Book Review: Charting the path toward a greener Middle East

The book is nine chapters long. (Shutterstock)
Updated 30 December 2018

Book Review: Charting the path toward a greener Middle East

  • Ali Keblawi provides a comprehensive assessment of the problems and challenges linked to the process of greening arid Gulf landscapes
  • This book is a must-read for students, scholars, environmental activists and ecologists

BEIRUT: “Environmental Politics in the Middle East” examines the correlation between political forces and ecology, or environmental factors, in the region and how these are connected to the global economy.

Editor Harry Verhoeven categorically rejects any form of separation between the Middle East‘s ecological trajectory and its political and socioeconomic history. In fact, he reiterates the importance of studying environmental issues in order to understand “the myriad political and socio-economic hopes, illusions and problems of its inhabitants.”

In the opening chapter of the book, which is nine chapters long, author and professor Jeannie Sowers examines the effect of environmental constraints on public health across the Middle East and North Africa region.

With only one percent of the world’s freshwater resources, the Middle East is one of the driest places on earth. As such, water resources in the region are being exhausted faster than they can be replenished. The book examines the need for critical action to enhance greater water security.

Ali Keblawi, a professor of environmental science and plant ecology at the University of Sharjah, provides a comprehensive assessment of the problems and challenges linked to the process of greening arid Gulf landscapes.

In particular, his denunciation of the use of exotic species that are used for urban landscaping instead of planting native desert plants is long overdue. Many studies show that ornamental plants popular for their aesthetic value are not adapted to the local climate and consume large amounts of water and depend on synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides for growth.

Keblawi also highlights the fact that desalination plants consume vast amounts of energy, as most of the region’s generators still depend on non-renewable fossil fuels despite the fact that solar energy can be produced in unlimited quantities.

As Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two largest producers of desalinated water in the Middle East, he argues that using solar energy to produce a third of the country’s electricity would free up some 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

This book, which was just made available in paperback, is a must-read for students, scholars, environmental activists and ecologists.


UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, Kathryn Jones learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region. (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 May 2020

UAE brand’s fresh approach to skincare looking good for future

DUBAI: Skincare products can quite often sit on shelfs or in delivery vehicles for weeks and months, stored in unsuitable conditions.

And despite brands promoting them as organic and natural, some customers might question the effectiveness of products left lying around for long periods after being produced.

However, Kathryn Jones, founder of the UAE-based brand Kathryn Jones Hand Blended Serums, or KJ Serums for short, told Arab News how her company created fresh products every month for customers.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.” (Supplied)

“The concept of a freshly-made skincare serum is something quite different and our customers have really embraced it. They appreciate it’s a fresh product that must be used up within a month when it’s at its most active and effective and repurchased – almost like a food stuff,” she said.

Jones, who is originally from Wales, in the UK, launched KJ Serums in 2017 and started her brand “out of necessity.”

She added: “I simply could not afford the prices of some of the top skincare brands but still wanted excellent results.”

With her background in the biopharmaceuticals industry, she started experimenting and developing her own formulas. “The core proposition is ‘hand blended’ because that’s how it all started, by hand blending and perfecting the serum formulas myself here in the UAE,” she said.

Having lived in Dubai for more than seven years, the entrepreneur learned a lot about the Middle Eastern market and the needs of people who live within the region.

“Our climate here is extreme often for eight months or more of the year, especially in the Gulf region. A lot our customers will ask for a product that reduces oiliness and sheen on the skin and are reluctant to purchase products that contain a lot of oils, or are very heavily moisturizing,” Jones added.

The businesswoman believes the Middle East market is “wonderfully diverse” with different attitudes and expectations toward skincare products.

“Of course, this is a challenge to develop effective products which can address many different skin types and issues, but the market is truly receptive to new concepts,” she said.

Jones pointed out that with the current lockdown situation due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), people had more time to care for their skin.

“The coronavirus pandemic has obviously confined us to our homes, and, given the steady increase in the number of enquiries we are receiving, it suggests consumers currently have more time to consider their online skincare purchases and perhaps have more time to invest in an effective routine,” she said.

On whether the COVID-19 outbreak would change the future of the skincare industry, Jones added: “I think that many consumers, either through necessity or out of a desire to support local brands might have chosen to source their products from different manufacturers and therefore brand loyalties may have been affected to a certain extent.”