There are many opportunities for U.S. exporters in the clean tech and environmental technologies sectors in the UAE.
The UAE aims to be a global leader in the fight against the climate crisis. 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 beginning in November 2023. The UAE is also expanding programming in the public Green Zone to include two major conference events, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS). If you are interested in learning more about how to engage at these events, please contact our team.
The UAE has made significant progress in developing its urban infrastructure as the country aims to diversify from a 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.
The UAE 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, such as:
- Was the first Gulf country to ratify and sign the Paris Accord in 2015.
- Established the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) in 2016.
- Launched a National Climate Change Plan in 2017.
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. Under this initiative, the UAE aims to:
- Increase global competitiveness by increasing the share of renewable, clean, and alternative sources of energy in the country’s energy mix.
- Establish robust recycling and waste management industries, including several waste-to-energy plants.
- Develop efficient reverse osmosis seawater desalination plants to replace older, energy-intensive thermal plants.
- Improve water efficiency through “reduce and reuse” initiatives.
- Implement green standards in the construction and management of buildings; and
- Adopt 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.
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.
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 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.
As of January 1, 2024, plastic bags of any material or composition will be prohibited, and starting January 1, 2026, import of all plastic cutlery, drinks cups, Styrofoam boxes will be prohibited, including food packaging, plastic bottles, cotton sticks, crackers bags, cigarette butts, wet wipes, balloons, and balloon sticks that contain plastic.
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, dust from the surrounding desert, and transportation and industrial pollution, which create 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) smart app. 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.
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 opportunity for technologies related to clean energy are:
- Solar energy equipment
- Wind energy equipment
- Energy storage technology
- Carbon capture technology
- Hydrogen electrolyzers
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
Please contact us for additional information regarding trade shows, U.S. pavilions, and export promotion services that may be available for U.S. companies.
Date: November 15-17, 2023
Venue: Dubai, UAE
Venue: Dubai, UAE
Date: April 16-18, 2024, ADNEC
Venue: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: September 9-11, 2024
Venue: Abu Dhabi, UAE