do not consider myself an expert, my experience working on various sustainability-themed PR projects for governmental and private entities in the UAE and across the Middle East has helped broaden my understanding of the impact and magnitude of the UAE’s efforts in

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the local and global landscape. I would therefore not be surprised if the UAE will increasingly play an influential role in shaping international policies, programs and projects that will ultimately affect the sustainable upkeep of the world we live in.

About the Author Nidal Abou Zaki is the founder and Managing Director of Orient Planet, a PR and marketing communications consultancy serving governmental and corporate clients through its network of 12 offices in ten countries in the Middle East. A veteran with over two decades experience in the Middle East PR and media industries, Nidal has developed communications strategies for numerous CSR/environment/sustainability-related campaigns of local and multi-national companies and government entities in the UAE and across the region. He also maintains strong ties to various NGOs and advocacy groups such as Emirates Environmental Group.

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