Earth matters, even in the midst of revolution

Mohamed El Hebeishy, Friday 22 Apr 2011

Despite all the revolutions, uprisings, and protests engulfing the region, the Middle East hasn’t missed out on celebrating Earth Day

Cleanup is underway on one of the Red Sea remote beaches – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy
Cleanup is underway on one of the Red Sea remote beaches – Photo by Mohamed El Hebeishy

April 22 marks Earth Day, a day where we show our appreciation towards the environment and attempt to promote awareness of the hazards that endangering it. It is the brainchild of U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson who called for the first Earth Day back in 1970.

This year, due to the recent developments in the Middle East, only a handful of Earth Day events are taking place.

Starting with Egypt, environmental NGO HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association) is organizing a multi-location cleanup along the Red Sea coast, from Hurghada in the north, all the way south to Marsa Alam.  The cleanup is a joint effort between HEPCA and a number of diving centres and resorts operating in the area. Waste management has been a prevailing issue in the Red Sea, and is a top priority on HEPCA’s agenda.

This year, the United Arab Emirates has the biggest share of Earth Day events in the region. Emirates Group tops the list with its tree-planting project. Themed "The Living Desert", the project kicked off on February 3rd with a ceremonial tree-planting event, and should continue until April 22, with Emirates staff planting 140 trees.  Emirates Group is involved in a number of ongoing initiatives that range from investing in modern, low emissions aircrafts, to supporting local conservation projects.

Still in the UAE, Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project is organizing a turtle-release event in honour of Earth Day. A hundred rehabilitated hawksbill sea turtles will be released by children into the sea. Established in 2004, the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project is a collaboration effort between the Wildlife Protection Office and Jumeirah Group, with support from Al Wasl Veterinary Clinic and Central Veterinary Research Lab. Dubai’s only turtle-rehabilitation centre provides needed veterinary support, researches turtles migratory paterns and raises awareness of marine environmental issues in the area.   

Lebanon is not missing its share of events with Amack Solar, a green power solution provider, organizing an Earth Day awareness event. A mix of presentations and documentaries are planned as an attempt to highlight the environmental hazards our planet is facing, and how can we tackle the problem. It is a free event that takes place at the Art Lounge venue.

Last, but certainly not least, Oman has decided to celebrate Earth Day with an artistic touch. Organized by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) and in collaboration with the Omani Society for Fine Arts, an exhibition will be held featuring the work of renowned Omani artists. The twenty paintings displayed emphasise the relation between nature’s beauty and artists’ creativity in local culture.

Happy Earth Day everybody!

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