A local marine conservation initiative entitled Azraq (Arabic for “Blue”) has today launched exclusively into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) focussing on raising awareness of marine conservation issues within the country.
Registered with the Community Development Authority as a not-for-profit, Azraq has partnered with organisations such as Freedom Pizza and Lush MENA to focus on issues associated with marine debris, while raising awareness of shark conservation and wild dolphins in UAE waters.
With a board of seven UAE residents, two of which are Emiratis, Azraq has already been hard at work, creating a movement to eradicate plastic straws from food outlets in the country in partnership with Freedom Pizza. This movement, with a hashtag of #stopsucking has seen organisations like Jumeriah Group and Gates Hospitality follow in the footsteps of Freedom Pizza, by removing plastic straws from their restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Headed by marine conservationist, Natalie Banks, Azraq has a mission to defend, conserve and protect the marine environment, while forming strategic partnerships to achieve its mission.
Ms Banks is thrilled to officially launch Azraq and stated that it was fitting to launch the initiative in the Year of Zayed, whereby respect and credence can be given to the founding father of the Emirates who instilled across the nation the values of tolerance, environmentalism, leadership and charity.
“We are fortunate to celebrate our launch in the Year of Zayed, and hope that Azraq will be embraced by government and non-government entities, as well as the community for the good of the United Arab Emirates and its marine environment,” Ms Banks said.
“We have an amazing team with an enormous amount of passion for marine conservation and expertise in global marine issues, and we are really looking forward to sharing the local knowledge we have gathered and showing how everyone can take steps to defend, conserve and protect UAE waterways as well as the Persian/Arabian Gulf.