Natural Science and the Arab states of the Gulf
Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas. Between them all the Arab States of the Gulf states rank among the world’s largest reserves and suppliers of oil. On the contrary, freshwater is a scarce resource in this area, which is why these states use the process of sea water desalination as their main source for water. These activities undoubtedly take their toll on the region’s resources and environment. Furthermore, the nature and ecosystems of the sub-region still need a lot of scientific research, with a view to the classical disciplines of botany, zoology, and ecology, as well as ecosystem management.
The Natural Sciences Program in the Doha office tries to assist its Member States filling in the gaps and help these rapidly developing states in building capacity into environmental sciences, engineering sciences, and with practical opportunities for application. We want to catalyze valuable ideas and assist translating them into reality, and we synchronise this with our National Commissions. The program works hard trying to provide the scientific support in order to reduce the harmful environmental impacts, establish diverse industries, develop alternative energy sources, and preserve their indigenous flora and wildlife. We strictly focus on Ecosystems and Water related issues, and all activities are clearly based on UNESCO Main Line of Actions.
The Quranic Botanic Garden in, Sharjah and Doha, is an exemplary project for the implementation of UNESCO’s principles. It will combine the teachings of the Holy Quran with regards to respect for our common environment with the preservation of the indigenous plant species of this area, several thousand indigenous species of the Arabian Peninsula. The Botanic Gardens should function as Centres of Excellence for Botanic research, education, and conservation, and also a prime recreational area.
The Biosphere Reserves are another perfect example of UNESCO’s goals. The network includes more than 550 special places around the world and 3 already underway in Qatar, the UAE, and Oman. These reserves will act exactly as their name implies. They will reserve and protect the nature of those areas, including its ecosystems, habitats, wildlife and biodiversity, and they also pays tribute to the original way of life of these societies. These Reserves are basically ‘living laboratories’ that test ways of managing natural resources while fostering economic development – it is a reconciliation of nature conservation and sustainable development.
Our projects are many and varied. Examples include:
- Science based resource recycling project called "The Arab Recycling Initiative"
- Identifying, establishing, and managing World Natural Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks.
- Generating science-based information on the utilization of saline water, saline soils, and salt-tolerant plants in agriculture and forestry
- Generating science-based information on environmentally friendly tourism
- Assisting, establishing and managing a network of Centers of Excellence for Botanic Education, Research, and Conservation
- Assisting in the reversing of desertification and redressing pressure on limited freshwater-resources based on science
- Assisting with the pro-active development of renewable energy capacity.
- Assisting with the establishment of inter-cluster cooperation with Arab and selected European and African countries based on environmental sciences and biodiversity issues.
- Assisting with unbiased research into climate and sea level change and how to react to it.
- Water awareness campaigns.
These are just some examples of the work being carried out or planned in the Natural Sciences sector of the UNESCO Doha office.
Contacts at the Doha Field Office
For additional information regarding Natural Sciences, please visit UNESCO's Natural Sciences Sector web site.