Emirates Nature – WWF, The Coca‑Cola Company join hands to develop traditional falaj irrigation systems in Wadi Shees, Sharjah
Sharjah-UAE: 26 December, 2019 – His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, today officially opened the revitalized falaj site in Wadi Shees in the emirate of Sharjah.
The regeneration efforts were carried out to enhance and preserve the ecological and cultural aspects of Wadi Shees through the improvement of the traditional falaj irrigation system that aims to preserve the site’s biodiversity while maintaining conventional farming practices
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “Sustaining and developing the country’s precious water resources have always topped our list of priorities. From the early days, our ancestors have relied on innovation and sustainable water consumption to meet this goal. The traditional falaj irrigation system is a prime example of such sustainability efforts. This innovative method of transporting water secured their needs of fresh water for decades.”
He added: “The restoration of the falaj system at Wadi Shees helps preserve the ecological and cultural characteristics of the site to familiarize current and future generations with the UAE’s heritage and traditions, while at the same time developing the environment at Wadi Shees through improving water supply. We are proud of this project, which highlights the importance of productive public-private partnerships in ensuring the overall well-being of the UAE and its people.”
The project, in partnership with Emirates Nature - WWF and The Coca‑Cola Company, was established earlier this year. Combining Emirates Nature – WWF’s expertise and experience with The Coca‑Cola Company’s investment and vision to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equal to that used in its beverages, the project has successfully enhanced irrigation efficiency in select farming plots and restored the falaj through reducing water leakages, reinforcing weak structures and improving sealings of channels and water tanks.
Speaking on the partnership, Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF, said: “Water remains our most precious resource today and it is our foremost responsibility to work together with the government, businesses and the community to safeguard our freshwater resources for future generations. We’re proud to have joined efforts with The Coca‑Cola Company and the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah, as well as the local community in Wadi Shees over the past year to develop the traditional falaj irrigation system and conserve freshwater. Our efforts have already led to the introduction of new tools and practices to achieve water irrigation efficiency – bringing down the amount of water used by 30%. Looking ahead, we hope to further fortify our land management plans – continuing to prioritize Wadi Shees and the vital freshwater resources it houses.”
As part of its vision to do business the right way, The Coca‑Cola Company works with locally focused community water projects to identify vulnerabilities in a given community with a view to protecting and replenishing source water for the benefit of wider society.
Commenting on the project, Murat Ozgel, President, Middle East and North Africa Business Unit, The Coca‑Cola Company, said: “As a business, we are committed to making a difference and have pledged to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equal to our use in our finished beverages. To do this, we invest in and support community water projects in areas where there is a need and we have the means to make a lasting impact.
“As I participate in today’s inauguration ceremony, I am particularly proud of the regeneration of the falaj system at Wadi Shees. This project is a shining example of the work we do alongside our respected partners. This project has successfully combined traditional culture with technology and innovation to give back to the community and is a great case study for us as a business as we move forward. Responsible water use is a key focus area and we will continue to prioritize water projects in the UAE to create a better future.”
Wadi Shees seeks to achieve Ramsar recognition in the near future and support its designation as a new protected area or heritage site.