DUBAI // Hundreds of Filipino expatriates hit a Dubai beach early yesterday morning armed with white rubbish bags to pick up litter as a four-day drive to clean up the emirate drew to a close.
While others jogged, walked or swam at Al Mamzar beach, more than 1,500 Filipinos joined a joint United Nations-Dubai Municipality initiative to help spread awareness about keeping places such as the beach clear of rubbish.
"I was so surprised to find the beach so littered," said Josh Mara, 16, a Grade 10 student at United International Private School. "People obviously don't understand the consequences on Mother Nature. We are the next generation so we must be involved in all environmental activities."
Loud cheers went out from some 240 fellow students and teachers when the school won a certificate for the highest number of participants.
Ms Mara said such initiatives reminded the young how important it was to care for the environment.
"It cannot be just for this one activity, it must be on a daily level, like recycling regularly," she said. "It cannot be only for one project for a week, a month or a year. We must be aware daily."
Many came from Abu Dhabi and Sharjah as early as 6.30am to be part of the clean-up. Several parents brought their children along, some as young as five.
"I can help the world," said Pao Fontanilla, 8, who wore white gloves and picked straws and empty soda cans from the sand along with his younger brother. "If I help, the beach will not be dirty. I help at home as well."
His father Paul, an employee with Etisalat, said it was a good lesson for the young. "It teaches them how some people neglect the environment and how it's necessary to bag your garbage and not litter," he said.
Friday was the last day of the four-day Clean Up the World Campaign 2010. Officials said 14,000 government, private and student volunteers took part in the campaign in the first three days alone.
"It is amazing that so many people have turned up to help on a holiday," said Hussain Ghulam, the head of the municipality's administration for waste management. "Our aim is to encourage people to realise for themselves that they should not litter."
Cigarette butts, plastic bottles and boxes of food filled the bags of Catherine Lauron, an office assistant, and her friends. "It's good to do something not for yourself even if it's just for a day. It's good to serve the community," said Ms Lauron, who usually spends Fridays learning graphic design.