Global Warming Message Goes Awry at UAE Water Park

iceland park dubaiEnergy-intensive water park in the desert, offers  a “home” to displaced penguins.

Every now and then, the Middle East comes up with a scheme that is so ridiculously un-eco that we can’t believe someone thought it was good for the planet. Some of the most controversial and counterproductive measures we’ve covered so far include the not so green Masdar project or celebrities releasing balloons to highlight the importance of green living; and now comes the UAE’s largest ice-themed water park.

Whilst not in particular good taste, there is nothing wrong with this project until you find out that the park has been built around the issue of global warming. Apparently the park follows the story of a clan of Penguins who are displaced from the Arctic (and not the Antarctic where they normally live) by the impacts of climate change, drift along the oceans until they make a home in the coastal waters of the Arabian gulf.

Global Warming Gimmick?

Guardian UK newspaper, Leo Hickman muses, “Yes, that’s right the country with one of the world’s highest carbon footprints per person, which has got rich, in part, through the region fossil fuel bonanza, has built a tourist attraction that takes the world’s most pressing environmental problem and turns it into a plaything.

After a two-year delay, the theme park opened this week boasting the world’s largest man-made waterfall called Penguin falls with 100,000 gallons of water cascading down every minute. Costing a reported $100m, the theme park is expected to bring in 10,000 visitors a day and it’s ‘novel attractions’ include a rain dance pool (downpour meets disco), a man-made Coral Reef for snorkelling complete with live fish and various other children’s water games.

Waterfalls and Water Shortages

Now these features may seem quite impressive but with many locals suffering from water shortages and power cuts, what stands out is how irresponsible and un-ecological it is. To keep this park in working order it needs a 4MW power generation system, a separate water desalination plant which produces 525,000 gallons of water as well as water filtration systems.

water-shortages-uae-ice-land-park-green-problems

Nothing to fear though, they state, as the water will be recycled and used for agricultural purposes. What they fail to mention is that a village near the development feels that their fishing industry is suffering due the loss of a public beach which was once populated with ghost crabs. Desalination is also problematic as it an energy-intensive process which destroys marine organisms such as phytoplankton and fish as well as the ocean environment once heavy concentrations of salty water are pumped back out.

The Middle East also suffers from severe water shortage issues. A report by the World Bank states that under current trends, water availability in Africa and the Middle East will drop by 50% per person by 2050. Consequently, the diversion of water into extravagant water parks is not only misguided but a dangerous indicator of the lack of real understanding or willingness to take meaningful action on climate change.

Image via IRRI Images on Flickr.

For More Green Misadventures See:

Syrian Celebrities Spread Green Message in Damascus With Balloons?!

Masdar City’s Just A Futuristic Playground For The Rich

Shell Abu Dhabi Dons a Green Mask and Sponsors Annual Environmental Competition

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14 thoughts on “Global Warming Message Goes Awry at UAE Water Park”

  1. Sarah says:

    So… will the world be happier if the GCC citizens go back to living in tents and hearding sheep, goats and camals? I agree with Andras. And one word of advice…. western countries learned from trial and error, why should the GCC? Of course the GCC region has a smaller track record of carbon footprints compared to Europe, UK, and USA. And 30 – 50 years can not cause the majority of the GLOBAL pollution, water scarcity and melting ice caps.

  2. Khayra says:

    Dimly lit bright side is climate change will be taken as fact in the region and kids will know all about it. …?

  3. Mahmood says:

    Credit to Andras,
    Why is the Middle East always under review from UK Journalists, we deserve to have leisure projects in the GCC. Do you know what is it to leave between 35-45 degrees all year through? There are more leisure projects opening in Abu Dhabi soon, with F1 Track, and Ferrari Park today.

    Our carbon foot print is very low in comparison with mega power from USA and Europe, who are the major pollution places in the world.

    There are lots of positive things to write about GCC.
    Do they know that GCC countries are growing lots of vegetables using hydraulic system (similar to Levant area) that allow population to get locally their amount of fruits and vegetables, rather than importing from Europe. It favor the local economy (Saudi, Oman, UAE), create jobs, and maintain prices at low level.
    In order to run on hydraulic agriculture, farmers are using RO plants. Importing goods from Europe / USA is expensive, and just imagine the carbon foot print from European farm to cooperative, then carry on through highway by polluting trucks, then reach the airport logistics center, then use heavy cargo planes……I mean GCC countries are on the right track to develop their own economy and structure.

  4. princess says:

    is it correct of thursday it’s free for girls

  5. pandak says:

    amen and kudos to andras!

    you got more research, knowledge and background on this RAK theme park against the so called ‘environmentalis’ writer. LOL!

  6. Andras says:

    While this is true only in abstract, the writer of this article forgets that in the first world anywhere where temperatures rise above 100F most of the day every day every year, the energy usage is prohibitive while there are no countermeasures to offset consumption with production of energy from natural resources.

    Even fossil fuels are natural resources since it is found underground and the middle east consumes less than 10% of its own energy the rest is sold to the First World, therefore the above criticism contains more hypocrisy than the writer’s own weight in GOLD. If the writer considered the reinvestment in energy solutions from the sales of oil it is hard to find an other place on the planet where so much research and development has been made in less than 30 years from inception, and so much percentage of the GDP has been reinvested for green energy solutions.

    Taste is a personal issue and used in this context the writer does not identify nor exposes his own for the same scrutiny. In my view the RAK water park resembles the “Arctic” natural environment, not as in the Geographical identity but in the sense of Polar environment that denotes cold, snow, winter in all seasons etc….

    Consider for a moment, the new every summer when heat waves in the Northern hemisphere where more than 75% of the entire world population lives, people die, and those temperatures don’t reach 100+F or 50C . With the substantial increase of the UAE population would in cool conscience (8 Million), the writer deny the population of the UAE a water park, whereas throughout the developed nations they have more artesian fountains let alone the mega parks in and around the large metropolis areas?

    Mr. Leo Hickman with due respect, living on the 53rd parallel you have no clue Sir, what it means to work day in and out in 120 F 24/7 throughout the entire year, and while you have rain almost every day and get your wet cool weather, even your expatriates from UK can enjoy some “shower” in their free time once in a while, in a place where from the tap you have only warm water…and if you want to drink you have to cool it.

    On the top of it, it seems the founders of the park were so thoughtful to place the park near the ocean so they get the water, desalinize it and recycle the water for multiple uses (Google Earth Map).

    Asia has almost half of the population of the planet, and it seems rather ridiculous the context and arrogance Mr. Hickman brings up this issue.

    A public beach the size of the park which the writer conspicuously fails to mention is less harmful 1Million fold, than the current BP oil spill not to mention the possibilities of future oil spills as those rigs will age. It is not correct to show this picture that the drought obviously is not caused by RAK Waterpark and is not even taken close to it… The park was built near the ocean on the beach so it has no relevance what the writer is insinuating…Also if the writer had an ounce of imagination could figure out for himself, that expanding of this desalinization technology, water could be drawn to irrigate farmland as well. Let’s not forget that park is built next to a shipyard / industrial harbour that already has an impact that may not be optimal, but is necessary for the local commerce including the fishing industry. The proximity of the park with its beach hardly can add to the damage already in place by the shipyard next door. What is the complaint here when in most countries with beaches, marinas and manmade parks make up thousands of miles…Is this article has any measurable context to those examples?

    We all can contemplate on the problems but can anyone look for better solutions? No matter how anyone looks at this, RAK constitutes a tremendous improvement upon the region for so many people who have no access for themselves and their children, because RAK is first and foremost a family oriented water park / entertainment facility that is contributing to everyone’s quality of life.

    If the writer is so worried about the future of the water supply in the middle East, why not have some constructive proposals instead, that will solve the water supply of some of Levant countries and other places, that have no relevance geographically or ecologically to this park next to an industrial facilty…. I can hardly see 30 thousand sqft of water pools and rides affecting negatively a few million square miles of desert life.

  7. Except that they mock Global Warming… which sends a terrible message.

    1. Yeah, like many of the projects in the Middle East, they get it all wrong.

  8. Maurice Picow says:

    It’s no worse than snow skiing in Dubai, I reckon.

  9. I think a better idea would be to ask the owners to donate a percentage of their profits to global warming research. Theme parks are an inevitability, and I’ll probably take my kids to Disney Land when they are grown. We just need companies to use responsible branding messages. . .

  10. Oh my gosh. That’s a wonderful idea. I really think we should stage a massive boycott. How does a person get something like this started?

  11. We should get the real Iceland involved. Get Bjork on the scene.

  12. People like “Grand Pa Emperor” not only undo all the wonderful work that people throughout the Middle East are doing to combat climate change, but turn themselves into the laughing stock of the world.

    It’s like all the little boys huddled together and said, “right! let’s dream up the most absurd scheme possible and throw a bunch of money at it. Don’t mind that silly Al Gore, what does he know?”

    It’s embarrassing. And it’s wrong. The World Green Tourism conference is taking place in Abu Dhabi in November: I think the organizers should publicly boycott “Iceland.”

  13. Builders of the park obviously are taking Global Warming as a joke. An excerpt from their facebook page, illustrating a photo:

    “Dear My Fellow Penguins Citizens,
    The Arctic is global warming’s canary in the coal mine. It’s a highly sensitive region, and it’s being profoundly affected by the changing climate. Most scientists view what’s happening now in the Arctic as a harbinger of things to come.

    The polar ice cap as a whole is shrinking.

    The melting of once-permanent ice is already affecting native people, wildlife and plants.

    This is the reason the North Pole Penguins are moving to Iceland Water Park, in Ras Al Khaimah, in order to continue their peaceful life, swim, slide on belly, laugh and enjoy their facilities day after day….

    We hope that citizens of the world would stop polluting, so our kids generation can enjoy a great life.

    Ice Regards,

    Grand Pa Emperor

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