UAE’s win at the Venice Biennale can make our cities greener

UAE's win at the Venice Biennale can make our cities greener
UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi and pavilion curator Wael Al Awar with visitors inside Wetland, the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. John Brunton

It is a matter of great pride that the UAE’s Wetland Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation this past fortnight.

In its tenth time of participating at the Venice Biennale, the UAE pavilion investigated a substitute for cement that could be produced from salt. The UAE bagged the top prize for drawing attention to the relationship between waste and production, and finding an alternative to the most commonly used type of construction raw material, namely Portland cement.

The UAE’s plans to tackle climate change are among the most ambitious in the world. By 2030, the country aims to achieve a high level of eco-efficiency, primarily by managing its greenhouse emissions and increasing its ability to adapt to climate change.

For a country that is undergoing rapid economic growth, few changes can have more of an effect on reducing carbon emissions than finding a sustainable way around the use of carbon-intensive raw materials.

For the sake of the UAE’s sustainability ambitions, and indeed the region’s, zeroing in on an alternative to concrete should be considered a priority. Perhaps not many people would know that concrete is one of the most used materials in the region, and the second most consumed material on earth, after water. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are, in fact, the top two cement producers in the GCC.