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Arcadis: Doha 'not' environmentally sustainable

by Kim Kemp on Sep 18, 2016

The Middle East does not fare well on the global sustainability scale, according to Arcadis report.
The Middle East does not fare well on the global sustainability scale, according to Arcadis report.

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The Middle East does not fare well on the global sustainability scale, according to a report by international consultancy, Arcadis.

While Qatar strives to fulfil the pillars of its 2030 National Vision with an ever-increasing focus on sustainability, a recent report points out that there is a long way to go to reach this goal.

Owing largely to its harsh climate and emerging status wherein fossil fuels are used for energy generation, the small Gulf State remains challenged, with Doha as one of the least sustainable cities in the world.

Doha came in at 72nd out of 100 cities in this year’s Sustainable Cities Index, compiled for Arcadis by UK-based economic consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Last year, the country’s capital ranked 41st out of 50 cities in the same index, which has since been extended to include twice as many cities and several new indicators.

The report analyses sustainability performance over 32 categories. Three main pillars constitute the analysis: people, plant, and profit.

The report noted, however that, owing to its relatively young age, Qatar is expected to make significant progress in the coming years.

Doha came in with an average position of 57th in terms of ‘social’ sustainability (people), which studied the quality of life issues including life expectancy and obesity rates, education, income inequality, work-life balance, crime, green space within cities and housing and living costs.

It fared poorly in the environmental category (planet), coming in 98th – ahead only of China’s Wuhan and India’s Kolkata.

However, it did better when it came to economic factors (profit), coming in 50th for its continued initiatives and investment in public transport, healthcare, tourism, and education.

Also included in this category was the ease of doing business, tourism growth, GDP per capita, connectivity for mobile and broadband access, employment rates, and the city’s importance in global economic networks.

Of the eight cities in the Middle East included in this year’s study, Doha fared the worst in the region for its ‘green factors’ while ranking in the middle in terms of regional sustainability.

Dubai took the top spot and came in 52nd position globally, followed by its Emirati neighbour Abu Dhabi (2nd/58th).


City Middle East ranking Global ranking
Dubai 1 52
Abu Dhabi 2 58
Kuwait City 3 70
Doha 4 72
Muscat 5 75
Riyadh 6 76
Jeddah 7 91
Amman 8 86
Source: Arcadis

As one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of LNG but with a small population of only around 2.5 million people, Qatar characteristically scores poorly in studies that examine emissions per capita.

The country’s low score here was owing to a number of issues, including high energy consumption to drive its economic development.

The report noted that in addition, there are also fewer incentives to conserve energy owing to existing fossil fuel resources in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf.

It was in this light that none of the GCC cities included in this study fared well in terms of environmental sustainability, with Jeddah 81st place and Dubai 96, only two positions ahead of Doha.”

Worldwide, European cities walked away with taking up 13 of the top 15 placements. The Swiss city of Zurich came in first place and Stockholm third, though Singapore came in second.

Younger cities with developing economies, predominantly represented by Middle East, India and China – all fossil fuel-rich energy producers – are in the bottom half of the table.

Even the high-performing cities showed disparity across the categories, and Doha was no exception.

According to the report, Doha is “making good progress in becoming more socially and economically sustainable, however a number of environmental issues still need to be addressed”.

In the ‘planet’ category, cities were judged across seven factors:

  • Environmental risks;
  • Energy;
  • Green space;
  • Air pollution;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Waste management;
  • Drinking water and sanitation.


The full report can be found here.