Abu Dhabi/ Dubai: An army of 27,000 volunteers joined hands on Monday to collect over 92 tonnes of waste from across the country, as part of the Emirates Environmental Group's (EEG) tenth annual Clean Up UAE campaign.
The waste collected from 109 clean up sites will either be taken for recycling or be placed in landfills.
"This year's campaign was amazing and the volunteers were in high spirits," Habiba Al Marashi, EEG's Chairperson, told Gulf News at the Nad Al Sheba clean up site in Dubai where about 4,300 volunteers turned up.
"It was a humbling experience to see top government officials grab a pair of gloves and clean up garbage, and it just highlights their commitment to help keep our country, our environment clean," she said.
Al Marashi said she was particularly moved by the high number of Emirati volunteers at the campaign.
"This is a great reflection of the Spirit of the Union and one of the best ways to show our love and loyalty to the UAE, by ensuring that we are doing what we can to take care of the country's environment," she added.
Former UAE Minister of Environment and Water, Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, inaugurated the event at Nad Al Sheba. First held on December 12, 2002, the Clean up UAE campaign has grown to become a unifying campaign for all people of the UAE to work for environmental protection and conservation, she said.
Last year, 20,000 volunteers collected 100 tonnes of waste from 100 sites.
Officials, school pupils, university students, corporations and residents took part in collecting items ranging from discarded carpets to carelessly thrown bottles and cans. There were 752 pupils from seven schools in the capital that participated in the campaign in addition to 894 employees from 21 organisations and 18 individuals. Each participant was given a bio-degradable bag, cotton re-usable gloves, caps and t-shirts.
Gerri McDonald, a teacher at the Al Jazeeera Kindergarten in Al Bateen said her pupils were very enthusiastic about being a part of the event.
"Later the pupils will draw pictures to show their classmates and parents and they will also talk to them about their experiences," she said.
Suresh Menon, Vice President of ABN-AMRO bank and member of the Sri Satya Sai Service Group, said their group members have been participating in the event for six years now.
Gayathri Shivram, who participated in the clean-up along with her daughter at Dubai's Maliha Road termed her experience "meaningful".