The background to this article is a dream in which I was asked by the Ruler of Fujairah to assume his role for a day.
Here is the first post which describes how this came about and how I made my first royal decree.
Towards the Corniche
Recalling how someone once said to me that “it was a sign of maturity to change your mind,” I asked my driver to take our car down to the corniche rather than returning directly to the Palace. I noticed in the mirrors that a clutch of media people was following us in the hope of scavenging another story.
On the way I looked up to the mighty Hajar Mountains and the peaks seemed shrouded and lacking in definition. The sky was so white it reminded me of the song by ‘Procol Harum’—‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’.
We stopped the car to allow the camera man to snap some photographs. As we came into the Fujairah suburb of Faseel I noticed the sky was now a cobalt blue and the camera man took pictures of the sky’s colours behind the Siji Apartments and the Abu Bakr Al Sedeeq Mosque at the Coffee Pot Roundabout. This was what the Fujairah sky should be like.
Pointers in Preventative Medicine
We stopped outside the Fujairah Nursing Institute along Al Gurfa Road and an aide went inside to arrange an impromptu meeting with all the trainee nurses and their teachers. As the nurses came out towards the gate the media set up their tripods.
After the Salaams I told them that the Ruler and his government had renewed their concern for communities living near the quarries and after tightening the rules in 2008 and making their inspections, by mid-2009 they had closed down seven unsafe quarries, equivalent to 10% of the total number of quarries in the emirate.
I held up a copy of today’s Gulf News (Fujairah Quarry Gets Closure Notice, Gulf News, 15 September 2010) and said that Fujairah’s Ministry of Environment and Water has been monitoring air pollution levels, fining those in breach of the regulations and that recently it had forced a stone crushing unit to stop all its operations until it complies.
I invited this young medical community to look up and enjoy the bright deep blue sky directly above. Then I invited them to look over to the Hajars and notice how indistinct they were today because of the quarry dust.
After taking it in I said:
“We benefit greatly as an emirate from the sale of our rocks to Dubai and overseas but we’ve also been attentive to the complaints about the medical dangers of our quarries and the way the polluted quarry dust has been affecting people’s health. But you can see with your own eyes that the Fujairah government has much more work to do.”
Clearing the Air
I announced new measures that would be introduced:
1. Regular independent evaluations of Fujairah quarries to monitor the emission levels of pollutants in the air. The independent nature of these reports is essential as the government has a vested economic interest in the quarry business. The evaluations would extend to the investigation of vehicle exhaust emissions, industrial chemicals, greenhouse gas emissions, desert dust and all forms of air pollutants, not just quarry dust.
2. The government will ensure a comprehensive network of air monitoring stations on the ground and, in consultation with other emirates and Gulf neighbours, we will look to install the latest state of the art satellite systems to help monitor pollution, detect unlawful polluters and effectively control our air quality. These will have the capability of detecting radiation levels as nuclear reactors are built in the UAE, in Iran and the surrounding region.
3. A new page will be established on the Fujairah Government web site to raise public awareness about air pollution. This will include a pollution gauge to allow people to check up-to-the-minute levels of air contamination. A new system of public alerts will be instituted to warn people of hazardous atmospheric conditions.
4. A major study will be implemented as soon as possible that will work with the hospitals and all medical practitioners in the emirate to investigate the impact of air pollution on the health of Fujairah residents and to bring back its findings and recommendations which would be made available to the public.
“We pride ourselves on the natural beauty of this emirate with its pure, clean 100% natural environment. We want residents and tourists to breathe in deeply when they move around Fujairah. We must ensure that our business enterprises are never allowed to endanger the health of our people. We want our people to live safely and healthily now.”
After wishing the nursing students and their teachers a successful academic year it was time to get some free time and hopefully some fresh air down at the corniche.
Take a Look
See the pictures of The Skies of Fujairah from a polluted ‘whiter shade of pale’ to a deep cobalt blue.
The Day Thus Far
When I was Ruler of Fujairah (UAE) for a Day—Decree #1 (Education), FIF, 15 September 2010.
('Substitute Sheikh') Geoff Pound
This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page upon which many more articles and links are posted than on this blog.
Image: The atmosphere surrounding the Hajars—‘a whiter shade of pale’.