Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

Renewable is the future!

Renewable is the future!



Electricity is essential for reducing poverty, boosting the economy, and raising living standards. Therefore, a crucial social and economic indicator is the proportion of the population who have access to electricity.

Over the past few decades, the proportion of people with access to electricity has been rising gradually on a global scale. Around 71% of people worldwide had access in 1990; by 2016, 87% of people had access. This indicates that in 2016, 13% of the world’s population lacked access to electricity.

High-income nations or those considered developed by the UN are presumed to have 100% electrification as of the year they were classified as such. While most nations are on an improving trend, a few are still seriously trailing. Significant access expansion will continue to be a difficult task for several nations over the coming decades, particularly in Africa due to the poverty level.

Find below a map representing the electricity around the world.


Modern society depends on reliable and affordable energy services to function smoothly and to develop equitability. Intensive development patterns have historically relied on inexpensive and energy-dense fossil fuels such as nuclear energy which increased through the years. On comparison, the electricity from renewable energy was very low and wasn’t used effectively.

The best way to tackle the problem and to follow the SDG 7  is to use more renewable energy and this can be done through:

  • By making investments in neighbourhood infrastructure to create accessible energy services, you can guarantee that all workers and their families have access to a dependable and inexpensive supply of energy.
  • Ensure that all your operational electricity needs are met by renewable energy.
  • Ipa
  • Companies have the chance to invest in and train women to become renewable energy entrepreneurs because women often consume most of the energy at the household level.


Polluted Skies and Sources Drying Up: The Levant Region and Air Pollution

Polluted Skies and Sources Drying Up: The Levant Region and Air Pollution

Our planet’s sustainability is being adversely affected by environmental pollution. Pollution is the result of hundreds of years of accumulated human activities. As humans evolved, so did their actions, wants and needs. This led to the evolution of industries, equipment, and tools to meet those needs. Industrialization, transportation, illegal fishing, among other activities are some of the main causes of pollution.
With the rise of global concern about the severity of pollution on Earth, first-world countries started implementing some regulations to control pollution. Furthermore, the UN has multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim at reducing pollution globally. Third-world countries don’t have this luxury as they face multiple obstacles to limit and fight pollution: low-income levels, high improvement costs related to providing better alternatives, political factors, and others. The levant region is a great example of an area blessed with different resources but ranks high in terms of pollution when compared to first-world countries. All the countries in this region have access to at least one of different energy resources (water, agricultural land, oil, etc.). On the other hand, they have gone through or still going through wars/foreign occupation, had economic collapses and have corruption in their governments. These factors have forced these countries to focus on providing for the needs of their populations regardless of the consequences on the environment.

The Levant at a Glance:

The map below shows how over a 10-year period (2005-2015), the annual exposure to air pollution has increased in these five countries. When globally countries are moving towards alternatives, the region is still being exposed to air pollution at an increasing rate. According to the World Bank, “Air pollution levels in MENA’s largest cities are among the highest in the world, with the average urban resident breathing in air that exceeds by more than 10 times the level of pollutants considered safe by the WHO”

Furthermore, we can see below that the average renewable energy consumption in these countries is between 1% to 17% of total energy consumption, whereas the global average is around 30% with the first-world countries going over the 40% mark.

Using clean, renewable sources of energy drastically improves the quality of air. The Levant has an abundance of renewable energy sources that they are failing to utilize due to multiple reasons. Liquid fuel consumption has been on the rise and the CO2 emissions have been on an increasing trend since the 1960s, and if drastic action is taken immediately, the living conditions in these countries will worsen further and impact the health of the population.

What Should We Do?

Actions are needed to prevent further degradation of the quality of air we breathe. Governments should start by enforcing taxes on companies with direct air pollution impact and emission standards should be enforced more strictly. This would provide a control on pollutants and also provide the government with a source of income to reinvest in the country. There also needs to be alternatives to usual transportation options and prioritize cleaner alternatives. Promoting the use of electric/hybrid vehicles, scooters and bicycles over common fuel vehicles would also help clean the air. Finally, countries should utilize their respective available resources to produce clean energy, be it with solar, air or hydropower to create renewable energy without the reliance on fuel and gas which are becoming scarce, expensive, and are still polluting.


For an interactive experience with the visuals, use the below:


For the Tableau Dashboard, please visit:

Carbon Dioxide Damage in Lebanon and MENA Region

Carbon Dioxide Damage in Lebanon and MENA Region


Carbon emissions has always been a main driver behind the increased air pollution in different countries. These emissions are dangerous on the human wellbeing and on the nature\earth and specifically, the MENA Region Carbon Dioxide Damages have increased dramatically from 1970 till 2020.

Did You Know? A real Problem!

In the previous figure, Data and statistics proves the correctness of our statement as it is evident that there is a considerable increase in the carbon dioxide damages from 1.4% of GNI in 1970 to 3.5% in 2020 and this is a 500% increase, so, necessary precautionary measures like relying on eco-friendly power sources should be adopted by countries. # SDG # SDG7.

One might thing that this is expected because all industries are getting advanced, but wait second, let us look at Europe Carbon emissions compared to our region:

Europe is working to reduce its carbon emissions as we notice the downward trend (shy), and we can notice how the gap is getting wide throughout the years while comparing Europe carbon damage to MENA region carbon damage.

What About Lebanon and Neighbours?

We all know that we care more about the region we’re living in (Lebanon and its neighbours); so, let us zoom in to the middle east region only:

Unfortunately, looking at these two maps, we can see how the colours are getting more and more darker from 1970 to 2020 indicating that the carbon damage is increasing dramatically, and this is including Lebanon!

Potential solutions:

  1. Government should introduce alternative energy sources for electricity like solar panels and wind turbines for lower carbon emissions.
  2. Government Reduce number of flights and car travels by increasing the taxes. For example, countries should increase the tax on private flights and car drivers. Consequently, people would rely on public transportation!
Believe it or not

These two steps only are enough to reduce the carbon damage by more than 35%!

Want a real proof?
Following the solution details mentioned, United Kingdom was able to Decrease Carbon Damage by more than 37%, and the downward trend is extremely clear in this visualization:

What to do now?

Just imagine how big this problem is! This will ask for an action, and definitely the doable solution is already mentioned, and here is UK!


For Plots and Interactivity: 

For checking tableaux public, please visit this link:

The Resource Curse: Pitfalls and Reforms

The Resource Curse: Pitfalls and Reforms

What is the Resource Curse?

While one might expect to see better development outcomes after countries discover natural resources, resource-rich countries tend to have higher rates of conflict and authoritarianism, and lower rates of economic stability and economic growth, compared to their non-resource-rich neighbors. This is what has become known as the Resource Curse. Countries like Venezuela in Latin America, Angola in Africa, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East have all exhibited varying degrees of this problem. Countries suffering from the resource curse also have significantly higher rates of pollution, and those with higher GDP per capita rely less on renewable energy sources. Because those countries are also mostly authoritarian, taxes are not collected from the people and government expenditures are not monitored.
In Lebanon, the prospect of commercial gas fields has excited the people and has led the government to sign contractual agreements with drilling companies to start exploring and producing commercial gas. Many believe that this project would enrich and stabilize Lebanon, but the history of resource-rich countries predicts otherwise.

Problem Evidence

Economic Instability (related to SDG 8, 8.2): Below, we can see each country’s oil rents share of GDP, that is, the share of resource sales and exports out of total GDP. We can clearly observe that Gulf Countries and some resource-rich African countries like Libya, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and others, have oil rents account for 25 to 45% of their GDP on average for the past 30 years.

We can also see how Oil Rents move exactly in tandem with GDP Growth for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which means that their economic growth is highly dependent on oil prices and sales volume, rendering it non-sustainable.

As for economic instability, severe inflationary periods have been recorded for these countries with the Gulf’s Oil Crisis in the 1970s through 1980s and the 1990 Oil Shock which impacted the Arab World greatly, and then Venezuela’s insane inflation rate which since 2016 has increased to 53,798,500%. These trends can be observed below for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq and Venezuela. The inflation rate is more volatile in these countries and the consumer price indices are in a steep upward trend.

Conflict and Government Expenditures: We can see in the representation below how countries which were perceived to be most reliant on Oil Rents are also more likely to have a higher share of their GDP be dedicated to Military Expenditure (SDG 16, 16.4). This indicates they are more prone to conflict, wars and social instability. Also, the lack of monitoring for governmental expenditures means that important sectors can be de-prioritized. For example, the research and development expenditures’ share of GDP is much lower in Arab countries than in Europe (SDG 9, 9.5, 16, 16.6).

The number of journal articles produced by each area of the world clearly shows the Middle East and Africa’s lower priority for innovation and scientific or scholarly research. High technology exports also have a low share of GDP in comparison with European, North American and East Asian countries.

Pollution and Environmental Impact (related to SDGs 3, 7, 7.2, 8, 8.4): The mapchart below clearly shows the high exposure to PM2.5 molecules in resource-rich countries. Despite having lower population rates and less condensed cities, the Gulf Countries are amongst the most air polluted countries. Saudi Arabia uses only oil as an energy source and has a renewable energy sources rate close to 0% (out of total consumption). The UAE also uses only natural gas to power the country and no renewable energy sources.

Solutions and Reforms: Example of Saudi Arabia

Eventually, Saudi Arabia  took serious steps to diversify its economy and to become less reliant on its natural resources. It took counsel with the IMF during the early 2010s and then announced its Vision 2030 which aims for sustainable development and diversification of the economy. The data shows improvements on many levels. First of all, we can see that the GDP’s composition is shifting from being purely reliant on Oil Rents to including more activities done in the Transportation and Tourism (SDG 8, 8.9) sectors. We can also see that more Foreign Direct Investments are being made.The Military expenditures’ share of GDP is also regressing over time.

The number of journal articles published is also increasing rapidly with more and more Saudi Arabians focusing on scientific research and on new technologies (SDG 9, 9.5).

Recommendations for Lebanon

It is important to be aware of the consequences that a resource rich country may face by relying on its resource. Lebanon already has weak governance and is prone to economic instability and conflict, this is why it is especially important to learn about the reosurce curse and to keep encouraging the Lebanese people to be productive and to ensure that the governmental institutions are diversifying the economy, maintaining price stability, and producing energy from renewable resources even with natural gas being available as a resource; these concepts are especially relevant to the UN’s sustainable development goals which call for sustainable economic development, good governance, and environmental health. The data shows that proper public policy and budget controls can truly be impactful.
Africa is Turned Off !

Africa is Turned Off !


In the 21st century, most citizens across the world have access to electricity. According to The International and National Law Policy, access to electricity is considered as a human right. However, there are still countries far from having electricity. The World Energy Outlook in 2016 reported that around 1.2 billion people (16% of world population), where 90% of those live in Africa, have no access to electricity. The population of the African continent is a home for almost to a fifth of the world population, whereas it accounts to less than 4% of global electricity use.

Lack of electricity hinders the provision of basic services. More than half of schools and clinics in Africa remain without power or reliable electricity. In addition, electricity is essential since in numerous cases it means the difference between life and death. For example, hospitals need electricity to activate respiratory machines for people with respiratory illnesses. A research reports that around 4 million women and children die because lack of electricity every year compared to 1 million by HIV.

Moreover, a study reports that the number of people with access to electricity has increased worldwide, yet in Sub-Saharan Africa the number of people without access increased from 74% to 77% before 2019. Through out the 21st century, non-African countries that had low access to electricity for their citizens had an improvement and increased its percentage, whereas African countries remained with low access showing no improvement.



The African continent has the ability to generate solar electricity for the whole world in only a small portion of its land, almost a small part in the Algerian desert. Therefore, it is easily possible to increase the access to electricity for all African citizens, however it only needs some radical reforms. This is a long process due to the control of EU colonizers and the presence of corrupt politicians in almost all African countries.