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Luxuriously sustainable

Environmental Conservation


With $1 billion worth of projects under construction or in operation, the UAE is the biggest renewable energy market in the GCC, according to Alstom.

Approximately two thirds of the UAE’s economy relies on fossil fuels, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), so there has never been a greater need for feasible alternatives.

“Traditional sources of energy on their own are not enough,” said Suhail Mohammed Al-Mazrouei, the UAE minister of energy, at the World Energy Congress. “The UAE is actively diversifying its energy mix.”

“The UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, pays great attention to boosting efforts aimed at ensuring safe, clean and sustainable energy as a fundamental pillar of stability and growth in the world,” said Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, earlier this year.

The sun is an abundant resource in the UAE and the government is capitalising on this energy source. With projects such as Masdar’s Shams Phase 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant in operation in the world, launched in March 2013, the UAE is moving in the right direction. The $600m, 100-megawatt solar thermal project – which will power thousands of homes in the UAE and displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year – will take three years to build.

“The Middle East holds nearly half of the world’s renewable energy potential,” said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar, during the inauguration ceremony for the new project. “The abundance of solar energy is an opportunity to integrate sustainable and clean sources of power that address energy security and climate change. The Middle East needs more projects, such as Shams 1, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of future energy.”

Al Barari, Damac’s Akoya Oxygen and Masdar are three of the numerous communities in the UAE who have adopted sustainable methods of building, living and maintenance.

“We are the example,” explains Dereck Alexander Jon Hoogenkamp, sales and marketing director for Al Barari Firm Management, pioneers in the sustainability industry in the UAE. “Look at our waste management, we were the first to separate everything, we made that move. Now we are doing many other things, including water treatment. Normally, if you irrigate your small garden every month, you would pay AED3,000-AED8,000 per month, with us, you would be paying AED400-AED500, because it is our recycled water. All of the irrigation water in Al Barari is now like this.”

Wind flow between buildings, shading for the new apartments and cooler temperatures (Al Barari is three to four degrees cooler than the rest of Dubai) are only some of the natural factors that Al Barari has thought about to become a more sustainable community.

The UAE is a now leader in the renewable energy domain, while other Middle Eastern countries are following suit.

“GCC countries are implementing policy reforms to accelerate non-oil growth and create employment opportunities for a rapidly increasing labour force in a sustained fashion, while reducing vulnerability to oil price shocks,” states an IMF report, entitled: Oil Dependence and Diversification, published in 2008.

Meanwhile, although the UAE is investing a lot of money into renewable energy through a number of pojects around the country, it is also financing several projects in other countries such as the Pacific Islands, with a $20bn investment and the Maldives, with a $6 million investment in focusing on wind and solar energy.

With Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan tapping into the solar industry, the region will soon be making its mark in the sustainable industry, paving the way to a more eco-friendly future.




Originally published in Aficionado, sister publication of

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