Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

What is Earth Hour? Why the UAE will be going dark on Saturday

Residents are encouraged to switch off lights and all unnecessary electrical appliances on Saturday. Here's why...

Residents are encouraged to switch off lights as part of Earth Hour. Courtesy Deliveroo 
Residents are encouraged to switch off lights as part of Earth Hour. Courtesy Deliveroo 

On Saturday, March 28, people around the world will be switching off their lights and unnecessary electrical appliances from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, in a bid to do their part for Mother Earth.

It’s all a part of Earth Hour, a world-wide event started by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The grassroots movement, which first launched as a symbolic lights-out event in Australia in 2007, has grown exponentially over the years, now seeing people in more than 180 countries taking part.

What is Earth Hour?

The idea is simple - for one hour every year, people are encouraged to switch off lights and all unnecessary electrical appliances in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. But, as the website states, “it is so much more than that. It is a symbol of unity. It is a symbol of hope. It is a symbol of power in collection action for nature.”

In the region

In the UAE, Emirates Nature has partnered with the WWF to encourage residents to be a part of the initiative. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) is also encouraging residents to switch off unnecessary electrical appliances and “connect to earth”.

His Excellency Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) said, “Earth Hour is growing in significance worldwide and has become a symbol of unified global action to preserve nature. It indeed shows that small collective actions, like switching off the lights at the same time for one hour, can have lasting positive impact. After all, Earth is our only home and preserving it is a joint responsibility.”

Exceptional circumstances

For the first time ever, the hour comes when over a quarter of the world’s population are currently under lockdown in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In the UAE, residents have been told to stay indoors from 8pm to 6am until Sunday, for a three-day mass disinfection programme

Recognising the exceptional circumstances, organisers of the Earth Hour have announced that a number of countries, including the UAE, will be celebrating Earth Hour virtually, for the first time ever.

Residents can do their part for the planet by partaking in virtual events like having an Earth Hour Live Party using Facebook Live, or connecting with others over Instagram or YouTube live steaming. Residents can also create Live Spotify EH Playlist (“plug your earphones in and dance the hour away in the dark”), encourage others to share what they’re doing in the dark via TikTok or use Mural Virtual Whiteboard to play games like Pictionary or Hangman.

Other ideas from the Earth Hour global organising team include:

  1. Dinner in the dark: get candles ready while enjoying meals
  2. Have a night of board games or book readings in candlelight
  3. Have a themed movie night
  4. Play Heads Up!
  5. Camp/ make a tent in the backyard or living room

Despite being home-bound, many UAE residents have already pledged to be a part of Earth Hour 2020.

“I’ll be lighting up candles and relaxing for the hour,” says Natasha Jain, a freelance social media manager, who participates in the event every year. She doesn't believe that taking part will be difficult while home-bound. “I think most people are getting bored with doing the same things anyway. They’re looking for creative new things to do.”

Updated: March 27, 2020 04:17 PM

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