TOWARDS ZERO: Rethinking recycling in Saudi Arabia and the UAE

March 20, 2020

Middle East

TOWARDS ZERO: Rethinking recycling in Saudi Arabia and the UAE

March 20, 2020

Middle East
Melanie Noronha
Editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit

Melanie is a senior editor for The Economist Intelligence Unit’s thought leadership division in EMEA. Based in Dubai, she specialises in research on the Middle East and African markets. In addition, she has managed global projects across a range of sectors including financial services, healthcare, infrastructure, energy and trade.

Before joining The Economist Group, she was a senior analyst at MEED Insight, a research and consulting firm serving Middle East and North Africa. At MEED, she developed an expertise in bespoke market studies and financial modelling across a range of sectors spanning construction, finance, power and water, oil and gas, and renewable energy. She held previous posts at the Office of the Chief Economist at the Dubai International Financial Centre and at the San Francisco Center for Economic Development. Melanie has an MSc in International Strategy and Economics from the University of St Andrews and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.


To accelerate recycling in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, governments must focus on prioritising waste streams. Priority streams for the region include food waste, construction and demolition waste and e-waste, according to Bee’ah’s chief executive officer Mr Al Huraimel. Recycling of traditional waste streams— including paper, glass and aluminium—have well-developed business models that waste management companies can adopt.

Towards zero: Rethinking recycling in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit, examines the state of waste management in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and identifies priorities for accelerating recycling. There are several recycling projects underway in the region, but more focused efforts on priority streams—food waste, construction and demolition waste and e-waste—can improve landfill diversion rates. Public engagement to encourage source separation can have a positive impact on recycling efficiency, making recycling a more commercially viable endeavour for potential investors.

This report combines extensive desk research and insights from expert interviews. We conducted indepth interviews with executives at municipalities and waste management companies as well as international waste management experts. The interviews were conducted in July 2020.

Our sincerest thanks go to the following participants (listed alphabetically) for their time and insights:

  • Khaled Al Huraimel, group CEO, Bee’ah
  • Spiros Fafoutis, director operations and compliance, National Environmental Recycling Co, Riyadh
  • Arne Ragossnig, transition board member, International Solid Waste Association
  • Malek Sukkar, CEO, Averda
  • Abdul Al Katheeri, acting director of projects and facilities department, Centre of Waste Management Abu Dhabi—Tadweer 

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