As a city built between the desert and the sea, Dubai is not known for being sustainable or very eco-friendly. For environmentally-conscious tourists, it can be a struggle to visit a culture that seemingly has little regard for the environment in which it was built. High temperatures and a lack of water made it difficult for centuries to build a large society in the United Arab Emirates. With new technology such as air conditioning and desalination plants, the ability to build a large, thriving city in the middle of the desert has gone from dream to reality.
Dubai is better known for its luxury and grandiosity than for its focus on environmental sustainability. Until recently, most structures were built with little regard for how their use of water and electricity impacted the environment around them. Dubai is well known for its parks, beach resorts and golf courses which require large amounts of water to keep the grass green in the dry, arid climate. In fact, the UAE has the highest per capita water use in the world.
As the city of Dubai continues to grow and build, the government is starting to take a closer look at creating a more sustainable environment. The government has recently started a program that includes a Green Tourism Award, which encourages businesses to focus on eco-tourism and creating a tourist industry that celebrates Dubai’s natural assets.
There’s much to do in Dubai that will keep your tourist footprint small while visiting this amazing city. The natural assets of Dubai are numerous and greatly entertaining for tourists. When visiting Dubai as an eco-conscious tourist, be sure to visit the desert, taking a safari through the sand dunes, or snorkel in the reefs surrounding the city, taking in the magnificent underwater sights. While touring the natural landscape, be conscious of your waste. Be sure to throw things away in designated bins and to recycle whenever possible. It’s also important to wear coral-safe
Though there is minimal structure for eco-tourism already built in Dubai, it’s possible to make individual choices that can do less damage to the environment. One of your first choices can start with your hotel. Look for hotels in Dubai that advertise themselves as green or eco-friendly. One easy practice you can follow as a tourist (anywhere!) is to bring your own water bottle when you travel. In many places in the world, the tap water is safe to drink, will save you money and will prevent those plastic water bottles from being used. You can ask hotel staff to not change your sheets and towels daily, saving the water and electricity used to wash and dry them.
Though it may not seem like the most eco-friendly city, you can still be an eco-conscious tourist while traveling in Dubai. One of the best things you can do is spread knowledge about being cognizant of treating the environment properly and choosing tourism activities that promote the natural environment of the region.
If you're thinking about visiting Dubai, check out this review that I wrote for Hipmunk.