Middle East cities score poorly on sustainable city rankings

September 15, 2016 6:01 pm

When it comes to sustainability, Middle Eastern cities have not much to claim if one goes by the findings of a new survey.


Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged as the two most sustainable cities in the region on the 2016 Sustainable Cities Index, but their rankings are shockingly below 50 on the list of 100.


Other major cities such as Kuwait City, Doha, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah and Amman also featured in the rankings, compiled for construction consultancy firm Arcadis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).


The study examined cities on the bases of three core pillars of sustainability – social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit), to develop an indicative ranking of 100 of the world’s leading cities.


Dubai topped the region’s eight cities that are covered in the rankings, but it ranked only 52nd globally. Startlingly, the city ranked 96th globally in the planet index which ranked cities on energy consumption and renewable energy share, recycling and composting rates, greenhouse gas emissions, natural catastrophe risk, drinking water, sanitation and air pollution.


But it scored the fourth position globally – well ahead of other major business hubs like New York, Paris and Tokyo – on profit indicators, which examined performance from a business perspective, combining measures of transport infrastructure (rail, air, traffic congestion), ease of doing business, tourism, GDP per capita, the city’s importance in global economic networks, connectivity in terms of mobile and broadband access, and employment rates.


Dubai came third in the region and 55th globally on the people sub-index, which studied various indicators of quality of life, such as rates of health (life expectancy and obesity), education (literacy and universities), income inequality, work-life balance, the dependency ratio, crime, green space within cities and housing and living costs.


Meanwhile Abu Dhabi ranked second in the region and 58th globally among the most sustainable cities.


“Energy consumption and carbon emissions do remain high in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, largely due to the climate, the volume of development and the traditional reliance on fossil fuels. This is an area that both cities are actively looking to address, though, and it forms a key part of the UAE’s Vision 2021,” said Ben Khan, client development director at Arcadis Middle East.


“The focus on improving the energy efficiency of buildings through rating systems like Estidama and Al Safat will help, as will planned investment in upgrading the water and transport networks in both cities,” Khan added.


Mujeeb Rahman
By Mujeeb Rahman
Mujeeb Rahman is a business journalist at AMEinfo. His areas of focus include economy, markets, politics and international relations in MENA and Asia-Pacific regions. An ex-BBC digital journalist, he delves deeper into the subjects that matter most.