WHY IS DUBAI IMPORTING SAND FOR THE DESERT?
Dubai sits directly in the Arabian Desert— but despite this location, the Arab megacity imports millions of tons of sand from Australia. The material is required for the construction of new skyscrapers because the local desert sand is not suitable as a building material— it won’t work for concrete because it is too fine and its edges too polished, so the grains don’t hold together. This desert sand also can’t be used for manufacturing large glass windows or to produce tiny islands. In addition to Dubai, other big cities such as Singapore regularly purchase building sand for construction. It’s a lucrative business for Australia, which earns up to $5 billion a year through its sand sales. But it comes at a price: Due to the excessive procurement of the sand, thousands of square miles of huge ecosystems are being destroyed.