“Discover Kerala” initiative for UAE nationals

DUBAI: A Malayalee association is organising a unique initiative to lead a delegation from UAE to Kerala for exploring the art, culture and traditions of the south Indian state.

The initiative “Discover Kerala”, which has been taken up by the World Malayalee Council (WMC) in association with Kerala Tourism Ministry, will enable a group of 20 UAE nationals to visit “God’s own country” by the year-end.

“Through the first-of-its-kind initiative, WMC aims to familiarise the chosen delegates, including government officials and prominent community members, with Kerala’s tourism potentials, especially backwater tourism and eco-tourism, and the art forms, culture and traditions of the state,” WMC publicity and media convener Sajan Veloor said.

“We are also trying to let them understand the potentials of Ayurvedic treatment methods,” Veloor said, adding, this will be the first time that a group of Emiratis are visiting Kerala on an official trip.

“Officials of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing have already expressed their interest in such an initiative. On the other hand, we have secured the support from the Kerala Tourism Ministry. Our members from the business community are sponsoring the Emirati delegation, by bearing all expenses for their travel and stay,” he said.

The initiative has been announced as part of the 17th anniversary celebrations of WMC which were held in Dubai on Friday. The association has also decided to sponsor the education of 1,000 students from villages in Kerala for a year and would also support an awareness campaign against pollution of rivers in the state.

From TOI

Seven Asian countries discuss water cooperation in UAE

Abu Dhabi, Oct 23 (IANS) Officals of seven South Asian countries met here Oct 22-23 to promote water cooperation on the rivers of greater Himalayan region, WAM news agency reported.

Government officials, politicians and water experts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan participated in the conference.

The theme of the meeting was “First International Conference on Southern Asia Water Cooperation”.

“Around 40 percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of the farm land depend on more than 245 rivers (in the region). Despite this fact, there are no international agreements that govern the use of these resources,” Mohammed Al Bowardi, managing director of Abu Dhabi environment agency (EAD) said at the conference Thursday.

“This drives us to be even more careful with he management and distribution of these important resources to avoid conflict among countries with shared borders,” he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to invite all participants in this dialogue to develop the necessary frameworks to contribute to global efforts to protect our natural resources and to mitigate the effects of climate change, because of their significant environmental, economic and political impact,” he added.

From SindhToday

Environment and Water Ministry seeks to make UAE plastic bags free

WAM Dubai, Sep 12th, 2009 (WAM)–The Ministry of Environment and Water is launching a campaign to make the UAE free from the plastic bags through awareness campaign that targets students and public to enlighten them about the health hazards caused by these bags.

Dr Mariam Al Shanasi, executive director of the technical affairs at the ministry, said the ministry seeks through the campaign under theme “UAE free from plastic bags” to enlighten public about the environmental risks caused by use of the plastic bags.

From WAM

UNICEF – Bangladesh Camel Jokeys in UAE

Cash aid for Bangladesh jockeys

Hundreds of Bangladeshi boys who worked as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates have begun receiving compensation from the Gulf state.

Many of the boys, who were trafficked and lived on camel farms for years with no contact with their parents, broke limbs falling from the camels.

The boys, who were as young as three, say they were starved by the camel owners to keep their weight down.

The Gulf state outlawed the use of child jockeys in 2002.

The UAE banned child camel jockeys in 2002

The UAE banned child camel jockeys in 2002

Then the UAE government agreed with the UN Children agency, Unicef, to co-operate on the “repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration” of children involved in the sport.

Some 900 boys, many of whom are now young men, are due to receive compensation, ranging between $1,000 and $10,000 each.

“No amount of money would be enough to erase those memories” – Munna, former camel jockey

The boys were prized as jockeys by the camel owners and race organisers because they were so small and because it was relatively easy and cheap get hold of them.

Munna, who is now in his 20s, and his two brothers who were also camel jockeys, have just received compensation from the UAE government of about $5,000.

He says he fell from a camel, which then trod on his arm and broke it – he says it still hurts and he cannot do any heavy work.

“I suffered a lot there. It was a terrible place. No amount of money would be enough to erase those memories. But at least with this, I can start a little business. [The compensation] is good, but nothing would be enough,” he said.

Another jockey, Salman, said life on the “camel farms” in the UAE was hard.

“The camels used to kick us. When we rode the camels the owners would tie our legs to the saddles. But I would still fall off and get injured. Each time I fell off they put me back on the camel, then I fell off again, then they put me back on,” he said.

“My life was really hard. I thought I would never learn to ride – but when I didn’t want to get back on, the foreman used to beat me.”

Salman said the organisers would give the boys tablets to run the races.

“Every week they used to give us tablets and every three months also they would inject us. They did this so we lost weight,” he said.

Most say they were tricked into going to the Gulf state to work as camel jockeys.

“We had no idea that’s what we were going to do when we went to Dubai,” says Munna.

The use of children under 15 as camel jockeys was banned in the UAE in 2002. They were later replaced by robots.


EWS-WWF and Abu Dhabi Water and Electric Authority unite to distribute energy-saving light bulbs

United Arab Emirates: Up to 40,000 energy-saving light bulbs are being handed out in Abu Dhabi as part of a new outreach initiative by ?Heroes of the UAE?, the inspirational campaign developed to tackle the UAE?s ecological footprint, climate change and rising energy demand.