Middle East Recycling
The Middle East has been slow to respond to the challenge of climate
change, but Dubai is leading the way with a venture unique to the
region — Dubai Recycling Park (DRP).
National Projects Holding Co. (NPHC), a subsidiary of the National
Real Estate Co. of Kuwait, has signed an agreement with Dubai
Industrial City (DIC), a subsidiary of Tatweer, to establish the
first fully integrated waste management and recycling park in the
“To be frank, it is as much an investment decision as it is a social
responsibility decision,” says Musaed Al-Saleh, vice chairman and
CEO of NPHC. “It is a profitable business model abroad,” he
“However, when you try to adapt it to the Middle East, laws and
regulations, are not currently in place to assist you, and to make
it as profitable as it should be.
“For instance in Europe and the West tipping fees exist — they don’t
here,” adds Al-Saleh. “Licences are available for certain types of
recycling, but not all types. So as legislation progresses,
profitability should go up.”
DRP will be developed on a site measuring 1,500,000 sq ft with a
49-year lease agreement with Dubai Industrial City, and a capital
investment of up to US$150m. Construction is planned to commence in
mid-2007 and will be completed within 18 months.
“The government, generally speaking, should privatise waste
management and recycling,” urges Al-Saleh.
“There’s quite a bit of a learning curve that needs to take place on
this issue, and no one entity — be it the business sector or the
governmental sector — should place obstacles in front of the other
in terms of trying to solve the global warming issue.
“The business community should come under pressure to tackle global
warming, and there should be different taxes and different
legislation for different types of industries,” he continues. “There
should be incentives for companies to reduce the waste they produce,
as the volumes of waste are tremendous in this region. For example
there’s nowhere to recycle newspapers — you read five or six
newspapers a day and it’s just being wasted on a daily basis.”
It is estimated that approximately 120 million tonnes of waste is
currently produced in the GCC countries. 60% is from Saudi Arabia,
20% from the UAE and the rest is from Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and
Bahrain. Of the 120 million tonnes of waste, 55% is estimated to be
construction and demolition waste, 20% municipal waste, 18%
industrial waste and 7% hazardous waste.
Dubai is estimated to have the highest waste per capita production
in the GCC, equating to an emirate total of 9.4 million tonnes per
year, or 35% of the waste produced in the UAE. Waste production in
Dubai is expected to increase from 10 million tonnes in 2004 to over
20 million tonnes by 2010.
“This may sound controversial, but it’s a fact that the Middle East
has neglected [its environmental responsibilities],” argues Al-Saleh.
“Countries in the region are all in the top 10 in the world in terms
of waste production per capita. In terms of socially responsible
investments it has been neglected — it simply wasn’t on the agenda.
People were too focused on the profits side rather than the social
It seems, however, as though Dubai is the exception in the GCC. The
emirate is no longer reacting to the growing requirement of waste
management based on current demand, but has taken the initiative to
plan ten years in advance. “As a company we’re trying to play a role
not only in terms of business and profit, but also in terms of
contributing to the community, to society, and I hope bigger and
larger companies will try to do this elsewhere in the region,” says
Al-Saleh. “We are definitely breaking new ground. I hope this
catches on because there is so much waste in the region, that if you
set up another 10 of these recycling parks, there would be enough
“Since announcing the project we have received interest from Saudi
Arabia to do the same thing, and also Qatar,” he continues.