UAE | Environment

Plea to save camel habitat

Deaths of animals after consuming plastic bags show levels of pollution

  • By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 8, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Silvia Baron/ANM
  • The deaths of camels in the UAE deserts after consuming plastic bags have highlighted the levels of pollution caused by human beings in recent years.

Abu Dhabi: An initiative taken by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, has once again drawn everyone's attention to the conservation of desert ecosystems.

Shaikh Abdullah said through twitter that he would like to participate in the desert clean-up campaign on January 20.

The deaths of camels in the UAE deserts after consuming plastic bags have highlighted the levels of pollution caused by human beings in recent years.

The authorities have been conducting an awareness campaign to prevent pollution due to plastic bags and tourism related activities.

A senior official recently told Gulf News that tourism should produce benefits for the local community and help to preserve the local culture and heritage while contributing to the conservation of the environment.


It is critical that these operators understand that they have an environmental responsibility and that the guidelines which they and their customers are following contribute to the preservation of the very natural heritage that their business is promoting, said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD).

Around 50 per cent of camel deaths in the UAE each year are attributed to plastic bags they have eaten, assuming it to be food, she said.

To help minimise the amount of litter polluting the environment, the EAD launched in February 2011 a campaign to raise awareness of the harmful effects of plastic bags on the environment and to reduce the amount of packaging used by manufacturers and retailers, an official spokesman of the agency said.

The campaign urges consumers to switch to biodegradable plastic bags, and supports manufacturers and retailers in making this switch.

EAD's ‘Make UAE Plastic Bag Free' campaign was launched in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), the Centre of Waste Management — Abu Dhabi (CWM) and local supermarkets and malls. The campaign urges consumers to reduce the use of all types of plastic bags, and demonstrates to them the negative effect of plastic bags on the UAE's wildlife.


In February, EAD will mark National Environment Day by taking this campaign to even more key malls around the emirate.

New partners will come on board for this phase including Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and the Family Development Foundation. Continuing to support the campaign will be major retailers such as the Abu Dhabi Cooperative, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Spinneys and Abela.

According to the Centre for Waste Management — Abu Dhabi, plastic makes up 19 per cent of domestic waste in Abu Dhabi city. Plastic bags are light in weight, therefore they can be easily carried by the wind into forests, deserts, beaches. Floating plastic bags also pose a threat to biodiversity when animals mistakenly swallow them for food. Also, plastic bags choke sewers, contaminate soil and waterways and also enter the food chain.

EAD's campaign was launched to support the government's initiative to phase out the use of plastic bags in the UAE by 2013. In 2009, the MoEW issued a Ministerial Decision to implement a programme to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Comments (5)

  1. Added 17:13 January 8, 2012

    Awareness to the public is a must. Well what can we expect? If we throw garbage, soon it will come back to us. People are not keen enough to place their own garbage in their personal bins if there are no available trash cans in the place. We are responsible in creating the disaster in our world, and maybe for the next generation to come, they won't be able to see wonders and creatures that God has given us.

    Erma, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 14:15 January 8, 2012

    Even I saw many times while passing through Desert parks that people are doing picnic or eating in a big group of families. They come and enjoy and bring loads of food stuff in the plastic bags. People after eating just leave the plastic bags here or there though every small distances there are bins meant for that only, but their laziness or carelessness towards these poor camels don't allow them to use the bins. Come on people don't forget Camel is a ship of Desert if he doesn't harm you in anyway why should we? Be human and don't play with the life of this innocent creature. Stop using plastic bags on picnics or dispose them in proper place.

    Rohan kapur, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:07 January 8, 2012

    On Firday i went for some 4x4 fun and photography to sharjah outskirts not a single photograph came without garbage in background. people leave trash in the desert, cans bottles, you name it!. This is not a good sign, anyone who is reading and has not cleaned up after the BBQ please next time do it!

    Mansoor Ahmad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:27 January 8, 2012

    Every weekend you see hundreds of cars parked alongside emirates road between Ajman and Ras al Khaimah. Families, groups of friends, etc making barbeque's and fires, and leaving piles of garbage spread all over. Authorities have placed garbage bins alongside the 311, but that takes responsiblility and considerate people to use them. This reader's suggestion - have authorities patrol these area's heavily and when people are ready to leave from their picnic sites, fine them heavily with littering and disrespect for the UAE and its conservation efforts. a Dh2,000 fine per-person responsible might alter their behaviour and lack of respect for the UAE.

    Brandon, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 09:45 January 8, 2012

    The plea should not get to deaf ears. The authorities should implement a new law about the desert cares and should apply hefty fines on those who do not care. I think no people using the desert for the picnic and why such educated people unaware of littering?

    Abdul Jaleel MV, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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