GCC one of the most polluted regions in the world

Three GCC countries in WHO top ten worst polluters list

Vehicle emissions are only one part of the pollution equation.
Vehicle emissions are only one part of the pollution equation.


A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that details the most polluted countries in the world features three GCC countries.

While Mongolia tops the list with a pollution level of 279 ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), and its capital, Ulaanbaatar is declared as the most polluted city in the world, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s presence in the top ten makes the region one of the most polluted on the planet.

The WHO studied data over the past decade to compile the list, although some of the data was taken over several years. Kuwait’s reading of 123 ug/m3 that saw it placed at tenth on the list was measured in 2003, conversely the UAE’s ranking at seventh and reading of 132 ug/m3 was based on information from 2010. According to the WHO, Saudi Arabia is the most polluted place to live in the GCC and the fifth most polluted country in the world with a reading of 143 ug/m3.

While the way the data was compiled may cause controversy and draw criticism, they do highlight the challenge confronting the oil-producing states. The energy and construction sectors are the most successful but they are among the worst polluters.

Around 30bn cubic metres of gas is burned by the GCC countries per year, the equivalent of 900,000 barrels of oil per day, joint studies by the United Nations and World Bank have found. In addition, the region’s construction industry is considered to be a major cause of air pollution due to the dust and particle emissions from factories catering to the sector.

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