Selected by an independent panel of nine regional environmental experts, the project received the largest single award in this year's programme. The group's representatives attended the grants' presentation ceremony in Dubai recently along with the 10 other winners.
The grant was received by Dr Saif Al Ghais, Vice Chairman of the Western Indian group, in the presence of the jury panel, the Emirates Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), WWF International, in addition to senior Ford Middle East management and the news media.
Established in 1997, the group recognised that fishing and human threats to their natural habitat in the Arabian Gulf are two main factors in the depleting number of turtle populations. Above and beyond this, the need to increase general knowledge and to protect the various species of turtles in the region is seen as paramount.
The group will use the Ford Grant to invest in its many ongoing activities for 2004, including a proposed regional workshop featuring key marine turtle scientists, local government and marine turtle conservationists.
Dr Al Ghais said: "Winning the grant is very encouraging for the team and for our project. Ford has set the benchmark in the region with its environmental programme, it would be fantastic to see other private and government sector businesses following suit. Apart from our second regional meeting we will use the money for a satellite turtle tracking system as well as to educate students across the region."
With the aid of the grant, the group will look to strengthen cooperation between activists in marine life conservation and increase local awareness of different turtle species. "The preservation of marine life is a matter that should not be overlooked," said Zafer Taher, Ford Middle East Regional Marketing and Communications Manager. "While the region has seen a huge increase in environmental demands by its population, it is essential that we don't forget to protect the natural habitats.
"It is immensely gratifying to see the Ford Grants taken so seriously throughout the Middle East and we applaud these environmental ambassadors for the hard work they are accomplishing," he added.
With the support of WWF International's UAE chapter, the Ford Grants provide financial support to selected ongoing projects from individuals and non-profit groups, working for the natural environment, environmental education, conservation engineering and the preservation of the historical and cultural heritage in the AGCC, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, the grants are part of the global environmental protection efforts of Ford Motor Company. The initiative, one of the largest of its kind in the world, evolved out of the Henry Ford European Conservation Awards, which have helped more than 15,000 projects since their launch in 1983. Re-formulated and expanded for 2000, the Grants now include 50 participating countries, including several in Central and South America, Europe and Asia.
Zoya Akhtar’s take is warm and cosy, but leaves a lot to be desired
Zahra Goulamhoussen believes in the power of art to emotionally and spiritually engage viewers — and compel them to take action in the fight for animal rights
Journalists are reported to be among the men who were forcefully searched
Here's a guide for Class 10 and 12 students who are appearing for the exams in 2024