Doha, The Middle East’s Emerging Sustainability Laboratory
In my most recent article on Guardian Sustainable Business, I discuss how Doha is slowly becoming a hub for green building and solar energy. During my time in Qatar last month, I had the opportunity to meet many sustainability professionals, including the Qatar Green Building Council’s head, Issa Al Mohannadi. Mr. Mohannadi is also the CEO of Msheireb Properties, a 31 hectare site that will transform downtown Doha. From architecture to education, Mr. Mohannadi explained the shift in thinking that is remaking Doha. Projects like Msheireb will start to change the face of Doha (pictured, click to expand) and in the long run, the rest of the Gulf Region. Oil and gas may flow for many years, but that peak oil moment could smack the Gulf at any moment. The time to invest in an economy that looks beyond fossil fuels is now. Critics, like one group I met in Doha, slam Qatar’s leadership for not moving fast enough on sustainability issues, or for doing nothing. I believe it is impressive what Doha’s leaders are doing now. Countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates developed at a dizzying rate in only 20 years; western powers took two or three centuries. Change will come; maybe not at the rate we would like to see, but it is occurring. And most importantly, the Qataris will have to make these decisions, not expatriates who are quick to criticize their host country while they gleefully cash in on their riches. So even after my visit, do I believe Doha is still an emerging sustainability hub? Of course. There is plenty of low-hanging fruit--actually, that fruit is hanging on the ground. With an impressive lineup of international events scheduled in Doha, it is in this country’s interest to show that they are serious about weaning themselves away from fossil fuels. Watch for Qatar to succeed in redefining itself this coming decade. Read the full article here.