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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Meet the volunteers keeping Saudi beaches spotless

Initiative is the latest in the kingdom to raise awareness of pollution and reduce waste and carbon emissions

Volunteers take part in a clean-up campaign in Asir, Saudi Arabia. SPA
Volunteers take part in a clean-up campaign in Asir, Saudi Arabia. SPA

Volunteers in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Region Municipality hit the sand on Tuesday to begin a clean-up campaign called Sea without Plastic.

Men and women filled more than 36 black 189-litre rubbish bags with plastic waste picked up from the shores of popular areas such as Al Khobar beachside.

Volunteers take part in a clean-up campaign in Asir, Saudi Arabia. SPA
Volunteers take part in a clean-up campaign in Asir, Saudi Arabia. SPA

Praising the turnout of volunteers, undersecretary for services Ziad Mugharbel said these initiatives aim to increase community engagement and spread awareness about the importance of preserving the environment.

East No Plastic, a local group of volunteers, participated in the clean-up campaign.

“We’re a volunteer team raising awareness about the importance of protecting marine life and the dangers of plastic pollution,” Najla Alzannan, the group’s founder, told The National.

“On Friday, 20 volunteers gathered 25 bags of waste at Aziziyah beach in Khobar,” in an operation sponsored by the municipality, she said.

“We want to be involved in our communities and give back to nature. We clean up along the Red Sea in Jeddah, hoping that people around us will also be more careful of their actions,” said Faris Ahmed, 26, a digital marketeer and part-time volunteer in Jeddah.

“We have girls and boys joining us from a young age with their parents who have volunteered as well – our youngest volunteer is six years old. We want to ensure that our actions will positively influence our families, friends and the local communities.”

In the past few years, people in the kingdom participated in clean-up activities along beaches, roads and built-up areas.

“We have many groups here who come together through social media and word of mouth. We had a clean-up initiative in different neighbourhoods in Asir recently,” Mr Ahmed said.

In 2019, Ahmed Al Rajhi, Minister of Labour and Social Development, stressed the need to raise the institutional and administrative level of non-profit organisations.

Last year, the government allowed volunteer groups and charities to obtain licences to operate more efficiently.

The new law has instilled more confidence in young volunteers who want to make a positive contribution to society, said Lana Taher, 29, an engineer.

“Our clean-ups are regular and organised, we go out once in three months with a group of about 150 people,” she said.

Many such initiatives such as @eastnoplastic on Twitter, use social media to spread awareness about the campaign in the Eastern Region.

Government agencies across the kingdom are taking part in clean-up campaigns to preserve public spaces and boost awareness about environmental conservation and community engagement. Mr Mugharbel said these campaigns reflect community engagement and interaction to serve the environment in their homeland.

The campaigns are meant to encourage communities to come together and spread the culture of volunteer work.

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it aims to generate 50 per cent of its power needs using renewable energy by 2030, with the remainder to be provided by gas.

The kingdom is working to identify the main frameworks to create a sustainable renewable energy sector that will comprise industries, services, the localisation of technology and the development of human resources.

Updated: January 21, 2021 09:01 AM

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