Dubai school inspired by ghaf tree won in competition held by 'The National'

Pupils will chart growth of prize that came from plantable edition of the newspaper

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A Dubai school is charting the growth of a ghaf tree it planted after being named one of the winners of a competition held by The National to mark the UAE's Golden Jubilee.

The Winchester School secured one of 50 plantable newspapers given away as part of the country's milestone National Day celebrations last year.

The school has given the plant pride of place as it monitors its growth.

The unique prize was made out of biodegradable materials, vegetable oil and ghaf tree seeds.

It already has grown to 50cm with pupils and staff adopting it as a symbol of hope and positivity.

“We were so excited about winning one of the 50 prizes that we thought it only right we plant it somewhere special,” said Year 10 pupil Mishal Faraz, who is pupils' head of well-being.

“It is perfect for our school because the ghaf tree symbolises resilience, hope, growth, happiness and positivity.”

The school held a ceremony in March, when the ghaf seeds were placed in a pot, where it will remain until September, when the weather cools down and it can be planted in the ground.

“It’s going into the school garden and will be an intrinsic part of school life for decades to come,” said Ms Faraz.

The competition ran on The National’s Instagram page, inviting people to explain how the UAE had helped them to realise their own dreams.

“We decided the name of the ghaf tree would be Amal — which means hope in Arabic,” said Year 7 pupil Mir Faraz, the school’s community co-ordinator.

“We are also having a competition for students to help design a mascot for the ghaf tree.”

The ghaf tree will not merely be there for decoration, it will also help students to connect with nature.

“The children are going to the ghaf tree every day and talking to it, that’s something we are encouraging,” said the school's head teacher Meenakshi Dahiya.

“The students are really engaged with it and have been charting its progress across our social media channels.”

She said the project has offered valuable life lessons for students at the school.

“The ghaf tree symbolises so much about what the UAE stands for so it was great to see the whole school community get behind this project,” she said.

“We’re looking forward to watching it grow taller and taller — and it shows you can grow stronger despite whatever severity comes.

“It symbolises what we have been through in recent years and how we can survive with a positive energy in life.”

Updated: June 23, 2022, 10:51 AM