Sustainability; Enhancing Wholeness In Saudi Kingdom by Kowsar Sugulle

The looming degradation of environment in Saudi Arabia, resulting from the rapid growth of industrialization, calls for a major focus on enhancing the practice of sustainability through public awareness of the importance. One of the best ways to achieve this is through integrating fully the aspect of sustainability in the Saudi curriculum. 

However, having worked in Saudi, teaching young female students, it was apparent that sustainability was not a focus in the curriculum.  This is why we are teaching sustainability to young Saudi females who are learning English for specific purposes. Raising awareness to these students is relevant because they are the future policy holders and have an upper hand in influencing the community’s direction of thinking to focus on sustainability.

In my endeavor to understand what sustainability means in Saudi Arabia, I searched a number of literature, websites and blogs on sustainability. Most of these literatures described sustainability in terms of community corporate responsibility. Common key words that emerged from the literature includes; the environment; community; sustainable education; corporate responsibility, energy; policies; and sustainable development. When these words are integrated, they create a holistic view of Saudi.

In the process, I found several literatures that have helped shape my ideas in educating sustainability. The first is by David Orr (1991); his ideas are important for this case because he highlights the setbacks brought about by modern education that ignores the critical elements of the society, especially sustainability. He states that all education is categorized as environmental education and therefore should educate about how to protect the environment through sustainability.

The second article is by Victor Nolet and Gilda Wheeler (2010): these  authors provide a platform for our case because they show how to achieve a shift from normal education to that which meets the requirements for sustainability education; they discuss some of the legislative policies that would be required by Saudi Arabia to facilitate the shift.

Another point of view is presented by Steven Sterling and David Orr in their briefing regarding “Revisioning Learning and Change (Schumacher Briefings)”. The briefing gives an insight into how a society can achieve a change in the system of education towards a sustainable one; they argue that the presented way helps in achieving human potential while also promoting “interdependence of social, economic and ecological wellbeing” (Sterling & Orr, 2001).

I also came across two inspiring images. The first shown in figure 1 is of Shell’s approach to sustainability. It contains a pictorial hierarchy that represents how the company runs its projects to enhance sustainability. This image is holistic and shows the aim of the company in enhancing sustainability in the industry, environment and community not only now but also in the future.

(link )

Image from Daily Mail Is this life on Mars? Eerie pictures show massive sandstorm sweeping through Dubai


Figure 2 is an illustration of the effect of a sand storm on the activities of any given center; the view is blurred because of the aftermath of sandstorm. It illustrates the need for sustainability as it can help in establishing significant strategies to help in mitigating or adapting to such effects


Image from


Figure 3  illustrates the effect of a Sandstorm on the activities of a city as illustrated by the fleet of vehicles that are stuck. The vehicles are caught up in a traffic jam that is a result of the aftermath of sandstorm.

Sustainable education in learning institutions is what will create this wholeness that these companies desire and that we as a nation look forward to. Hashmi, Abdulghaffar, and Edinat article; ‘Sustainability commitment In SA and the need to for educational reforms for the jobs of the future’ provides evidence based research on commitment to sustainability.

In this study, the authors surveyed managers in Saudi Arabia with an aim of inquiring about ways of reducing carbon emissions by industries. Their study indicates that it is necessary for educational institutions to adopt sustainable education which will prepare students to help industries implement sustainability policies. The University of Dammam has already implemented a sustainability program in teaching students (Abubakar 2016). Sustainable education in such institutions increases desirability of students by prospective employers (Alrashid and Phan 2015).

By teaching students that their education is not just meant to be a ladder for getting careers with a huge income, but also a means of future sustainability wholeness will be achieved in Saudi. Values pertaining to team work, future thinking, partnership; critical and creative thinking, Islamic sustainability and participatory learning should be incorporated in learning (Brown 2014). Alshuwaikhat et al (2016) states that when students carry these values to the corporate sector they will be able to formulate valuable policies that can help the organizations to take part in corporate social responsibility even as they struggle to make profit.

Given that the issue of air pollution is so rampant in the country, emphasis should be taken in teaching the students about the ecological and health effects due to air pollution. There are many examples of literatures that support the need for Saudi to reduce air pollution as a way of enhancing sustainability. It is therefore critical thatcorporates and educational institutions think of enhancing wholeness in Saudi through sustainability, they prioritize on the issue of air pollution.

Corporate leaders should also reward those employees who propose practical ways of reducing air pollution so as to protect the environment and relevant stakeholders including employees, customers and the community (Nordén 2016). Any development aimed at enhancing wholeness, especially by reducing air pollution in Saudi, should be prioritized.

I would like to finish with something by David Nolet. He says we need to first improve the quality of our individual decision making, meaning small decisions and actions we make as individuals, is a great starting point to bring real change.


The links below are significant for those who need extra literature which I have found very useful.

Relevant links

Click to access FriskLarson2011.pdf

Air Pollution In Saudi Arabia



Abubakar, I.R., Al-Shihri, F.S. and Ahmed, S.M., 2016. Students’ Assessment of Campus  Sustainability at the University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Sustainability8(1), p.59.

Alrashidi, O. and Phan, H., 2015. Education context and English teaching and learning in the  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An overview. English Language Teaching8(5), p.33.

Alshuwaikhat, H.M., Adenle, Y.A. and Saghir, B., 2016. Sustainability Assessment of Higher  Education Institutions in Saudi Arabia. Sustainability8(8), p.750

Brown, S.A., 2014. Conceptualizing digital literacies and digital ethics for sustainability   education. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education15(3), pp.280-           290.

Farahat, A., 2016. Air pollution in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman): causes, effects, and aerosol      categorization. Arabian Journal of Geosciences9(3), pp.1-17.

Hashmi, M.A., Abdulghaffar, N. and Edinat, I., 2015. Sustainability Commitment In Saudi  Arabia And Need For Educational Reforms For The Jobs Of The Future. The International Business & Economics Research Journal (Online)14(1), p.47.

JANIN, H., & BESHEER, M. (2003). Saudi Arabia. New York, Marshall Cavendish.

Khalil, M.A.K., Butenhoff, C.L., Porter, W.C., Almazroui, M., Alkhalaf, A. and Al-Sahafi, M.S.,  2016. Air quality in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. Journal of the Air & Waste Management    Association66(4), pp.341-355.

Nordén, B., 2016. Learning and teaching sustainable development in global-local contexts.

Rückerl, R., Schneider, A., Breitner, S., Cyrys, J. and Peters, A., 2011. Health effects of   particulate air pollution: a review of epidemiological evidence. Inhalation         toxicology23(10), pp.555-592.

Orr, D., 1991. What is education for? Six myths about the foundations of modern education, and six new principles to replace them. Context: A Quarterly of Human Sustainable Culture.

Nolet, V., 2015. Educating for sustainability: Principles and practices for teachers. Routledge.

Nolet, V. & Wheeler, G. (2010). Education for Sustainability in Washington State: A Whole Systems Approach. The Journal of Sustainability Education.

Sterling, S. & Orr, D. (2001). Sustainable Education: Revisioning Learning and Change (Schumacher Briefings). Cambridge: UIT Cambridge Ltd



Date Accessed 13/5/2017

Date Accessed 13/5/2017

Date Accessed 13/5/2017