DUBAI // At least 300 abandoned dhows were demolished yesterday, the first day of Clean Up The World Campaign 2010, said Dubai Municipality officials.
Around 22,000 volunteers in Dubai are expected to get their hands dirty collecting waste during the four-day event, which is being held in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme.
Yaqoob al Ali, head of the specialised cleaning section at the municipality's waste management department, said the vessels - made of fibreglass and wood - had been unattended for more than a year in Al Jadaf.
"The dhow ships were left by the factories and shipbuilders in that area. We issued warnings but no one came forward," said Mr al Ali. "This is not only an ugly site for the city, but such [vessels] can be used as a nesting ground by animals like rats," he said. The municipality arranged for the dhows to be demolished and removed by trucks to a dumping ground in Al Qusais.
Speaking yesterday at Jumeirah Beach Residence, Hussain Nasser Lootah, the director general of the municipality, stressed that dealing with the issue of waste remains a challenge.
"It is our duty to create awareness and show people what happens when they throw away garbage like this. We have to reduce the waste to keep our city clean," said Mr Lootah.
As he spoke, hundreds of municipality employees and school children were collecting rubbish that had accumulated along the JBR shoreline.
"Yes, we are a government organisation, but we cannot do everything alone - we all have to participate," said Mr Lootah.
Carrying bags almost as big as themselves, the schoolchildren were excited to see who could pick up the most rubbish.
Nine-year-old Megha Satish, who is from India, got permission from her school - Delhi Private School in Sharjah - to volunteer with her parents.
"I wanted to help clean up the environment because it is very important, and I want to carry on helping in the future," she said.
Alison Dawson, a teacher at the Rashid School for Boys, joined 17 other teachers to bring 120 boys to help clean up the beach.
"The event is very close to our curriculum and the boys are doing great - working really hard. So we will be participating in more events over the coming days," she said.
The paintings on display reflected a harsh reality. One of the artists, Shahul Kollengode, who is from India, said it took him 10 days to complete five pieces.
"Each of these paintings symbolises global warming and pollution, which affects agriculture and, in turn, threatens our livelihood."
Anne Bleeker, vice president of corporate communications for Future Pipe Industries, a long-time sponsor of Clean Up The World, said the campaign has gained momentum over the years.
"We've encouraged this cause for at least 15 years and support is noticeably growing, along with awareness," she said.
Today's activities include volunteers from government institutions, schools and colleges removing abandoned vehicles from public areas and the launching of two vessels that will work cleaning the waters near Al Warqa.