As the UAE hosted COP 28 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023, topics such as climate change and environmental sustainability have been widely discussed in recent months, especially in the Middle East.

With numerous futuristic urban projects on the horizon, such as Neom and The Line in Saudi Arabia, local businesses are increasingly dedicating more resources to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Simultaneously, individuals in the Middle East are also evolving to embody the “Green consumer” ethos.

2024 appears to be the year of change for the Middle East in terms of taking additional steps toward a sustainable society, even in the face of extreme weather conditions that have been a major obstacle in past decades.

Through our UserQ survey, we aimed to understand the reactions of citizens in the Middle East to sustainability topics

On the 18th of March 24, we published a survey on UserQ targeting only Middle East residents. Our goal was to understand how much awareness there is around sustainability and environmental topics and get the citizens’ sentiment toward government policies in this direction.

Our researchers also uncovered some common trends between individuals regarding sustainable practices and purchase habits, something that local businesses would like to get prepared for.

Demographics of people surveyed


The audience of our surveyed individuals on sustainability and environmental topics in the Middle East represents a diverse demographic landscape.

In terms of age, nearly half of the respondents fall within the range of 26 to 35 years old, with another significant portion, 30%, aged between 36 and 45, while the remainder spans various age groups.

Gender distribution is evenly split, with an equal representation of male and female respondents.

The nationalities of the participants are varied, with the majority being Egyptians (35%), followed by Indians (18%), Saudis (10%), Pakistanis (9%), and others from mixed nationalities.

In terms of residency, the largest proportion resides in the UAE (47%), followed by Egypt (26.7%) and Saudi Arabia (22%), with the rest from Qatar, Oman, and other locations.

Education levels are relatively high, with the minimum qualification being a bachelor’s degree.

Employment status varies, with the majority working in the private sector (58%), followed by self-employed individuals (16%) and public sector employees (13%), with the remainder comprising unemployed individuals, students, and homemakers. The respondents come from various departments, with the majority working in IT & Tech (18%), Finance (16%), and Administration (18%).

Household sizes vary, with 59% residing in medium-sized households comprising 2 to 4 members, followed by 26% with 5 to 7 members, and 10% living alone, with a small percentage in larger households.

Household incomes are predominantly in the range of $2,500 to $5,000 per month, with the remainder distributed across other income brackets up to $50,000 per month.

What are the primary concerns about the environment for people living in the Middle East?


When discussing environmental concerns, people overall attribute high importance to all the topics listed, but some may represent a major priority in the Middle East:

Respondents evenly attributed the highest importance to water scarcity (78%) and air pollution (74%). In second place in terms of importance (as defined by our audience) are waste management (61%) and climate change (65%), leaving less emphasis on deforestation (57%) and loss of biodiversity (48%).

These responses seem to reflect well the arid environment of much of the Middle East, where especially during the summer seasons, it is not uncommon to register high levels of air pollution. If you want to find out more about air quality in the region, you can find detailed and real-time information on IQAir about air quality in the major cities in the Middle East and all around the world.

What is the perceived level of awareness of environmental topics, sustainability and social responsibility?

level of awareness

People rated their perceived, personal level of awareness about environmental topics as “moderate” for 40% and “high” for 32%, indicating there is still some room for improvement. When asked about their beliefs regarding the importance of spreading awareness and adopting sustainable practices to shape a sustainable society for the future of the Middle East, 53% of people “strongly agreed” with the statement. In comparison, 40% “agreed” with it. Only 7% remained unsure about the relevance of these topics.

When asked if they had received any training about sustainability, 108 out of 250 people (43%) reported having received proper training, with the main providers being local governments, schools, or NGOs. A total of 69% of respondents believe that training on this matter has major positive effects on the way people perceive environmental and sustainability topics and concerns. Social media is the primary channel for informally accessing such information for 74% of respondents, followed by government initiatives for 68% of the total.

What sustainable practices are individuals in the Middle East adopting in their daily lives?


Most of the surveyed people in the Middle East adopt practices such as reducing plastic usage, recycling and being conscious about water and electricity consumption. However, less attention is given to buying local products (likely due to shortages of specific products in the region) or supporting local businesses. Even fewer people consider changing their diet to minimize ecological impact or joining local environmental activities. Additionally, 53% of the respondents believe that individual actions such as those mentioned above can have a significant and direct impact on increasing environmental sustainability in the Middle East.

In detail, only 23% of the surveyed people always recycle plastic, paper, and metals. The remaining 68% admit to doing it on a less frequent basis, while 4% do it rarely, and the remaining 4% don’t even consider it as an option. Could this be related to the lack of recycling services? It is possible that people would be much more motivated if asked to perform a task with minimal cognitive or physical effort. Although the UAE, for example, has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and is investing in recycling and green initiatives, citizens might still need that extra motivation to adopt recycling as a recurring habit.

Regarding the frequency of using reusable alternatives to single-use plastic products, only 29% affirm to do it always. 66% do it on a less frequent basis, while 4% do it very rarely, and only 1% never seek plastic alternatives.

Behind the reasons why people actively engage in sustainable practices such as recycling or seeking green products, concern for the environment (73%) and social responsibility (70%) rank at the top. These reasons are followed by the desire to conserve natural resources (63%), economic benefits (46%), and cultural values (44%). Only 1.59% of the respondents admitted that none of the possibilities above translates into motivations for them to adopt green practices.

Are people’s purchasing habits influenced by green considerations? Are citizens in the Middle East making sustainable choices as consumers?

57% of the people surveyed are very or extremely willing to pay a higher price for environmentally friendly products and services, and 78% affirmed that they consciously choose products or services based on the brand’s commitment to sustainability.

This is something that businesses need to consider if they are planning to expand or simply maintain their market share in the future. While many believe that sustainability is a measure that applies only to physical products, the truth is that any digital product or service can also be measured in terms of carbon footprint. If you’re curious to know the carbon footprint of your website, try websitecarbon.com. It’s pretty clear now that consumers are looking for eco-friendly products. With such a pronounced demand, one can’t help but wonder: What are companies waiting for?

What is the perception towards government initiatives? Are our leaders doing enough to drive society towards the Green Change?

Only 53% of the respondents believe that Middle Eastern governments are currently doing enough to address environmental issues, indicating a significant need for improvement. When asked about further measures governments should adopt, 72% of the respondents identified investing in renewable energy sources as the top priority. Following closely behind, 68% suggested implementing stricter policies and regulations for both the population and companies. These findings underscore the desire for more proactive and decisive actions from governmental authorities in fostering sustainability and combating environmental challenges.


The interest in environmental concerns and sustainability is increasing among individuals and organizations alike. Society is slowly but steadily adapting to ensure service continuity while gradually shifting its offerings to be more environmentally friendly.

The survey has demonstrated that people believe in the impact that every single action has on a global scale, perhaps while waiting for governments to provide more proactive support to facilitate their efforts. While in other regions of the world, sustainability is already the main driver for policymakers, in the Middle East, there’s still work to be done.

What would be your first priority to help our society make the complete shift towards a green economy? Let us know in the comments below.

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