UAE jobs: Students opt for sustainability-related career as universities prepare them for a green future

Universities in the UAE are at the centre of this movement, especially as they are key community stakeholders from this year’s COP28 host nation


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 11 Sep 2023, 4:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Sep 2023, 7:51 PM

The UAE is recording a surge of green talent in the country, with students eyeing sustainability-related jobs with the country all set to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28).

“As with any other job, one starts climbing the ladder. People start from being a sustainability officer and can reach the position of a chief sustainability officer,” said Dr Aseel A. Takshe, head of department, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Communication, Arts & Sciences, Canadian University Dubai (CUD).

Universities in the UAE are at the centre of this movement, especially as they are key community stakeholders from this year’s COP28 host nation.

Varsities are focused on investing in tailoring curriculums that prepare their students for these ‘green jobs’.

Meanwhile, World Bank economists believe the MENA region is well-positioned to generate green jobs.

A LinkedIn report recently stated out of the 48 countries monitored for their green talent concentration, the UAE demonstrated a year-on-year growth of 10.4 per cent.

Need for green jobs in UAE

Dr Aseel said green jobs are on the rise. “In order to tackle the sustainability challenges, the workforce needs more than a few graduates in sustainability. This is needed in all areas of business, where sustainable graduates think about sustainability in their daily decisions. So, we need scientists, architects, economists, product designers, and lots of others with sustainability knowledge in order to improve sustainability for the overall health of the planet.”

The CUD, for example, offers specialization in Environmental Health Management which equips students to manage environmental issues around the world. Students get to study courses on air pollution, the impact of climate change policy on environmental management, marine pollution, addressing sustainability issues, and how to manage them.

Another university in Dubai, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT Dubai), offers sustainability-related BSc and MSc programs under the mechanical and electrical engineering departments, with courses such as renewable energy systems, sustainable energy management, smart grids, and design for the built environment, among others.

“Such courses allow students with a unique opportunity to gain expertise in areas such as renewable energy systems, environmental management, and sustainable business practices. Graduates from these programs are well-positioned to meet the evolving needs of the job market,” explains Ghalib Kahwaji, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, RIT Dubai.

Dr Fazal Malik, Pro Vice Chancellor at Amity University Dubai, said, “Renewable energy is driving career opportunities in climate change, sustainability, and innovation. The UAE's leadership in renewable energy aligns with the global shift away from fossil fuels, increasing the demand for specialists in sustainable practices. Various public and private sector companies are looking for specialists who can develop, implement and monitor sustainable practices in alignment with international, regional and national goals for climate action.”

Business expansion

Green jobs have the potential to stimulate business expansion within eco-friendly sectors such as clean technologies, energy efficiency, and sustainable business practices.

Over time, companies can realize cost savings through decreased energy expenditures, reduced waste management costs, and improved operational efficiency.

“RIT Dubai's Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Research Center is growing to be an epicentre of innovation and research. Among the research projects underway in the centre are the utilization of geothermal energy in enhancing cooling systems efficiency, testing wind turbines in the region, testing innovative solar systems, and other projects conducted in collaboration with international and local companies,” Kahwaji adds.

Professor Cody Morris Paris, deputy director of Research & Business and head of the Business School at Middlesex University Dubai, said: “As the world counts down to COP28 UAE and we take stock of our progress towards the Paris Agreement, the need for urgent action is clear.

“We offer a UK Master’s in Global Governance and Sustainable Development in our School of Law.”

In addition, students study a wide range of subject-specific modules across many programmes.

“Our Business students study topics such as ‘Ethics and Sustainability’ and ‘Sustainable Business’, analysing responses to modern ethical business challenges and how they can apply corporate social responsibility principles to everyday business practice. Our Marketing students are able to choose ‘Marketing Sustainability and ESG’, our Media students are able to learn about media campaigns and their social impact; and through ‘Cyber Security and Legal Regulations’, our IT students are able to explore how cyber security relates to legal regulation of technology,” added Paris.


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