Al Mamzar Beach Park received nearly 1.85 million visitors in 2012 Image Credit: Ahmad Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Beachgoers can now enjoy swimming with no worries in two public beaches in Dubai — the Al Mamzar Beach Park and Jumeirah Open Beach — that have been awarded the Blue Flag certification.

The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3,850 beaches and marinas in 48 countries around the globe. It is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to beaches and marinas that have met the 32 strict criteria dealing with Water Quality, Environmental Education and Information, Environmental Management, and Safety and Other Services.

Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality (DM), led the ceremonial hoisting of the Blue Flag in Al Mamzar Beach on Saturday along with senior municipality officials.

“The Blue Flag certification is very important to us as the city of Dubai is located in the seaside. By raising this flag, this means our beaches are complying with all international requirements from cleanliness to safety to the quality of water, and other things,” Lootah told Gulf News.

The recognition was the first to be given to a public beach in Dubai, which already has Blue Flags for three private beaches in its coastline.

“With public beaches, getting a Blue Flag is more challenging because the beaches are much bigger. It’s very important that we have lifeguards on duty all the time and make sure that the weather conditions are always met,” Mohammad Al Noori, Director of Corporate Marketing and Relations Department at DM, told Gulf News.

The two public beaches are the most popular to beachgoers in Dubai as Al Mamzar Beach Park received nearly 1.85 million visitors in 2012 while Jumeirah Open Beach received 292,000.

With the Blue Flag certification, the two beaches need to ensure that they are meeting the 32 criteria throughout the year. This means there are no rooms for complacency in the upkeep of the beaches, especially in its water quality.

“When we say quality, the biggest aspect Blue Flags are strict about is ensuring that the bathing water is meeting the Blue flag quality sample which is on par with European standards. This means a sample of water is tested from the beach at least once a month and the result is displayed to the public. This will ensure that they are swimming in water that has been tested and safe,” Moaz Sawaf, Blue Flag national operator in the UAE, told Gulf News.

Sawaf said that if the water quality is “not good” due to pollution or if the percentage of micro bacteria in the water increases due to sudden changes in temperature, the beach will have to be closed to the public until it is safe again for public use.