Last week, Sahara Forest Project, based in Norway, announced that it would build a pilot plant outside of Doha, Qatar. Since 2009 the organization has dedicated itself to the long term survival and resilience of citizens who live in the sun-rich but resource-poor region of the Middle East.

The one hectare site will host a bevy of green technology projects. Greenhouses will use seawater to create cool and humid conditions for farming vegetables. Those greenhouses will also create fresh water that can be used throughout the development. Concentrated solar power (CSP) will create of heat and electricity that will allow for the cultivation of algae as well as vegetated outdoor areas that will turn the Qatari desert green.

The partnership with Qafco (Qatar Fertilizer Company) and Yara International is an ambitious one--so much so that the plant should be operating by the end of the year.

Qatar’s Sahara Forest Project is another example of Qatar thinking for the long term. Critics will paint this chapter as yet another example of Qatar spending big money on eye-catching projects. They will be wrong. Oil and gas will not flow out of this thumb in the Arabian Gulf forever, and the country must plan for a future vastly different from the life Qataris now know. Food security and environmental stewardship are just a few keys Qatar needs to unlock its country’s long term potential.

Watch other projects like this to emerge in Qatar and throughout the Gulf region.

Special thanks to Sahara Forest Project’s CEO Joakim Hauge for sharing pictures of the project.

Pilot plant of the Sahara Forest Project in Qatar

Pilot plant of the Sahara Forest Project in Qatar

1) Concetrated solar power (CSP)

2) Saltwater greenhouses

3) Outside vegetation and evaporation hedges

4) Photovoltaic solar power

5) Salt production

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.