Oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) is spending billions to promote its capital, Abu Dhabi as a hub for alternative energy and sustainability. Writing under the caption "Renewable Energy: Desert Dreams" in time, Bryan Walsh could not have captured it more vividly:
If you want to see the future of sustainable design, drive southwest from Abu Dhabi's international airport, stop when you come to the desert — and use your imagination. You're standing in what will be Masdar City: a radically innovative development powered entirely by renewable energy.
Masdar City, a brainchild of British architect, Norman Foster (watch his video)
...is little more than a dream in the desert today, but the beginnings of Abu Dhabi's transformation are visible in a field of 25 different solar panels sprouting from the sand near the construction site. The shimmering silicon modules are being run through an 18-month field test to determine which kind of photovoltaic technology will work best in this hot and dusty environment. The winner will help power Masdar City — and, eventually, perhaps much of Abu Dhabi, as scientists here learn to tap a renewable energy source that could ultimately be as powerful as the oil that has made this region so wealthy.
The forward-thinking leaders of sun-baked UAE, leaders like 35-year-old Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Masdar's CEO, obviously understand something that other leaders seem to be missing, including those in oil rich African countries. And what is that something? i think it may be found in a typically precise comment by Klaus Topfer, former head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): "The region is rich in fossil fuels for the time being. But this region will be rich in sun for all time..."