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UAE committed to protecting mangroves, enhancing their natural habitats

ABU DHABI, 23rd September, 2023 (WAM) — The UAE is leading a global initiative to protect and enhance mangrove habitats, which stems from its commitment to addressing climate change and safeguarding vital coastal ecosystems worldwide.

A study by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that the area globally covered by mangrove trees declined by 14.8 million hectares between 2000 and 2020 due to factors such as aquaculture expansion, natural retraction, oil palm cultivation, rice farming, and direct human encroachment.

The study highlighted the environmental significance of mangrove trees, which are crucial in protecting coastal communities from natural hazards, such as storms, soil erosion, and tsunamis. Their importance has increased with the growing intensity of extreme weather events and rising sea levels, as they can mitigate the damage caused by waves, severe storms, and soil erosion.

The UAE’s efforts to protect mangroves and restore its prominent role in enhancing global environmental sustainability are vital in the face of this reality. International institutions and organisations that work to address the consequences of climate change have applauded and acknowledged these efforts.

The UAE will host a high-level ministerial meeting on mangrove trees during COP28, bringing together mangrove-hosting governments, partners, civil society organisations, foundations, financial institutions, and scientists. The goal is to expand the scope of mangrove trees, accelerate their reintegration into nature, and preserve their unique ecosystems.

During Climate Week NYC, the UAE announced its support for the "Mangrove Breakthrough" initiative, which aims to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangrove trees globally by 2030. The world only has 14 million hectares of mangroves left, half of their original level.

In November 2022, the UAE launched the global "Mangrove Alliance for Climate," in partnership with Indonesia, which aims to support, enhance, and expand mangrove forests globally as a nature-based solution to climate change and as part of the international efforts to absorb and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The alliance has attracted nearly 20 partners to expand its scope and accelerate the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems to benefit communities worldwide.

The Mangrove Alliance for Climate is a group of entities that share a common vision: to use nature to solve climate change by protecting and planting mangrove trees. Mangroves are valuable ecosystems that can store carbon, reduce coastal erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife.

The alliance’s members aim to highlight their joint commitment to nature-based climate solutions by conserving and restoring mangrove forests; promoting the role of mangroves in climate mitigation and adaptation through innovation and scientific research; ensuring the international protection of mangrove ecosystems by conducting scientific and social and economic studies; encouraging charitable initiatives in society and the private sector to support blue carbon solutions and mangrove tree planting efforts; and strengthening the global efforts to realise the international climate action agenda.

The UAE aims to enhance its nature-based solutions to environmental challenges by increasing its mangrove forest area and has raised its goal of planting a certain number of mangrove trees from 30 million, as stated in the second national contributions report under the Paris Agreement, to 100 million trees by 2030.

Mangrove forests play a key role in protecting the UAE's coastlines from rising sea levels and severe storms, providing habitats for biodiversity, and acting as natural carbon sinks. The UAE is home to 60 million mangrove trees, covering an area of 183 square kilometres and capturing 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. With the addition of 100 million mangrove trees, the total forest area will reach 483 square kilometres, capturing nearly 115,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

In February 2022, the UAE announced the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative, an ambitious plan to establish the emirate as a global hub for mangrove conservation research and innovation. The initiative focuses on the role of mangrove trees in carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is implementing the initiative with local, regional and international partners. During the first phase of the mangrove tree planting project, the EAD successfully planted one million mangrove tree seeds using innovative drones, a pioneering achievement in the region.

As part of the UAE’s Year of Sustainability in 2023 and the 51st National Day celebrations that took place on 2nd December, 2022, the 51st National Day Organising Committee launched the “Today for Tomorrow: National Day Mangrove Project,” which aims to support the UAE’s pledge to plant 100 million mangrove trees by 2030.

The UAE has a deep cultural and historical connection to mangroves. The country’s passion for these forests goes back to the 1970s when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan launched the first projects to restore and enhance mangroves.

Some of the UAE’s most significant natural habitats for mangrove trees are the reserves of Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, the Mangrove and Alhafeya Protected Area in Sharjah, Al Zorah Nature Reserve in Ajman, and Eastern Mangrove National Park, Marawah Biosphere Reserve and Abu Al Sayayif Marine Protected Area in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi has a wealth of mangrove forests along its coast, covering some 70 square kilometres of the emirate’s land. The Mangrove National Park in Abu Dhabi is one of the most densely populated mangrove areas, with more than 19 square kilometres of forests.

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Hamriyah and Deira ports record AED 12.133b in customs declaration value for first nine months of 2023

Dubai Customs plays a crucial role as the frontline defense for community security, consistently advancing its customs centers to safeguard and facilitate maritime trade. H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, CEO of
Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, recently visited Creek Customs Center, Deira Port, and Hamriyah Port Customs Center to evaluate progress and oversee ongoing efforts for continuous customs service development. During this visit, several executive directors, department heads, and customs center managers were present.

Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, accompanied by Rashid Al Dhabah Al Suwaidi, Acting Director of Seae Customs Centers Management, conducted inspections at Khor Customs Center, Deira Port, and Hamriyah Port Customs Center. Managers Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al Salman and Majid Salem Al Tawilah provided insights into workflow progress and accomplishments. Over the first nine months of this year, 62,454 customs declarations were processed, totaling AED 12.133 billion, with 19 seizures recorded during the same period. A visit to Hamriyah Port Customs Center showcased an advanced container X-ray inspection device, supporting increased inspection operations.

Subsequently, visits to Khor Customs Center and Deira Port highlighted achievements, including a notable seizure called the “Wheelhouse,” which successfully prevented an attempt to smuggle 243 kilograms of narcotics into the country. Commending customs employees, Ahmed Mahboob Musabih emphasized the pivotal role of maritime customs centers in ensuring community security and facilitating trade. The department collaborates for efficient goods clearance and acknowledges employee efforts
during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to the department’s support for global efforts to revive maritime navigation and international trade.

Musabih clarified that the department’s advanced capabilities in monitoring and inspection enable it to keep pace with the UAE’s rapid foreign trade growth. Supporting Dubai’s economic agenda D33, the department aims to double foreign trade and enhance economic partnerships with key global markets. Efforts to boost customs inspector efficiency continue through training courses, ensuring their ability to thwart smuggling attempts. Continuous development of X-ray scanning
devices and the K9 customs dog unit further enhances contraband control achievements. Rasheed Al-Dabah explained that the forthcoming period will witness the advancement of new initiatives and mechanisms in the realm of inspection and examination. These initiatives are grounded in a forward-looking perspective to introduce cutting-edge technologies utilized in examining maritime transport vessels, wooden ships, and ships engaged in fish trade.

He remarked, “Our endeavors are harmonized to enhance performance in sea customs centers, concurrently focusing on bolstering monitoring, tracking, and technical support activities to yield optimal outcomes through continuous and productive collaboration among all specialized teams within the department. The Customs centers in Deira, Al Khor, and
Hamriyah Port Customs Center shoulder their vital responsibilities in safeguarding society and facilitating maritime trade through Dubai Creek and Hamriyah Port, supporting the ongoing growth of the national economy.”

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Dubai Customs Hosts Sharjah Housing Delegation to Strengthen Government Communication Ties

Dubai Customs, represented by the Corporate Communication Department, warmly welcomed a delegation from the Sharjah Housing Department. The purpose of the visit was to familiarize the delegation with the duties and responsibilities of the
Corporate Communication Department and its affiliated divisions. The delegation also aimed to explore the awards received by the department, notably the recognition as the Best Government Communication Team in the Sharjah Government Communication Award for 2023.

Khalil Saqer bin Gharib, Director of Corporate Communication Department, along with department managers, extended a cordial reception to the Sharjah Housing delegation, which included Dr. Ahmed Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director of Government Communication, Nada Sivan, Head of the Public Relations and Events Department, and Hamad Saleh Al Hamadi, Head of
the New Media Department. Bin Gharib highlighted the department’s commitment to strengthening communication with government entities to exchange practical experiences and knowledge. The delegation was briefed on Dubai Customs exceptional performance in customs operations and other facets.

The meeting delved into discussions on potential avenues for collaboration, with the Sharjah Housing delegation. Emphasis was placed on the crucial role played by Dubai Customs’ Corporate Communication Department, customs administrations, and centers in ensuring security and safeguarding society. The delegation was presented with an overview of the department’s working mechanisms, awareness campaigns, events, and activities conducted internally and externally, aligning with Dubai Customs esteemed reputation.

Furthermore, the Sharjah Housing delegation acquired an understanding of the best media practices adopted by the Corporate Communication Department, showcasing its outstanding performance in enhancing knowledge and media dissemination to all partners. This has resulted in the department establishing and fortifying relationships with local and international media
entities. The presentation also encompassed the factors contributing to the department’s receipt of the award for the Best Government Communication Team in the Sharjah Government Communication Award.

Dr. Ahmed Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director of Government Communication at Sharjah Housing, expressed appreciation for the efforts of Dubai Customs Corporate Communication Department, acknowledging its excellence and significant contribution to enhancing the department’s standing. Dr. Al Nuaimi affirmed Sharjah Housing’s commitment to fostering ongoing visits and meetings with Dubai Customs, aiming to achieve the highest level of coordination and benefit from the Corporate Communication Departmen’s experience in securing numerous local and international awards.

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Zayed Sustainability Prize opens submissions for 2025 cycle

The Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering global sustainability and humanitarian award, has officially announced that the 2025 cycle is now open for submissions.  Submissions will be accepted until 23 June 2024 through the Prize’s online portal. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs), nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and high schools with sustainable solutions are invited to submit an entry for consideration in one of the six categories of Heath, Food, Energy, Water, Climate Action and Global High Schools. Commenting on the launch of the 2025 submissions cycle, H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, and COP28 President, said: “Since 2008, the
Zayed Sustainability Prize has honoured the legacy of Sheikh Zayed by fostering inclusive sustainable and humanitarian development around the world. In this decisive decade for climate change, these values are more important than ever. I am optimistic that the Prize will contribute to global climate action in line with the UAE Consensus, which will pave the
way toward an effective response to the Global Stocktake decision.” In response to the pressing climate crisis, and to further support the UAE’s efforts to accelerate practical solutions needed to drive climate action and uplift vulnerable communities around the world, the Prize has increased its funds from US $3.6 million to US $5.9 million. The Prize will reward US $1 million to each winner in the organisational categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action. Within the Global High Schools category, which is split into six world regions, each school can claim up to US $150,000 to start or further expand their project. The six world regions of the Global High Schools category are The Americas, Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Sub- Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific. The most recent Zayed Sustainability Prize winners were recognised at an Awards Ceremony held during COP28 UAE. To encourage a broader range of organisations and high schools to participate, the Prize will be accepting submissions in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. This will ensure that innovative solutions from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds can be recognised. For the Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action categories, organisations should prove that they are improving access to essential products or services in their targeted communities and are able to implement a long-term vision for better living and working conditions. For the Global High Schools category, projects should be led by students, and must demonstrate innovative approaches to address sustainability challenges. The evaluation of each submission to the Prize consists of a rigorous, three-stage process. First, due diligence is conducted on all submissions to ensure that they meet the Prize’s evaluation criteria of Impact, Innovation, and Inspiration. This identifies the qualified entries and results in the selection of eligible candidates. Following this, evaluations are undertaken by a Selection Committee consisting of category-specific panels of independent international experts. From this shortlist of candidates, the finalists are chosen and then sent to the Prize Jury who unanimously elect the winners across all six categories.   Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be announced at an Awards Ceremony during the 2025 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

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