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The Dubai Oyster Project was launched on November 1 by The Arbor School, a premier ecological school in Dubai, in collaboration with The MAINE New England Brasseries Company and Emirates Marine Environmental Group. In the country’s first-ever community-driven reef restoration, discarded oyster shells from one of Dubai’s well-known restaurants are being diverted from landfills to create artificial reefs.

The Dubai Oyster Project, developed in collaboration with Joey Ghazal, Founder and Managing Partner of The MAINE New England Brasserie Company, Fadi Abu Ghali, a Dubai-based entrepreneur, the Arbor School, and Emirates Marine Environmental Group, aims to rehabilitate a historic natural reef system off the coast of Dubai in order to increase local biodiversity.

The MAINE has donated an estimated 250,000 oyster shells to the Arbor School, a premier ecological school in Dubai. Secondary pupils at the Arbor School, who are studying UAE oceanography, will fill disused fish traps, known locally as gargoors, with oyster shells in an attempt to repurpose the shells as structures for marine plants and creatures to flourish.

“Helping our environment is a necessity and our obligation, however small, to look after our natural habitats. It is also extremely rewarding. This is just the beginning of our CSR journey with The Dubai Oyster Project,” said Joey Ghazal, Founder and Managing Director of The MAINE.

The gargoors will be turned into biological ‘building blocks’ and deposited offshore at the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) reserve at Ghantoot in a process termed ecological restoration, in collaboration with the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG). If the experiment proves to be a success, it might be expanded to other locations outside the reserve, helping to improve the UAE’s marine ecosystem.

Major Ali Al Suweidi, founder and CEO of EMEG said: “Our mission is to preserve biodiversity in the UAE and educate the future generations on the importance and necessity of conserving the environment. Saying this, we are proud to be partaking in this initiative to further raise awareness and activate the community.”The Arbor School students will experiment with different locations of reef blocks and monitor species colonization as part of their studies, optimizing the process and increasing reef-building activities.

Commenting on the partnership, Ben Hren, Environmental Education Specialist at The Arbor School added: “At the Arbor School, we follow a unique Ecoliteracy curriculum that emphasizes the opportunities and responsibilities people have to take practical action to protect, conserve and regenerate the ecological systems we depend on. We encourage all our students to identify the things that matter to them and to use their passion and creativity to develop innovative solutions to address challenges. The opportunity for our year nine students to work with leading environmentalists and environmentally responsible businesses to regenerate critical reef habitats empowers them to think about other ways they can use what they’re learning in school to help build a future where is enough for all, forever.”