Green Laboratories: University Campuses as Sustainability “Exemplars” in the Arabian Peninsula

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22 Scopus citations


Like many universities in the West, universities across the Arabian Peninsula are increasingly home to various conspicuous sustainability initiatives. This article examines this trend at three of the region’s most prominent projects: NYU-Abu Dhabi in the Emirates, Qatar Foundation’s Education City, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Based on the textual analysis and informed by fieldwork in these countries since 2012, this article joins interdisciplinary research in political geography, sustainability experimentation, and laboratory studies to understand their iconic campuses not as enclaves, but as “exemplars” of sustainability and renewable energy futures in the region. Tracing their effects beyond their walls, I argue that they have mostly been limited to symbolically injecting sustainability into public discourse. While more substantial shifts toward sustainable development in the region are underway, these have largely stemmed from market forces rather than a new environmental consciousness promoted by these three iconic universities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-540
Number of pages16
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2018


  • Higher education
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • laboratory studies
  • middle east
  • political geography
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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