Inspiring hope in sustainability communication

Masdar City’s Nermeen Negm explains how its new campaign uses humour and irony to get the climate message across

Living sustainably isn’t always easy. It requires effort, understanding, and, sometimes, patience.

We’ve all been there: the paper shopping bag ripping at the seams, awkwardly scattering your groceries to the ground.

The earnest attempt to shop organically, only to find every product meticulously wrapped in layers of plastic. The well-intentioned paper straw dissolving in your mouth as you strive to maintain composure in elegant company.

Your electric car, impeccably aligned with your commitment to reducing emissions, coming to a halt in a traffic jam as its battery life dwindles.

I have a friend who doesn’t drive and almost always opts for a Tesla Uber when traveling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for meetings to reduce his carbon emissions. Yet, more often than not, he is late because the driver must unexpectedly stop to recharge.

Climate fatigue is real, and the irony isn’t lost on us; it’s the essence of our latest advertising campaign.

Masdar City is one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities and a world-class business and innovation hub in Abu Dhabi. Sustainability is what we do.

Our campaign doesn’t shy away from the reality that sustainable living can sometimes be a bit inconvenient. We embrace it wholeheartedly. The allure of our approach lies in acknowledging these challenges and celebrating those who choose to tackle them.

Humour and Irony

We believe that humour and a touch of irony can be powerful catalysts for change. That’s why our campaign, while optimistic and relatable, doesn’t downplay sustainability’s gravity.

Instead, we amplify its accessibility with a friendly, lighthearted touch.

At its core, our campaign acknowledges a simple truth—living sustainably is an admirable journey laden with inconveniences but an undeniably worthwhile one, more easily ventured by living, working, innovating, and learning at Masdar City.

Our city is a testament that sustainable living can indeed be accessible and practical, and made remarkably more convenient if you follow our lead.

The UAE declared 2023 the Year of Sustainability, a testament to its dedication to environmental stewardship. The UAE is making significant strides in embracing sustainability, underlining its importance in this year dedicated to sustainable initiatives and heightened awareness.


This year is especially significant for Masdar City, even more so as the nation prepares to host COP28, a pivotal event setting us firmly on the global stage.

As we all gear up to host COP28, we can no longer afford to let sustainability take a back seat. It’s a collective responsibility to keep sustainability top of mind, and the UAE government and Masdar City are spearheading this endeavor with a proactive approach. The spotlight is on us, urging the world to unite for the wellbeing of future generations.

While maintaining a balanced approach, it’s vital to underscore that the campaign does not trivialise the climate crisis in its sense of humor.

Climate change is an urgent global issue that demands immediate action.

Masdar City was conceived to be a “green-print” for cities of the future to combat climate change by fostering research and development, driving innovation and advancing climate tech.

Our very existence is rooted in addressing this global challenge through practical and sustainable practices.

In Masdar City, we’ve created an ecosystem where sustainable living is not just feasible; it’s intuitive. Our city stands as proof of commercially viable, seamless, eco-conscious living—a place where renewable energy powers our buildings, parks and streets, and sustainable transportation options are abundant.

Masdar City is a champion of the UAE’s Net-Zero 2050 initiative with several net-zero energy projects underway.

These projects serve as beacons of our commitment to achieve a net-zero future through a dedication to driving meaningful change on a large scale.

The essence of our campaign lies in showcasing that sustainability can be acknowledged without the unpleasant (though often necessary) fearmongering images while also not downplaying its urgency.

Because hope is in our DNA, and hope is optimistic and cheerful.

By Nermeen Negm, Head of Marketing and Communications, Masdar City