More than two tonnes of plastic and metal waste were collected by 118 professional divers who participated in the “Seabed Cleanup Campaign” organised on Saturday by United Development Company (UDC).

The event, seen as a pivotal component of UDC’s broader sustainability strategy, was hailed as Qatar’s “first-ever largest” seabed clean-up, covering a 30,000sq m-area of the Porto Arabia marina on The Pearl Island.

Speaking to *Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, UDC Public Services executive director Abdullatif Ali al-Yafei emphasised that the campaign is part of UDC’s five-year environmental and sustainability strategy launched in 2022.

He noted that the seabed clean-up initiative is directly linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, emphasising the crucial need for conserving and sustainably utilising the oceans, seas, and marine resources.

“We are targeting the communities of The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, in addition to the wider community in Qatar, to send a clear message of the importance of taking care of the environment,” al-Yafei said. “This event coincides with the celebration of Earth Day 2024, so it is very important that we protect our oceans, as well as maintain and improve the coastal environment around The Pearl Island.”

Khalil Rashid al-Naimi of the General Directorate of Civil Defence also emphasised that the event was an opportune time to raise awareness among residents of The Pearl Island about the value of safety and preparedness.

“Our participation today was to educate the public on various safety precautions and how to respond to emergencies, such as fires, disasters, and other critical cases,” he said. “We also demonstrated the use of life jackets and fire extinguishers.”

“It is important for residents, especially young children, to know how to react during untoward incidents and keep a clear presence of mind until professional help arrives to address the situation,” al-Naimi added.

Khaled Zaki, a marine life activist and ambassador of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), who led the participating divers in the seabed clean-up, underscored the positive impact of yesterday’s event on children.

He said educating children on the value of environmental protection is the way forward, considering that campaigns such as this are spread in real-time, citing tech-savvy youth and the popularity of various social media platforms.

In a statement, Ghanem al-Diab, a senior administrative affairs expert at the Ministry of Social Development and Family, said: “The ministry is delighted to collaborate with UDC in the seabed cleaning initiative.”

“This partnership not only supports environmental sustainability but also empowers productive families by providing them with a platform to showcase their products to the public,” he said. “By being part of this prized community initiative, these families contribute significantly to the betterment of our environment and society.”

Zainab al-Shammari, head of programmes and events at Friends of the Environment Centre, said: “Driven by Qatar Vision 2030 and our firm belief in creating an environmentally conscious community focused on sustainable development, Friends of the Environment Centre is dedicated to environmental awareness and our duty to preserve marine ecosystems.”

“Achieving effective and equitable participation from the community, youth, and upholding Qatar’s national identity through environmental conservation, our community partnership with UDC in cleaning the seabed of The Pearl Island, in collaboration with various entities, aims to maintain a healthy and pristine environment free from harm to humans, animals, and plants,” she said.

“We urge sea-goers not to discard metal, plastic, glass, food waste, or any other harmful debris, and to leave their surroundings clean, as a testament to our commitment and preservation of Qatar's environment,” al-Shammari added.

Simultaneously, more than 250 residents and visitors participated in eco-friendly activities such as planting, paper recycling, and energy conservation efforts, underscoring the community's dedication to sustainable practices.

All collected waste materials, including metal, wood, and plastic, underwent meticulous recycling and reuse processes, ensuring responsible waste management practices and minimising landfill deposition.