United Arab Emirates – Post #5

Environmental Efforts in UAE

Within the United Arab Emirates, there is only one major professional group working to combat environmental damage  – the Emirates Environmental Group. With the UAE being one of the world’s largest suppliers of oil, this region should be especially worried about the environment and the limitations of fossil fuel. Though the UAE is ramping up its position as a tourist and retail hotspot, taking away the revenue from fossil fuels would shrink the UAE economy by 53%. For this reason, efforts to curb dependency on fossil fuels are slow by private organizations. Luckily, the UAE has worked to position itself as a major trade hub in the Middle East by establishing the Khalifa Port, and winning the bid to host the World Trade EXPO in 2020.

United_Arab_Emirates_Export_Treemap
Graphical depiction of UAE’s Economy

Emirates Environmental Group

Luckily, the Emirates Environmental Group has made some efforts to help the UAE environment regardless. Since the 2000’s, Nokia has teamed up with the EEG to recycle mobile phone materials such as plastic, copper, and aluminum to be used in new phone production in manufacturing plants across the world.

Additionally, they work to safely dispose battery cells as they can make soil infertile and pollute air and water. According to their website (EEG-uae.org), from 2006-2011, the EEG has 5388kg of batteries. Since the 1990’s, the Emirates Environmental Group collected 10 milli

logo
Emirates Environmental Group Logo

on kgs of paper. The primary priority of EEG though is can collection. From January to September 2011, EEG has collected 161,908 kg of aluminium cans, which is mostly from Dubai, followed by other emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

 

Human Rights

Elements of Sharia law are used in the UAE’s criminal and civil courts, which international rights groups suggest are discriminatory against women. With these laws in place, flogging is a punishment for criminal offences ranging from premarital sex, adultery, alcohol consumption, or verbal abuse. Lashings, stoning, and amputations are also legal punishments in the Emirates.

Because of the large amount of expats now living in the United Arab Emirates, construction has

Migrant workers in Abu Dhabi
“Temporary Workers” from Bangladesh in poor housing conditions

boomed, and this had led to millions of low-wage migrant workers making their way to the Gulf in search of work, in this industry in particular. However, hundreds of workers have died during high-valued construction projects. For those that live through the grueling work, it’s not much better – The Human Rights Watch exposed workers facing, “Poor housing, unpaid wages and benefits, broken contracts, and unauthorized confiscation of passports.” Developers behind the projects these workers are slaving away on reject the HRW’s “unfounded conclusions.”

These harsh realities aren’t faced only by workers. Tourists have constantly reported claims of rape in which the courts have responded with charging the accusing women with crimes such as “public intoxication” and “illicit sex & alcohol consumption.” Additionally, kissing in public and homosexuallity are considered capital offenses. In 2013, a man was sent to trial for initiating a “gay handshake.”

The residents of an exclusive residential development for Emirates only speak about why they moved out of a historic district to get away from the expatriates who they see as threatening their tribal and family values. The city center is becoming westernized, with not a mosque in sight. In contrast, if you travel out to the Emirati suburbs you will find upwards of 20 mosques in a development. (“Booming Dubai Alienating Natives.”)

Conclusion

Any sort of criticism of the government is punishable by death for native UAE citizens and will result in deportation of foreigners. Forced disappearances, kidnappings, and mysterious deaths have all occurred to those who have openly, or privately, criticized the government or commented on any persons the government has found guilty of a crime – natives, economic migrants, and tourists alike are all at risk to be persecuted by the harsh laws in the UAE – and even though various human rights organizations have criticized the UAE in the past, it doesn’t look like their laws will be “Moving West” even though their skyline continues to do so.

 

-Drew Mack

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