Antara Al Sahel Villa Resort, Sir Bani Yas Island Antara Al Sahel Villa Resort, Sir Bani Yas Island

How luxury in the UAE went green Featured

With a sunshine revolution under way, we explore the UAE’s many eco endeavours: from hotels, beaches and restaurants to skyscrapers and solar plants 

The oil-rich, air conditioned desert of the UAE may currently be responsible for one of the world’s largest carbon footprints, but that is all set to change as the UAE sets its sights on becoming a green energy oasis. The local governments have recently launched various large-scale green initiatives, with Dubai’s goal, as part of its ‘Clean Energy Strategy 2050’, to become the city with the smallest carbon footprint in the world by 2050. Eco-warriors and green-tech entrepreneurs are uniting to transform the UAE’s existing oil-rich economy into one rich in renewable energy.

Related: 10 things you need to know about Dubai

The-Bedouin-Suite-private-deck-at-Al-Maha-Desert-Resort--Spa-DubaiThe Bedouin Suite private deck at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

Back in 2014, the first environmentally friendly mosque opened in Dubai, constructed using green building materials, designed to reduce energy and water consumption, and by 2015, eco-friendly concrete became mandatory citywide. Dubai’s police force has added an eco-friendly hybrid vehicle, a Porsche 918 Spyder to its fleet, And while electric cars are not a common site in the city, electric car stations and a Green Charger initiative has been launched to encourage drivers to switch from fuel to electricity. One of the city’s newest icons, a ‘green’ skyscraper, the Dubai Frame, is designed with Onyx Solar transparent glass that generates free and clean electricity from the sun.

Abu Dhabi is also on the path to green paradise, with its energy-efficient Masdar City, which although still incomplete, plays a key role in leading the way for the Gulf’s eco-revolution, and Shams 1, the Middle East’s largest solar plant, a whopping 100mW solar field. The end of 2015 saw the city’s first renewable energy desalination plant open, as well as a state-of-the-art eco-friendly cruise terminal at Port Zayed.

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Dining-in-nature-at-the-Anantara-Desert-Resort--SpaDining in nature at the Anantara Desert Resort & Spa

How to be an eco-warrior in the UAE:

Sleep green
If you’re looking to stay somewhere environmentally friendly, then Al Maha Desert resort just 45 minutes from Dubai’s airport is a certified ‘Eco Luxury Retreat.’ Here you can lounge by your private pool and gaze at the desert dwelling Arabian Oryx, one of the many indigenous wildlife species, who call this hotel and nature reserve home. In Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island and its Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara, also offers guests a world of natural beauty and wildlife.

Related: On safari on Sir Bani Yas island

If the city is calling, Sofitel Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, who recently won ‘Hotel of the Year’ in the Green Initiatives Category of the Hospitality Excellence Awards 2015, maintains high standards of eco-friendliness, sustainability and environmental awareness.

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Ras-Al-Khor-Wildlife-Sanctuary-by-Matt-Tillett-FLICKRRas Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, courtesy of Matt Tillett

Eco-activities in the UAE

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the greener side of the UAE starting off with Platinum Heritage’s eco-friendly desert safari. As the only solar powered camp in the UAE and constructed from natural materials as well as Series 1 Land Rovers to take you from A-B, this is a great way to see Dubai’s natural beauty and heritage without making a huge impact on the environment. To learn more about Abu Dhabi’s ecology, get paddling with Noukhada Adventure Company who run a two-hour kayaking eco-tour of the region’s mangroves.

Wildlife seekers not only have Dubai’s Animal Sanctuary and Petting Farm, which looks after unwanted and rescued animals from around the world, and the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Dubai’s leading wetland sanctuary brimming with flamingos, ospreys and other wetland birds, but a new opening set for mid 2016. Dubai’s new solar-powered zoo and safari park has been environmentally-friendly designed and will be home to more than 350 species of rare and endangered animals as well as 100 different kinds of plants and over 2,500 trees.

Oryx-by-neekoh.fi-FLICKROryx, photo courtesy of Neekoh Fi/flickr.com

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