The UAE has long had little incentive to go green. Petrol prices are low, vehicles are inexpensive, and electricity is heavily subsidized. Meanwhile, environmental issues are far from the thoughts of the many expats who move to there for a taste of the good life.
But things are changing. Tired of this reputation, and wishing to reduce the economy’s dependence on gas and oil, the UAE is cleaning up its act. And it’s an act that businesses in the UAE can get in on. There’s both money to make and to save.
How can UAE businesses help themselves and the environment?
As green fever catches on, business opportunities have begun to materialize in the UAE too. With several construction and development projects underway, the UAE has created a market for architects, designers, engineers, construction workers and project managers who understand the importance of sustainability in their work and know how to address the issues.
But businesses in the UAE can also save money on business operations. Small changes in the daily running of the business can make a notable difference to the balance sheet. Here are some ways businesses can do themselves and the environment a good turn:
- Print less — in these digital times, it’s quicker, more efficient and more environmentally friendly to send emails than it is post letters and documents.
- Turn off computers, monitors, etc. when they’re not in use — do this and you can enjoy a lower electricity bill.
- Use reusable stationery —use refillable ink, for instance. This uses up less plastic.
Being environmentally conscious works wonders for a business’s image. If people see that a business is environmentally responsible, they may be more willing to buy from them or hire their services than from someone who is not.
Businesses should consider this when making their business banking arrangements. International banks like HSBC, who have branches in the UAE, normally support environmental causes. Businesses can create a good impression if they place their money with banks that show solidarity with environmental causes, or do business with companies who believe in sustainability.
What else is the UAE doing?
One of the key moves in the UAE’s green drive is the construction of a 48 km² solar energy park. Currently under development, the park aims to provide 1,000 megawatts of power, using photovoltaic and concentrated solar power technologies. The park will start generating power by the end of 2013, and be generating the full capacity by 2030.
Another is Dubai’s new Dubai Pearl complex, which will boast offices, residential facilities and leisure facilities. One of the best things about the complex’s design is that it encourages visitors, residents, and businesses there to be more environmentally responsible. The complex also aims to consume less water and energy.
But the authorities and business world aren’t the only ones getting into the sustainable swing of things. Universities in the UAE are also starting to raise awareness and are encouraging their students to be more environmentally responsible. One university has even launched a competition in which students must design the most sustainable bathroom possible.
The UAE is clearly having a long, hard think about sustainability and has begun trying to change. Importantly, the authorities, businesses and institutions are working together, leaving no lone voice on the issue. Those who relocate to enjoy the lifestyle needn’t worry, though. The luxury will always be there — but it will simply be luxury with a cleaner conscience.