Clean beach 'blue flag' scheme arrives in UAE

To gain a 'blue flag' beaches and marinas must meet strict health and safety criteria.
Clean beach 'blue flag' scheme arrives in UAE
By Joanna Hartley
Tue 10 Feb 2009 08:07 AM

A clean beach scheme is to be launched in the UAE that will use the international ‘blue flag’ system to signify to bathers that their swimming spot is eco-friendly, it was announced on Tuesday.

The Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS-WWF) will be the national coordinator for the Blue Flag Programme across the UAE, which follows its acceptance as an associate member of the Foundation of Environmental Education, according to the WAM news agency.

Blue Flag, which started in 1987, is a voluntary eco-label acknowledged by the UN environment programme and the World Tourism Organisation, which has been awarded to over 3,200 beaches and marinas in 37 countries since it was launched.

To be awarded the blue flag, beaches and marinas must meet strict criteria on public health, safety, environmental education and management, issuing information for the public, decision makers and tourism operators.

It comes to the UAE after on-going concern over the dumping of raw sewage near the Emirate’s coast line.

"The UAE has a beautiful coastline, extending over 1000 km. The Blue Flag programme would support the protection of this asset by presenting a platform of good public governance in the form of a certification in order to improve coastal facilities that are litter-free and boast a high recreational water quality, in addition to adequate beach users' safety services,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director of EWS-WWF.

A pilot phase involving at least one beach and marina will be launched by the EWS-WWF that will become a learning site for the rest of the country.

All beaches and marinas seeking the Blue Flag certification will be subject to assessments and spot-checks from national, regional and international panels, coordinated by the FEE, a Denmark based NGO.

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