The Marriott International Associates staff came from more than 30 hotels from across the seven emirates to plant the native trees in Al Wadi Nature Reserve in RAK and to offer their help in a desert clean-up at the start of the Give a Ghaf and Heritage Forest Pilot Project campaigns.
Two hundred and fifty Ghaf trees were each planted by a different hotel employee in a nature reserve to mark World Planting Day and International Day of Forests.
“This is the first time we have done this. We invited all our sister hotels from all the UAE to participate in cleaning the desert and planting Ghaf trees,” said Amit Arora, general manager of Al Wadi Desert. “The 160 ladies and gentlemen plus 90 staff from Al Wadi planted 250 Ghaf trees. We already have 751, so the total now is 1,001 trees.”
The Give a Ghaf programme, which is about planting seeds in a nursery, was started by Goumbook in 2011 to raise awareness of the UAE national tree, which provides food, medicine and shelter for both animals and humans, said Tatiana Antonelli, the UAE sustainability proponent’s founder and managing director.
“For six years, we have planted over 35,000 seeds in our nursery in Dubai. When they grow, we give these small trees back to the community to plant them in parks, land fields and nature reserves and we have a partnership with Al Wadi where we plant them,” she said.
Heritage Forest Pilot Project, which will plant 4,000 ghafs by 2020 after they’ve grown in the nursery, aims to educate people on how they can live sustainably by planting a tree, Ms Antonelli said.
Cedric Klein, 37, a French director of operations at the Ritz-Carlton in JBR, Dubai, said the desert clean-up and tree-planting was a good deed for staff to undertake.
“I woke up today at 5.30am to be here on time because I was excited about doing something positive, helpful and meaningful for others,” he said.
Wael Farouk, 55, from Egypt, travelled from Dubai to RAK to help make an impact on the environment by planting a tree.
“We are responsible for making a difference for us, our children and the coming generations. It might be a simple task but it has a great impact,” the director of rooms operations and engineering at Marriott Al Jaddaf said.
Gusts of Al Wadi Desert also have the chance to plant their own Ghaf tree in the Heritage Forest when they visit the resort.