Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Today I’m going to discuss Lebanon in comparison to its Arab neighbors. Actually, one in particular. Our principal competitor…the UAE.

Lebanon, we have always prided ourselves on being “different.” In many ways we are. We use English, Arabic, and French fluently. Beirut is the fourth city in the world for nightlife. Our literacy rates for both men and women are in the 90% ranges. We have a strong educated professional class, and have no lack of human capital. Our  country features everything from historic sites from the Phoenician, Roman, and Ottoman times, to the beach, snowy slopes, to natural reservations. In spite of our cosmpolitanism we also have quaint Lebanese villages that preserve our authentic character. We claim to be resilient, close to our families, and profess a strong sense of patriotism. We claim to be more modern, more open, and more sophisticated than our regional neighbors.  

As a country that benefits from tourism, we often compare ourselves to the UAE. We the Lebanese say that we have cultural heritage, whereas in the UAE they have modern buildings and fabulous shopping, but that’s it. We also say that we have better nightlife, and that the UAE is full of foreign workers, but we have our own working population. We pride ourselves on being different and Lebanese, as we should. All citizens should be proud of their nations, irrespective of where they are from.

That said, the UAE, for all its modernity, has something we refuse to invest in: urban planning and the use of renewable energy. In the UAE, solar panels are used on all government buildings. Solar-based ACs and solar panels for electricity are also widely used in the private sector. It makes sense for them to harvest such a natural resource; it’s clean, it’s renewable, and in the long run, cheaper than petrol. Nor does it stop there. In Abu Dhabi, there is a plan to create Masdar City: an entire city that functions on renewable energy sources. While has not reached completion, it is underway, and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. For more about Masdar City, follow this link:  http://www.masdar.ae/en/Menu/index.aspx?MenuID=48&CatID=27&mnu=Cat 

Lebanon, we might not have the space to create our own city that is based on renewable energy, but we are definitely able to rehabilitate and modernize our existing infrastructure. We have the skills, the source of renewable energy, and the know-how. Contrary to our beliefs about our modernity, our regional neighbors are actually ahead of us in some aspects. They are implementing urban planning, which prevents over-crowding and the withering of infrastructure. They are using renewable energy, which saves them enormous sums of money in the long run. Meanwhile, we are still focused on using generators and have plans to invest in both our own and Iranian petrol. Why do that, when we can invest in renewable sourves of energy, save the environment, and our budgets?

My fellow Lebanese, it is time we focus on renewable energy. Let us save our environment, reduce our expenditure and personal bills, and work towards our political independence. Solar panels pay for themselves in five years, and after that you save money. At the level of the government, we should be implementing solar energy panels; we have a valuable source. Let us use it!!