More than 300 people participated in a light sticks vigil at the Abu Dhabi Corniche last night organised by the Abu Dhabi Municipality. Children were educated on the importance of preserving the environment. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: Earth Hour is a remarkable symbol of the pre-dawn darkness. From the dark and suffocating smog of CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases comes a beacon of hope for a sustainable future, as the world unites to ponder over action against climate change.

Hundreds of people, including government officials, families, children and environmentalists gathered at the foot of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa. With candles and fluorescent lamps in their hands, young and old took part in the Earth Walk.

Under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the event was organised by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) in association with the Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wide for Nature (EWS-WWF) and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE).

Burj Khalifa led the way as buildings along the usually sparkling Shaikh Zayed Road looked a shadow of their usual selves. Dubai Municipality, the Burj Al Arab, Etisalat, the Clock Tower and other prominent landmarks turned off their lights between 8.30 and 9.30pm, helping surpass Dewa's power saving target of 230,000 kWh.

Earth Hour started as a single city movement in 2007 and quickly spread across the world. The UAE participated the following year and has since succeeded in increasing the environmental awareness level with each passing year.

Commenting on the achievement, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of Dewa, thanked the residents for taking up the challenge.

"Dewa would honour its Earth Hour challenge set to the Dubai community in which the Authority promised to organise a fund-raising ‘Victory Walk' on World Earth Day with proceeds raised donated to an environmental cause. I thank people for their participation and urge them to take the message beyond the hour," said Al Tayer.

Attending the event along with other green crusaders were Habiba Al Marashi, the Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group, Ida Tillisch, Acting Director-General EWS-WWF as well Amal Koshak, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communication, Dewa.

Recycling drive

"This symbolic event proves that the number of environmentally-conscious people is increasing worldwide and we are gathering steam towards a more sustainable use of our resources, which we owe to our children," said Habiba, speaking to Gulf News as she took part in the march.

In the capital, buildings along the Corniche went dark, while decorative lights were switched off along Shaikh Zayed Bridge. External facade lighting was also turned off at Zayed Sports City, Emirates Palace Hotel, Yas Hotel and the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque during the event, Nahla Hamad Bin Fahd, head of the events section at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, told Gulf News.

Alongside a range of other activities, the municipality also organised a massive recycling initiative on the Corniche.

"Residents were urged to bring over recyclable materials because the whole idea of Earth Hour is to raise awareness about, and work towards, conservation and reduced consumption of the planet's resources. This is why a recycling drive has been organised for the first time as part of Earth Hour," Nahla said.

See also Page 17