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Climate Change in Abu Dhabi Research Paper


Climate change refers to changing weather patterns caused by human activities on the planet. Increases in temperature, rising sea levels, and unpredictable weather patterns characterize the changes (IPCC 2). These effects have a significant impact on the environment and (by extension) human welfare. According to Al Mubarak, climate change is one of the biggest crises of the 21st century (1). However, countries have chosen to respond to it differently, based on the kind of contingency plans and resources available to them (United Nations General Assembly 1).

The Middle East is one region affected by the impact of climate change. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is of notable interest in this study because it is an economic hub and a center of cultural excellence in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi is an emirate in the country and it could suffer some of the worst effects of climate change in the UAE (Dougherty 1). Broadly, many people consider the crisis a threat to the emirate’s social development and economic growth plans, as described in its vision 2030 framework (Abu Dhabi Environment Agency 6). Nonetheless, what the government is doing to preempt such a crisis is unclear. Similarly, there are conflicting pieces of information to explain the impact and potential risks of climate change on the emirate’s vision 2030 plan.

Based on the above issues, this paper seeks to find out the impact and potential risks of climate change on Abu Dhabi’s growth and development plan. The emphasis will be on the government’s response strategy to the crisis. Evidence collected in this study will also relate to the emirate’s preparedness, mitigation and response strategies to climate change. There will be five main sections in this paper. The first one is the introduction section, which sets the stage for the paper. The second one outlines the methodology used to meet the study’s objectives, while the third part presents the results obtained from the execution of the research strategy. The fourth section contains an analysis of the same findings, while the last portion summarizes the main points of the study in the conclusion section.


Research Philosophy

There are three main research philosophies used in academic studies: interpretivism, positivism, and realism. The interpretivism philosophy was used in this paper because it contextualizes human action within the broader prism of social, political and economic outcomes. The justification for choosing this research philosophy stems from the fact that human activities cause climate change (United Nations General Assembly 1). Thus, the interpretivism philosophy helps us to understand the actions of human beings as social actors in the environmental growth of a country.

Research Approach

The mixed methods research approach, which includes aspects of the qualitative and quantitative research strategies, provides the basis for this research study (Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching 3). The mixed methods research approach is applied in this paper because the research topic is exploratory. Climate change is also a dynamic topic that includes both qualitative and quantitative aspects of analysis. The same is true for the Abu Dhabi vision 2030 plan.

Research Design

According to the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching, there are six types of research designs: sequential explanatory, sequential exploratory, sequential transformative, concurrent triangulation, concurrent nested technique, and concurrent transformative method (6). This study adopts the sequential transformative model as the primary approach in this study. It does not espouse any preference for the type of data researchers should collect first. However, it advocates for their integration in the data analysis process. These key features of the research design justified the use of the sequential transformative technique because there was no preference for any data to be collected during the initial phase of the project.

Data Collection

Secondary research materials will be the basis for the formulation of this study’s findings. This type of data involves the review of published information, through a comprehensive literature review analysis. The justification for using this research data is its ability to accommodate studies that have limited resources and time. Such was the case for this research. Additionally, the use of secondary data provided a broad pool of resources for investigating the research focus.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed using the thematic and coding techniques. Six simple steps highlighted in the table below defined the data collection process.




Familiarizing with the data


Generating initial codes


Searching for themes


Theme reviews


Theme definition and naming


Producing the report


A review of published data investigating the impact of climate change on Abu Dhabi showed three significant themes highlighted below.

Rising temperatures

Several reports sampled in this study showed that climate change could cause up to a 2°C degree increase in Abu Dhabi’s temperature (Al Wasmi 2). The Emirates Wildlife Society also supports this fact by saying there could be a rise in temperatures during hot summers and high levels of humidity during the same period (Al Wasmi 2). Additionally, a report by Al Wasmi revealed that climate change could cause an increase of 10% in the emirate’s moisture levels (7).

Some experts fear that these changes in weather conditions could cause a decline in the productivity of workers in the emirate (Dougherty 6). If this outcome leads to an increase in cases of hospitalization, experts also estimate that Abu Dhabi could experience economic losses of up to Dh7.35 billion yearly (Al Wasmi 5). At the same time, independent reports show that there could be a higher demand for air conditioners, further causing a strain on the UAE’s energy resources (Dougherty 9).

Higher Levels of Rain and Sand Storms

Al Wasmi says that climate change in Abu Dhabi could cause unpredictable sandstorms, which could affect human health and productivity (3). At the same time, scientists say that higher-than-normal levels of rainstorms could become part of Abu Dhabi’s climate. This outcome contributes to unpredictable weather patterns in the region (Dougherty 6). Independent estimates also show that the quantity of rainfall could increase by up to 200% (Al Wasmi 4).

The World Meteorological Association supports these assertions in a 2015 report, which showed that climate change could cause a significant increase in sea temperatures of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, which border Abu Dhabi (Dougherty 9). There is also an imminent risk of flooding which could emerge from the same phenomenon. This eventuality could pose a threat to the emirate’s power generation plans because floods and storms could significantly affect its coastal power generation facilities (Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council 5). Desalination plants are also located on the emirate’s coastline, further increasing the risk of damage to the region’s water supply (Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council 5).

Impact on Coastal Ecosystems

Climate change would affect the coastal ecosystem of Abu Dhabi (Dougherty 9). This ecosystem is a product of different subsystems, which form part of the UAE coastline. They include lagoons, embayment, and beach-sabhka subsystems (Dougherty 28). Some of the primary ecological subsystems under the threat of climate change include “sabkhas, mangroves, sea-grass, and coral reefs, as well as the influence of climate change on coastal wildlife populations.” (p. 28).

Reports also show that the Sabhkas are the most visible ecological systems under the threat of climate change (Dougherty 28). Mangroves are also other features of Abu Dhabi’s coastline under the same risk. In fact, Dougherty says they are among the most sensitive ecological features along the UAE coast that would be most susceptible to climate change (28). Rising sea levels and floods, which would naturally lead to erosion, are among the most significant threats to mangrove life in Abu Dhabi. Such outcomes could significantly change the nature of the emirate’s coastline. More importantly, they could affect marine life in the metropolis.


Based on the findings highlighted above, the effects of climate change on Abu Dhabi could influence its social and economic landscape. The same results reveal that climate change could affect the emirate through an increase in temperature, humidity, rainfall, and sandstorms. It could also damage the Emirate’s coastal ecosystems. Collectively, these environmental changes could affect human habitation and marine life in the region. These findings highlight the difficulty of limiting climate change to human-related factors because the same phenomenon could affect wildlife as well. Several studies have highlighted these facts by warning that Abu Dhabi suffers a risk of environmental degradation because of climate change (Al Wasmi 1; Al Mubarak 1).

Dougherty has categorized these effects into two parts – qualitative and quantitative issues (16). Qualitative matters refer to how the crisis could affect the emirate’s water reserves, policy planning, and sustainability programs in the region, while quantitative topics relate to the need for data collection, analysis, and mitigation, using available statistics.

The effects of climate change on Abu Dhabi that appear in this paper also draw our attention to four priority areas in Abu Dhabi’s environmental policy. They include the provision of clean air and minimization of noise pollution, protection of water resources, preservation of biodiversity and waste disposal (Abu Dhabi Environment Agency 6). The three core effects of climate change highlighted in this study align with biodiversity issues and Abu Dhabi’s water management plan. Other studies point to the need to consider other priority areas when analyzing climate change concerns in the emirate (Al Wasmi 1; Al Mubarak 1).

Comprehensively, the effects of climate change highlighted in this paper could have a significant impact on the emirate’s vision 2030 environmental plan, which the Abu Dhabi government developed (Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council 5). Other proponents of this vision are the emirate’s Executive Council and the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council 1). The Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development was also involved in the process, within a broader attempt of integrating the three pillars of sustainability, which should ensure the integration of the Emirate’s environmental social and economic visions (Abu Dhabi Environment Agency 1).

The environment vision 2030 plan contains most of the climate change issues highlighted in this paper (Abu Dhabi Environment Agency 2). This mention means that Abu Dhabi recognizes the gravity of the environmental problems it faces. However, respective administrations have not done enough to mitigate them (Al Mubarak 9). Consequently, there is a need to review the emirate’s environmental plan to make sure it addresses current climate change issues.

For example, there is a need to discuss the institutional framework of the vision 2030 project to make it more responsive to the current environmental challenges. There is also a need for different entities working in the emirate to work together (Al Mubarak 9). However, it is vital to confine such actions to practical strategic plans that stakeholders should implement within five years or less.


The UAE government needs to improve its environmental management plans to make sure that Abu Dhabi achieves its environmental objectives that appear in its vision 2030 framework. The government should also focus more on addressing fundamental issues of climate change that appear in this paper if Abu Dhabi should realize this goal. It is also important to note that, although the vision 2030 plan offers a timeline for the achievement of Abu Dhabi’s environmental objectives, Abu Dhabi may not realize most of them within this timeframe. Furthermore, some people may not accept some proposed interventions because they may affect their livelihoods.

Based on these facts, the possible extent of pushing Abu Dhabi’s environmental agenda beyond the limits outlined in the vision 2030 plan will be mostly a decision that the emirate’s leadership would have to make. Nonetheless, it is important to point out that the above findings are only indicative of the impact of climate change on Abu Dhabi. Researchers need to conduct substantial research to quantify the real extent of the crisis in the region. In other words, there is a need to conduct more quantitative assessments of the impact of the crisis on the emirate.

Works Cited

Abu Dhabi Environment Agency. “Environment Vision 2030.” EAD. Web.

Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.” Ecouncil. Web.

Al Mubarak, Razan. “How Abu Dhabi is addressing Climate Change.” The National. 2017, pp. 1-10.

Al Wasmi, Naser. “More Sandstorms in Summer and Rain in Winter, UAE Climate Change Risk Report Predicts.” The National, 27 Mar. 2017, pp. 1-10.

Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. “CIRT. Web.

Dougherty, William. “Climate Change Impacts.” Environmental Agency -Abu Dhabi. Web.

IPCC. “.” IPCC. Web.

United Nations General Assembly. “Climate Change and the Most Vulnerable Countries: The Imperative to Act.” United Nations. Web.

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