Toxic Gas Trouble in the Middle East

Toxic gas trouble. So, turns out the gas burning that happens during oil drilling—aka flaring—is causing some serious issues, way worse than folks thought. The Gulf, including where COP28 is going down in the United Arab Emirates, is getting hit hard.

Pollution’s Big Spread

New research shows that this pollution isn’t just sticking around where it’s happening. Nope, it’s traveling for miles, messing up the air quality across the whole region. And this news is popping up right as the UAE’s hosting the big UN climate summit.

Flaring Ban? Not Really

Even though the UAE said “nope” to routine flaring twenty years back, satellite pics spill the beans. Flaring’s still happening, and that’s a big health risk for the folks living there and even those in nearby countries.

No Comment Zone

The countries involved, like Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait, didn’t have much to say when asked about the pollution from their wells. Either they stayed quiet or straight-up said nothing.

Oil Players’ Part

Big names like BP and Shell, in charge of spots where flaring’s happening, say they’re trying to cut it down. But the reality on the ground seems different.

Oil and Climate Talks

A little sneak peek into some leaked documents showed that the UAE had plans to make deals in oil and gas while being the host for the UN climate talks. Not exactly what you’d expect at a climate summit, huh?

Expert’s Take

A UN guy, David R. Boyd, didn’t hold back. He called out Big Oil and the Middle Eastern countries for ignoring the rights of millions of people by letting this pollution mess happen. According to him, they’re carrying on with their usual stuff without taking any responsibility.


There’s a documentary out there on BBC iPlayer and BBC World News. It’s about how these oil giants’ toxic pollution is traveling hundreds of kilometers, putting folks’ health at risk in places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Iran, and Iraq.

Flaring Problems

Here’s the thing: this flaring business? It can be avoided. The gas can actually be captured and used for good, like making electricity or warming up homes. But instead, it’s happening all over the globe.

The Pollutants’ Punch

What’s coming out from this flaring? Stuff like PM2.5, Ozone, NO2, and this thing called benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). And when these hit high levels or people get exposed for a long time, they can cause strokes, cancer, asthma, and heart issues. Big international health experts, including the WHO, have their eyes on these bad boys.

The Greenhouse Gas Gang

Not only is this flaring bad for health, but it’s also messing with the planet. It’s a huge source of greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane, which warm up the Earth.

UAE’s Flaring Story

Twenty years ago, the UAE’s oil company promised to stop routine flaring. But, guess what? Satellite images say otherwise. It’s still happening daily at offshore spots. And guess who’s one of the UK’s biggest oil suppliers? Yep, the UAE.

Seems like there’s a big mess here with flaring, and it’s not just about the environment—it’s about people’s health too.