By Chris Jackson
The Middle East is not known for its environmental credentials, despite some excellent conservation and sustainability trophy-projects.
Forget what the fashion magazines said last year, there is really only one colour on everybody's mind: green.
In the popular conscience it started at last year's Academy Awards, where arguably the biggest applause was reserved for Al Gore and his climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Gore later went on to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of the issue.
The message was sustained throughout the year in various guises, and it is starting to get through.
From the debate about providing carbon off-setting for guests, to the innovative new technologies used in building design to reduce energy consumption and increase recycling, the Middle East hotel industry has also been involved and is starting to do more to play its role.
As a region, the Middle East is not known for its environmental credentials.
Despite some excellent trophy-projects of conservation and sustainability, concern for the environment has not permeated to the grass roots level needed for significant change.
Coming from an Australian background where our household had three bins - one for rubbish, one for paper and one for glass and aluminium - and we were encouraged by our workplace to reduce paper usage by only having one printer for the entire office, it was a bit of a shock moving to Dubai where the push for recycling is still in its infancy.
And yet, slowly but surely, changes are being made - and it is not just as simple as encouraging guests to re-use their towels.
It's pleasing to note that this change is being driven by both sides of the industry, with guests exploring 'greener' ways to travel and hotel companies adopting greater responsibility for the environment and communities in which they operate.
Confucius has been credited with the saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and ultimately it is going to take everyone in the industry many steps to reach a stage of full sustainability.
Hotelier Middle East has been doing its part for some time now with its regular green columns, but the time has come to do more.
This issue sees the first of our regular green news section, beginning this month with a special feature on the rise of eco-hotels in the region.
We are also proud to announce that the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2008 will for the first time have a new award category for environmental leadership in the industry.
We have 'gone green' for this issue - good luck with your own efforts.