Abu Dhabi: A pair of beloved cartoon characters will soon make their way into UAE classrooms as part of a nationwide effort to enhance children’s safety.

The initiative will involve showing specially developed awareness videos featuring The Lion King’s meerkat-warthog pair Timon and Pumba, followed by related activities to stress the message of safety.

Initially it will target nearly 46,000 schoolchildren aged four to nine years and is being introduced by the UAE Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Education (MoE), represented by the Emirates Intellectual Property Association, in collaboration with United States-based testing and certification firm Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a senior UL executive told Gulf News.

“The eight safety videos we have developed since 2006 focus on various types of safety, including at home, in the water, in moving vehicles and the road, online, around fire, with food choices, for the environment and with regard to children’s own character and ethics,” said Barbara Guthrie, vice-president and chief public safety officer at UL.

“The aim is to empower UAE children to ensure their own safety. For example, instead of simply telling them to avoid playing with matches, we teach them that fires occur in the presence of heat, fuel and oxygen. This way, children can take control and take an interest in protecting themselves from potential fires.”

Guthrie was speaking on the sidelines of the second Abu Dhabi Quality Forum, which wrapped up in the capital on Monday. The event saw the attendance of more than 800 government regulators and quality experts, who met to discuss innovations and challenges in ensuring quality across different sectors.

Officials at one of the forum’s panels stressed that accidents and injuries occur among children even with the implementation of the highest safety regulations.

“This is why we must educate children to recognise safe behaviours,” Guthrie said.

The awareness videos, which are available in Arabic, English and 33 other languages, have so far been introduced in 22 countries, including Denmark, Japan, Poland, Italy and US. Follow-up studies indicate that children exposed to them learn to choose healthier foods such as apples instead of cookies, and opt to dispose of waste in recycleable bins.

The UAE is the first Arab country to integrate them into the curriculum.

The quality forum was organised by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, a council of regulators that aim to raise the quality of Abu Dhabi’s exports and locally traded products, and under the patronage of Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Adviser to the National Security Council and

Vice-Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.