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Š Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Go Global: ========================================================================

United Arab Emirates ========================================================================

Wibke Sonderkamp ========================================================================

A new dawn

======================================================================== A new dawn An Islamic state where the DJs’ turntables in trendy clubs stop spinning just before the muezzins’ morning call to prayer, and where the traditional Bedouin lifestyle continues alongside a very Western version of rampant consumerism? You must be in UAE. While most visitors are dazzled by hotel and real estate projects of record-breaking superlatives, an even more astonishing achievement is how the savvy sheikhs manage to harmonize such disparate and seemingly contradicting forces. The United Arab Emirates (Arabic: Dawlat al-´Imarat al-`Arabiyyah al-Muttahidah), often simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is a federation of seven emirates, each governed by a hereditary emir, who choose one of their members to be the president of the federation. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain, with the capital Abu Dhabi also serving as the state's center of political, industrial, and cultural activities. Since 1962, when Abu Dhabi became the first of the emirates to begin exporting oil, the country's society and economy started to experience what was to become a drastic transformation. As one of the most advanced economies in Western Asia, the UAE has the world's seventh-highest per capita income

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and is ranked seventh in the world for both, its oil and natural gas supplies. The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE at its inception, oversaw the development of all the emirates and made sure to direct its oil revenues into healthcare, education and the national infrastructure. Over the coming years the thriving economy is expected to undergo another structural shift in its economy, favoring more sustainable, long-term sectors such as transportation, healthcare, education, tourism and financial services. Although the natural resources of some emirates are expected to last for another generation, the journey of diversification for this market has already started. Nevertheless, petrochemicals and heavy industry still belong to the fastest growing segments as market expert Dr. Dalia Abu Samra-Rohte, Deputy CEO and Director Abu Dhabi Office of the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK), explains in an interview with LIFESTYLE clean energy. To safeguard access to energy resources for future generations, an orientation towards renewable energy resources seems to be the logical step – especially for a region that has sunshine and wind in abundance. “While Dubai made the first move and was a pioneer in the fast growing tourism sector, Abu Dhabi has taken the lead


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with prestigious renewable energy project such as Masdar,” explains Dr. Samra-Rohte. “Today the whole world is watching the progress of Masdar City.” Renewable energy technologies currently used in UAE include Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and photovoltaic, solar thermal technology, solar assisted air conditioning, as well as pilot projects for geothermal and wind energy. In addition to the “green city“, Masdar Power is currently working on two large solar power plants. A high percentage of technology for Masdar as well as services such as feasibility studies are imported from Europe, building on the federation’s well-established, strong trading relations especially in the renewable energy industry. “The strongest import sectors for UAE from Germany include machinery and vehicles, medical technology as well as the food sector as the consumers here show growing interest in bio products and a healthier diet,” says Dr. Samra-Rohte. To be an early mover in the market and to establish strong personal relationships are indispensable for doing business within the emirates, she continues. Companies who have proven themselves as a reliable partner – even in small projects – have a much higher chance to be considered for larger projects in the future. A local presence and an easy access to representatives belong to the main requirements for a successful business in the Emirates. “Patience and flexibility are among the key criteria for everyone seeking to establish a business in UAE,” Dr. Samra-Rohte adds. “Plans and project tenders are volatile and change frequently, so an average of two years need to be invested to establish lasting relationships – as we have a saying here: the Swiss might have invented the watch, but the Arabs invented time.”

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Abu Dhabi (24°28'N 54°22'E)

Largest city


Ethnic groups

16.6% Emirati (citizenry)


23.0% other Arabs 42.3% South Asian 12.1% other Asian 6.0% other expatriates

Government President

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Vice President

Mohammed bin Rashid Al

and Prime Minister



Federal National Council

Area Total

83,600d km2 (116th) 32,278 sq mi

Water (%)


Population 2011 (World Bank)



UAE dirham (AED)

Time zone



© Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Nidal Abou Zaki ========================================================================

Sustainability by example How the UAE is leading regional efforts to build a sustainable future ======================================================================== Recent years have witnessed a dramatic surge in the number of initiatives being undertaken by the UAE government and the private sector towards achieving a common goal – sustainable growth and development. The UAE has come a long way in its pursuit of sustainable development and it is by no means accidental that a relatively young country has been able to achieve so much, so fast. From the outset, the country’s founding fathers led by the UAE’s first president, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was one of the foremost Arab environmentalists, fully recognized the urgent need to protect our environment and preserve our natural resources for future generations.

A recipient of the “Gold Panda Award” from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1997, the first time the organization awarded its highest accolade to an international leader, and the ‘Environmental Advocate 1998’ from the Arab City Organisation, Sheikh Zayed led by example in manifesting his concern for the environment and sustainable development. He instituted various agricultural development initiatives, declared a hunting ban on endangered animals, established a federal environment committee, and introduced several other environmental and sustainability-driven programs. Building on the rich legacy of the UAE’s founding father, present-day leaders are now taking the UAE’s sustainable development agenda to a

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whole new level. Last year, a long-term national initiative was launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai, to establish the UAE as one of the world leaders and a centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies. In announcing the “Green Economy Initiative”, Sheikh Mohammed emphasised the importance of achieving a green economy as one of the key elements of the UAE Vision 2021, which lays down the UAE’s vision to be among the best countries in the world by 2021. The UAE backs up its claims with specific actions by initiating projects that have captured the world’s imagination. The Masdar City project in Abu

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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Interview Ralf Hartmann & Corinna Lang


“The richest person is not who has the most but who needs the least!” ========================================================================

His Highness Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, a member of the royal family of Ajman, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, advises the public, private and academic sectors on environmental issues. LIFESTYLE clean energy spoke with Sheikh Abdul Aziz – also known as “The Green Sheikh” about his commitment to sustainability and climate protection. Who gave you the name “Green Sheikh” and what does it stand for? I have been devoted to environmental causes since 1988 – fostering education, raising awareness, inspiring public participation and engaging the private sector. As I embraced sustainability as my personal cause, people began to refer to me as the “Green Sheikh”. But “green” is also a reference to some of my personal values, i.e. G.R.E.E.N stands for G = Global, because we live in a global community; R = Rethink, because we need to rethink our interactions with each other, and with natural resources; E = Enlightenment, because we need "light house" guidance and a path to follow; the other E = Ethics, because we need strong morals and values; and N = Network, because we are most productive when we live, work and enjoy our life together.

You were active in the oil and petrochemical industry in the past. When and why did you decide to shift your focus towards environmental protection? For me, engaging with environmental issues was a personal journey that started after 1992. I am a trained chemical and petroleum engineer and for three years I worked in the oil and petrochemical industry; then in natural gas liquefaction plants. I smelled and breathed sulfur dioxide from the contaminated air. I literally imbibed low lethal doses of NOx, COx and SOx and more; I was contaminated with complex hazardous waste. My entire body reacted to this constant exposure of toxic chemicals. My lungs were filled with toxic waste and irritated; my breathing became labored. I saw people die from exposure to that toxic environment. That experience transformed me. I decided to share what I have learned with other people and the society as a whole so we could begin to save the environment. It was not an easy task – there was not a lot of support for my message, yet I have been persisting because I felt it was important to share it with the world. Could you please describe your current activities focusing on environ-

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mental protection and enlightenment? I am deeply committed to sustainability. In my view, sustainable living is essential to our survival as people and for the planet. It is also consistent with my Faith, which inspires me daily to protect the Earth and help others to see it the way I do. We are all responsible for the environment. Protecting is not just about removing harmful things from the environment. It begins with cleaning our hearts and cleaning our minds. We must really think about the consequences of what we are doing. Then start with small steps and small incremental changes. As a result of focusing on this topic for so many years, I have come to one major realization: the survival of our planet and of us as people depends on inspiring the younger generation to get involved in addressing these major issues today. Young people are powerful; they do not know the word impossible. They can push the envelope on all major issues we face today, and be brave and strong. I am committed to inspiring global youth leadership. How have your surroundings responded to your “green” initiatives? In a positive and supporting way. My initiatives are global, and cross-cultural,

© Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Nuaimi, "The Green Sheikh"

His Highness Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi

and I have partnered with the head of a global NGO to inspire youth leadership and engagement. Together we will reach out to individual leaders in the GCC region and around the world to build cross-cultural bridges as well as to support collaboration for custodianship of the Earth. We will announce details of the collaboration soon. Do you think luxury and sustainability can co-exist well or rather contradict one another? Sustainability is not a privilege for the wealthy. Most indigenous people lived and continue to live a sustainable lifestyle. We need to unlearn our wasteful behaviors associated with consumption and waste, and inspire a simpler lifestyle for all. Waste comes with increased consumption, which is often associated with more wealth. It is essential that we work on aligning our social values with the needs of the planet.

The richest person is not who has the most but who needs the least. What are the main environmental challenges in the UAE? And how can they be addressed? The UAE is a country of young people, led by wise leadership. Our greatest challenge is also the source of our economic success: the easy availability of fossil fuel, the abundance of resources, and almost tax free opportunities. We work to raise awareness of clean and renewable energy, such as solar energy and just recently commissioned “Shams One", generating 100 MW and more – in order to instill a sense of environmental responsibility and respect for sustainability in the younger generation. What can the European Union learn from the UAE regarding CleanTech and sustainability?

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That even a fossil fuel rich country can be committed to sustainable practices, and can be a global visionary for the future. All that it takes is wise leadership, belief and courage to bring and embrace the best sustainable practices for its people and country. And what can the UAE learn from the European Community in these specific areas? The European Community has a very engaged citizenship, and great models for citizen participation. We are studying these models and intend to bring some of them home. Encouraging local innovation of sustainability from culture and heritage and turning compassion into action is our goal. Thank you very much for the interview!


Mohammed El Batta


A mental shift ======================================================================== A mental shift

The UAE has one the largest oil reserves in the world – yet today we are seeing a tremendous shift towards a more holistic approach regarding sustainable energy, not only in the country’s energy policy but also in public perception. The UAE has adopted several laws enforcing developers to comply with specific standards to ensure that the buildings are all aligned with the country’s Green Building code. Campaigns have been launched across numerous media channels encouraging the public to become more energy efficient. Utility companies are running advertising campaigns to advise the public to use energy efficient bulbs, switch off unnecessary lights and to conserve water consumption. All these campaigns are part of the UAE’s shift towards become more sustainable in their energy consumption. Not only that, but people are now going the extra mile by installing solar powered heaters on the rooftops of their houses and making the effort to lower their electricity consumption. They are also more conscious about watering their gardens in the evening rather than during daytime heat to conserve water. Many people are now replacing their lighting systems to use energy efficient and energy saving bulbs as well as LEDs in their homes and offices.

Prominent projects such as the solar power plant Shams 1 and the world renowned project Masdar City are also highly visible proof of the Emirate’s advancing leadership in the evolving global energy market. In today’s media, we see stories highlighting how Dubai's economic recovery has also sparked a government effort to develop renewable energy sources and ensure there is no repeat of the struggles to meet the demand that marred the emirate's last housing boom. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority hopes to reduce power and water usage in a city not known for conservative consumption. Various initiatives driven by a number of corporates and associations on water and general conservation have received a great deal of attention as well as media coverage. Recent reports also highlighted plans to introduce a feed-in tariff for roof-top photovoltaic systems and Abu Dhabi’s goal to generate seven per cent of its energy from renewable sources. The media has played an important role in educating the public about increasing levels of water and electricity consumption in the UAE as well as the benefits of a shift towards a more sustainable energy policy and lifestyle.

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About the Author Mohammed El Batta is a media and marketing communications expert with more than 15 years of experience in working with Fortune 500 companies across the Middle East. He is Managing Director of Fekra Communications, a Dubai-based fullservice communications agency and member of GlobalCom PR Network, that caters to a wide range of public and private sector clients across different industries.

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Wibke Sonderkamp ========================================================================

Green Giants ======================================================================== © Masdar City

The UAE is home of some of the world’s most renowned renewable energy projects. Masdar City is probably the most famous green urban development worldwide today. The 1,483-acre project in Abu Dhabi aims to be the first zero-carbon, zero-waste city powered by renewable energy. Initiated in 2006, the project is scheduled for completion in 2025. The city will be home to approximately 40,000 residents and 1,500 companies. The genius of Masdar is how it marries 21st century engineering with traditional desert architecture. Unlike the upward and outward sprawl of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Masdar will be compact like ancient Arab cities. Streets are narrow so buildings shade each other. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, wind farms, geothermal energy, and a hydrogen power plant will power the city. Transportation is provided by personal and public mass

transit systems combined with other electric vehicles. Today, Masdar City has become a global hub for clean technology and renewable energy where global businesses showcase, market, fund, research, develop, test, and implement their new technologies. UAE is also home to some of the world’s largest solar power plants. Shams 1 is one of the biggest concentrated solar power plants in the world. It covers 2.5 km², has 100 MW capacity and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors to generate clean, renewable electricity, whilst offsetting approximately 175,000 tons of CO2 annually. Concentrated solar power (CSP) generates electricity from the heat of the sun rather than sunlight as used by solar photovoltaic technology. The Masdar City Solar Plant is a 10 MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant that was inaugurated at Masdar City in June 2009. The facility provides electricity for the construction of Masdar City. Excess power is fed into the Abu Dhabi

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grid. The facility produces around 17,500 MWh of clean electricity annually and offsets 15,000 tons of carbon emissions per year. The plant consists of 87,780 multi-crystalline and thin film modules. Today, the plant is the largest of its kind in the Middle East but an even larger PV project is already in the pipeline: Noor 1 will be a 100 MW PV plant. In addition to its mega projects, the UAE have also become a popular place to try out new technologies in extreme environmental conditions. Since November 2011, a French startup, has been conducting tests on drinking water production near Abu Dhabi. A WMS1000 wind turbine converts humidity from thin desert air into drinkable water. It has been able to collect an average of more than 62 liters of water an hour with an average humidity rate of 45 per cent and an average temperature of 24°C surpassing the quality standard required by the World Health Organization.

Ola El Sissy

© Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing


On the road towards sustainable tourism ======================================================================== On the road towards sustainable tourism What does sustainability mean to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and to tourism? The term first started circulating some 20 years ago and was defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations” by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. In other words, the term sustainable development implies environmental consciousness. Today, this term has grown to encompass social and economic components, as well as its historical work on the environment. The UAE is placing considerable emphasis on encouraging investments in and development of green projects as

well as increasing tourism. The innovation for a sustainable future lies deep within the heritage of the UAE. The country's founders have long recognized the need to preserve its cultural heritage and abundant natural assets. Despite appearing relatively late on the international tourism scene, Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is by no means behind the market. Abu Dhabi has transformed itself from a relatively unknown attraction into one of the top 10 tourist destinations in 2010. Abu Dhabi last year received 2,388,023 hotel guests in its 136 hotels and hotel apartments – a 13 per cent rise on its 2011 performance and achieving its set target of 2.3 million guests.

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TCA Abu Dhabi has adopted a core priority of promoting the development of a sustainable tourism sector. As part of its 2030 plan they are working towards reducing their hotels’ energy usage by ten percent, water usage by 20 percent and landfill waste volume by 20 percent. In 2008, their Chairman H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan signed an official agreement to join the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG) whose mission it is to promote sustainability management in Abu Dhabi by providing learning and knowledge sharing opportunities for the government and private companies. The World Green Tourism event (WGT) is the first commercial conference and

exhibition specifically for the sustainable tourism sector, hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. WGT is designed to inspire the Middle East travel industry to place a bigger emphasis on sustainability. Abu Dhabi is also home to the worldrenowned eco-city Masdar. In addition to its function as a zero-waste city fully powered by renewable energy, the city is also designed to enhance Abu Dhabi’s place as a top tourism and ‘meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions’ (MICE) destination. Another city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi “Al Ain”, (meaning ‘The Spring’ in Arabic) is at the heartland of the emirate’s heritage as one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Jebel Hafit, the 1,249 meter high peak; the tombs of the Bida Bin Saud area as well as Al Ain’s ancient oasis with their preserved traditional Al Falaj system, which irrigates palm groves and farms. Al Ain City represents a great opportunity for responsible tourism in the UAE to flourish. Tourism is also an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to

maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai has managed to attract the attention and awe of technological optimists, financial analysts and international tourists. Dubai’s hotel sector played host to 9.96 million tourists in 2012, up by 9.5 per cent from 2011. Dubai’s hospitality industry is also putting its best foot forward to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and lower utility costs. Launched in 2009 by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the first round of Dubai Green Tourism Award attracted 79 hotels and 450 general managers to participate in workshops and seminars. The Dubai Green Tourism Award achieved its aim to reduce hotel carbon emissions (CO2) by 25 per cent by 2012. Hotels and hotel apartments are assessed for a wide range of environmental, economic and social issues, including energy saving, nature conservation and community involvement. A total of 129 hotels and hotel apartments participated in 2012 with a 24 percent increase from the 2011 participants. Sustainable tourism development is essential to the UAE's steadfast com-

mitment to building a sustainable future for the coming generations. Several sustainability initiatives are in the pipeline in compliance with the UAE’s most recent environmental objectives for buildings. Fujairah Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort has received the Green Globe Award for attaining desirable results in sustainable tourism making it the first hotel on the UAE’s East Coast to receive this certification. The Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi is focused on conserving water and energy, the hotel has been awarded the ‘Best Environment Hotel in MENA’. Undoubtedly, the UAE has been strongly focused on encouraging substantial investments in alternative energy production, which in turn pays off in the form of international recognition. These are key aspects for achieving outstanding results and have all been noticed and recognized by prestigious institutions – most notably by the “green key”, a global eco-label for the leisure industry. Going forward, the UAE recognizes the potential that lies in the limitless future of setting new standards in the promotion of sustainable developments and building governance.

The author, Ola El Sissy, works for the Mohamed Al Geziry Consultancy, a Strategic Hospitality & Tourism Consultancy firm based in Dubai, UAE and member of the international GlobalCom PR Network. The consultancy, established in 2001, provides expert advice, information and direction to all types of clients involved in the region’s hospitality and tourism industries. Simply put: top notch international-standard consulting services – with a local flavor. © Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Dubai Green Tourism Award

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GoGlobal - United Arab Emirates  

Sustainability in the United Arab Emirates

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