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How Bad Is Dubai’s Air Quality?

09.02.2023 4 min read

Introduction – Air Pollution in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is the Middle East’s most popular destination. It’s one of the wealthiest nations in the world and well known for its skyscrapers, oil and gas industry, vibrant nightlife, and exotic beaches. However, in recent years, the Kingdom has been on the wrong side of the news from an environmental perspective.

The United Arab Emirates ranks among the most polluted countries in the world in terms of air quality index. Moreover, Dubai, its most popular city, tops the charts for the Kingdom's highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions. 

So, if you were pondering the question, “Does the UAE have air pollution?”, you now have your answer. 

But how bad is Dubai’s air quality? Keep reading to find out as RECAPP dives deeper into the details. 

How Bad is the Air Quality in Dubai?

Dubai is UAE’s most populous city and the country’s financial hub for retail, real estate, tourism, recreation, and other commercial activities and services. According to a survey, it has over 48,000 businesses and over 1.8 million vehicles as of 2022. These stats show that it has more businesses and cars per capita than London, New York, and other major cities worldwide. 

As a result, it has a massive carbon footprint due to the amount of energy consumed and natural/anthropogenic emissions produced by economic activities and the environment. In 2019, Dubai recorded a PM2.5 reading of 40.9 μg/m³, which is just below the global average. 

According to research by Khalifa University, Dubai’s air pollution mainly consists of particulate matter from human and natural sources (dust, sea salt, ash, etc.). These particles deposit on natural aerosols, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, to become heavier and more difficult to break down. 

The Major Causes of Air Pollution in Dubai

According to IQAir, Dubai’s PM2.5 concentration is nearly 16 times WHO’s recommended annual air quality guideline value due to the following factors:

1.      Geographical Location and Meteorological Conditions

Surprisingly, one of the major causes of air pollution in Dubai isn’t man-made but natural. The city’s weather conditions, such as high humidity, extreme heat, and sand storms, trap pollutants within the atmosphere. Moreover, it accelerates desalination and results in high levels of sea salt mixing with aerosols as well.  

2.      Transportation

As mentioned above, Dubai has over 1.8 registered vehicles residents use to navigate its vast urban landscape. It also has a state-of-the-art public transport system that has been picking up slowly in the last decade. 

Whether it's cars, trucks, or motorcycles, these vehicles release huge amounts of noxious pollution since they mostly run on fossil fuels, such as petrol and diesel. 

3.      Factories and Industries

Dubai is also home to Dubai Industrial city, with houses over 200 operational factories, plants, and other industrial sites. Although they are situated away from commercial and residential centers, they’re still in the vicinity since the UAE is a relatively small country. As a result, emissions from these sites exact a huge toll on the overall pollutive output levels of the city. 

4.      Landfills

Dubai has six landfill sites where the majority of waste collected from the city is dumped. These huge land sites cause air pollution by emitting powerful greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, through incineration and decomposition. 

Fortunately, the UAE government, in collaboration with recycling companies, such as RECAPP, is adopting more advanced waste management solutions and technologies to control the amount of waste being dumped. 

Measures Taking to Reduce Air Pollution in Dubai
Since 2019, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has collaborated with other government bodies and local businesses to impose a series of new measures to cut carbon emissions from the city and its industrial sites. Although the air quality is relatively acceptable compared to many major cities, it’s still below the international perimeters set by the World Health Organization. 

For starters, Environment Agency – Dubai recently commenced 24/7 monitoring of PM2.5 particle pollution and is imposing heavy penalties on factories and businesses exceeding the standard limit. The government also launched the National Air Quality Platform, an AI-based solution that monitors and analyzes air quality automatically and continuously. 

The purpose of this solution is to help spread awareness to the public regarding the air quality in different parts of the city at different times and the health risks associated with poor air quality. 


Does Dubai have air pollution? Yes, it does. In fact, its air pollution levels have become dangerously high in recent years due to its vast socio-economic activities and extreme environmental conditions. All the causes of air pollution mentioned above have detrimental effects on human health. As a result, the UAE government is taking proactive measures to reduce their impact and make its cities’ air more breathable. 

At RECAPP, we believe we have a role to play in making Dubai’s air cleaner. Through our free door-to-door waste pickup service, we can ensure your waste is properly disposed of and not simply dumped in landfills for decomposition and incineration. 

Moreover, we have optimized our supply chain to minimize fossil fuel emissions during waste transport by upgrading our fleet and strategically planning our pickup schedules and routes. 

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