In desert nations such as the United Arab Emirates, water conservation is crucial.
CNN’s Becky Anderson sat down with Maitha Al-Hameli, a marine biologist with Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency, to talk about the conservation work she does in the region and the connection between the ocean and the communities around it.
On the importance of ocean conservation:
“The ocean is vast, and most of the world’s population lives on coastal areas. And these coastal areas [are] connected to these oceans one way or another, either for food source transportation, or even for livelihood. So keeping these oceans healthy and keeping the production of these oceans at a good par means that we’re keeping the communities and the connection that would be lost.”
On the conservation work she does in the UAE specifically:
“We have a strong push from the leadership to work on conservation projects when it comes to the environment. So we have a huge amount of projects that are being rolled out day in day out that focus on conservation. For example, we are working on one of the region’s biggest coral reef restoration projects. And that’s very important for combating climate change, having resilient reefs, but also very important for the fisheries, which, once upon a time was the main source of food for our ancestors here in the Gulf.”
On the most alarming moments she has witnessed while working in this area:
“It’s the sad truth of the situation when it comes to climate change. We’ve seen the difference in coral composition. We’ve seen the difference in heat trends that we face every summer. And that is the most alarming thing to me as a conservationist. And I think also should be important to everyone because these heat trends are starting here at high paces, but sooner or later, they will reach the other oceans, the deeper oceans, the holder oceans. And this is something, [that] let’s say, rang the alarm that this is the future.”
On what’s next for the Abu Dhabi environment agency:
“We’re always looking at not only the human aspects but also technology. And I think it’s key for conservation. Start looking and investing in technologies that will help us move forward with our conservation work, be it remote sensing, be it the use of AI, or other technologies that will help us monitor, assess, and also put better conservation plans for the species.”