This story generated a lot of response from our readers - the halting of barbecues at Al Qudra lake. Many were upset at what they thought was a complete ban. Eventually Dubai Municipality clarified in a Gulf News exclusive report that people were being asked to barbecue in a responsible manner - in designated areas and to use proper disposal systems. There was no ban. The issue was that people were leaving burning coals in the sand, which is clearly hazardous!

Why in the world would people do such a thing? And it is shocking that the authorities had to implement tougher penalties and rules for people to behave with basic civic sense.

In response to this news, Gulf News reader Mathew M. highlighted yet another problem at Al Qudra, which is again a direct result of human misconduct - trash and floating debris in the lake left behind by campers who couldn’t be bothered to dispose it in the bins provided.

The picture that accompanied this community report was shocking and heartbreaking. And he was also witness to young children tossing chips and toffees into the water without being stopped or reprimanded by their parents. This just served to infuriate him further.

Al Qudra is man-made and a lot of effort has been expended to create this facility for residents. It is a place of serenity and a refuge for birds on migratory paths. So, this kind of behaviour can be called nothing short of criminal behaviour against Mother Nature. Mathew’s community report, published on December 20, 2017, raised a valid call to action - ban camping in Al Qudra. The logic is simple - if you cannot behave in a responsible manner then you do not deserve to be treated as an adult. First place goes to this much-deserved piece by Mathew.

Second place goes to two of our young readers - Syed Huzaifah and Syeda Murjan, for their report, “Instead of buying, consider rescuing a homeless pet”, published on December 16, 2017. The brother-sister duo rescued three kittens and took them in, nursing them back to health and giving them a home. And from personal experience felt that it was so much better giving an abandoned animal a home rather than buying one from a pet store. Their report is heartfelt and the message is conveyed in the best manner possible - through their own actions. They are living the adage - act before you preach. Excellent work and we encourage other readers to check their story out on

Third place goes to Mohammad Ejaz Ahmad for his visual report on the rather sorry state of public phone booths in the Al Sharq area of Sharjah. People are using them as garbage dumpsters - littering that will spread illness and create a rodent problem. He feels that this rather sorry state is more due to the fact that people don’t have much use for phone booths anymore. In his report, published on December 13, he suggests that the telecom authorities convert them into mobile charging stations, which might ensure people will not misuse them. A pro-active solution.

Thank you for all the wonderful reporting in December, we hope to see much more in the coming months and year.