With obesity rates rising at an alarming rate in Kuwait, especially among 18 to 29-year-olds, early intervention to tackle the Kubwait’s obesity problem is becoming increasingly urgent, according to the country’s Ministry of Health. The chief of the Health Enhancement Administration at the Ministry, Dr Abeer Al-Bahouh, recently revealed to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that Kuwait holds the unenviable top spot for obesity in the Arab World. The country reports that 77 percent of its population is overweight and has an obesity rate exceeding 40 percent.

In a world grappling with obesity, current projections estimate that by 2035, around four billion people will be overweight. This figure is significantly higher than the 2.6 billion reported in 2020. Dr Al-Bahouh warns that obesity prevalence among children and teenagers is likely to be particularly high, and could double by 2035, reaching 20 percent among boys and 18 percent among girls globally.

The health risks associated with obesity are well-documented, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and it is currently the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. Obesity’s detrimental impact extends to children’s health as well, leading to issues such as breathing difficulties, fatigue, snoring, joint pain, and delayed puberty.

The causes of obesity are multifactorial, with poor dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle, genetic factors, gut flora, and Cushing’s syndrome among the contributing factors. Local and World Health Organization (WHO) statistics indicate that one in five adults in the Gulf are severely obese. The adult obesity rate in Kuwait is predicted to reach 52 percent by 2035.

Dr Al-Bahouh advocates for obesity interventions to start in childhood, with education on healthy eating habits, encouraging physical activity, providing psychiatric therapy sessions, and treating health issues that may lead to obesity. While stomach and intestine surgeries are potential weight loss solutions, they are only suitable for teenagers, not children, and are supplementary to a healthy diet and exercise regime.

Dr Al-Bahouh emphasises the pivotal role of parents in monitoring their children’s diet, swapping fast foods and fizzy drinks for healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, wholegrain products, water, natural juices, and low-fat milk. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, spending time together as a family, and reducing time spent on screen-based activities like video games and television are also crucial.

She further highlights the need for the Ministry of Health to develop and implement strategies to combat obesity, including making physical education compulsory in schools. Over the next five years, in collaboration with other bodies, the administration plans to launch campaigns to limit obesity.

A report by Forbes magazine in 2007 listed Kuwait as the eighth fattest country in the world, with 74.2% of its population having an unhealthy weight. This health issue has been compounded by a high prevalence of diabetes. By 2035, it’s feared that 52 percent of adults in Kuwait will be obese, significantly raising the risk of related health issues.

While efforts to raise awareness and implement healthier habits are underway, obesity and its related health implications continue to be a grave concern for Kuwait. The country’s health challenges are further exacerbated by the increase in diabetes rates, poor dietary habits, a lack of physical activity, and high obesity rates.

Global trends in malnutrition, including a rapid rise in overweight and obesity rates, persist, despite increasing numbers facing hunger and undernourishment. Current predictions suggest that the global medical costs related to obesity could exceed US$1 trillion by 2030.

The correlation between obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD), such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, points to an urgent need for intervention. Dr Al-Bahouh asserts that over 70 percent of deaths in Kuwait are linked to these conditions, emphasizing the dire necessity for effective action to curb obesity.

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The Minister of Health and Population in Egypt, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, has issued a permanent ban on smoking in all health facilities offering curative, preventive, or rehabilitative services. The objective behind this measure is to safeguard the health and well-being of citizens by mitigating the risks associated with smoking.

Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, elaborated that the minister’s decision encompasses a prohibition on smoking within ministry premises as well as its affiliated bodies and agencies.

“The director in charge of each facility has a responsibility to enforce measures that deter smoking. Failure to comply with this directive will result in penalties in accordance with the law, which entails fines ranging from EGP 1,000 to EGP 20,000 for the director and fines between EGP 50 and EGP 100 for the smoker.”

Abdel Ghaffar emphasised that the minister’s decision aligns with the provisions set forth in Law No. 154 of 2007, amended by certain provisions of Law No. 52 of 1982, pertaining to the prevention of smoking-related harm. These regulations encompass a complete prohibition on smoking in all forms within health and educational facilities, government entities, sports and social clubs, and youth centres.

He further stated that “a supreme committee for tobacco control will be established, chaired by the Minister of Health and comprising relevant ministers and representatives from civil society institutions, as mandated by the law. The outcomes of the committee will be presented by the Health Minister during cabinet meetings to facilitate necessary actions.”

In accordance with the aforementioned legislation, a specialised department within the Ministry of Health will be established. Its members, appointed by the Minister of Justice in consultation with the Minister of Health, will possess the authority of judicial officers in enforcing laws related to combating the harms of smoking.

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From early April, the Middle East has been enveloped in blankets of thick, gritty haze with ominous orange skies, signalling a dire escalation in dust storm occurrences. Hospitals are flooded, and flights are grounded. With at least four fatalities in Iraq and Syria, the situation is perilous. The Kuwait dust storm and its regional counterparts highlight the urgent need for climate resilience and action.

The rising threat of dust storms in Kuwait and beyond

Dust storms, an atmospheric phenomenon prevalent in arid regions, have been striking earlier and across wider expanses. Nasim Hossein Hamzeh, a dust researcher, asserts, “The increasing frequency of dust storms means more problems, more loss of life and property, and more destruction.”

Typically occurring in late spring and summer, dust storms engulf land bereft of vegetation, driven by winds through dry, sandy terrains. The Middle East, particularly Northern Iraq, is facing the brunt of this natural calamity, with experts attributing climate change as a significant factor for the spike.

The shamal winds, known for their north-westerly direction, collect dust between Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates rivers, often spreading it across the Arabian Peninsula. This year’s storms stretched to Saudi Arabia and even shrouded parts of Jordan.

Mohammed Mahmoud from the Middle East Institute alerts that the climate crisis is intensifying aridity and altering weather patterns, which contributes to more frequent and potent dust storms.

The human and economic toll

The Kuwait dust storm and similar occurrences in neighbouring countries have severe consequences on public health. In May alone, over 5,000 people in Iraq sought medical help for respiratory issues, and several deaths have been reported. The United Nations approximates the annual economic toll of dust storms on the region’s economy to be $13bn (£10.3bn).

Kuwait’s economy is hit particularly hard, with losses exceeding 190 million USD per annum. Sectors including aviation, oil, and commercial activities are adversely affected.

A United Front Against the Storms

UN-Habitat, in collaboration with partners, has initiated a project to bolster cities’ resilience to sand and dust storms. The project, funded by the Kuwait Fund with a 4 million Kuwaiti Dinar budget, focuses on Southern Iraq and Kuwait. It aims to enhance understanding of the dust storms, restore ecosystems in source areas, and bolster resilience and capacity among local authorities and vulnerable communities.

Eng. Wa’El Ashhab, Head of UN-Habitat’s Country Programme in Iraq, stresses the importance of this initiative, highlighting that water scarcity and drought due to climate change are formidable challenges that need urgent attention.

Dr. Ameera Al-Hasan, Head of UN-Habitat’s Country Programme in Kuwait, articulates that the project’s collaboration between multiple partners ensures that efforts are harmonised to combat the effects of climate change effectively.

A call to action

The Kuwait dust storm, coupled with the Middle East’s devastating dust storms, underlines the urgency for regional collaboration and a proactive approach to combating climate change.

As Dr. Mohammed Sadeqi from the Kuwait Fund indicates, Kuwait is a primary beneficiary in terms of countering health and economic implications caused by these storms. The project is poised to bring significant improvements to living conditions in Kuwait and the region.

In an interconnected world where environmental issues do not recognise borders, it is imperative that nations work together to address the challenges posed by dust storms and the broader climate crisis. This collaboration symbolises a crucial step in building resilience and safeguarding the region’s future.

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The Middle East has traditionally been a region heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly oil and natural gas, for its energy needs. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to transition to clean, renewable energy sources to address climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the development of clean energy projects in the region.

One of the most prominent clean energy projects for the Middle East clean energy initiative is the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This ambitious plan aims to have 75% of Dubai’s total power output come from clean energy sources by 2050. To achieve this goal, the city has invested heavily in solar energy, with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park set to be the largest single-site solar park in the world upon completion. In addition to solar, the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy also includes plans for the development of wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric power.

Saudi Arabia, another major player in the region, has also made significant progress in the development of clean energy. The kingdom has set a goal of generating 9.5 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 and has made significant investments in solar and wind power. In 2018, Saudi Arabia launched the first phase of its 300 MW Sakaka solar project, and it has also announced plans for several other large-scale solar and wind projects.

Other countries in the region, such as Jordan and Morocco, have also made significant strides in the development of clean energy. Jordan has set a goal of generating 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and has already achieved success with the construction of several large-scale solar and wind projects. Morocco, meanwhile, has set a goal of generating 52% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and has made significant investments in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.

While the development of clean energy in the Middle East clean energy initiative is still in its early stages, there is no doubt that the region is making significant progress. With ambitious goals and major investments in clean energy projects, it is clear that the Middle East is committed to transitioning to a more sustainable energy future.


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Global warming is a major environmental issue that is affecting the entire planet, and Africa is no exception. The effects of global warming on Africa are particularly severe and are likely to become even more so in the coming years.

One of the most significant effects of global warming on Africa is an increase in temperature. Average temperatures in Africa have already risen by about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past century, and are expected to continue rising at an alarming rate. This temperature increase leads to several negative impacts, including more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, and wildfires.

The consequences of these weather events can be devastating for African communities. Drought, for example, can lead to food shortages and malnutrition, as crops fail and livestock dies. This can have serious health impacts, particularly for children and the elderly. In addition, droughts can lead to conflicts over scarce resources, such as water and land.

Another major effect of global warming on Africa is an increase in sea levels. Rising sea levels are already causing flooding and erosion in coastal areas, and this is likely to become more widespread in the future. In addition, higher sea levels can lead to the contamination of freshwater supplies and the destruction of ecosystems, such as mangroves and coral reefs.

One of the most vulnerable regions in Africa to the effects of global warming is the Sahel, a semi-arid region that stretches across the continent just below the Sahara Desert. The Sahel is already prone to drought and food shortages, and global warming is likely to exacerbate these problems. In addition, the Sahel is home to millions of people who rely on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods, and the impacts of global warming on these sectors could be devastating.

In addition to the direct effects of global warming, Africa is also at risk from several indirect impacts. For example, global warming is likely to lead to more frequent and severe storms and hurricanes, which can cause significant damage to infrastructure and communities. In addition, global warming is likely to lead to the spread of diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, as the warmer temperatures provide a more favorable environment for the transmission of these diseases.

Several steps can be taken to mitigate the effects of global warming on Africa. One of the most important is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main cause of global warming. This can be done through a variety of measures, such as increasing the use of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and adopting more sustainable land use practices.

Another important step is to adapt to the impacts of global warming that are already occurring or are expected to occur. This can involve building more resilient infrastructure to extreme weather events, such as sea walls to protect against flooding and drought-resistant crops to help mitigate the impacts of drought. It can also involve developing early warning systems and emergency response plans to help communities prepare for and respond to extreme weather events.

In conclusion, the effects of global warming on Africa are already severe and are likely to become even more so in the coming years. From rising temperatures and sea levels to more frequent and severe weather events, the impacts of global warming are wide-ranging and far-reaching. It is therefore essential that action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help African communities adapt to the impacts of global warming.


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