Dubai was ranked 33rd globally in a newly launched sustainability index, closely followed by Abu Dhabi at 34.
Dubai has been named the most sustainable city in the region, according to the Sustainable Cities Index developed by the build asset consultancy firm Arcadis.
Regionally, Abu Dhabi and Doha ranked second and third in the index respectively.
The index explores the three demands of social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (Profit) to develop an indicative ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities.
Dubai was ranked 33rd in the index, closely followed by Abu Dhabi at the 34th position and Doha at 41st, the report showed. Two Saudi Arabian cities Jeddah and Riyadh came 43rd and 44th respectively in the index.
Globally, cities were found to be more sustainable in the environmental and economic aspects while scoring low in social aspects. However, Middle Eastern cities scored low in environmental factors.
“The trade-off between planet and profit is most starkly seen in the Middle East where Dubai and Doha score much lower on environmental factors than economic ones,” said Terry Tommason, Doha city executive of Big Urban Clients at Arcadis.
“Cities in the Middle East have seen the highest real term population growth over the past five years, with Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi experiencing a rise of over 30 per cent, putting a strain on city infrastructure.”
Dubai and Doha emerged at the top in the region for the profit sub-index while Abu Dhabi came first regionally for the people sub index.
Jeddah and Riyadh scored well in the planet index for providing clean drinking water and sanitation along with having low levels of air pollution.
“City leaders need to find ways to balance the demands of generating strong financial returns, being an attractive place for people to live and work in, whilst also limiting damage to our environment,” said Hisham Malaika, Jeddah city executive at Arcadis.
“To truly understand how sustainable a city is, we must understand how it ranks in people, planet and profit. Then we can act to assess priorities and the pathway to urban sustainability – for the good of all.”
Many cities in the Middle East have taken concrete steps to improve their sustainability standards by opting for green building initiatives.
Dubai has pledged to be among the top 10 most sustainable cities in the world by 2020 through various green initiatives while Abu Dhabi has adopted the Estidama system under which buildings have to adhere to specific green standards.