Abstract Initiatives in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can contribute to many programs for sustainable development. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is considered to have been slower to change in CSR than have other Western developed countries. The purpose of this research is to explore examples in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of how project initiatives in CSR and sustainable development can facilitate heightened awareness, engagement, and execution of action for sustainability. This research utilizes qualitative case study methods analysing a United Nations (UN) supported annual youth engagement program focused on implementation of sustainable development projects in the UAE. The varying degrees of project complexity and “programmification” of sustainability activities in the UAE reveals a more systematic and mature stage of CSR and sustainable development projects and programs than is reported in the literature. The application of project management to organize, implement, align, and monitor sustainability-centred programs provides knowledge relevant to the UAE and other countries interested in the strategic management of change. The study demonstrates the application and value of project management for implementing sustainable development initiatives and highlights the collaborative contribution of corporate and governmental stakeholders to project management in organizations. An important area for future research on sustainable development in the MENA region is to study corporate and public sector partnerships in CSR projects and sustainability programs.