This is something that would make Lawrence of Arabia turn in his grave: Recent studies are now showing that sand, once Saudi Arabia’s most common commodity (outside of oil) is now becoming almost as scarce as water.
For those of you who are still fascinated with the 1962 Hollywood extravaganza starring Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, there seemed to be an endless amount of the yellowish grainy stuff , especially when a frequent sand storm would obliterate virtually all landscapes until it blew over.
Or, when Lawrence and his Arab friends crossed the seemingly un-crossable Ar Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter where people often disappeared forever, and where giant sand dunes have replaced lakes containing such creatures as hippopotamuses, water buffalo, and even crocodiles.
All this may be history, TreeHugger reports. It now appears that due to the high quality of Saudi sand for building projects in Bahrain and other Persian Gulf locations sand is now becoming scarce. Scarce enough so that authorities have halted the export of tons of this material – one of the main ingredients in concrete and other building materials used in the construction of all those futuristic-looking cities that are now often seen in TV advertisements promoting tourism and business venues in these locations.
As reported by Stuart Burns, in the building website, Metal Miner the woes of construction companies in the Persian Gulf aren’t over. Construction work on many projects has had to slow due to curtails by the Saudis on the export of cement, which contains high amounts of Saudi sand.
Saudi sand, being usually found in hard to get to desert areas, like Ar Rub al Khali, is expensive to transport to concrete companies, which mix it with gravel and other materials to make the high grade concrete desired for these building projects, like at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi said to be the world’s first “carbon neutral” city, and only projected to be fully completed by the year 2020 (due to a lack of Saudi sand, perhaps?).
Maybe the Saudis are simply keeping their national symbol for themselves; as they have a few ongoing construction projects of their own in various locations around their vast desert kingdom – so vast that Lawrence himself became captivated it and roamed its seemingly endless desert regions on his favorite camel, Jedha, whom he called “a splendid beast.”
You can’t blame global warming on this problem, however; but simply greed to build more and more construction projects. An article in Treehugger says: “In Bahrain they have started importing from the United Arab Emirates and are mixing it with their own marine sand.”
The head of the contractor’s committee says: “The quality of this (sand) will not be as good but we shall make do with it.”