Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Research Fellow, Gulf Research Center, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia talks about the challenges that are preventing Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region transitioning to renewable energy.
He says the region, rich in oil and gas, is dependent on fossil fuel resources but is only slowly starting to look at more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Raouf explains Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and the MENA region will be among the most affected by climate change: water scarcity and therefore an increase in water demand is just one of the problems that will confront the region over the next 20-30 years he says.
The dilemma that exists, Raouf says, is how to find a balance between development and protecting the environment.
However, he explains that regional decision-makers are beginning to understand that the root causes of unrest, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring, can be traced back to environmental problems such as pollution, water scarcity and food security.
Raouf says national governments have a good opportunity to exploit the region’s potential for renewable energy but more awareness on climate change issues is needed.