Abu Dhabi/Dubai: T-shirts, caps, balloons, bottle carriers, all blue in colour with the UAE 2009 diabetes logo, filled the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday as thousands of people took part in the five kilometre walkathon to show their eagerness in preventing the UAE’s most widespread disease.

An interactive drumming session lead the walk at 3pm, as thousands of  children, teenagers, couples, families, mothers pushing prams and corporate executives held their blue balloons and signs with 'fight diabetes' while building up their tempo across the runway.

The Walk UAE 2009 — the nation's annual diabetes walkathon — marks World Diabetes Day. More than 10,000 took part this year.

A brisk walk of 30 minutes a day is proven to help combat the onset of diabetes, and is of great benefit to those already with the condition.

"There is a simple, smart solution to preventing and helping to manage diabetes and that is to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Regular exercise can lower the risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent," said Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, Medial and Research Director and Consultant Endocrinologist, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.

Meanwhile in Dubai, Pedestrians thronged Jumeirah Road yesterday morning clutching symbolic blue buckets to raise money and awareness on people around the world that have no or little access to clean water.

To commemorate the United Nations' Universal Children's day, Dubai Cares organised a 3km Water Bucket Walk for all members of the community to join and donate just Dh30 in support of children globally who do not have access to clean drinking water in schools.

According to the charity, on average children in developing countries walk more than 6km every day to collect water that is likely to make them sick. The lengthy time spent daily to collect water prevents many children from attending school.

Police band

The Dubai Police marching band got everybody going and walkers were encouraged with celebratory honks from nearby cars.

Mira Parales, 29, from the Philippines said her home country also suffers water shortages and she is aware of the hardships some people have to live with.

"It is a huge burden for those children and we have to teach our children to use water more conservatively. It is not appropriate for people to use a hose to wash their car, there is a water problem here also," she said.

Amna Al Raisy, 19, an Emirati student, said she was glad to be out pounding the tarmac for the cause. "I think local people are not known for doing these things but we waste water ourselves. You have to really appreciate what you have."

Zahra Abdullah, 27, Emirati, said it was a great way to get everybody together to learn about water shortages in the world.

Some companies used the event for team building as well. Kimberley Burns, 25, a Briton working for the Jumeirah Group, gathered 15 colleagues and friends to come and take part.
"We do live in a desert and you have to take it into consideration. It is important to turn off taps and use water wisely," she said.