The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

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Building a Green Dream

Posted by vmsalama on May 7, 2008


By Vivian Salama

The National

While the UAE’s explosive development attracts admiration from around the world, ecologists are deeply worried that the country is consuming resources at an unsustainable rate.

The UAE has come in for harsh criticism from environmental awareness groups such as the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).

In its Living Planet Report last year, the WWF said the UAE used more biologically productive land to provide resources and more seawater to absorb waste than any other country proportionate to its size.

“The UAE is living as if they have 6.6 planets,” said Ian Cheshire, the chief executive of Kingfisher, a UK-based home furnishing centre.

“At the risk of naming and shaming … sustainability is just not there,” Mr Cheshire told delegates at last month’s World Retail Congress in Barcelona, citing the Living Planet Report.

With an annual population growth of more than five per cent driving an ever-mounting demand for retail and residential space, plus extreme summer temperatures, UAE society is guzzling resources.

“The whole business model is based on much higher resources,” Mr Cheshire said, conceding that the UAE’s intensive expansion put it at a disadvantage to countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which experienced their growth booms more than a century ago. 

“It’s to be expected,” he said. “The key in the UAE now is to make it more manageable.”

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