Distributing leftovers, converting food waste to compost: 70 Dubai hotels certified green

Here is how the hospitality industry in the emirate works to stay sustainable


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo for illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only

Published: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 8:20 AM

Last updated: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 11:16 PM

Where does the leftover food at hotels go? At the Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, it is food is given to the UAE Food Bank, who distributes it to needy people. The hotel also converts unusable food waste into compost. These are some of the initiatives that helped the hotel achieve the gold standard at the first ever Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) Stamp Awards.

A total of seventy hotels in Dubai were certified green at the ceremony that was held on Wednesday. It recognised those that have demonstrated excellence in meeting the 19 sustainability requirements laid out by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). The hotels were chosen from a pool of 278 applications, all of which were rigorously studied.

“We were surprised by the number of hotels that applied,” said Yousuf Lootah, Acting CEO of Corporate Strategy and Performance sector. “It was a signal of how keen UAE hotels are in terms of ensuring sustainability. We hope to see the numbers of increase in the next cycle.”

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Classified into gold, silver and bronze categories, the hotels were judged on their waste, water and energy management as well as guest education, engagement with local communities, and employee training, among other things. Different target thresholds were set for the various categories and these thresholds differed for hotels of different star categories.

Always ready

According to Yousuf, hotels in Dubai have always been ready to adopt sustainable practices. “When we started in 2014, we published a manual called '12 easy steps to sustainability',” he said. “It is still the most downloaded document on our website. It enables hotels to implement small changes to immediately see a reduction in water and energy spent.”

Through their commitment to environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility, these hotels play a crucial role in advancing the tourism sector's sustainability goals, supporting the UAE’s NetZero 2050 target, and meeting the Dubai Economic Agenda’s (D33) objectives.

Yousuf highlighted that the recognition will help hotels in the city, as there has been a jump in international travelers who are looking for sustainable experiences. He said, “It is an accolade and a marketing tool that will tell potential guests that you will offer a sustainable stay.”


Yousuf further added that biggest change he has seen is how most hotels have moved away from single use plastics. “It was the most impressive thing I have seen during the judging process,” he said. “More and more hotels are implementing their own refilling plants, as part of the Dubai Can initiative. This has really moved the needle not just in reducing their own carbon emissions but also expanding that knowledge and culture of using reusable bottles to their guests.”

In 2021, Dubai became the first city in the region to establish mandatory sustainability requirements as part of the hotel classifications system. It provided a framework for Dubai hotels to reduce their carbon footprint and required hotels to maintain sustainability reporting that could be accessed by DET inspectors.


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