Middle East must grasp green issues

11 May 2006
Middle East must grasp green issues

Hoteliers in the Middle East must dramatically improve their environmental record or face destroying the region's ecology, experts have warned.

Speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai (AHIC) this week, Theodar Kubak, chief executive of hotel development and management company Servus International, warned: "The environment is not taken seriously in the region at the moment, as there's perceived to be no need. But it will have to be taken into account sooner or later."

Jonathan Tourtellot, director of the National Geographic Centre for Sustainable Destinations, concurred. "Businesses need to do more than just pay homage to the green issue by throwing a bit of money towards it," he said.

Lyndall de Marco, executive director of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, said the industry still had a long way to go to improve its record.

"There are too many people making excuses, but our industry depends on the beauty of the planet," she said. "I fail to see how hotels can spend £1m on a chandelier but won't spend an extra £1 on a water-saving tap."

Philip Jones, vice-president of architect HOK International, agreed the region was only just waking up to the situation. "Global hotel groups are beginning to push the issue here, but it's whether the local companies will also take them on board," he said.

However, some companies argued that they already take the region's environmental issues seriously. Sarmad Zok, chief executive of Kingdom Hotel Investments, said: "We are obsessed with our environmental impact. Without the earth, we lose the soil from which we feed."

By Emily Manson

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