x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE turns out the lights with a message for millions

Some of the most iconic buildings in the country, including some government buildings, will power down at 8:30pm on Saturday as the world marks Earth Hour.

The UAE will be turning off all non-essential lights on March 29, 2014 for Earth Hour in hopes of saving more than 120,000kg of carbon emissions during that time. Jeff Topping/The National
The UAE will be turning off all non-essential lights on March 29, 2014 for Earth Hour in hopes of saving more than 120,000kg of carbon emissions during that time. Jeff Topping/The National

ABU DHABI // Organisers of this year’s Earth Hour hope to convince millions of people in the UAE to save energy.

The global event will be marked at 8.30pm on Saturday, when many government and private buildings, including some of the most iconic in the country, will turn off inessential lights for an hour.

In the capital Abu Dhabi Municipality is taking the initiative with a switch-off event at Khalifa Park, while at Bay Avenue, Business Bay, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is hosting the celebrations. Elsewhere, a number of malls, hotels and businesses are supporting Earth Hour.

With the backing of a social media campaign, the organisers are hoping that the UAE’s population will take heed of the message to be kinder to the environment.

“Last year, we reached out to nearly two million people and this year, we assume we will be able to reach them and more,” said Reem Al Thawadi, communications manager at Emirates Wildlife Society – World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF), which brought the initiative to the UAE.

Besides encouraging people to turn off inessential lights during the hour, the organisers are also promoting the use of efficient light bulbs.

Last month, the Government announced it would ban the import of traditional incandescent light bulbs this summer.

Ms Al Thawadi said this year’s Earth Hour campaign aimed to educate consumers about energy efficient light sources which are already widely available in shops, as well as spur a wider debate on the need to save energy at home and at work.

“The idea is to reach out to people and encourage them to make the switch but also to learn more about energy efficiency,” she said.

In the run-up to the event, the organisation commissioned a YouGov study of 1,202 UAE residents.

The results showed that 75 per cent of respondents were aware of Earth Hour. The survey also found out that people were receptive to the efficient-lighting message, with 84 per cent saying they were extremely likely or somewhat likely to switch to better alternatives. A total of 88 per cent also said they believed they had a role to play in ensuring better environmental outcomes for the planet.

In this year’s campaign, EWS-WWF is relying on several well-known figures to help them spread the message, including athletes Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum and Abdulla Al Marri, Bahraini swimmer, Samira Al Bitar, Emirati adventurer, Samia Al Mudhareb, Kris Fade, a Virgin Radio’s DJ and a young green activist, George Zacharia.

“The event only started in 2007 but it has come a long way and it is a good message to carry,” said Mr Al Marri, a show jumper.

Many private entities are also organising special events for Earth Hour. In Abu Dhabi, a yoga and meditation session will take place in the Corniche Family Park, organised by the Art of Living foundation.

The Monte Carlo Beach Club is holding a family day to educate visitors about marine turtles, while the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is organising a candlelit yoga and pilates beach session.

In Dubai, the The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre is also organising an outdoor yoga session, while the Fairmont The Palm and Amwaj Rotana will be hosting live acoustic music performances to mark the event.

Dubai Festival City Mall has already put up a pledge board on which visitors can post messages on how to save energy. Majid Al Futtaim shopping malls – the Ajman City Centre, Deira City Centre, Fujairah City Centre, Sharjah City Centre, Mirdif City Centre and Mall of the Emirates are all switching lights off for the hour.

Many hotels in Ras Al Khaimah will also join the festivities, including the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa where guests and staff will attend a beach bonfire and light and release wish lanterns.

Visit www.uae.panda.org for more information.

vtodorova@thenational.ae