Earth Hour leaves UAE in the dark
ABU DHABI, DUBAI // When the clock struck 8.30pm last night, the lights went out across the country.
In the capital, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Yas Hotel and several streets were plunged into darkness. In Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Downtown Dubai quieted their usually blazing bulbs and lasers.
The blackout was part of the sixth annual Earth Hour, an international event that asks governments, businesses and ordinary people to switch off their lights and non-essential appliances for 60 minutes.
"We want to raise awareness for climate change and this is a step in that direction," said Nahla Hamad Bin Fahad, senior events expert in the community services department at Abu Dhabi Municipality
Earth Hour was started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund and caught on the following year in Toronto, Canada.
By 2011, 5,251 cities and towns in 135 countries had signed up to participate, with as many as 1.8 billion people getting involved. The event saved 204,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy in Dubai last year. Yesterday, participants saved 216,000 kWh - a 6 per cent increase.
Holding lit candles, more than 100 people gathered at the Burj Plaza. Rohan Kapur, 11, a Grade 7 pupil at Delhi Private School in Sharjah, said such events made him environmentally conscious. "This is the beginning. We should go beyond this," he said.
Rakibul Islam, from Bangladesh, attended the event with his wife and three children. "Such events show kids the significance of protecting our environment," he said. "People are slowly getting interested in such issues but we need to do more."
In the capital, the municipal authority organised an event at the Corniche, where Abdul Muqeet Abdul Mannan, 10, lectured on recycling.
The Indian youngster, who received a 2011 Abu Dhabi Award for his commitment to the environment, said that if 60 people switched off their lights for Earth Hour, he would pick up 200 cans from the street.
"This is the second year I've participated and I started by recycling newspapers at home," said the pupil from Abu Dhabi Indian School.
Also at the Corniche, the Emirates Mobile Observatory had two telescopes so people could see planets and stars when the lights went out.
"We will be able to see the moon, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and Mars if the pollution and humidity aren't too high," said Nezar Hezam, the observatory's president. "I'm very excited."
Updated: April 1, 2012 04:00 AM