More than 2,000 ghaf trees will be planted in Abu Dhabi to form Sheikh Zayed’s fingerprint.
The environmental and heritage initiative was announced by Maitha Bint Ahmed Al Nahyan Foundation for Community and Cultural Initiatives on Wednesday to mark the UAE’s 49th National Day.
The 2,082 trees, which are native to the Emirates, will be planted on 36,000 square metres of land near Al Dhafra Camel Festival site, south-west of Abu Dhabi city.
Sheikha Maitha bint Ahmed, the foundation’s chairwoman, said she chose to commemorate the UAE Founding Father in this way because of his passion for the environment.
Sheikh Zayed launched large programmes of tree planting in the 1970s and had hoped to turn the desert green to provide shade, and improve the appearance of the villages and make them more habitable.
The ghaf was chosen because it is the national tree of the UAE. It can live for 120 years, on average, and has historic and cultural significance to the Emirates.
Ghaf leaves and pods provided food and its nutritious branches were used to feed livestock. It is also said to have medicinal properties and the Bedouins would use ghaf trees for navigation.
The trees are particularly environmentally friendly because they are able to survive on very little water and help sustain other plant and animal life.
Sheikha Maitha called on all public and private institutions to take part by each planting a single tree.
The shape of the plantation was designed by Al Reef Design Company to symbolise Sheikh Zayed’s positive mark on the country.
Once complete, the site will be open to visitors from around the world.