The very source of the Middle East's riches threatens to ruin it. Climate change will bring even hotter temperatures, rising sea-levels inundating low-lying Arabian Gulf countries, food shortages and droughts destabilising volatile, populous neighbours.
But the counters to global warming considered so far, promising as they are, have two fatal flaws, detailed below. A solution is on the horizon - if the wealthy oil exporters have the imagination to seize it.
The region has become rich on the back of oil and gas. But burning these fuels contributes to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that threatens disastrous climate change. As the continuing battle over the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States shows, some of the key consumers of the Middle East's exports are trying to move away from oil.
The first flaw in today's solutions, such as renewable and nuclear energy, is that cars do not run on solar panels. More than half the world's oil is used in road vehicles, ships and planes.
The two plausible endgames are both perilous for the Middle East. Either oil remains the world's main transport fuel, in which case dangerous climate change is unavoidable. Or, electric vehicles or some other technologies replace oil. A large part of the Middle East's 800 billion barrels of reserves would remain, unburnt, in the ground.
Even if the various low-carbon technologies make rapid progress, we face the second flaw. Significant climate change is already inevitable - we cannot simply dismantle every coal power plant and car tomorrow.
A state of 1.3 degrees Celsius of global warming by the middle of the century is virtually certain, on top of some 0.7 degrees since 1950.
Even before 2050, we may discover we are approaching a dangerous tipping point - such as the melting of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, raising sea levels by 6 to 14 metres.
So we need a way to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from billions of cars and other small sources. And we need to run the climate clock in reverse - to return greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a safe level.
"Artificial trees" may be the answer. These devices, the size of a shipping container, scrub the air using chemical processes, just as natural trees use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into leaves and roots.
The captured carbon dioxide can then be disposed of safely underground, used to recover more oil from old fields, or - eventually - turned into solid minerals for permanent storage. The machines can run off cheap off-peak power, including renewable energy. And they can be placed anywhere in the world. The UAE could extract carbon dioxide for use in its oilfields, and at the same time eliminate emissions from China or the US.
The Harvard professor David Keith raised US$3.5 million (Dh12.85m) from Bill Gates and others in 2009 to commercialise the technology with his company Carbon Engineering. Klaus Lackner, a long-term advocate of carbon-dioxide capture from air and a professor at Columbia, is pioneering an alternative design.
The technology works, but the main question today is cost. Mr Keith hopes his device could capture a tonne of carbon dioxide for $100, so $230 would offset the climate impact of a Dubai-New York return flight. Ultimately, of course, millions of these devices would be required worldwide. But at this stage, a modest $100m or so might be enough to prove the concept.
Direct air capture of carbon dioxide is not a panacea for climate change - but it is an important and unique part of the solution. In order to safeguard both their environmental security, and the source of their wealth, the Gulf countries should emulate Mr Gates - and invest some of their petrodollars in making the region bloom with artificial trees.
Robin Mills is the head of consulting at Manaar Energy and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon