Prince William in the UAE: five highlights of his trip

The Duke of Cambridge captivated the public during first official visit to the Emirates

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Prince William made his first official trip to the Emirates on Thursday.

The royal had a packed schedule, meeting with schoolchildren, hearing about Abu Dhabi's mangrove project and touring Expo 2020 Dubai with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Here are five highlights of his trip.

Meeting pupils

Prince William plants trees with two schoolchildren as he visits Abu Dhabi's wetlands at the Jubail Mangrove Park. EPA / Emirates News Agency

The Duke of Cambridge’s first engagement was at Abu Dhabi’s Jubail Mangrove Park.

He planted mangrove saplings with green-fingered school pupils from The British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi, which has strong links to the UK and the British Embassy.

Crouching down, the Duke of Cambridge was shown by Amaan Haider, 13, and Lilly-Rose Mayall, 12, how to plant a mangrove sapling.

“He’s doing a lot of good trying to help the younger generation protect the environment as much as we can,” said Amaan.

“He’s really inspirational and I’m really excited to meet him," said Lilly-Rose.

“He knows so much about the environment and he also helps a lot, which is really amazing.”

Learning about Abu Dhabi’s major mangrove project

Prince William speaks with Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office and member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, as he visits Jubail Mangrove Park. Reuters

The prince heard about Abu Dhabi’s ambitious plans to establish the emirate as a global hub for research and innovation in support of the conservation of mangroves, during a walk with Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office.

Plans include a mangrove nursery, which will act as a research and learning centre.

The Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative will be implemented by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and has already secured its first partnership with the Zoological Society of London, a charity of which Queen Elizabeth II is a patron.

The society will field test different approaches with the aim of bolstering mangroves for future generations.

The programme will also develop outreach, training and advocacy for mangrove restoration, both locally and internationally, to address the climate crisis and safeguard biodiversity.

Hearing how customs tackle illegal wildlife trade

The Duke of Cambridge, second left, visits Jebel Ali Port to learn more about efforts in the region to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Henry Nicholls / PA

Prince William retraced Queen Elizabeth's visit to Jebel Ali Port, 43 years after she opened it during a landmark trip to the Middle East.

The port has since become the busiest in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world, where 10 per cent of all global container traffic passes through.

Prince William saw how customs officers tackle the illegal trade in wildlife, watching as a container was taken off the stacks to be X-rayed.

It was then taken for a further check, with papers examined before the hold was searched for contraband.

The Duke of Cambridge watched as eagle-eyed officers discovered trafficked tusks hidden in the container.

The two princes

The Duke of Cambridge with Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, during his visit to the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Chris Jackson / PA

Prince William was shown around Expo 2020 Dubai by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.

They visited the UAE pavilion, located at the heart of the world’s fair, accompanied by Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and commissioner general.

The Duke of Cambridge also learned about Emirati culture and heritage.

Launching the Earthshot prize, a global competition seeking innovative ideas about how to repair our planet and its environment, he said: “Visiting the incredible pavilions at Expo 2020, I was struck by the optimistic message Dubai is sending to its millions of international visitors – that when the world comes together, we can create a better tomorrow.

“It is a vision that is shared by the UK too, as demonstrated by our two countries’ strong and enduring links.”

His visit coincided with UK 'national day' celebrations.

Wowing the crowds at Expo

The Duke of Cambridge greets people as he visited the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Karim Sahib / AFP

Prince William was greeted with chants of “William, William, William” by people waving Union Jack flags as he left the UK pavilion.

He took the time to meet and greet them; many had waited for hours to see him.

“It is exciting to know he is right here,” said one.

“I’m from South Africa, so growing up it was part of the Commonwealth. I will be in awe to see him and will be sending a picture, hopefully, to my mother soon.”

Updated: February 11, 2022, 9:31 AM