The greening of the Gulf. No, really.

The UAE is trying to change its image from that of a global polluter

The United Arab Emirates is announcing plans to develop a national strategy for green economic growth, an attempt by the major global polluter to burnish its image.

The UAE is the seventh-largest oil producer in the world and one of the world’s largest natural gas producers, but that energy production has come at a high environmental cost: the UAE has one of the largest ecological footprints of any country in the world. Cars, the main method of transportation in Dubai, a city with few sidewalks or cycling routes, are another major contributor.

A University of North Carolina study estimated that air pollution caused the deaths of 609 people—seven per cent of all UAE fatalities—in 2007, mostly due to infectious particulate matter carried through the air. The problem is even present inside, where indoor pollution—mould, second-hand smoke and other emissions that get trapped indoors—has also become a hazard for the sweltering-hot country. Former Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, head of the Global Green Growth Institute, praised the initiative, adding he hopes it will “demonstrate a compelling case for action from other hydrocarbon-based economies in the Middle East.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.