I just got back from a trip to Dubai and India, and on that trip I learned a new word: Estidama. (You get three guesses to see if you can figure it out without looking)
On my first day in Dubai, before touring the grand towers and hotels, my husband and I went to one of the main super-market chain stores, Spinneys. As I approached the entrance, I thought I saw a women enter the store with her own shopping tote bag. I thought to myself, no way! This is Dubai, land of guilded excess, the green movement seems to be the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. Then, as I was walked down the first aisle, I saw a stand full of canvas shopping bags and on top of the stand it read in both Arabic and English “Help us help the environment.”
Wow! Turns out, that woman was in fact walking in with her own tote bag and the new word that I learned, Estidama, actually means sustainability in Arabic. So I kept my eyes and ears open to what else I would find when it came to the green movement in the gulf.
Well, at first, much as I expected, the news was not good. According to an article in the Gulf News (February 15, 2009), Constructing a Sustainable Future, Dubai has been called, in the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, the country with world’s largest ecological footprint per capita (in 2005). No real shock there!
However, just recently, there has finally been a push in regulation whereby any new building or project seeking a permit must comply with green building standards. At the heart of the Estidama program is the Pearls Design System which encompasses buildings and community design guidelines and rating systems. Energy and water conservation are at the top of the requirements.
They are also dealing with the traffic and congestion issues by encouraging carpooling, although at the moment it seems to be received with little enthusiasm. Better success in dealing with these issues will come when their state of art subway/mass-transit project will be completed. This will not only ensure their sustainability in the ecological sense but also in terms of quality of the inhabitants’ daily lives.
So there is some major work to be done, but I’m glad to say that I was able to witness the beginning of the efforts. The land of excess is seeing the light. All those majestic buildings will look far more impressive once they become as energy efficient as possible. The pessimists out there will say that it could be too little too late, but I’d rather take the approach that something is way better than nothing because there is still time to counteract.
A little farther to the East, in India, efforts are also being made. In cities and towns around, I noticed signs for energy and water conservation initiatives. This comes at such a crucial time since India is seeing a period of strong development at a rampant pace. If they can start out applying green standards from the get go, they will be far better off managing their resources in the long run.
Even some of its temples are going green:
Solar panel powered – Hindu Photo Archives
Sounds like the memo got out. Going green has indeed hit the global scene!
Learn more about Vanessa