Ask Ali: On conserving water and urban planning

Ali Al Saloom offers advice and suggestions for living and working in the UAE.

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Dear Ali: What are the best methods of water conservation in the UAE? SF, Abu Dhabi

Dear SF: The best way to conserve available resources - and this applies anywhere - is to use them wisely and to protect them.

Everyone can help to reduce water consumption by taking some simple steps such as not washing dishes under running water, not letting the tap run when brushing your teeth, and making sure the washing machine and the dishwasher are near-to-full before using them. Using a hose to clean your terrace, along with washing your car frequently, is an unacceptable waste.

Water conservation also means protecting underground and natural resources such as our natural springs. The biggest threat to them is pollution. So anything that helps to keep the environment clean and to minimise water usage, either on an individual or a corporate level, will save water.

Dear Ali: Sheikh Zayed was a wise man when he decided to build the Emirates Palace and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Arabian style. Unfortunately, there seems to be a tendency to build modern complexes nearby, such as the Etihad Towers beside Emirates Palace. The same appears to be happening around the Grand Mosque. Do you believe that Sheikh Zayed would have liked to have seen "his" architectural treasures being surrounded by these modern buildings? DR, Abu Dhabi

Dear DR: Both the Emirates Palace and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are surrounded by great and spacious landscaped gardens. I am sure this was undertaken on purpose, to ensure that both venues would not be "overgrown" by surrounding new buildings. Both buildings also sit on slightly elevated ground, for, I assume, the same purpose.

Abu Dhabi has to deal with the same issues as any other megacity. Space is precious and many people want to be in the heart of the city, and this has its price. Our city planners are doing their best to keep Abu Dhabi a friendly and hospitable place. The extension of the island and the expansion of the Corniche, with its parks, gardens and beach, are examples of this.

This is a constant struggle, to find the balance between tradition and growth. Still, no matter how cute and "vintage" the Bedouin "hair" houses look, we "ex-bedus" are grateful to have electricity, tap water and air conditioning.

Dear Ali: Where I can find and read the details about the rich culture of Abu Dhabi? Thank you. DB, Abu Dhabi

Dear DB: There are lots of publications available and it will depend on how deep into history you want to go in your reading. I was trying to share in my own publication, Ask Ali: A Guide to Abu Dhabi, the history and heritage of Abu Dhabi and the UAE in a brief overview.

The most detailed and scientifically researched publication in English language is, in my opinion, Frauke Heard-Bey's book From the Trucial States to the United Arab Emirates. Very interesting, however, not the most easy read. Qasr Al Hosn, a publication by the Centre for Documentation and Research by the Presidential Court, puts its main focus on the rulers of Abu Dhabi and would also give you a good insight into historical events.

A visit to the Emirates Heritage Village on the Breakwater might also be a good idea. The little museum there showcases a really nice collection.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.