Sustainability, UAE-style.

John Katsos
7 min readOct 17, 2018

Why the rest of the world would do well to look at the sustainability challenges of living in the desert.

“man walking on desert with camel” by Federico Gutierrez on Unsplash

When I speak with sustainability professionals outside of the UAE, many chuckle at the idea of the UAE trying to be sustainable.

How can country dependent on oil exports be “sustainable”?

How can country with no natural water resources be “sustainable”?

How can a place in the desert be “sustainable”?

Those are the first three questions I usually get. I have your answers below!

What these questions usually show is how little people understand about the global economy, but more worryingly, how little even sustainability professionals understand about the coming global shifts due to climate change.

To understand what the real reason behind the scoffing is, its interesting to compare UAE to Norway, often considered one of the most sustainable countries on earth.

If you have a problem with the UAE’s dependence on oil, ask yourself: when was the last time you complained about Norway?



John Katsos

Scholar. Educator. Writer. I help people learn to start and manage better, more sustainable businesses and be better humans. Opinions my own.