Abu Dhabi, 12 December 2017: Away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the office, employees from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) came together to brainstorm effective ways their organisation would commemorate the Year of Zayed in 2018.
The employees were gathered at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve for #ZayedRetreat, a full-day intense staff collaboration with a specific focus to develop innovative and impactful ideas. The retreat was held in line with the declaration by H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, of the Year of Zayed in 2018. Over 80 initiatives were collected, tested and pitched to the organisation's senior management where guidance and approval was given on-site.
The initiatives, which will be rolled out throughout 2018, revolved around the Year of Zayed's declared objectives, which are to raise awareness of the life and achievements of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan locally and internationally; to raise the profile of the late Sheikh Zayed to that of one of the world's greatest leaders and most inspirational figures; to reinforce the status of the late Sheikh Zayed as an eternal source of national pride and a powerful symbol of the UAE around the world, and, finally, to celebrate and honour his legacy through initiatives that are consistent with his vision and values.
"The late Sheikh Zayed exhibited valuable intuitive knowledge of Mother Nature and stood for conservationists' values as a matter of conviction and necessity. He was passionate about wildlife, and, according to the many people who were close to him, he valued every stone, every tree, and every bird. He also appreciated the importance of preserving every drop of water and putting it to productive use. Our work at EAD is inspired by his legacy on a daily basis and several programmes, such as the Sheikh Mohamed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, were directly inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed's foresight," said H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD.
"It is fitting and symbolic that we held this retreat at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. This site is a prime example of the late Sheikh Zayed's visionary wisdom, that long preceded the present-day global conservationists' movement. After he observed the successful breeding of the flamingo for the first time here, he established the site as a protected area in 1998. Thanks to his belief in conservation, today this is the only site in the United Arab Emirates where the birds continue to breed regularly. It has become an internationally recognised wetland around the world and is quickly becoming a popular sustainable tourism destination," she added.
In 2013, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was declared a Ramsar site, under the Ramsar Convention. This means that the site has been recognized by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and joins a list of over 2,000 other internationally recognized wetlands around the world. The reserve, which is managed by EAD, is a 45-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city and home to important species of reptiles, small mammals and insects. The reserve is open for free to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 am to 4 pm (last entry at 2 pm) where visitors can enjoy the self-guided trails (1.5 kms or 3 kms). The reserve's raw and natural aesthetic has purposely been kept by EAD to preserve its ecological integrity.