UAE: Residents climb mountains, visit valleys to clean rubbish left behind by campers

Despite heavy fines and warning signs, irresponsible campers continue to litter at picnic spots across the country

by

Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 11:12 PM

Despite fines that range between Dh500 and Dh2,000 and warning signs telling them not to do so, irresponsible campers continue to litter at picnic spots across the UAE. Such is the extent of rubbish being left behind on hiking trails that multiple groups have taken up the task of climbing hills solely to clean them.

Mariam Asghar Khan is a volunteer of the Healing Al Hajar group. They explore and embark on adventurous treks through the Wadis of the UAE, actively participating in cleanup initiatives.

The group has cleaned places like Wadi Al Shees and Umm Al Quwain beach.

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She recounted the beginning of her story, deeply moved by witnessing a turtle's tragic fate due to plastic consumption.

The experience prompted her to reflect on the consequences of littering and the power of individual actions. "I saw a turtle die because it ate too much plastic, which saddened me a lot. I started thinking that just one action from me could take a life," shared Mariam.

Favaas Badminton, an avid climber, shared insights into group initiatives dedicated to both mountain climbing and environmental cleaning.

"As mountain climbers, we have a WhatsApp group. Sometimes we go on climbing trips specifically to clean the environment," Favaas explained.

The group has successfully cleaned several mountains in Hatta and Shawkah, setting an example for others. Favaas and his group aim to set an example for others by carrying plastic bags for trash during their adventures, hoping to inspire positive change.

Clean up, urge locals

The UAE has entered its peak winter season, with greenery blooming in desert landscapes. One valley frequented by residents when temperatures dip is Wadi Shawkah.

However, locals say despite warning boards urging responsible behaviour, some individuals continue to disregard the impact of their actions on the environment.

Photo: Healing Al Hajar/Instagram
Photo: Healing Al Hajar/Instagram

Musabbeh Saif, a resident of Shawkah, said his area — which is nestled between the rugged Al Hajar Mountains — transforms into a watercourse when it rains. People of the area extend a warm welcome to all who visit, encouraging them to appreciate the beauty of nature and create joyful memories in this enchanting setting.

But, on the other hand, it saddens him seeing some people leaving the place messy with garbage. He poses a poignant question to those who indulge in it: "How will those who come after you enjoy this place?"

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