Dubai: The UAE joined more than 180 countries across the world in marking the Earth Hour, switching off lights in a symbolic act of raising environmental awareness.
As the skylines across the emirates plunged into darkness on Saturday evening, a spotlight shone on the message of conservation for an hour.
A series of awareness events and activities were held in the lead-up to the Earth Hour, which was marked from 8.30pm to 9.30pm with the skyline across the emirates turning dark.
In Dubai, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) in partnership with Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS-WWF) engaged the residents in recreational activities at Marasi Promenade Business Bay that highlighted the message of conservation and rational use of resources.
Hundreds of people, including government officials, families, children and environmentalists gathered at the Marasi Promenade for the Earth Hour Walk, which began at 8.30pm as young and old marched with candles and fluorescent lamps in their hands.
A festive atmosphere greeted families and children at Marasi Promenade as hordes of activities marked the annual Earth Hour campaign.
Children and adults took home the message of sustainability through fun activities, educative workshops, games and entertainment sessions.
The event began with the symbolic lighting of the candles before sunset even as children played tug of war, foosball, can smash and ping pong.
Stilt walkers, clowns and Emirati folk dancers also entertained the participants of the Earth Hour celebrations which ended with a walkathon.
The UAE has been joining the Earth Hour campaign annually since 2008, highlighting sustainable practices that positively support national efforts in reducing carbon emissions and conserve natural resources for the future.
Last year, Dubai achieved remarkable results during Earth Hour 2017 with a reduction of 244MW in electricity use, a 22MW increase compared to 2016.
“Dewa is organising the Earth Hour event for the eleventh consecutive year. Celebrating this international environmental occasion is particularly important in the Year of Zayed, as it marks 100 years since the birth of the leader of sustainability in the UAE, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” said Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dewa.
Taking part in the activities, he added that the Earth Hour supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, to transform Dubai into a global hub for clean energy and green economy and make it the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050.
Held under the theme ‘Connect to Earth,’ Dubai residents joined millions of people around the world in addressing global warming and climate change, even as Dubai’s landmarks and government buildings switched off for an hour.
“Biodiversity is key to our livelihood. Whether it is by maintaining trees and greenery that provide us with the air we breathe, or pollination that gives us the food we eat, or various species that provide humanity with basic necessities, it’s our duty now to promise to protect our shared home, the Earth, not just during Earth Hour, but on every day of the year,” said Laila Mustafa Abdul Latif, director-general of EWS-WWF.
What is Earth Hour?
Since 2007, for one hour every March, major cities across the globe have plunged into darkness as environmentalists, schools, offices and government organisations join to switch off lights in a symbolic call for action on climate change.
The idea of the “switch off” began to take shape in 2006 in Australia, originally under the title “The Big Flick”. The first Earth Hour was held on March 31, 2007 in Sydney at 7.30pm local time. The idea was then adopted by big cities across the world with 35 countries and more than 400 cities participating in 2008, when it was held on March 29.
The campaign caught the imagination of environmentalists and city administrators, helping it grow every year. A record 187 countries took part in the event’s 10th year in 2017 and a higher number of participation is expected this year.
Can an hour of switching off save the world?
More than the energy saved during the hour, the idea of the campaign is to encourage greater conservation activities and a change in perception about earth’s environment.
“I am here to learn more about our earth and how to protect it. It is fun to be here and I am enjoying every moment of this experience,” said Yahya Shadi, 9, from Palestine.
“I am proud to take part in the campaign to save our earth. Now, I know how important it is to save power, I will continue to do more to save our resources everyday,” said 10-year-old Emirati student Hamad Ahmad.
“Earth Hour is an amazing event that raises the issue of environment and conservation. It’s great to see so many people participating and there are so many activities and workshops that teach you important aspects of recycling and conservation of resources,” said 16-year-old Liza Abdullah (left).
“I am here to learn more about sustainability and it has been fun to take part in the campaign and know so much about our planet. We need to all work together on a continuous basis to save the Earth,” said Misha Mirchandani, who was accompanied by her twin sister Mehar.