Having passed a spectacular 48th National Day in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with plenty of fireworks and fanfare, I began to think about this year in passing. 2019 is officially the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, a reminder to all of us that we should be tolerant on all fronts: religious, racial, communal, political, etc. The ghaf tree was also chosen as the symbol of the Year of Tolerance due to its long rich history and its stability in the desert.
On Thursday November 28, Delta Partners organized an event in Dubai as part of its continuous commitment to corporate social responsibility. The event took place at International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and Emirates Soil Museum to learn about climate change and environmental challenges in the arid and summery UAE. We were blessed with the opportunity to learn and observe ghaf trees, standing strong amidst wind, sand and water scarcity.
At the soil museum, we were introduced to the soil types present in the UAE. Soil is mainly comprised of clay, silt and sand, and in the UAE, it is predominantly sand. Sand loses water extremely easily, and thus suffers from low nutrients. Due to a general lack of water in desert regions and the low water absorption of sand, plants have adapted to have longer roots and smaller leaves, and also become more accepting of saline water. It is something respectable to study from – the tolerance of uncomfortable conditions, and the perpetual will to adapt and prosper no matter what is thrown at us.
We were able to see some of the experiments that ICBA has been conducting for over 20 years, especially the ones with saline water. Being able to cultivate and find plants that can survive under saline water while being able to produce is one of the main objectives for ICBA. We also saw many ghaf trees, which are able to survive on only one litre of water per day while living up to 120 years. Tolerance and sustainability of this level is extremely admirable and serves as a reminder to all of us to co-exist and open up to other human cultures.
In the final step of this journey, we planted trees suitable for the UAE environment as a gesture towards future carbon offsetting.
Disconnecting from work for a few hours to understand the environmental challenges faced in the UAE and getting exposed to ICBA's work left all of us more tolerant and aware of our surroundings. It was an extremely interactive session and I am glad to have participated in this event. As this year winds down, it is important to carry forward the momentum and learnings of this year and head towards 2020 with a fresh outlook and healthy mindset.
Thank you ICBA for this very educative experience!
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