While UAE and India celebrated the bonds of their historical friendship in a glorious way on the eve of India’s 68th Republic Day, Indian students living in the UAE thought of celebrating the same in a special way.

We, a group of 11 students from different Dubai-based schools, took part in the recent ‘Give a Ghaf Tree’ planting program organised by Goumbook, an organisation aiming to raise awareness on sustainability and green living. This Republic Day was special for us as His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was the chief guest of the celebrations in India, making it a historic event. This day will remain in our memories for long.

The Give a Ghaf event was launched in 2011 to encourage more people to plant the hardy evergreen ghaf tree, which is native to the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Capable of growing roots down to 30 metres to access water, the ghaf could once be seen on sand dunes and gravel plains throughout the emirates. However booming development has placed the wild ghaf under threat.

The trees planted at Al Barari’s plant nursery will be donated to parks and schools once they are big enough, so they can be replanted and help fight against its decline.

Priyanka Sahadevan, a Dubai-based student who participated in the event, said: “By planting a tree I am paving my way to get closer to the Almighty. This event aimed at inculcating a good habit among children and the youth, which would provide hope for our future generations.”

Jay Haresh, another Dubai-based student, said: “By planting a ghaf tree, I felt like a responsible resident of the UAE and this planet.”

We as students, aim to return the favour back to society through various campaigns. Our aim is to encourage sustainable habits among the public. We hope to make a significant contribution in helping reduce hazards like global warming and the decline of trees.

We encourage more people to care and preserve our environment and promote sustainable living.

— The reader is a pupil based in Dubai.

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