According to a study published by Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review, the UAE’s fascination with renewable energy production has contributed to a global reduction in the cost of solar energy projects.
Sustainability is also one of the three subthemes of Expo 2020 Dubai, which is now due to open its doors next year after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers describe the subtheme as addressing the “environmental, economic and social dimensions of the places where we live,” adding it explores “how we can connect to them in a way that protects and enhances our natural resources.” Visitors to the six-month World Expo will learn about issues such as climate change, green growth, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, and sustainable cities.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, described the world Expo, which previously predicted 25 million visits—70 percent from overseas—as an “opportunity to advance the UAE’s own sustainability goals and the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.”
The Expo has a dedicated Sustainability District built around a Sustainability Pavilion topped with 1,055 solar panels across its 130-meter wide canopy. The panels will generate 4 gigawatt hours of alternative energy per year—enough to charge more than 900,000 mobile phones. Meanwhile irrigation techniques, including a graywater recycling system, aim to cut water use in the landscape by 75 percent.
And it won’t just be the UAE championing sustainability, with the Czech Republic Pavilion looking at how fertile land can be created in barren conditions by extracting water vapor from air, and The Netherlands focusing on integrated climate systems that harvest water, energy and food through innovation such as vertical farms. Once the doors close, the event site will be transformed into District 2020 with a focus on advancing smart technology, smart infrastructure, wellness and sustainability.
Meanwhile, just down the road from Expo, is Masdar City, a sustainable urban community. The city is a low-carbon development made up of a clean-tech cluster, business free zone and residential neighborhood with restaurants, shops and public green spaces, all harnessing real-world solutions in energy and water efficiency, mobility and waste reduction. The City is working on long-term initiatives for sustainable power, the environmental performance of buildings, mobility programs and sustainable urban agriculture. It is described as a “greenprint” for the sustainable development of cities.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar Clean Energy, the company behind Masdar City, was recently recognized for his work in advancing the clean energy transition at the fourth Middle East Energy Summit in London.
In accepting the Gulf Intelligence International Energy Diplomacy Person of the Year Award, Al Ramahi said that in 2006, when Masdar was established, few believed Abu Dhabi’s target of 7 percent renewables by 2020 was realistic, yet the Emirate—the largest of the seven that make up the UAE—has surpassed that goal.