The Green Sheikh’s Uphill Fight to Promote Sustainability in the UAE
If you missed CNN correspondent Rima Maktabi's interview with Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, watch the segment about the "Green Sheikh" of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A former chemical engineer turned environmentalist, Mr. Al Nuaimi is striving to do his part to educate and persuade his people to moderate their lifestyles. The hurdles are huge: desalination leads to overuse of water; electricity and gasoline are cheap and discourage public transportation; the high income of both expats and Emiratis lead to excessive consumption of waste and food. Sustainability has got to be implemented and not bounced about like the latest popular buzzword. From Ajman, the smallest emirate within the UAE, Sheikh Al Nuaimi is doing what he can to lead by example. He is the environmental to Ajman’s government; works with the steering committee for the Global Initiative Towards a Sustainable Iraq; works with youth to promote environmental awareness; and will join the UAE delegation at the Rio 20 Conference later this year. One small detail: his showers take only two minutes, far shorter than the ones most of us take on a daily basis. The Green Sheikh’s work is critical--as a society, Emiratis and citizens throughout the Middle East will have to learn from role models within their society. It is easy for expats to complain about the waste and environmental degradation, but we have to remember that these states within the Arabian Gulf region have reached a tipping point in 20 years that took many of us in the west a few centuries until we started to learn from our mistakes. Watch his thoughts here: (Photo is of Dubai Mall; we have not made it to Ajman yet!) Read about how Dubai’s sustainability agenda must start with public health on Triple Pundit.