Dubai: Authorities have implemented a series of measures to bring about a change in the mindset of residents and hold them responsible for their littering habit.

“We carry a number of clean-up campaigns throughout the year but that is not enough, and residents should be aware that it is their responsibility to clean up after themselves when they go out camping,” said Abdul Majeed Saifaie, Director of the Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality.

The municipality yesterday announced that 410 tonnes of waste had been collected from various desert areas of Dubai during a two-week desert clean-up drive that ended a few days ago.

A total of 10,237 volunteers participated in the clean-up campaign and 35,185 bags were used to collect the waste.

Saifaie said that the deserts play a vital role in conserving the UAE’s wildlife and should be treated with respect. “Since last November, we started implementing new rules to encourage campers to respect the environment. Now they need permission to set up their camps if they intend to camp for more than a few weeks, and we have distributed pamphlets with tips on camping properly without hurting themselves or the environment,” he said.

It is a popular pastime for Emiratis to set up camp in desert areas during the cooler months from November to April. In view of environment protection concerns, Dubai Municipality has made it mandatory for long-term campers to register for a permit to do so, and charges a fee of 22 fils a week for each square metre of campsite, which is limited to 300 square metres.

The designated camping sites are in Wadi Al Amerdi, Wadi Al Shabak, Al Warqa, and Al Khawaneej 2.

“Within the last year, we have also set up designated barbeque areas in camping sites, which also addresses the issue of safety. Campers used to leave their charcoal on the floor and other campers would accidentally step on it and get burned,” Saifaie added.