Sustainability is the New Black

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Sustainability – It’s the catchword we’ve seen bandied around for over two decades. The proverbial light bulb turned on for our our global leaders and influencers in the mid-80’s with the introduction of ideas such as renewable energy and the need to slow down and even reverse the environmental impact of centuries of industrial development.

It is undeniable that the UAE has made unprecedented rapid growth as a country, however with great progress comes great responsibility and we are now seeing the move towards sustainable planning and living.

The year 2018 was declared “The Year of Zayed” to commemorate 100 years since the birth of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, the founder and first ruler of the UAE.

An inspiring visionary, Sheikh Zayed was committed to rapid progress – yet not at the expense of the values and long-term benefit of his people or his land.

For many who first visit the UAE, it is hard to imagine what this place looked like less than 50 years ago. Here’s a quick glimpse of Abu Dhabi before the 1970s oil boom:

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Fast forward 47 years since the unification of the Emirates, and the progress and development of this nation has to be seen to be believed.

When I first moved to the UAE in 2001, the UAE was going through a significant shift in public policy. Bur Juman Shopping Mall in Dubai was the first to introduce a No Smoking policy and national campaigns explaining the impact of littering and water wastage were just getting started.

Today in 2018, we are seeing a huge focus on national identity and cultural heritage and it has been encouraging to see the grass roots movement towards more responsible living motivated by national pride and social responsibility.

Here are a few of our favourite initiatives that are blazing the way for a sustainable UAE:

  1. Eating local: Local organic farms such as Ripe Organic Farm are leading this push to eat locally sourced, organic, fresh produce, reducing the dependence on overseas imports and the carbon footprint that leaves.
  2. Pre-loved shopping: Yessss! Thrifting is finally a thing in the UAE thanks to organizations such as Dubizzle, Shop Retold and the brand new Lahum at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s carbon neutral city development. We can’t wait to see this industry grow! (Did someone say “bargain”?!)
  3. Tackling food wastage: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ordered the establishment of The Dubai Food Bank to tackle the issue of food wastage on a global scale. This is also being taken up on a local scale by two Dubai-based entrepreneurs who founded BonApp, which sees users nabbing great deals on soon-to-expire food from major food and beverage outlets across the city.

Here at The Shift UAE, we’re looking forward to exploring more ideas of how we can make personal and social changes to ensure higher levels of sustainability in our homes and communities.

What are some things that you do to lead a more sustainable and responsible lifestyle in the UAE?