The Middle East Green Building Movement Will Start with Qatar

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Qatar doesn't make sense. On one hand, the tiny Gulf country has the highest per capita emissions in the world and has more gas and oil than it knows what to do with. On the other, it's a pioneer in the Gulf's green building movement (yes there is a green movement in the Gulf) and be the first top oil producer in history to host the U.N. Climate Change Conference in November. "In Doha, work started in 2010 on Msheireb Downtown Doha, which promises to be the world's largest sustainable community with 100 buildings using an average of a third less energy," reports the AP today, in a survey of the Gulf's green movement in which Qatar is leading the way.

"Lusail City, a planned development for nearly 200,000 people on the edge of Doha, has promised to adhere to the country's voluntary green building guidelines — similar to those in the UAE and other Gulf countries — which set standards for everything from water consumption to traffic congestion," the AP adds. Lusail City sounds like something out of the future or the stuff of Sim City video game franchise (water consumption standards?) and it's particularly impressive for the tiny strip of a country that is Qatar, which is home to around 2 million people, according to the World Bank.  And those ambitions are doubly impressive considering that the Middle East as a whole has lagged when it comes to the green building movement, as the AP put it.

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But what countries like Qatar and emirate Dubai have is plenty of money (green, har har). As 60 Minutes's Bob Simon reported in January, "Qatar's 250,000 citizens are, quite literally, the richest people in the world." And that's allowed them to pursue and pay for the high tech operating systems and high profile projects like its sustainable, solar-powered, environmentally-sound National Convention Center, which will fittingly host the U.N. Climate Change Conference from November 26 to December 7. "With few green construction materials at home, it went as far as Belgium and South Korea to get the environmentally-certified wood, steel and glass. It increased the initial cost ... but in the end helped ensure the building produces 32 percent less energy than a comparable convention center." reported the AP. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.