Dubai: In a bid to reduce waste in the city, a Dubai-based Indian expat is upcycling uprooted Damas trees by carving furniture, artefacts and momentoes from them.
Murtaza Asgar Balasinourwala, 37, who runs his own interior fitout company in Deira, said he has been picking up the dumped trees from different communities after Dubai Municipality banned them six years ago.
I refuse to take money. I only charge for the labour.”
- Murtaza Balasinourwala, Dubai resident
Balasinourwala said, “The ban came into effect in 2012 as the roots of these beautiful, shady trees were found to be damaging homes. Residents were faced with massive electricity and water supply bills as the Damas roots penetrated into water pipes and caused leakages. As communities began to implement the ban, a huge number of trees were uprooted.”
He said the idea of turning all this waste into something useful occurred to him when he was driving around Emirates Hills one morning. “I saw the trees lying wasted on the ground. When I spoke to some residents in the area, they expressed concerns over how expensive it was to get rid of the trees. I decide I would help out by engaging workers who could help residents cut the trees. I also arranged a pick-up van to collect the felled trees.”
Balasinourwala then got the trees to his interior fitout warehouse in Abu Hail where they were used to make different products.
“I started out with small candle stands, flower vases and other decorative pieces. When I gifted them to friends and relatives, they were very appreciative. Soon, the word spread and people started placing orders for basic furniture items. They would offer me money, but I would refuse as the wood was completely free. I only charged for the labour.”
“The structrue of the tree is not uniform and makes it very hard to make furniture pieces. It requires a lot of skill to reshape the wood into decorative pieces. Luckily, I have some skilled workers and they manage to use every part of the tree. Even the stems and leaves are used as embellishments.”
Balasinourwala said he has upcycled over 40 trees and made 300 chairs, tables, benches, souvenirs and other momentoes from them. Another 20 trees are lying in his factory waiting to be converted into benches and pergolas for parks in Dubai.
Balasinourwala has also made trophies from the bark of the trees for Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC). “They were hosting their MENA awards and wanted their trophies made from a sustainable material. I suggested we could make them out of the Damas trees and they loved the idea.” Dubai Municipality is all praise for his work and has even issued a letter of appreciation to him.