A man picks up rubbish in the desert. Dubai Municipality has organised a series of clean-up events across the emirate to raise awareness of the importance of preserving desert life. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Campers who think they can escape fines by having a barbeque far out in the desert while hiding behind sand dunes will now have to think twice before leaving their rubbish behind — desert buggies are now patrolling the area.

The civic body yesterday announced that they have launched 10 sport utility vehicle (SUV) bikes to get to areas that are otherwise difficult for regular vehicles to access.

The new buggies will operate seven days a week in three shifts, and violators will be fined on the spot.

“We have zero tolerance for this kind of negligent behaviour and that is why these new patrols will also have the authority to fine people found littering a minimum of Dh500,” said Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of Dubai Municipality’s Waste Management Department.

Desert areas that will now be patrolled with the new vehicles include Wadi Al Amradi, Al Warqa’a, Al Aweer, Wadi Al Shabak and Al Tayy.

“The introduction of these new buggies is seasonal, because now is the time when residents take advantage of the cooler weather and have barbeques outdoors. Even though the majority of campers are aware of the desert’s importance, there are still a number that leave plastic bags behind — ultimately affecting the wildlife — which can be ingested by camels,” he said.

Saifaie explained that the department expects to introduce more desert buggies in the future, as they are more efficient than the patrol vehicles used presently.

“They are faster and have no problem in going behind mountains or on sand dunes, because in the last few years we noticed that we needed better control over these areas,” he said.

Khalid Mohsin, head of Operations and Cleaning Services Section at Dubai Municipality, pointed out that it will not only be intensifying its routine monitoring and cleaning activities but also hold awareness drives by distributing pamphlets.

“We are trying to keep the desert clear of plastic bags and rubbish, because it harms the desert wildlife and taints the city’s image. Even if campers think they are too far out in the desert to be caught, our new patrols will catch them,” he added.