30 Jun 2014
Growth in the Middle East with Dubai committing to the Compact

The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently committed to the ten principles of the  United Nations Global Compact. The Cities Programme is pleased to welcome Dubai to its network of internationally connected cities and looks forward to a growing engagement with the city.

From its location on the south east coast of the Persian Gulf in the United Emirates, and the Arabian Dessert, Dubai has grown to a global city and international transport hub. It is renown for landmarks which include the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure, at 829.8 metres, and the Burj Al-Arab, the iconic sail-shaped tower and world’s only seven-star hotel. The city also recently announced plans for the world’s largest climate controlled city.

Its considerable growth has also brought challenges. Dubai is also working on a sustainability agenda.

In 2012, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the UAE announced the launch of a long term national initiative to build a green economy in the UAE titled “Green Economy for Sustainable Development”.  The initiative includes a wide range of programmes and policies in the areas of energy, agriculture, including investment and advancements in sustainable transport. In that same year, the city unveiled a 48 sq km solar energy park that promises 1,000 megawatt capacity upon completion.

In April 2014, Dubai held the inaugural World Green Economy Summit which received the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The summit is based on improving the profitability of sustainable practices, products and services in the Middle East and North Africa region, and forming partnerships to accelerate the transition to a green economy. The new platform brought together governments, businesses and financiers, to forge global green business partnerships and find viable solutions for the transition to a green world economy. One outcome of the Forum was launch of the new Arab Business Forum for Sustainable Development and Green Economy in the Arab region by the UNDP and The Clean Energy Business Council.

The commitment from Dubai to the Global Compact is made with particular reference to the Lands Department. Sultan Buti Bin Mejrin, Director General of the Lands Department commits to making Dubai’s master plans smart and sustainable and pledges to assist the city to rise up to face the challenges facing the world today, and to advance the principles of the Compact within the city’s sphere of influence.

The Cities Programme also welcomes a new Global Advisor from Dubai. Mahmoud Hesham El Burai, specializes in the intersection between real estate and sustainability. He is currently the Managing Director of Dubai Real estate Institute. In addition to his government position in Dubai, Mahmoud has been the Vice President of International real estate federation, FIABCI (UK) since Jan 2011 and sits on the Board of Association of Real estate License Law officials (ARELLO), International Real estate Society (IRES) and Middle East North Africa Real estate Society (MENARES).

Mahmoud says “we appreciate Dubai’s leadership in committing to the United Nations Global Compact and its ten principles around human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. We would like a number of other leading Middle Eastern cities to also become participants and we hope to develop a network of internationally connected Global Compact cities in the region. There is much that we can achieve from working together”.

The first encouragement for other cities to make the commitment to the Global Compact was offered at an  international workshop held earlier this year by the Dubai Lands Department to examine best global practice in real estate. It was titled ‘Dubai’s Real Estate Model in the Light of International Practice’ and attracted dignitaries and officials from local and international organisations in 25 countries. Professor Paul James was a keynote speaker at this workshop.

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