The Impact of ESG in the UAE

The ESG acronym stands for environmental, social, and governance—three factors that are essential to understanding how a company is managed and how it impacts its surrounding environment.

Since the turn of the century, ESG has become increasingly important to investors and companies as they have taken a more proactive approach to sustainability and the environment. Due to the region’s rapid growth and influx of foreign investment, ESG has been gaining traction in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This Sandpaper article will discuss the impact of ESG on the UAE, how companies are incorporating ESG into their operations and strategies, and how the UAE is taking steps to become a more sustainable economy.

How Does ESG Impact the UAE Economy?

The UAE has long been a hub for international business, and ESG has become an important factor in the decision-making of many companies. While ESG’s many intersections with business and society make it difficult to cover comprehensively, we’ve broken down the impacts into three key areas, including:

  1. Investors
  2. Consumers
  3. Regulators
  4. Environments

Now, let’s examine these areas in depth.

1. Investors and ESG

Investors have been at the forefront of ESG integration.

Many investors now look for companies that are making a positive impact on society and are incorporating sound environmental practices into their operations. More and more, investors (both retail and institutional) are considering ESG when making decisions about where to invest their capital.

  • Retail Investors: According to a survey conducted by Standard Chartered, around 40% of retail investors in the UAE have plans to devote the majority of their portfolios to sustainable companies in the near future. The report estimates the total value of this market to be worth an impressive 3.67 billion AED.
  • Institutional Investors: There is also growing interest among institutional investors. PwC’s 2022 survey of Middle Eastern CEOs found that 66% had plans to increase their investment in ESG initiatives and sustainable companies. Additionally, the CFA Institute has seen the percentage of applications for certification in ESG investing from the UAE rise to 55%—far above the expected level.

These combined market forces have put pressure on companies in the UAE to adopt more sustainable practices.

2. Consumers and ESG

As consumers become more aware of the environmental and social impacts of their spending, many are choosing to invest in companies that adhere to responsible ESG practices.

A recent survey by Mastercard showed that 96% of consumers in the UAE are willing to take action to reduce their environmental impacts by reevaluating where they spend their money. Additionally, the survey found that 41% of consumers were interested in companies that make sure their workers are paid a fair wage and treated respectfully.

Businesses that hope to appeal to these consumers have been forced to adopt consumer-facing methods of communicating their ESG practices. This can include labeling products with certifications, highlighting social initiatives on the company website, or publishing sustainability reports.

ing the use of solar and wind power, to meet the country’s energy needs. The UAE has also spearheaded research and development in artificial intelligence, which can be used to develop innovative solutions to improve sustainability.

What Industries are Most Affected by ESG?

ESG initiatives affect all industries, but some are more affected than others. Industries that have an outsized environmental or social impact—such as energy production, transportation, and agriculture—are particularly affected by ESG initiatives.

The banking industry is also heavily impacted due to the fact that banks play a major role in financing companies across all industries. Banks are now expected to ensure that their lending activities are in line with ESG principles, as well as be transparent about their practices to regulators and customers.

Lastly, ESG initiatives have a huge impact on the retail industry due to increased consumer demand for responsible companies. It’s important for companies in this sector to pay attention to consumer sentiment and make sure their practices align with what customers expect.

The Future of ESG in the UAE

It is hard to make accurate predictions about the evolution of ESG in the UAE. Many trends, initiatives, and targets are in their infancy—it’s impossible to accurately forecast the full extent of their effect.

However, we are comfortable making three predictions:

  1. EGS regulation in the UAE will become more stringent. As the UAE is the first country in the region to introduce mandatory ESG reporting, it is likely that other countries will follow suit. We anticipate a wave of new regulations that will be more comprehensive and stringent than before.
  2. There will be an increased focus on sustainability data. Companies will be required to collect and report on an increasing number of metrics and KPIs as regulators and standards setters determine which are valuable.
  3. There will be increased scrutiny from the public. Companies will be held to higher standards, and there will be increased pressure from consumers, activists, and other stakeholders for companies to adhere to ESG principles.

Putting All This Together

So, where does all this leave us?

The UAE is at the forefront of ESG initiatives in the Middle East, leading the way with regulations, standards, and goals. Companies must pay close attention to these developments and ensure that their operations are aligned with ESG principles.

The future of ESG in the UAE is uncertain, but one thing is certain—companies must be proactive in their approach to sustainability and take steps to ensure that they are meeting the highest standards.

Future-Proof Your Company With Sandpaper

At Sandpaper, we specialize in helping companies in the UAE and beyond prepare for the future of ESG.

Our team has extensive experience in creating sustainability reports that adhere to the latest regulations and best practices. We can also help you spot potential areas of risk and develop strategies for improving your ESG performance.

If you’re ready to future-proof your company, contact us today!

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The Author Peter Caush
Based in Dubai for over 10 years, Peter is the founder of and
A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region.
When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.

At Sandpaper We have been around long enough to realize the importance of good report writing, research, and design.
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