The implementation of sustainability practices in Arab higher education institutions

Muhammad Al Mahameed*, Umair Riaz, Mohammad Aldoob, Anwar Halari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to explore how sustainability practices were implemented in a higher education institution within a local setting in the Gulf and Arab Emirates Region. This study examined the impact of social and cultural requirements on the development of the master plan for the New Kuwait University campus with regards to sustainability to illustrate how current social and cultural requirements impact the design of a future learning environment whilst highlighting the essential role of organisational actors in this implementation process.

Design/methodology/approach: Using an in-depth case study approach, the authors conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with educators and administrative staff who had been involved in the sustainability implementation process at Kuwait University. These participants were involved at different stages in the implementation of a major sustainability project at Kuwait University. The interviews were further supplemented by analysing supporting documents and communications.

Findings: The analysis reveals that sustainability was embedded in a narrative that was repeated at the practice level; this directed the setting of objectives for the project and its various sub-tasks. It also helped actors to develop their understandings of practice and the importance of social emotions, self-intentions and patterns of culture in the process. This study further reveals that participants mainly focused on environmental issues regarding saving paper/electricity and overlooked aspects of a wider concepts and core values of sustainability, and there is a significant amount of lack of knowledge and awareness on matters about sustainability, especially with the understanding of its definition.

Originality/value: This study draws on practice-organisation framework used by Schatzki (2002, 2010), suggesting that sustainability implementation is a process led by rules, practical understanding, general understanding and teleoaffective structures, to highlight the role of agency and change among various actors in implementing sustainability. A practice-theory framing is used to signpost the roles played by various actors in establishing goals and tasks for the project while taking account of local understanding and independence in the implementation of sustainability practices. Engaging with practice theory framework offers us theoretical basis that is fundamentally different from the theories of interaction-oriented approaches in sustainable design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Financial Reporting and Accounting
Early online date2 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited. This author's accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact


  • Culture
  • Emotions
  • Higher education
  • Practice theory
  • Sustainability


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