From: Maurice Picow, Green Prophet
Published December 14, 2009 10:45 AM

Saudi Arabia Running out of Sand?

This is something that would make Lawrence of Arabia turn in his grave: Recent studies are now showing that sand, once Saudi Arabia’s most common commodity (outside of oil) is now becoming almost as scarce as water.

For those who are still fascinated with the 1962 Hollywood extravaganza starring Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, there seemed to be an endless amount of the yellowish grainy stuff, especially when a frequent sand storm would obliterate virtually all landscapes until it blew over.


It now appears that due to the high quality of Saudi sand for building projects in Bahrain and other Persian Gulf locations sand is now becoming scarce. Scarce enough so that authorities have halted the export of tons of this material – one of the main ingredients in concrete and other building materials used in the construction of all those futuristic-looking cities that are now often seen in TV advertisements promoting tourism and business venues in these locations.

Saudi sand, being usually found in hard to get to desert areas, like Ar Rub al Khali, is expensive to transport to concrete companies, which mix it with gravel and other materials to make the high grade concrete desired for these building projects, like at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi said to be the world’s first "carbon neutral" city, and only projected to be fully completed by the year 2020.

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