Join the big UAE clean-up

Add some much-needed polish to our nation’s neglected beauty spots

Area Guides
Area Guides

Once the construction dust settles and everyone moves in, you’re invariably left with an awful lot of rubbish to deal with. As a nation constantly caught in the world’s scrutineering gaze, sweeping it under the metaphorical carpet simply isn’t an option for the UAE. Thankfully, help is at hand to claw back some eco-awareness in our beloved boom town.

Launched in 2002, December 12 sees the return of Emirates Environmental Group’s Clean Up UAE campaign – an annual drive that aims to tidy up the country’s most polluted areas. Straightforward in nature, the campaign involves recruiting an army of eco-minded do-gooders, tooling them up with rubber gloves, black bags and pointy sticks and sending them out to cleanse our partied-out towns.

As Habiba Al Marashi, coordinator of the initiative explains, each and every one of us owes it to our city to get involved. ‘The main reason for the trash, without a doubt, is the huge level of waste production in the UAE, which is one of the highest in the world. Consumption of goods in this country is higher than it’s ever been, and ‘use and throw’ seems to be the policy. This situation affects us all, health-wise and resource-wise. It’s a vicious cycle, which must be dealt with immediately.’

Although it’s a nationwide campaign, Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s rapidly swelling populations are undoubtedly in need of the most attention. The public beach on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche will be the main focus of volunteers’ efforts in the capital, while in Dubai the Investment Park is top priority for a spit-shine. However, those fearing a back-breaking day of physical labour can heave a mighty sigh of relief – EEG have set a target of 20,000 volunteers for this year’s clean-up (having enlisted an impressive 18,000 last year) and, with many hands making light work, you’ll only need to contribute a couple of hours of your free time to make a tangible difference.

‘On-site registration starts at around 8.30am, then there’s a short opening ceremony, where EEG’s government partners and spokespeople from the sponsoring companies will say a few words about the campaign,’ an EEG spokesperson explains. ‘Then it’s the clean-up itself, which wraps up at around noon, when we weigh up all the trash.’ And with 86 tonnes of waste collected last year across the UAE, that’s a big change in return for very little personal effort.

But what becomes of those big bags of diligently collected junk? Surely they’re not just tossed into a landfill and left to rot? Certainly not. ‘All waste collected during the Clean Up UAE campaign will be recycled,’ explains Habiba. ‘It’s collected by the relevant government bodies, who send it to the recycling facilities in each of the emirates.’ And with domestic recycling yet to become the norm in the UAE, that’s an extra reason for your inner eco-warrior to feel pleasingly smug.

So, getting involved is a no-brainer. But how? Your easiest option is to visit the EEG’s website – – where there’s separate registration forms for individuals, schools and businesses. Those opposed to the new-fangled ways of the 21st century can register their interest by calling 04 344 8622. Go forth, selfless souls – your nation needs you.

Clean Up UAE takes places across all seven emirates on December 12. Get involved by visiting

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