While the UAE grapples with a number of environmental challenges, an exhibition coming to Dubai hopes to inspire consumers to do their share in making the Emirates greener.
Future Green 2011, which runs from 10am to 10pm on Tuesday at the Dubai Marina Mall, will feature 40 local companies displaying a variety of green products, from consumer-scale solar energy to household goods made of recycled materials, to organic food and cosmetics.
Tatiana Abella, one of the organisers, said options were slowly but steadily increasing for consumers looking for sustainable products and services. Large companies and new start-up businesses are aiming to fill in the gaps, offering more choice for those interested in a healthy, clean lifestyle, she said.
"The interest from consumers is growing because people finally see this here, but also because it is becoming more affordable," said Ms Abella, who is also the co-founder and managing director of Goumbook, an online directory for sustainable products.
Those attending the event will be able to speak with managers from Emirates Environmental Technologies, the company that built the country's newest plant for plastics recycling, which will soon be officially inaugurated in Al Ain.
Visitors to the exhibition can also pick up useful tips on how to make a reusable shopping bag out of old newspapers. Also exhibiting is 174 Solar, a new company launching a line of solar chargers in the UAE.
The devices are foldable, easy to carry and, depending on the size, can be used for a variety of applications, from charging small electronic gadgets such as cameras and phones to powering off-grid desert camps.
"We're trying to target people who are interested in being more independent from the electricity grid," said Mujahid Salman, the founder and chief executive of 174 Solar.
The smallest device on offer features two photovoltaic panels with a joint capacity of seven watts, enough to charge devices such as phones, cameras, iPods and GPS receivers. The charger folds into a compact, fabric-bound case that looks like a diary.
Additional solar panels are easy to add to the system, which can be scaled up to accommodate larger devices such as laptops and high-definition video cameras, and other professional equipment.
The company also offers larger solar panels of 30 watts, encased within a rigid metal frame. The larger system is aimed at people camping outdoors, and can replace fossil-fuel generators. It can be scaled up to 120 watts, enough to power lights and even a small refrigerator.
Prices range from Dh500 for the small foldable device to about Dh10,000 for the largest system.
"The grid of the future is no grid," said Mr Salman, 32, explaining that solar power can take an increasing share of the power market in the Emirates if people try it at the small scale.
"Many people, when you tell them solar, they think of Masdar or other large-scale projects, which are not as relevant to them in their lives.
"We are offering this solution as a lifestyle change for people to be more sustainable."