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Clean-up campaign set to raise awareness

Abu Dhabi: A countrywide desert clean-up campaign held yesterday at the behest of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has given a strong message to the public against littering the deserts.

"The volunteers have cleaned up a small part of the desert today but the relevance of the campaign goes beyond this," said Mohammad Al Maskary, 30, an Emirati manager.

The campaign attained wide publicity and attention which will help create awareness against littering in the desert, he said.

He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the clean-up activities as part of the campaign in a desert location at Al Khatem on Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, about 100km away from Abu Dhabi city.

About 500 volunteers, Emiratis and expatriates, attended the campaign at Al Khateb, said Saud Al Hattali of Takatof, which organised the campaign.

Takatof is a voluntary social programme, designed by the Emirates Foundation to create a culture of volunteering throughout the UAE. Most of the volunteers drove from Abu Dhabi city in the afternoon with their family members.

They said they usually spent their Fridays being entertained but participating in the campaign was worth it. "I used to drive to Dubai Mall for any entertainment activities on Friday but I found this more important," Ali Habeeb, 20, an Emirati student at the UAE University said. Adnan Abdul Rahman, 16, an Emirati student said he and his my family members and friends used to visit the deserts in Al Khatem to camp during the winter.

"I am sure people who participated in or heard of this campaign will think twice before throwing their waste into the desert while camping," he said.

The members of Sanid, the national emergency response voluntary organisation which reports to Takatof, made the arrangements for the safety of the volunteers at the site.

"Everything was smooth and people did the clean-up in a disciplined manner," said Dr Humaid Al Kendi, a team leader at Sanid.

Mohammad Tyseer, 50, a Syrian engineer and Mohammad Radwan, 35 an Egyptian accountant who came with their wives and children said they were happy to spend their time and efforts for a good cause. It is something for this country, they said.

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