Abu Dhabi, UAE – : H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, has witnessed in the Al Rumailah Palace today the signing of an agreement between Etihad Rail, Emirates Nature-WWF, Fujairah Environment Authority and Fujairah Adventures, to implement an environmental conservation and habitat rehabilitation project in Al Bithnah, Fujairah.
The project covers three main pillars including local community support and development, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, and the preservation of the UAE’s natural heritage.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, stressed the importance of preserving biological ecosystems and safeguarding the natural heritage of the UAE, through collaboration between the government, private sectors and local communities, in addition to the implementation of local and national environmental protection legislation.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi said that the Emirate of Fujairah, under the wise directions of Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah, supports ecotourism activities and launches national initiatives that ensure the sustainability of natural resources and raise awareness of environmental topics within the local community.
His Highness applauded Etihad Rail’s commitment and wider corporate philosophy of being a ‘Good Neighbour’ to local communities through which the UAE’s National Rail network passes. Etihad Rail is working to ensure that rail construction activities do not affect residents’ quality of life but rather enhance it by opening up new opportunities. These are in addition to the job opportunities created by the new vital rail sector and ecotourism opportunities that will follow the development of the UAE’s National Rail network.
The agreement was signed by Mohamed Almarzooqi, Executive Director of Rail Relations at Etihad Rail; Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General at Emirates Nature-WWF; H.E. Eng. Ali Qasim, Steering Committee Member of the Fujairah Environment Authority; and Mr. Saeed Al Memari, General Manager at Fujairah Adventures. Following the signing, which took place at the Fujairah Crown Prince’s Court, participants and attendees visited Al Bithnah Fort in Fujairah.
The signing ceremony was attended by H.E. Falah Mohammad Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport and board member of Etihad Rail; H.E. Mohammed Saeed Al Dhanhani, Director of the Emiri Court of Fujairah and board member of Etihad Rail; Salem Al Zahmi, Director of Fujairah Crown Prince’s Office; H.E. Eng. Mohamed Saif Al Afkham, Director-General of Fujairah Municipality; and H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of Emirates Nature- WWF.
Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General at Emirates Nature-WWF, said: “Today I am pleased to sign this partnership with Etihad Rail, the Fujairah Environment Authority, and Fujairah Adventures. Through this project our aim is to protect, restore and sustainably manage ecosystems to meet biodiversity and societal goals. Generating crucial societal benefits lies at the heart of this initiative, and highlights again that healthy, diverse and functional natural systems are the necessary foundation for social and economic progression in the UAE.”
The joint environmental conservation and habitat rehabilitation project will commence with a series of community Majalis to consult with residents of the Al Bithnah community on their locality and the area’s history, as well as discussing potential ecotourism projects. Subsequently, teams will work to restore the ancestral Falaj irrigation system, alongside improving efficiency of current water channels with pipe infrastructure.
Later this year, the project partners will work on the development of a new nature and heritage trail in Al Bithnah, in collaboration with local tourism and government authorities in Fujairah, promoting the region as a destination for ecotourism. Furthermore, a comprehensive biodiversity study of the region will be conducted to determine water quality, identify environmentally significant habitats, alongside seeking to enable preservation of local biodiversity. This will be accompanied by a socio-economic survey to identify areas which can further empower the local community and foster sustainable economic growth.