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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been ranked as hosting the cleanest environment among the Gulf cooperative council countries (GCC) and the second best in the Middle East region according to World Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in a recent press release.
The surprise of this ranking is that the UAE has jumped from a 152nd place in 2008, which was considered among the poorest scoring eco-friendly country in the world, to number 77 in 2012.
The other GCC rankings include Saudi Arabia (82nd), Qatar (100th), Oman (110th) and Kuwait (126th), while Bahrain is not including in the ranking. The EPI’s indicators and policies are evaluated in many categories such as Environmental Diseases, Water, Air Pollution, Biodiversity and Habitat, Forestry, Fisheries, Agriculture, Climate Changes.
Meanwhile, the UAE is ranked 27th in The Pilot Trend Environmental Performance Index, a new tool launched this year to measure the eco-friendly inclinations in different countries.
The world’s top ranker in the index is Switzerland, while Iraq has the lowest ranking among the 132 included countries this year. The UAE is ranked one step after Egypt, which is the highest ranked among the Middle Eastern and Arab countries. This index is issued every year by Yale and Colombia University based on 22 environmental indicators and policies.
The local governments of each Emirate have started green polices in their governmental sectors and urge the private sector to take steps into eco-friendly policies as well to protect and develop the limited natural resource of the warm and humid weathered countries. These efforts focus mainly on reducing the energy and water consumption, as well as initiating sustainable waste management.
At the end of 2011, Abu Dhabi’s municipality introduced fines against spitting, disposing gums and throwing cigarettes in the streets as in an effort to save the clean environment in the city. These fines would also reduce the unaccepted behavior of certain communities in the city. These fines vary from 100 dirhams to 500 dirhams (27.22 to 136 USD).
In addition, the Urban Planning Council of Abu Dhabi urges all future villa owners to use an online tool to ensure that they plan their villas according to the green building code. This code aims to reduce the energy and water bills by 40% by urging villa owners to use alternative energy types and to increase green landscaping around their villas.
According to officials in The UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water, the UAE plans to be a plastic bag free country by the end of 2013, to help reduce plastic consumption in the country. In collaboration with the ministry of Economy, both ministries urge all supermarkets and shops to give their customers biodegradable bags rather than plastic bags in order to reach this goal on the specified deadline.
The alternatives to plastic bags are made from recycled paper, jute or polycaprolactone which is easily biodegradable. Plastic bags on the other hand are known to be highly non-easily biodegradable, and can last for more than 100 years.