Petroleum-rich Qatar is spearheading projects to tackle the problems facing desert communities worldwide; from energy to fresh water and food production. But does their expensive, high-tech solution make sense?
“Qatar in many ways is ground zero for a lot of the challenges we’re going to see in the century ahead”, argues US ex-pat Jonathan Smith, from the Qatar National Food Program. Soaring temperatures, swelling populations and minimal rainfall plague the otherwise booming nation. Now its leaders are pushing ambitious experiments like the Sahara Forest Project, transforming seawater and sunlight into fresh water, vegetables, electricity, biofuel and animal feed. “The techniques we’re developing here can be applied in many regions in the world”, the project scientists insist.