More than 100 cleanup sites, over 20,000 volunteers, one massive campaign! This would be the easiest way to describe the Emirates Environmental Group's recently held 9th edition of the Clean Up UAE Campaign that was organized across the 7 Emirates on the 12th of December. A day that will truly go down in the history books of the UAE as one dedicated to volunteerism, environmentalism, team work, patriotism and selflessness. This day was marked by thousands of people who stepped out of the comfort of their homes to clean up the beautiful nation they called home.
EEG believes that if a small group of people can change the world, can't a whole country work together as a cohesive unit for the same cause - protect the environment of the UAE? EEG has always had strong faith in the power of the grass root level as the grit and determination of the common man has been proved over and over again in history as well as in today's world. The Clean Up UAE campaign consisted of volunteers from every walk of life - from businessmen to families to labourers –who all came together for one single cause – to roll up their sleeves and act as 'one' in building up and maintaining the environment of the UAE. People from practically every nationality visited their assigned clean up sites, consisting of beaches, roads, desert areas and the like, to participate in the event. What would otherwise pass by as a lazy, uneventful Sunday turned out to be a day of sheer enthusiasm, action and community involvement?
In the Western Region where all the sectors of the local communities once again joined hands to celebrate the campaign, a week-long series of activities facilitated before and after the 12th of December 2010.
Volunteers of the Clean Up UAE Campaign were equipped with bio-degradable trash bags, gloves, caps and t-shirts as they set out for the daunting tasks. Opening the Clean Up UAE Campaign, Mrs. Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group said, "Despite the GCC being known as one of the highest waste-producing regions in the world, I am thrilled to say that the UAE is also one of the foremost in waste management. Having said this, we cannot put up our arms and ignore what is happening around us. We must remember that the situations at hand, with global warming and climate change, looming over us, is definitely a cause for concern and is partly due to our irresponsible ways. It is, thus, time to give back to Mother Earth – who has selflessly given us everything we need to survive and more."
Al Safi Danone has supported the quest of EEG for over 5 years and is the overall main sponsor for Clean Up UAE. Al Safi Danone quoted: "At Al Safi Danone we believe it is everyone's responsibility to be a custodian of the environment and consequently we are thrilled to be supporting and participating in this special event. 'Clean Up UAE' event is a chance for everybody to pitch in and show they care; it is a perfect reminder that by ourselves we are just one drop, but together we are an ocean creating waves of change".
Commercial Bank of Dubai, a first time supporter of the Clean Up Campaign quoted, "Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is proud to be the Main Sponsor of the 'Clean Up UAE' campaign in Abu Dhabi. Mr. Peter Baltussen, CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai said, "Through the CSR initiatives the bank intends to give back to the society and community. Events such as the 'Clean Up UAE' will help create awareness about the damaging effects of indiscriminate use of resources and irresponsible disposal of litter.
Mr. Khaled Al Huraimel, General Manager of Bee'ah – The Sharjah Environment Company, said: "As a community partner, Bee'ah aims to transform Sharjah into a greener emirate with sustainable environmental best practices being adopted as a norm. Bee'ah is thrilled to partner with EEG as a main sponsor to help ensure the success of the Clean Up UAE initiative. At Bee'ah we believe that preserving the environment is not the sole responsibility of one company, it is dependent on the unified and concerted efforts of all corporate citizens, governments and individuals alike".
Mr. Graham Honeybill, the General Manager of RAKBANK, the main sponsor 'Clean Up UAE 2010' in Ras Al Khaimah quoted, "RAKBANK recognizes the significant influence that the Bank's non-financial performance can contribute to creating long-term value and sustainability in the country. For that, RAKBANK is constantly working towards raising awareness on key environmental issues and seeking solutions to becoming an environmentally-friendly bank. RAKBANK is looking forward to collaborating with EEG on the UAE Clean Up Day in the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, and to working together towards a cleaner and healthier environment".
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Free Zone Authority in Ajman commended the active participation that the campaign witnessed in the Emirate of Ajman. He added that this participation is the second of the authority of the Ajman Free Zone, which comes as part of its commitment to support all leading environmental initiatives, such as the Clean Up UAE. Increasing awareness of the risks of pollution and the importance of preserving the environment is part of the Ajman Free Zone's commitment to preserve the environment, which is in line with the efforts of the UAE to promote environmental citizenship.
H.E. Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of EPAA in Sharjah said that the Authority has focused on environmental issues and waste management as highly important priorities, as the protection of the environment is one of the fundamental values that the authority always seeks to instill in the community through raising awareness and integrate them together in various green initiatives. The Clean Up UAE is, thus, an effective means to increase environmental awareness. The largest percentage of participation recorded by this national campaign from different the segments of society which is noted in the Emirate of Sharjah is the great evidence of the effective role in raising environmental awareness in society.
The Director of Fujairah Municipality, H.E. Eng. Mohammed Saif Al Afkham said, "This participation is the seventh of Fujairah Municipality through its Department of Environmental Protection and Development. The Municipality is keen to participate in this large national campaign, which comes within the efforts of the municipality in instilling the principles of civilization. It reflects the dogma of our religion that recommends maintaining cleanness and environmental awareness among members of the UAE society". He pointed out that the campaign was held this year in the Al Faseel Cornish with the participation of schools, government and private agencies. The municipality organizes a number of different activities such as performances from schools, allocation of a free painting area, environmental competitions and sports activities, which makes the campaign more attractive to the participants, especially children.
Dr. Salim Khalfan Al Ka'abi, the Director of the Public Health Department in Al Ain Municipality said, "Al Ain Municipality is keen to support green initiatives such as the Clean up UAE campaign". He added that the campaign in the city of Al Ain was organized in 5 clean up sites in various localities. The municipality involved all its sectors in the campaign- the schools, government and private organizations as the municipality recognizes the active role of these sectors in spreading awareness in the community the message of cooperation and in taking responsibility for the cleanliness of the city of Al Ain. The campaign is also an effective tool to educate the public to clean up the recreational camping sites after use, in order to preserve the environment and the natural landscape.
Mr. Oussama El Omari, CEO of RAK Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ), the EEG's partner organization in Ras Al Khaimah said, "Protecting the environment is essential to the wellbeing of the organisation and the community. At RAK Free Trade Zone, we believe we have a duty to care for our environment, and it is one that we take very seriously, with our Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) programme that promotes recycling as well as energy and water conservation. He further added "RAK Free Trade Zone actively participates in many nationwide environmental campaigns, such as Clean Up UAE. For the past five years, the free zone has supported 'Clean Up UAE' as part of its endeavour to work with the community towards improving the local environment. Since its introduction in 2002, the campaign, which is organised by the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), has been instrumental in bringing together all segments of UAE communities who wish to do their part to preserve the nation's natural beauty."
The Clean Up UAE, a pioneering initiative by the EEG, was first organized in the year 2002. All the waste collected during the campaign, which amounted up to 91 tonnes (excluding the clean up activity that will take place in the Western Region next month) was properly disposed off with the help of the relevant government agencies.
The Clean Up UAE Campaign, this year, was organized in association with Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Fujairah Municipality, RAK Free Trade Zone, Ajman Free Zone Authority, Umm Al Qawain Municipality and Al Ain Municipality. The overall main sponsor of the Clean Up UAE Campaign, for the 6th year in a row, was Al Safi Club for Friends of the Environment. Main sponsors of the event included the Commercial Bank of Dubai, Bee'ah (The Sharjah Environment Company and RAK Bank. McDonalds was a support sponsor of the event. The Media Sponsors of the Clean Up UAE Campaign were 7 Days and Khaleej Times whereas Gulf News and Farsi1 TV offered Media Support. The Clean Up UAE could not have been as successful as it was without the Logistics Support of Masafi, Byrne Equipment and Abela.
Finally, if the Clean Up UAE Campaign must be described in one line, it would most definitely be the EEG motto - Together for a Better Environment!
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