DUBAI // Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi is applying the reduce, re-use, recycle motto to an unusual field: medicine.
The Green Sheikh, so called because of his passion for the environment, has launched a campaign to collect unexpired, leftover medications for reuse.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz says he will fast for six days if 6,000 people donate their unused prescriptions to Al Ihsan Charity Association.
"When it comes to the environment, people focus on things like plastic and paper," said the member of the Ajman Ruling Family and environmental adviser to the emirate's Executive Council.
"I think that's been used a lot. So I wanted to be different. A lot of people have good medicine at home that can be used. The medicine donated will be given to poor people free of charge."
Since Sheikh Abdul Aziz launched his campaign in a YouTube video three weeks ago, donations have been flooding in to Al Ihsan Medical Centre in Ajman. He is also the chief executive of Al Ihsan Charity Association.
"I think we will exceed more than what we expected," he said. "A lot of people have already taken action and we are receiving a lot of medicine and now we are asking for people to keep going and bring good medicine."
Jinu Johnson, a pharmacist at Al Ihsan Medical Centre, said between 80 and 90 per cent of the medicine the centre stocked was from donations.
"Medicine here is normally expensive, especially chronic medications," Ms Johnson said.
"One prescription may cost more than Dh1,000 and low-income people cannot afford it, so we will be giving the medicine to them free of cost."
She said medicine that had expired or was not stored properly would be given to the municipality to destroy.
"When I say medicine, I don't mean waste medicine but good medicine," said Sheikh Abdul Aziz said.
Although Al Ihsan Medical Centre is a charitable initiative, it is equipped with all of the latest technology.
"The sheikh wants his charity work correlated with the best quality," said Khalid bin Tameem, the office manager for Sheikh Abdul Aziz.
"The equipment we have is up to date. Sometimes we have machines of which only two or three are available in the country. Other equipment costs millions but it is all from donations."
Asked why he had chosen fasting as the challenge, the Green Sheikh said it was a choice first to honour God and also to learn patience.
"There is connection between patience and being a patient," he said. "Why do we need the medicine? To give it to the patients."
Sheikh Abdul Aziz said his love for all things environmental was passed down to him by his father and grew as he learnt more about the Earth.
Despite the progress made towards a greener UAE, he said there was still work to be done in recycling and empowering the youth to take a leading role.
"I remember when I was the chairman of the Environment Society in 1996, we were talking about green buildings but everybody was laughing at us," Sheikh Abdul Aziz said.
"We were talking about solar panels, and everybody was laughing at us. After 10 years, they stopped.
"If you reduce one thing in your life and in your day, you'll make a difference."