The environmental cost of electric vehicles

The environmental cost of electric vehicles

 The environmental cost of electric vehicles by Athra Khamis is apart from its very topic, quite an eye-opener on the current atmosphere that is prevailing in the MENA’s Gulf area.  


The environmental cost of electric vehicles


June 29, 2022

“Get an electric vehicle!” This might be the first idea that comes to mind when considering how to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transportation at the community level. Fossil fuels are widely recognized as a significant source of emissions due to the large amount of CO2 they produce when burned, but what about the emissions associated with electric vehicles (EVs)?

Globally, people have shifted toward electric cars in an effort to “go green” and support the universal goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, and to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C, as called for in the United Nations’ Paris Agreement. Additionally, the World Bank Group has advocated for the decarbonization of the energy and transport sectors by halting investments in upstream oil and gas (2019), and pledging to invest 50% of climate finance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in interventions that help to build resilience, guided by regional and country-specific demand.

In line with these goals, governments in the MENA region have been motivated to encourage their populations to purchase EVs instead of conventional ones that run on gasoline. The UAE, for instance, has launched a regulatory policy for EV charging infrastructure and established the “EV Green Charger Initiative,” a free network of charging stations across the country. As a result, the popularity of EVs in Dubai has risen over the last seven years, with the total number in operation increasing from just 71 to 5,107. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has seen similar growth and is currently ranked in the top 50 countries worldwide according to the AlixPartners Automotive Electrification index, indicating 36% growth in the sale of EVs.

If the increasing popularity and demand for EVs is driven by a consumer and state-level desire to reduce CO2 emissions, it’s important to understand that they store and consume electricity that was generated from other sources, including fossil fuels and natural gas.

The MENA region is actively working on an energy transition plan that shifts away from fossil fuels, oil, and natural gas, all of which still account for the majority of energy generation portfolios for countries across the region. For example, until 2020, renewable energy and low-carbon sources accounted for less than 1% of total energy generation in Saudi Arabia, meaning EVs in the country likely relied overwhelmingly on fossil fuel-generated electricity. This is also the case in Morocco, often regarded as the region’s climate leader, even though renewables account for just two-fifths of the nation’s electricity capacity. So, the question becomes: Are EVs really as “green” and as environmentally friendly as their reputation suggests?

Regional governments are undertaking extensive efforts to shift energy production toward environmentally cleaner technologies for the benefit of both the climate and public health, but how quickly is that initiative progressing? What is a realistic timeline for green and renewable technologies (e.g., wind and solar) to become the dominant source of energy generation? And in the meantime, how should the international community view their environmental credentials?

The “green” reputation of EVs seemingly disregards the environmental impact of producing them, especially the key component that enables them to store electricity: their batteries. These batteries are manufactured from various metals that must be mined. For instance, lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion), considered the top of the line for EVs and used by Tesla, require a number of metals besides lithium, such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper.

The mining of these components comes with environmental concerns. In the long term, does the earth hold enough of these minerals and materials to support a full global shift to EVs? In the short term, the rapid increase in demand for batteries has created a new challenge of ensuring an adequate supply of natural resources. Some of these materials are already in short supply, due to supply chain issues associated with the global pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This creates an artificial shortage and gives rise to opportunistic price gouging, whereby car dealerships are selling EVs at double their list price while manufacturers are heavily reducing their production.

Putting the price and supply dynamics aside, manufacturing these vehicles creates a tremendous environmental burden, as the process requires digging up and processing around 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust to produce one battery.

While there is a broad range of lithium extraction methods available, the primary ones —including hard-rock mining and extraction of lithium from brine water — require large amounts of energy. These processes disturb the natural water table, local biodiversity, and the ecosystem of nearby communities. For example, nickel mining and refining practices have already resulted in documented damage to freshwater and marine ecosystems in Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia.

Pollution from these operations not only impacts oceans and ecosystems but also induces environmental hazards throughout the battery lifecycle from mining materials for their production to disposing of old batteries at landfills, creating health risks for workers and affecting nearby communities due to the toxicity of heavy metals such as lithium.

Taking these issues into consideration, just how much do EVs really limit overall emissions? And are they a path to net-zero emissions for the MENA region? Considering the environmental costs of EV production and usage, it might be more prudent for regional governments to first prioritize and achieve sustainable energy transitions before fully advocating for the use of EVs.

 

Athra Khamis is a Non-Resident Scholar with the Climate and Water Program at the Middle East Institute. Her areas of expertise include climate change scenarios, atmospheric composition, water resource analysis, environmental ecosystems, and sustainability.

The above featured image is a Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images

MEI is an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit, educational organization. It does not engage in advocacy and its scholars’ opinions are their own. MEI welcomes financial donations, but retains sole editorial control over its work and its publications reflect only the authors’ views. For a listing of MEI donors, please click here.

Report finds four-fifths of world trade ‘unsustainable’

Report finds four-fifths of world trade ‘unsustainable’

The Wake-up call for ESG difficulties in pursuance is getting more obvious as a report finds four-fifths of world trade ‘unsustainable’.  Here it is.

Wake-up call for ESG as report finds four-fifths of world trade ‘unsustainable’

By  

The overwhelming majority of global trade contributes negatively to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to new research, which calls for better guidance for banks and corporates around what sustainable trade should look like.

Released this week by trade data and analytics provider Coriolis Technologies in partnership with MEP Saskia Bricmont and the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, Measuring sustainability through trade maps countries’ export and import data against the 17 SDGs to identify negative and positive contributions.

It found that, on a scale of -1 to +1 where -1 means that all trade makes negative contributions, zero is neutral and +1 means that all trade makes positive contributions, world trade scores -0.58, with 80% of global trade by value being unsustainable.

A closer look at the numbers reveals some interesting findings. First, if the SDGs are broken down into their environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements, world trade scores -0.73 with regard to its environmental impact, and an almost entirely negative -0.91 for its social impact. However, when it comes to the ‘G’ in ESG – governance – global trade scores a positive 0.43.

“In other words, the world of trade and trade finance, alongside regulators, has put in place the governance structures to minimise economic risks in the form of employment, economic growth and provisions of basic health, but the price for the environment and for social equality and justice is overwhelmingly high,” the report says. It adds that trade policy can do “significantly more” to promote the basic human rights of trade as represented by the commitment to fair and open trade to promote sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, and to shore up the institutions of trade that help peace and justice.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the most advanced economies that have the least sustainable trade, with the G20 nations accounting for some US$18.5tn in value terms in negative contributions to responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

“These are economies where automotives, consumer electronics and machinery and components are routinely among the top five sectors for both imports and exports,” the report says.

However, while the poorest nations in the world score better, this is because imports are often for subsistence purposes rather than being aimed at luxury or consumption-based markets.

“If we are to meet the ambitious targets laid out at Cop26, we cannot afford to ignore the messages here – that the majority of world trade is unsustainable, and where it is not, it is a symptom of under-development,” the report says.

Defining what is and isn’t sustainable in global trade is a topic that policymakers, financiers and exporters alike have long tussled with. Unlike other asset classes, such as bonds, there are currently no standards that allow financial institutions to properly assess the entirety of the sustainability performance of trade finance transactions, leaving the industry open to accusations of greenwashing.

In its research, which it calls “an initial contribution to the process of creating an automated and consistent mechanism for measuring sustainability”, Coriolis Technologies has built on a methodology established by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which takes HS codes – the internationally standardised system of names and numbers to classify traded products – and compares them against the 17 SDGs.

For example, trade in tobacco negatively contributes to SDG 3 – good health and wellbeing – while trade in medicine would be a positive contributor. Because the methodology uses HS codes at six-digit level, it is able to distinguish between, for example, a diesel car (870332) and an electric car (870380) or, indeed, a hybrid car (870360), each of which have varying impacts on SDG 7 – clean and affordable energy, and SDG 12 – sustainable consumption.

The methodology isn’t without its shortcomings. For example, while specific goods may not in themselves be sustainable, they can often be used for purposes such as sustainable infrastructure. The same also applies in reverse when it comes to the trade of sustainable goods for non-sustainable purposes. What’s more, Coriolis Technologies adds that the scope to distinguish between resource utilisation for the same product in different countries is limited: “For example, a fruit such as a strawberry produced in the Middle East requires more water and energy to produce than in its indigenous environment,” the report says.

However, industry bodies and regulators are in wide agreement that the SDGs are an adequate taxonomy of reference to enable a comprehensive framework for sustainability, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which refers to them in its recent position paper on defining and setting common standards for sustainable trade and associated financing.

By providing a quick and simple measurement, Coriolis Technologies has laid bare the enormous amount of work ahead to make global trade more sustainable – but has also provided a call to action for policymakers.

“Since we know the sustainable development goals where the largest negative contributions are likely to be across world trade, we know the levers we should pull,” the report says, adding that too much of world trade contributes negatively to zero hunger, affordable and clean energy, clean water and sustainable cities.

“We also know the sectors which are to blame for the low scores of some countries: automotives, consumer electronics, machinery and components, plastics, iron and steel, and oil and gas. Oil and gas alone contributes some 10% to the value of EU trade, so if we can reduce our dependency on it, we can also reduce the negative contributions to the SDGs,” the report says, adding that the countries that have the worst scores all have automotives in their top five imports and/or exports. As a solution, it puts forward policy incentives towards the use of electric cars and clean energy in order to address the negative role that automotive and fossil fuel trade play at present.

Although Coriolis Technologies admits that the challenge of ensuring trade becomes a positive contributor to sustainable development is not an easy one to address, its development of a model to map out ESG weaknesses in trade should go some way to focusing minds as the trade and trade finance industry attempts to become more sustainable.

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UN sustainable development goals failing to have meaningful impact

UN sustainable development goals failing to have meaningful impact

UN sustainable development goals failing to have meaningful impact, our research warns

By Frank Biermann, Professor of Global Sustainability Governance, Utrecht University

The above-featured image is credit to Kiara Worth/IISD/ENB, Author provided

In September 2015, leaders from 193 countries gathered in the UN assembly hall in New York to plan nothing less than “transforming our world”. This was the birth of the sustainable development goals, which aimed to “free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet”.

There are 17 sustainable development goals, or SDGs, encompassing 169 more detailed targets and over 200 measures of progress. There is almost nothing that the UN does not seek to improve with these goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to securing better health, education, gender equality, sanitation, energy, economic growth and infrastructure, while reducing social inequality, ensuring sustainable consumption, protecting the climate, ocean, biodiversity and forests, and furthering peace and justice.

To give just a few examples of the 169 targets under these overarching goals, governments agreed, by 2030, to halve the proportion of people in poverty, end hunger, ensure all children complete a quality education for free, raise the income of the poorest 40% of each country’s population at a rate above the national average, and significantly increase funding to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems. The list goes on.

Sustainable development goals are found wherever UN bureaucrats and international diplomats meet. You’ll see the 17 flags of the SDGs in the lush gardens of the UN headquarters in New York. Posters listing the SDGs hang in government offices all around the world. Dozens of international meetings are held to discuss them each year. The UN even announced an international decade of action for achieving the goals. In the Netherlands, where I live, the government has appointed an SDG coordinator whom I once spotted in an electric car painted with the SDG symbols and a suit with the SDGs printed on the inner lining. In short, if you turn over a stone, you may find an SDG.

And yet, it is fair to ask: do these global goals actually change anything? Do they tangibly influence the actions of governments, business leaders, mayors, UN bureaucrats and university presidents? For the last few years, a growing community of social scientists has considered this question. With 61 colleagues from around the world, we analysed more than 3,000 academic studies that scrutinised aspects of the SDGs. Our findings are published in the journal Nature Sustainability, and a more detailed assessment will soon be published as a book. Because we believe it is important to share what we found with everyone, both publications will be free to download and read.

All talk, no action

Unfortunately, our findings are disheartening. The SDGs have infiltrated the things people say, think and write about global sustainability challenges. Governments mention the SDGs in their national reports to the UN, and some have set up coordinating units to implement them. Multinational corporations like to refer to the SDGs as well – especially those goals that are least disruptive to their commercial activities, like SDG 8 which calls on governments to “sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances”. And unsurprisingly, UN organisations are all formally supportive of the SDGs.

UN sustainable development goals failing to have meaningful impact

People pick through a mountain of waste.

Coordinated action to reduce poverty has not materialised. EPA-EFE/Piyal Adhikary, Author provided

But nothing has changed where it matters. We found few new policies, institutions or budget allocations designed to further specific goals. Did any government change its laws to achieve the many intersecting transformations envisioned by the SDGs? Did any ministry in those governments create new programmes for implementing the SDGs? If so, there is little evidence of it. What we found instead are changes in discourse. Those in power now refer to the SDGs often. Yet the way they govern has not changed.

What should we make of this? Optimists point to the SDG timeline: the SDGs were only agreed upon in 2015 and are to be achieved by 2030. The analysis that we published largely uses research from before 2021. In other words, we have eight more years to go. That governments and corporations talk differently about sustainability and refer to the SDGs more often today can be seen as a sign of hope that this talk will be followed by action.

And yet, mere talk can backfire by conferring legitimacy on unsustainable behaviour, letting corporate leaders wave colourful SDG flags while prizing profits above all else. Simply talking about SDGs can demobilise civil society by creating a false impression of action. Even as promised, transformations remain elusive. Idle talk acts as a smokescreen, hiding the reality of delay and stagnation.

I do not want to belittle the importance of having the SDGs. Our study only provides a snapshot of the present state of implementing them. The SDGs do reflect some wonderfully high-minded global ambitions, not least by focusing on global inequalities (SDG 10), necessary improvements to national and global institutions (SDG 16) and the reduction of harmful consumption patterns in wealthy countries (SDG 12).

But we have to make the goals actually work. Civil society and social movements need to prick the bubble of SDG talk. Government leaders and industry bosses must not be allowed to hide behind SDG flags in their offices, SDG buttons on their lapels and SDG logos on their glossy pamphlets. The SDGs cannot remain a lofty inspiration. We must convert their promise to action.


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How will MENA countries hit FDI targets? 

How will MENA countries hit FDI targets? 

Emerging market investments are shrinking. How will MENA countries hit FDI targets? 

By Amjad Ahmad in Atlantic Council

As the pandemic-fuelled liquidity begins to wane and the reality of inflation and higher interest rates sets in, many economies will face considerable challenges.  Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries are vying to attract global investors and increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  Yet, capital flows are reversing from emerging to developed markets—specifically in the United States, where interest rates are rising to levels not seen since 2018.  The year 2018 is illustrative: during that time, emerging markets experienced substantial capital outflows as international investors reduced their exposure and consolidated their risk into emerging economies with fewer perceived risks, given their proactive and progressive economic policies.

Attracting foreign investors into emerging market economies has always been difficult.  Nevertheless, thanks to the extended period of near-zero interest rates, emerging markets were blessed with investors hungry for higher returns. The plentiful supply of money coupled with historically low yields in rich countries led investors to explore higher yields in riskier markets across various assets, including public equities, public debt, private equity, and venture capital.  The lower cost of capital allowed investors to finance opportunities that otherwise would have been unfeasible.

Unfortunately, the party is over, and the pain is just beginning.  The US Federal Reserve has started an aggressive interest rate hiking campaign, which will likely be the sharpest rise in interest rates since former chair of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker’s war on inflation from 1979 to 1982.  Many economists believe this will likely lead to a recession in the world’s biggest economy.

A US economic slowdown or a recession couldn’t come at a worse time for emerging markets, particularly those in MENA, where most are fighting chronic unemployment, especially among youth and women, slowing growth, and higher debt levels.  Large oil-exporting countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — are better positioned given heightened commodity prices. However, their lack of interest rate autonomy given the dollar peg limits their ability to deviate their monetary policy from that of the United States.

Additionally, the global demand destruction cannot be ignored as the post-pandemic surge in demand levels off, with consumers beginning to feel the pinch from inflation and rising interest rates.  This may put a damper on global energy demand and tourism. Inflation also impacts global emerging markets, causing a perfect storm for the arrival of tough economic times.  Currency depreciation against the dollar is increasing the cost of imports and repaying foreign currency debts for banks, companies, and governments, many of which racked up significant debt during the pandemic.

Research suggests that the impact of US monetary tightening on emerging markets will vary depending on the factors for the change. Interest rate hikes driven by US economic expansion will likely lead to positive spillover effects that benefit more than hurt emerging markets and, therefore, are neutral on capital flows.  On the other hand, interest rate hikes to fend off inflation will likely lead to emerging markets disruption.  Here, there are two key points to mention.  First, there is a more significant effect on emerging markets from rising interest rates due to inflation than those due to growth.  Second, emerging economies with stable domestic conditions and policies tend to fare better and experience less volatility. In a global economic environment with slower growth, higher cost of capital, and a shrinking capital pool for riskier assets, discerning international investors will consolidate their investments in the highest-quality emerging markets.

The Goldilocks moment experienced in markets over the past couple of years is subsiding.  Geopolitical risk, inflation, and US interest rates are all rising. In addition, two crucial macroeconomic trends will impact the future capital flows to emerging markets.  First, globalization policies that have focused overwhelmingly on cost efficiency and rationalization will now focus on resiliency and values-based investments.  At an Atlantic Council event on April 13, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen articulated a blueprint for US trade policy, stating, “The US would now favor the friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries that share a set of norms and values about how to operate in the global economy.”

Second, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues are gaining more attention with countries and companies putting them on the agenda.  For an indication of what’s to come, consider Total, the French oil and gas giant, marking its shift to renewable energy and rebranding to TotalEnergies, as well as Engine No. 1, a US impact hedge fund, hijacking ExxonMobil’s board to drive a green strategy at the company.  As a result of the confluence of these complex issues on top of challenging macro-economic concerns, investor appetite for emerging market assets is weakening.  It will become more discerning in the coming years.

But all isn’t lost.  There will be divergent outcomes and risks depending on the domestic conditions of each emerging market.  Thoughtful investors will continue to seek opportunities in emerging markets, especially in private markets, where the predominant share of opportunities exists.  However, as financial conditions tighten, differentiation between emerging markets will increase. MENA countries can better position themselves amongst others competing for capital by:

  1. Attracting and empowering strong policymakers to make dynamic and bold decisions that complex changes in the global economy require. Deepening the bench of talented policymakers should be another priority.
  2. Driving policies supportive of private sector development and investment. Reducing government-owned enterprises and providing ample space for private companies to grow and prosper on an even playing field is critical to building a dynamic economy.
  3. Continuing to nurture the nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurial economies are consistently more resilient and lead to better outcomes over the long term.
  4. Enhancing regional and international economic integration through bilateral and multilateral agreements with more robust economies. Proactive engagement with multilateral financial institutions will also increase financial stability and resilience.
  5. Standardizing policies according to global norms for greater regional and international integration. Investor appetite is greatly improved in emerging markets that adopt regulations and standards from developed countries.
  6. Increasing transparency and reducing uncertainty around laws and regulations. Investors and companies need more clarity on the game’s rules in order to play it confidently and competently.

Several MENA countries continue to take bold steps to improve their global competitiveness. One such example is the privatization programs of government-owned enterprises in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to increase liquidity in local capital markets, improve transparency, and expand private sector participation.  Those countries that maintain their momentum will be clear winners in the coming years. History is rich with evidence that economic challenges are followed by periods of historic gains.

Amjad Ahmad is Director and Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s empower ME Initiative at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.  

Twitter: @AmjadAhmadVC.

 

A new approach to sustainable tourism: Balanced Tourism

A new approach to sustainable tourism: Balanced Tourism

In Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, the Tourism Development Authority pioneers a new approach to sustainable tourism.  It is that of Balanced Tourism.  But what can all surrounding ancient wisdom teach us about sustainability?

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority pioneers new approach to sustainable tourism: Balanced Tourism

By Theodore Koumelis in Travel Daily News of 10 May 2022.

Suwaidi Pearl Farm traditional boat

Announced at the 2022 Arabian Travel Market, the Tourism Authority shares vision to become the region’s most sustainable destination by 2025 with ambitious new approach at the heart of the Emirate’s tourism strategy.

New Delhi, India – Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) announces its bold new approach to sustainability – Balanced Tourism, a key milestone in its strategy to drive overall sector growth and become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025.

Unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market 2022, the region’s leading travel and tourism event, the vision underscores the Emirate’s leadership in conscious tourism and aligns with its identity as a nature destination with a desire to progress, grow and evolve.

Under the all-encompassing banner of Balanced Tourism, the Authority is shaping tourism in the UAE by placing all aspects of sustainability (environment, culture, conservation and livability) at the center of its investment and development strategy. By ensuring issues surrounding ‘over tourism’ – such as over development, crowding of heritage sites, and the spoiling of its unique natural environment – are avoided, it is creating a destination that will resonate with today’s responsible traveller.

Balanced Tourism follows the Authority’s announcement in September 2021 of its Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy to secure the Emirate’s long-term sustainability and drive overall growth through four key pillars: Sustainable Development; Cultural Conservation; Attractions Built with Purpose; and Community and Liveability.

Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer at Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “The need for good stewardship of our cultural heritage, environment, people and infrastructure has never been stronger, especially in post pandemic times. Balanced Tourism does exactly that as we become ever mindful of the economic, social and environmental impacts on tourism. Simply put, it’s time to move beyond just using less plastic to adopting an all-inclusive approach – from ensuring new projects such as hotels are developed at an organic pace to building new attractions with sustainability at their core.”

Sustainable Development

Known as the ‘nature Emirate’, Ras Al Khaimah boasts 64km of pristine beaches, mangroves abundant with wildlife, rolling terracotta deserts, impressive wadis and stunning mountains. These natural assets form the backbone of the destination’s key values, and their protection is a key focus. With this in mind, the tourism board has applied a mindful approach to new hotel developments, consulting with hospitality partners to ensure spacious venues, with thoughtful, sustainable landscaping, and maintaining a measured pipeline, limiting new properties to just two per year, to avoid rapid, less well-planned expansion and overcrowding.

As the licensing authority for all new hotel developments, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is able to set guidelines and protocols to regulate sustainability standards and work closely with hotels to ensure sustainable practices. This includes the recently announced integrated Wynn Resort, scheduled to open in 2026, that will be developed as per the Barjeel Green Building Regulations. There is also Earth Hotels Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept set to open on Jebel Jais in Q4 2022 featuring 15 fully fitted accommodation units, an activation center and swimming pool, and Saij Mountain Lodge, opening on Jebel Jais in 2023, a protected and sustainably managed mountain resort featuring sustainable lodges made from natural and sustainable materials.

Cultural Conservation

The integrated approach also includes cultural conservation. In addition to being the most fortified Emirate, with over 65 forts due to its importance as a trade route, Ras Al Khaimah is home to four archaeological sites which are tentatively on the UNESCO World Heritage site list, more than any other Emirate. The Authority has established a long-term investment plan to protect and enhance these and other key cultural projects. This includes Suwaidi Pearls Farm, the only site in the UAE which still cultivates local pearls, all done by hand to preserve the Emirate’s culture and traditions. It has also embarked on a three phased restoration program at Jazirah Al Hamra, one of the last surviving pearl diving and seafaring towns of the Arabian Gulf. Scheduled to complete in 2025, experts are working in line with UNESCO guidelines to restore the village, using traditional and sustainable materials, to potentially make it accessible to the public as an attractive tourist destination.

Attractions with Purpose

Under the Balanced Tourism platform, all upcoming attractions will be purpose built with sustainability standards and processes. Visitors can expect environmentally conscious development around Jebel Jais as well as across the more than 20 new sustainable tourism initiatives being developed across the Emirate. One example is the planned Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine, a first of its kind attraction in the UAE that will support and enhance understanding of the marine ecosystem, with seagrass and sea cucumber species within the farm.

Community and Liveability

In addition, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority is also embracing the concept of liveability as part of its Balanced Tourism ethos. This includes several progressive policies in place to promote employee well-being, leading to the Authority to be named the sixth best workplace in the UAE by Great Place to Work® for 2022 in the Small & Medium Organisations category, the highest placed government entity. It was also named one of the Best Workplaces for Women and a Great Place to Work in 2021, the first and only organization in Ras Al Khaimah to be awarded this certification. The Authority has also introduced RAKFAM, a series of initiatives aimed at enriching connectivity, community life and facilities for tourism sector employees in the Emirate.

Sustainability as a driver of growth

Led by the Authority in December last year, government entities, hotels and private sector industries came together at the 2021 Global Citizen Forum in Ras Al Khaimah to pledge collectively to deliver the Emirate’s Sustainable Tourism Destination Strategy that will see it become the regional leader in environmentally conscious tourism by 2025. Led by the Authority

  • Providing a framework for action across a diverse program of activity, the guiding principles include:
  • Protecting and enhancing the Emirate’s cultural and natural heritage
  • Delivering new sustainable tourism developments
  • Working with business, government and community partners to ensure economic returns from tourism investment and the development of human capital
  • Regular measurement and benchmarking
  • Minimizing energy, water usage and waste generation across the destination
  • Respecting and safeguarding local culture and communities
About the author
Theodore Koumelis, Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.