Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality, with the winners and organisers at the 9th cycle of the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment, at the Dubai InterContinental Hotel, Festival City. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Twelve associations around the world were awarded on Wednesday with $30,000 (Dh108,000) for winning the 9th Dubai International Award for Best Practices for their active role in improving the quality of life in their communities.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality handed out the awards, which is jointly managed by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Dubai Municipality, and is held once every two years.

“I see the ninth edition having something special as the number of applicants are nearly 395, representing more than 60 countries, which made the job of the jury, consisting of 14 experts, really a Herculean task,” said Eng Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality.

The winners this year were from Canada, Kenya, UAE, Lebanon, China, Cambodia, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Burkina Faso and Chile.

The Lebanese Non Governmental Organisation, Operation Big Blue Association, won for its efforts to analyse, protect and monitor coastal and marine misuse and degradation. In the UAE, the Dubai Metro project won the award for improving accessibility in the city, reducing traffic congestion and improving public health and the environment.

“We started the project when our country came out of the war in 1997, and solid waste covered our shores and sea. We started mobilising students, special organisations and the army to help clean up the waters and by 2011 launched another programme to raise awareness through schools and religious groups, to educate people on the environment,” said Ehab Daya, Director of Exploration Team, Operation Big Blue Association.

The international award is open to individuals, associations, social organisations and private and public institutions that have achieved significant accomplishments with tangible impacts that improve the standard of living in communities.

The Dubai Metro Red Line won the award as it has eased mobility within the emirate, adding 178 million commuters last year, reducing the carbon footprint by as much as 220 tonnes daily, providing public transport as an alternative to private vehicles, improving the traffic conditions in some areas by 25 per cent, and boosting the value of properties around the Metro facilities by 20 per cent.