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Meet The Desert Shrub That Absorbs Water From The Air

The Tamarix aphylla plant has the potential to revolutionize our approach to water collection and management.

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meet the desert shrub that absorbs water from the air
NYU Abu Dhabi

In the unrelenting heat of the UAE desert, scientists from NYU Abu Dhabi’s Smart Materials Lab have discovered the secret of one of the plant world’s most interesting and possibly useful species — Tamarix aphylla. This unassuming desert shrub can extract water from thin air, and tears up the rulebook on survival in one of the world’s harshest environments.

Marieh Al-Handawi, a Postdoctoral Associate, and her partner, Professor Panče Naumov, have made a groundbreaking discovery about Tamarix aphylla that could revolutionize our approach to water collection in arid regions. The desert shrub’s roots absorb hyper-saline water from the sandy soil, carefully filtering away the salt and expelling it as a concentrated solution onto the outer surface of its leaves as a mixture of over ten different minerals.

tamarix aphylla desert shrub

The crystalized minerals on the plant’s leaves possess a remarkable ability to attract further moisture from the air, even at humidity levels of just 55%. This collected moisture condenses on the leaves’ surface and is rapidly absorbed, creating a cyclical process that can continue indefinitely.

Lead author of the research, Marieh Al-Handawi, has high hopes for the team’s findings, explaining: “They also open prospects for designing environmentally benign formulations based on a biogenic salt mixture that could be used for efficient harvesting of aerial water or cloud seeding at low humidity. This holds the promise of revolutionizing cloud seeding practices by rendering them more effective and environmentally friendly while also aligning with our responsibility to use the planet’s scarce water resources wisely”.

Also Read: Canadian University Dubai Students Create Smart Garbage Bin

In a world where fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce, Al-Handawi and her team’s research could prove to be game-changing, with alternative water-harvesting technologies becoming a hot topic in the MENA region in particular.

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Hamad International Wins 2024 Skytrax World Airport Awards

The Qatar airport also won “World’s Best Airport Shopping” for the 2nd time, and “Best Airport in the Middle East” for the 10th year.

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hamad international wins 2024 skytrax world airport awards

Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, Qatar, has once again won the “World’s Best Airport” title at the Skytrax World Airport Awards. The award ceremony, held at the Passenger Terminal Expo 2024 in Frankfurt, Germany, also saw Hamad clinch the accolade of “World’s Best Airport Shopping” for the 2nd time in a row and “Best Airport in the Middle East” for an impressive 10th consecutive year.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, who played a key role in the airport’s development over the past decade, said: “This is a remarkable achievement for Hamad International Airport, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary of operational excellence, connecting passengers seamlessly from all around the world. It is a testament to the dedication of our team and partners, who have contributed to providing passengers with the finest travel experience”.

hamad international airport doha qatar

Al-Meer emphasized the importance of understanding changing travel trends and the needs of modern air passengers: “At the heart of our growth strategy lies the passengers’ journey, their evolving needs, and our commitment to meeting and exceeding their expectations. We have introduced a diverse range of experiences at the airport, including Souq Al Matar, which brings Qatari hospitality and culture closer to travelers, “Orchard”, the ideal place for relaxation and rejuvenation between flights, and an array of high-end lounges”.

Also Read: Top E-Commerce Websites In The Middle East In 2024

Hamad International Airport saw a massive 31% surge in passenger traffic during 2023, with the transport hub now serving over 45 million passengers annually. The airport is now home to prestigious airlines, including Vistara, Iberia, Xiamen Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, and Japan Airlines, serving 250+ destinations for passenger and cargo flights.

The uptick in traffic is no doubt due to the completion of the first phase of an extensive expansion project. Hamad’s management intends to radically update the airport’s facilities over the coming years in a bid to create the “airport of the future”. The expansion features a unique and calming environment of lush greenery and several contemporary dining and shopping concepts among the already well-equipped leisure facilities.

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