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Do it today, for tomorrow: UAE ready for earth hour

/ 31 March 2012

DUBAI - The UAE is all set to take the plunge into darkness for saving the earth.

After a little over two years of tireless campaigning on behalf of environmental activists, Earth Hour, a global movement against climate change and global warming, has gained massive recognition in the UAE. Individuals, families, communities, corporates and public figures have readied themselves with candles and lanterns and join the march at 7.30pm near Burj Park today. 

For 13-year-old Aisha Basheer, Earth Hour is a magical night with candles and lanterns flying in the air. “Every year for Earth hour, my family and I light a lantern and fly it in the air. It’s a really beautiful night,” said Aisha.

Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi in all its glory, and the hotel during Earth Hour in 2010. — KT file photos

For families, it’s about spending time together and educating kids on the importance of conserving resources. Aisha’s father, Basheer Sait, said, “I place great importance in observing the night for the family. I have two daughters and both of them get excited at the prospect of observing Earth Hour. But, it’s beyond the hour. I insist that they switch off unnecessary lights and use power judiciously.”


For companies like TECOM Investments, everyday is Earth Hour. Badr Al Gargawi, Head of TECOM’s sustainability efforts, said, “In the last six years, 63,555 mw of electricity, 180 million gallons of potable water and 58,727 tons of CO2 was saved.” In Dubai and want to become a part of the movement? Head to Burj Park at 5pm today and check out the lineup of events. 

Use more solar power, say people

The Earth Hour campaign was launched in the UAE in 2009. Khaleej Times spoke to a few residents and visitors in Dubai, asking them what they have in mind for the big night today. From a random selection of eight people keeping the UAE’s demographic structure in mind, every single individual knew about the movement, and seven of them have been observing it for the last three years.

Most of the people suggested that more be done to tap solar energy in the country.

Twenty-five-year-old Egyptian national George Karim said: “I read about the movement in magazines. Though I have known about the event for a while now, this year I will observe it with my friends. In the UAE, a lot more can be done to use solar power to fuel street lighting,” suggested Karim.

Pakistani national Imran Bhamani said, “In my country, everyday is Earth Hour. We have power cuts all through the week. But since I am here now, I plan on checking out the lineup of events at Burj Park. Each shop in the shopping malls has at least 200 lights, which are completely unnecessary during the daytime. I suggest the lights be switched off during the day to save power.”

Sixteen-year-old Indians Meghna Acharya and Pranav Pramod have been observing Earth Hour. For Meghna, it’s an annual event with her family. “We switch the lights off at home and go for a walk. Throughout the day, we avoid charging our laptops and mobile phones. I suggest that they should curb construction activities here in the UAE,” said Meghna.

Pranav suggested that lights in commercial districts and shopping malls need to be cut down. Both of them will be observing Earth Hour this year.

Dr Nilofar Ahmad, a visitor from the UK, said, “Educating people on the importance of conservation should be made a priority in this country. I observe Earth Hour every year, and this year will be no different.”

Nineteen-year old Scottish national Kristie Hope said: “I heard about it a year back and no I haven’t observed it as of yet. But I will most probably do something this year. Conservation starts from home, people must make it a habit to switch off their lights.”

Finnish nationals Maija Sillanappa and Kaisa Kunnas observed that there are too many vehicles in the UAE. “People must try and use more public transport. Though it’s not a very big event in Finland, people are environmentally conscious,” said Sillanappa.

Meanwhile, communities are stepping up to participate in the event as well. The Al Khail Gate Residents Association will be observing Earth Hour for the first time. “We have approximately 9,000 apartments in the building complex and we are encouraging all residents to switch off the lights and come out of the building and we will be assembling at a common place in the building and hold a candlelight vigil. It’s the first time we are observing Earth Hour as a community, so it’s pretty exciting for us,” said president of the association Kishor Babu.



What are firms, malls doing?

DUBAI - Private companies have been participating actively in Earth Hour and its associated campaigns. Dubai Airports’ conservation efforts reported energy- and fuel-saving initiatives that reduced CO2 emissions by 72,793 tonnes, saved 131.9 million gallons of water and achieved Dh15.9 million in fuel savings.

“We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and as we step up efforts to limit our footprint, it’s becoming increasingly clear that green business is good business,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

Dubai Airports has installed energy-saving lamps and occupancy sensors, reset air conditioning by three degree Celsius (from 21 degrees Celsius to 24 degree Celsius) and implemented chiller management systems.

Majid Al Futtaim Properties will observe this year’s Earth Hour through energy-saving initiatives across mall properties in the UAE. Each mall will play its part in conserving energy to support Earth Hour. Mirdif City Centre and Deira City Centre will be saving electricity by switching off landscape and façade lights, as well as a selection of car park and mall lights. Throughout the initiative, Deira City Centre will also be turning off external signage, in addition to designated staff area and management office lighting.

How to  prepare



The Dubai Municipality has urged residents of Dubai to participate in the Earth Hour activities from 8.30pm to 9.30pm today.

The civic body has asked participants to maximise publicity of the event using all possible means including social network sites. The main lineup of events in Dubai will be at Burj Park, adjacent to Burj Khalifa.

The municipality has issued certain instructions to those who prepare for the event:

  1. Make sure you bring your own candles
  2. Try to prepare food early in the day to ensure that appliances are turned off during Earth Hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm
  3. If you are planning to stay at home, please remember to switch off all unnecessary lights, computers and stand-by buttons of television sets. Every little action helps during Earth Hour
  4. When observing at home, please keep safety in mind at all times, and ensure that children and the elderly are appropriately supervised
  5. Pass on the message to your friends. Notify them on Facebook and Twitter prior to the event that you will be offline between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. Also, tell them why and encourage them to join in
  6. If you are participating in Earth Hour at Burj Plaza, please arrive early. Last year, the event attracted over 6,000 people to enjoy the family activities, learn about conservation and join the Earth Hour March
  7. Remember to make your conservation pledge and implement at least one act of conservation everyday for the cause of securing our precious resources
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