Dubai: Residents of Dubai, who ditched their cars for public transport on the 8th Car Free Day on Sunday, indirectly contributed to an estimated fund of Dh500,000 for charity and tree plantation.
Dubai Municipality will use this amount for giving back to the community and the nature by linking its green drive to the UAE government’s ongoing Year of Giving initiative. While the total donation will be officially announced later, a senior official said this amount has been calculated on the guesstimated figure of 50,000 participants in the campaign.
Tens of thousands of cars were off the roads in Dubai as employees of about 2,500 registered entities, including 200 major government departments and private firms, took part in the annual campaign that urged residents not to drive for a day and reduce the pollution caused by motor vehicles.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, led a team of top officials in riding the Dubai Metro from Etisalat station to Union Station to start the day’s activities.
Since the participating organisations have a total strength of almost 250,000 employees, the municipality estimated at least 20 per cent of them [50,000] to have participated in the campaign, said Mohammad Mubarak Al Mutaiwei, assistant director for communication and community at Dubai Municipality.
Based on this figure, Dh500,000 [Dh10 per participant/ vehicle off the roads] will be donated to charities and used for tree plantations. “It is going to be more than Dh500,000 for sure. That amount will be used for planting trees and for charity as the director general said,” Al Mutaiwei told Gulf News.
The officials joined hundreds of municipality employees and residents at a huge exhibition area set up at the Union Metro Park for celebrating the day.
Lootah told Gulf News that Dubai Municipality launched the car free day initiative to tell people about the importance of using public transport instead of cars. “We have a high quality public transport [system] and we feel with the cooperation of all we can help reducing the carbon emission,” Lootah added.
He said the initiative held under the theme “Not a day … but every day,” had helped changing the attitude of people in reducing the pollution caused by motor vehicles. He said increasing number of people taking part in the campaign each year compared to 1,000 in the first edition in 2010, shows that our message is going through.
Several residents including Emiratis took public transport to work. While many rode the Metro, some boarded buses and others opted for carpooling and cycling to participate in the biggest environmental awareness drive of the civic body.
Emirati employees of Dubai Municipality said they are now more open to the idea of using public transport.
Waad Ali, a lab technician at the municipality clinic, said she started using Metro after joining work last year. “I live in Ajman. I drive to Rashidiya and take the Metro to come here. I think it is better because I walk more and breathe in fresh air, which is good for my health. And I also avoid traffic.”
She said most of the Emiratis earlier used to avoid using Metro since they were not comfortable sitting with strangers. “But over the years, many of them, especially men, have changed their attitude.”
Hamad Al Falamarzi, working at the marketing department of the municipality said he started riding the Metro to work some months ago because of the traffic and difficulty in getting parking. “I live in Barsha. My wife drops me to MoE Metro Station and comes back to pick me from there in the afternoon.”
Jawaher Ahmed Lootah, a nature conservation officer, said six months back her colleagues and she started carpooling when they go to workshops and site visits.
Cycling from Sharjah to Dubai
Dubai: Don’t burn fuel, burn calories. This was one of the slogans propagated during the Dubai Municipality’s Car Free Day campaign. And that is what exactly Lebanese expatriate Mohammad Al Labban did. He cycled all the way from his home on King Faisal Street in Sharjah to the Union Metro Station where the event was celebrated and later headed to his office in Academic City.
An employee of Dubai Statistics Centre, Al Labban said it was the third time he took part in the initiative.
“First time I walked from Sharjah till here. It took about five hours. I started at 2:30am and reached here by 7:15am. Last year, I biked till here. This year, I am biking to my office as well … If there are specific tracks for cycling and if the weather is good like this, I would do it every day. It takes more effort, but it is better for health,” said Al Labban, who reduced 35kg of his weight from 140kg in last two years.