Al Ain and Al Gharbia targeted for community walks ahead of Yas walkathon

Six community walks a week for the next eight weeks will lead up to November’s Yas Island walkathon.

Imperial College London Diabetes Centre’s Walk 2014 at Yas Marina Circuit. Irene García León for The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // The communities of Al Ain and Al Gharbia are being targeted for a series of walks to raise health awareness and battle diabetes.

Six community walks a week for the next eight weeks will lead up to November’s Yas Island walkathon. The first two walks in Al Ain this weekend attracted 40 participants and organisers hope to see that number grow over coming weeks.

Mazen Al Dahmani, the head of the Abu Dhabi branch of Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, one of the event’s partners, said: “We want to reach the other regions that are not so tapped into usually for such events. As communities, they haven’t been attended to.”

The main walk, with distances of 3.5km and 5.5km, first started with 5,000 participants in 2011 and last year hit 20,000, becoming the biggest event at Yas Marina Circuit outside the Formula One Grand Prix.

Last year, staff on site collected data from 4,000 participants and this year organisers hope to increase that database to pass on to health authorities. Nick McElwee, sales and marketing director at Yas, said: “We want to be experts in activity data.”

In the UAE, children and adults do less than 30 per cent of the recommended activity, which is walking 30 minutes, five times a week. This is enough to reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes by 38 per cent, according to Dr Maha Barakat, director general of Health Authority Abu Dhabi. About 20 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s population is diabetic and another 20 per cent pre-diabetic.

Dr Barakat said the authority was working with Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Ministry of Health to increase awareness and participation in exercise and eating healthily.

Tareq Al Ameri, Yas Marina Circuit’s chief executive, said initiatives on Yas Island hoped to help change the mindset of the community, encouraging a lifelong lifestyle change. “We would like to help change the statistics and become a healthier city,” he said.

Visit for more information.