Dubai/Sharjah: If UAE households and establishments can survive without non-essential lights turned on for an hour, perhaps it can for longer. This was the message of environmentalists during the Earth Hour 2013 ceremony at the Burj Plaza in Downtown Dubai.

Most parts of the country were plunged into darkness and iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab were blacked out for one hour on Saturday evening for Earth Hour 2013, the world’s largest environmental action on climate change.

“Earth Hour is not just about the one hour that you turn the lights off but about how it can influence other things such as changing one’s lifestyle into a long-term, and more sustainable one,” Ida Tillisch, acting director of Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS), which is co-organising the event in the UAE, told Gulf News.

“The hour itself is symbolic as it shows how much people can change when they act together,” Tillisch added.

Across the emirates, at least 173 organisations, businesses and government offices, 40 schools, and major landmarks officially participated in the green initiative, not to mention hundreds of households, switching off their lights in unison to effectively cut down on their electricity consumption.

Authorities earlier said that the collective effort is expected to save up to 195 tonnes of carbon emissions and cut back on 260,000 megawatts of electricity consumption. One megawatt is enough to power 1,000 city homes.

In Dubai, people from all walks of life gathered at the Burj Plaza on Saturday with candles and lanterns in hand for the Earth Hour Walk as a way of expressing their support in the fight against climate change.

Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), led the symbolic walk.

“Earth Hour 2013 has achieved the highest [energy] savings to date. We would not have achieved such significant results since 2008 without the visionary directives of our leadership, support of our partners from government departments and private organisations, as well as the overwhelming participation of community members,” Al Tayer said.

Darkness also covered parts of Sharjah, including the Eye of the Emirates in Al Qasba. Energy-saving workshops were held alongside various family activities at the Al Majaz Waterfront.

Meanwhile, in Fujairah, candles lit up the night sky for an hour at the Corniche.

The global event also saw other iconic structures such as Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Wall of China turn their lights off for one hour.

Earth Hour, which began in Sydney in 2007 and was supported by 2.2 million residents then, has grown globally and has reached up to 1.8 billion people from more than 6,950 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories.