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.

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.