Jan 232008

In Dubai today for a Weber Shandwick PR symposium, which included a big sustainability element. Very good attendance from across the region, from local UAE clients to representatives from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Gave my now well worn presentation, ‘CSR: Recipes for Success’. Lots of reaction, which was encouraging.  It was fortuitous being here just after Monday’s big energy futures summit in Abu Dhabi, at which the Prince of Wales appeared by hologram to keep his carbon footprint down. Perhaps I should have done the same today! The prospects for CR are mixed here – obviously the manic pace of growth (towers practically shoot up in between lunch courses) poses big questions about the environmental fallout.  But, as in China and India, there is a growing appetite for sustainability. Not least because the all important government machine is starting to talk about it. The oil here will soon run out, and the search is on for replacements. It’s too early to say how successful the green movement will be here (NGOs have little presence or traction), but the Masdar project with its heavy WWF involvement, could become a beacon for the future. ‘Green’ is the last word you think of to describe this place today. It has the feel of an ecological time bomb.  But by 2050, who knows? It was amusing to hear participants bemoaning Dubai’s lack of recycling, the prevalence of plastic bags and the desire for big powerful cars for non rural journeys.  Just like somewhere else I know – Britain.

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