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Arab Golf Courses Threaten Water Supply

Dubai Sustainability Activism
by Julie Schwietert Jun 2, 2009
Is building golf courses in the desert a smart idea? The GreenBiz blog says no.

Matador’s long been interested in the big picture impact of Dubai’s hyperdevelopment on human communities and the environment.

But since we’re more likely to be found surfing on Spain’s North Coast, boating Big Sky country in Montana, or trekking in Bhutan, we’re a bit out of the loop when it comes to golfing in Dubai.

Fortunately, the folks over at the GreenBiz blog have been keeping tabs on the topic. In a recent article, “Desert Golf Courses Symptomatic of Arab Region’s Larger Water Problems,” writer Tilde Herrera indicated that the Arab region’s 16 golf courses–at least three of which are in Dubai–may be successful attracting a certain group of tourists, but are likely to generate a poor long-term return on investment.

The reason?

Each of the golf courses uses an average of 1.16 million cubic meters of water annually, enough water to meet the daily needs of 15,000 local residents.

As an arid, desert region, Dubai and its neighbors already face considerable challenges related to water. But with the plan to expand the total number of golf courses to 40 in the coming years, the water problems the region faces are likely to grow exponentially.

Given the tendency toward short-term planning rather than a long-term cost-benefits analysis, the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, cited by Herrera, signals that the region is at a critical turning point with respect to the environment and sustainability.

The news also poses challenges to conscientious travelers: How do our recreational activities affect local environments and local people?

Community Connection:

Live in Dubai? Matador’s looking for a local correspondent! You can read about the details here.

And speaking of sports, we’ll soon be launching MatadorSports! Keep coming back to MatadorNetwork for guides to outdoor activities that have low environmental impact!

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