Category Archives: UAE

Sun, Sand and a ‘Green’ Christmas

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Hope you all had a wonderful festive season with friends and family.I had the pleasure of spending this festive holiday season at The Al Aqah at Fujairah. Having had a wonderful time with the husband and kids amidst nature’s bounty, I thought it would wonderful to share with you all my ‘Green’ Christmas story.

AS I enter the spacious lobby at Le Meridien’s Al Aqah beach resort in Fujairah for my much-awaited staycation, I cannot wait to be amidst nature’s bounty. To unwind and get attuned to the melodious music of the waves from the vast Indian Ocean as they wash the shoreline, drink into the breathtaking sight of the majestic Hajar Mountains and take a dip in the blue waters of the large free-form swimming pool.

However, the air of festivity with colorful Christmas decorations adorning the walls and ceiling distract me from my holiday musings. It takes me less than a fraction of a second to notice that the stars have been cut out from empty cans, the snowman created using empty toilet paper rolls, empty tissue paper boxes and tissue rolls have been wrapped in colorful wrapping paper that double as pretty gifts and over-sized chocolates swaying from the ceiling. As for the Christmas tree – every branch is lined with an assortment of used green-colored wine bottles cut to perfection.

Why would a five-star hotel use ‘used’ leftovers to create a Christmas theme?

My curiosity leads me to a meeting with the Duty Manager, Mr. Sreekanth Cherukot. Amidst handling the innumerable challenges of managing a hotel that is running on full occupancy owing to the holiday season coupled with the more-than-pleasant weather, he gladly takes time out to answer my queries over a cup of coffee. Upon raising the sustainability initiatives that piqued my interests, he is quick to place a call and introduce me to the mastermind behind this ‘green’ initiative – Mr. Hari Sudhakar.

Mr. Hari explains that he and his team of three ‘green creators’ have painstakingly cut to size a three month’s worth collection of wine bottles with a glass cutter specially bought for this purpose. They have been then suspended after having the sharp edges tactfully taped in black insulation, in order to ensure the safety of excited children, Mr. Hari explains. The bottom half of these bottles have been saved up to be doubled as flower vases and candle holders that will soon add to the décor of the restaurant and common areas at the hotel.

Mr. Hari explains that Christmas 2015 had a Christmas tree that was made using empty water bottles. This ‘out-of-the-box’ green initiative has not only helped reuse waste that would otherwise add to the rapidly increasing mountain of non-biodegradable waste at the landfill but has helped effectively reduce the costs spent on ‘dressing up’ the property for Christmas.

From the optimum use of reusable hand towels instead of disposable paper tissues in all washrooms as well as ensuring that the all air conditioners in rooms have been preset to an optimum temperature that will automatically switch off upon opening windows to using a reverse-osmosis desalination plant to tap the abundant natural resources available – this  resort is striving to pave its long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability with a goal of achieving zero footprint as it proudly stands as the ‘Emerald on Fujairah’s Beautiful Crown’.

 

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Christmas Tree with Wine Bottles Cut to Perfection

 

 

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Snowman made assembling empty tissue rolls illuminated with lights

 

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Stars cut from empty cans

 

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Another creation made using empty bottles

 

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Empty Tissue Rolls and Tissue boxes have become wrapped gifts

Picture Courtesy Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort 

 

 

 

 

In the Spirit of the Holy Month

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Today, millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of Ramadan, a month of prayer, fasting from dawn to dusk and a time for reflection, spiritual renewal and peace. The word ‘Ramadan’ derived from the Arabic word ‘Ramadaa’ means intense scorching heat and dryness. Ramadan is a month that is considered to burn away sins with prayer and fast. Fasting, in general, is a means to humble oneself and help increase one’s moral discipline as well as serve as a reminder of the plight of the needy and the lesser fortunate. The spirit of Ramadan encourages people to get the meal had after breaking the fast, Iftar, as a communal meal shared with family and friends.

Back in India, Ramadan went unnoticed with just a few of my Muslim classmates keeping the fast.

However, it is during my days working at a Government facility amongst the UAE locals who strictly adhered to the principles of the holy month continuing to function normally like they would on any other day, that the weight of their efforts and dedication came to my notice. Peace seems to surround the people and everyone is friendlier. They kept up their fast and functioned normally during days when the desert sun mercilessly scorched the land beneath, stretching the periods of fast from anywhere between twelve to fifteen hours.

Being non-Muslim, it was a delight to get invitations to ‘Iftars’ where friends from all communities were invited to share the spirit of the month with a sumptuous evening meal.

As serenity and calm take over during this month of fast and prayer, here is wishing the Muslims of the world, Ramadan Kareem.