United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Clean Tech and Environmental Technologies

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-07-26


There are many opportunities for U.S. exporters in the clean tech and environmental technologies sectors in the UAE.

The UAE has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and announced it would invest $163 billion in clean and renewable energy and key technologies. The UAE will host the COP28 United Nations Climate Change conference in November 2023. The U.S. Department of Commerce will lead a Clean Tech Trade Mission to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in March 2023 (please contact our commercial team at Office.AbuDhabi@trade.gov for more information).

The UAE has made significant progress in developing its urban infrastructure, as the country seeks to diversify from an hydrocarbons-focused economy to a knowledge-based economy. The UAE’s per capita energy and water consumption are among the highest in the world, leading to a heavy carbon footprint. The UAE is one of the world’s most water-scarce nations. With limited natural freshwater resources, the country relies on desalinated seawater to meet its demand for potable water.

UAE leadership recognizes that pursuing the country’s economic growth and protecting the environment can be achieved together. The UAE has taken steps to address and mitigate negative impacts on the environment, including establishing the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) in 2016. The UAE launched a National Climate Change Plan in 2017. The UAE was the first Gulf country to ratify and sign the Paris Accord in 2015. The UAE has adopted policies and strategies aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change, improving air quality, reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, improving water and food security, and conserving the UAE’s natural resources.

The UAE’s Vision 2021 sets ambitious goals for the nation to become a global model and leader in sustainability under the “Green Economy for Sustainable Development” initiative. The UAE aims to increase its global competitiveness by increasing the share of renewable, clean, and alternative sources of energy in the country’s energy mix; establishing robust recycling and waste management industries, including several waste-to-energy plants; developing massive reverse osmosis seawater desalination plants to replace older, energy-intensive thermal plants; improving water efficiency through “reduce and reuse” initiatives; implementing green standards in the construction and management of buildings; and adopting green products and technologies. The UAE and local governments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have launched various platforms to engage businesses to share knowledge and best practices. The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (MASDAR), owned by Mubadala, ADNOC, and Taqa, develops and finances greenfield renewable energy projects in UAE and abroad.

Leading Sub-Sectors

There are many opportunities across segments of clean tech and environmental technologies.

Waste to Energy Projects

The UAE is developing waste-to-energy projects. In January 2021, the Emirates Water & Electricity Company (EWEC) and Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer) announced plans to construct two of the region’s largest waste-to-energy power plants, aiming to reduce waste to landfills and decrease CO2 emissions. The new EWEC plant in Abu Dhabi is expected to process up to 900,000 metric tons of waste annually, enough to generate power to approximately 22,500 homes. Emirates Waste to Energy Company, a joint venture between MASDAR and Bee’ah, completed construction of the UAE’s first waste-to-energy plant in Sharjah in April 2022, The plant will divert 300,000 metric tons of waste from landfills annually, displacing almost 450,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions while producing enough electricity to power 28,000 homes.

Water and Wastewater Treatment

The UAE has very limited natural groundwater and freshwater resources and regulations notably restrict groundwater use. The UAE uses thermal desalination as its main process to make seawater potable, in addition to some plants using reverse osmosis technology. The process of extraction, desalination, and transportation of water has increased water and energy consumption. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy (DoE) is working on improving the efficiency of desalination plants to enhance the country’s water security agenda. Similarly, EWEC is planning to invest in desalination projects that are innovative and energy-efficient to increase production with lower carbon emissions.

The UAE launched the Water Security Strategy 2036 to ensure sustainability and continuous access to water during normal and emergency conditions. This strategy was developed to implement and integrate water resources management, increase water-use efficiency across all sectors, improve water quality by reducing pollution, and increase recycling and the safe reuse of treated water.

The UAE faces wastewater management challenges and is expected to expand the reuse of water and collection and treatment of wastewater outside urban areas. Similar to waste management, wastewater is managed and coordinated through individual local authorities and municipalities in each emirate.

The government is seeking new technologies to recycle wastewater and improve wastewater treatment. Treated wastewater currently caters to the industrial and agricultural requirements of the country. Developing and expanding wastewater collection and treatment networks are key in the effort to manage scarce water resources. One of the crucial projects undertaken by Abu Dhabi’s Sewerage and Services Company (ADSSC) is the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Program (STEP) to collect and treat wastewater discharged from residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in Abu Dhabi to increase the capacity for wastewater collection and treatment. 

Waste Management and Recycling

Waste management has been an issue for the UAE and there are gaps in policies, infrastructure, and processes. Waste management is coordinated through individual local authorities and municipalities in each emirate. The UAE’s waste generation has been increasing rapidly due to its economic progress and population growth, amounting to 35.5 million tons in 2019, including about 5.6 million tons of municipal solid waste, among the highest per-capita in the world (Emirates News Agency)

As part of its Green Growth Strategy, the UAE aims to achieve a 75% recovery rate of processed municipal solid waste. To boost private sector engagement and coordinate strategies to reduce significant impacts to the environment, Federal Law No. 12 of 2018 was issued to focus on implementing an integrated system to manage waste. The law covers waste separation, collection, transport, storage, reuse, recycling, treatment, and disposal. MOCCAE also opened waste collection centers and launched a National Waste Management Database to help coordinate efforts across emirates.

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi announced the ban of single-use plastic bags from starting June 1, 2022. The move is part of the UAE capital’s larger environmental initiatives, which include cutting down the overall use of plastics to contribute to the Emirate’s waste management efforts. Dubai has also announced a tariff on all single-use bags starting July 1, 2022, with the aim of banning them completely within two years.

Recycling is a relatively new concept in the UAE, and the infrastructure to segregate and recycle waste is still lacking. MOCCAE has begun enforcing laws that require retailers to install color-coded recycling bins in public areas to ensure proper segregation of waste.

Air Pollution Mitigation

UAE cities have moderate-to-poor air quality due to airborne sand and dust from the surrounding desert. High volumes of industrial transport increase air pollution and exacerbate air quality-related health risks.

In addition to developing and implementing policies to regulate industrial emissions, MoCCAE and several emirate-level environment authorities operate the National Air Quality Platform monitoring program and related UAE Air Quality Index (AQI) smartapp. These tools work together to provide the UAE public with real-time air quality data gathered from monitoring stations across the country.

In 2019, MoCCAE published the UAE’s first National Air Emissions Inventory Report to guide future air quality policies and serve as a baseline for targeted reduction major air pollutants. While the UAE has made significant progress in air quality management in recent years, indoor and outdoor air pollution remains a global issue with plenty of opportunities in research and development, healthcare cooperation, and technology sharing.

In 2022, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announced its partnership with AirCarbon Exchange (ACX) to create the world’s first fully regulated carbon trading exchange and carbon clearing house which will be established in the Emirate.


U.S. companies that offer clean tech and cutting-edge technology and advanced solutions that help reduce negative impacts on the environment have opportunities in the UAE.

Key areas of opportunities for technologies related to water and wastewater treatment are:

  • New wastewater treatment technology
  • Water monitoring equipment
  • Innovative and energy-efficient desalination technology
  • Alternative desalination brine management technology
  • Efficient water storage equipment
  • Cutting-edge water production technology
  • Technologies to enhance and capture rainfall, including storage. 

Key areas of opportunities for technologies related to waste management and recycling include:

  • Waste handling equipment
  • Composting equipment
  • Sorting machines
  • Innovative recycling process technologies
  • Waste-to-energy technology.

Key areas of opportunities for technologies related to air quality include:

  • Innovative air pollution control systems
  • Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS)
  • Air emission analysis technologies
  • Ambient air quality monitoring equipment
  • Leak detection equipment
  • Source emissions measurement technologies
  • Analytical and laboratory testing instrumentation.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions 

Water Energy Technology Environment Exhibition (WETEX)

October 18-20, 2022

Dubai, UAE



Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW)

January 14-21, 2023

Abu Dhabi, UAE



World Future Energy Summit (WFES)

January 16-18, 2023

Abu Dhabi, UAE