There is an imminent force threatening the stability of Middle Eastern countries. And I’m not talking about political turmoil. This one is a force of nature.
The Middle East and North Africa, already facing dramatically hot summers and desert-like climate conditions year-round, experienced what the Washington Post called a “hellish-like” heatwave last July. The heat peaked at a mind-boggling 140 degrees in Iran and 130 in Saudi Arabia. Climate scientists are predicting these events to become increasingly common occurrences in the 21st century as average temperatures rise globally. Scientists from The Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Nicosia, Cyprus, went as far as to say that the region could soon become uninhabitable, with mid-day temperatures hovering around 150 degrees.
As war and political instability continue to be issues in the Middle East, the threat of climate change has tended to be overlooked. But, as often happens when a crisis fails to be confronted at a national level, grassroots innovation and solutions have begun to emerge.
There are multiple start-ups that have popped up in response to the need for increased sustainability practices. One worth highlighting is a company based out of Egypt called RecycloBekia. RecycloBekia partners with businesses and individuals in the tech industry in the MENA region to encourage waste awareness. They maintain that they are “the first company in the Arab world offering green recycling of electronic waste and safe data destruction services.” By spreading information on the dangers of e-waste and offering greener solutions, RecycloBekia hopes to catapult the Middle East into a more environmentally-conscious future.
Another promising start-up, also based out of Egypt, is Solaris. Solaris has narrowed their focus on solar power (Egypt is one of the sunniest country in the world), believing it is a sustainable route to water scarcity solutions. Their first product is an energy efficient reverse-osmosis system (basically, a water purification system) which relies on solar power to make it both sustainably and economically viable. Egypt has distanced itself from renewable energy over the past few years as coal prices have dropped, but Solaris is hoping to renew investments in the industry. Like RecycloBekia, Solaris hopes to become a leader in their field and encourage other businesses to follow in their footsteps.
Then there are the startups tackling more niche markets in the environmental sector. Blink My Car, a car-washing service started by two Lebanese entrepreneurs, was established as a water-efficient alternative to your standard car cleaning option. Whenever a client uses the Blink My Car app to order a service, an employee commutes to the car wash destination via electronic bike. It’s an initiative aimed at easing the burden of owning a car. The fact that it is eco-friendly is just an added bonus.
It’s promising to see businesses like these emerge and take the reigns when it comes to sustainable development — if it is not addressed now, changing temperatures will only lead to more political turmoil and population displacement as resources run low. Hopefully start-ups like RecycloBekia, Solaris and Blink My Car will continue to forge a more sustainable path forward, and embolden others to do the same.