Dubai: In a display of commitment to a greener future, some UAE residents are reimagining Christmas celebrations with a sustainable twist close on the heels of the country hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the Year of Sustainability.
Riding the wave of eco-consciousness, creative residents are weaving sustainability seamlessly into the fabric of their festive traditions. From eco-friendly cribs to camel-themed Santas, these UAE residents are proving that ‘tis the season to be not only jolly but also environmentally responsible.
For the Cardin family from India, making the crib (the recreation of the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger in Bethlehem as per the Bible) is a family tradition.
The work begins months in advance, as they gather materials required for the construction. This year, their endeavour resulted in their most expansive crib yet.
The family began constructing the crib by the end of November, with big cardboard pieces used for stability, along with a huge quantity of gypsum, which is also called POP (plaster of Paris), according to Owin Cardin and wife Ruby Cardin who run a general trading company in Dubai.
“We used it for a base to paint, using materials of cloth and newspaper,” said Ruby. “On drying, we got a base with a white colour to it.”
With the deft touch of spray paint, the parents along with their two daughters, Ofira and Kiara, brought the structure to life, blending hues of brown, grey, and white.
“My youngest has a sharp hand with clay. She used pottery clay to sculpt humans and other figurines. We used nut shells for making date palm trees and containers of spices and grains in the market place,” said Ruby. They mostly used handmade items only, except for the big Christmas tree and smaller trees which they bought.
The family also aimed to showcase the essence of modern Christmas. The remaining POP was transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with snow-covered landscapes, Christmas trees, sleighs, and, of course, Santa Claus.
“We built many structures using foams, and made a beautiful crib overall,” said Ruby.
The entire process spanned two to three weeks, culminating in an artwork capturing the timeless spirit of Christmas in a sustainable way.
Sustainable Santa Camels
Another resident who spreads the cheer of a green Christmas is Afiya Vasim. A structural engineer-turned-artist, she crafts eco-friendly Santa Camel souvenirs to promote the message of a sustainable Christmas.
These miniature Santa Camel figurines, crafted intricately from sustainable paper mâché, blend artistry with environmental consciousness. Each one is a vibrant, Christmas-themed artwork—adorned with Santa hats, shoes, garlands, and miniature presents.
“I am so happy and proud that these camels have become a bridge, connecting cultures, creating memories, and spreading joy. These camels are more than just gifts. They are a celebration of the UAE’s spirit, a testament to sustainability, and a tribute to the universal joy of Christmas,” said Afiya.