We are thrilled to announce that the Arab world’s most famous environmental activist will pen a monthly column for Green Prophet. Born H.E. Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Nuaimi, he is probably better known as the Green Sheikh (who knows how to treat a lady!) Drawing from a strong background in environmental sciences (and boundless energy), Abdulaziz travels extensively to promote cultural, environmental, and spiritual awareness.
In concert with our own philosophy, the Green Sheikh’s somewhat unconventional approach transcends borders, politics, and religion. For this, he is deeply loved both in his home country, the United Arab Emirates, and throughout the world. And for breaking down the barriers associated with Arab royalty in order to help save what he calls the Blue Planet from human destruction, he is enormously respected.
In his first column, the Green Sheikh introduces Dine with an Unconventional Sheikh, a cross-cultural exchange program, and speaks a little bit about what he hopes to achieve during his current visit to Brazil. He cherishes public participation, so please don’t be shy to add your comments and questions to his posts. The first one is below.
The Green Sheikh goes to Jacksonville
In the summer of 2008, my wife and I visited Jacksonville in the United States and met many important people at our host Suzanne Perritt’s home. That evening she invited her friends, neighbours, and key figures in the society to listen to me speak about my interest in the environment, charitable causes, spirituality, family relationships, and general well-being. I was dressed in the traditional robe of our Arabic Emirates customs.
A few special guests that evening commented on the talk. Tome Wastson said, “I hope and pray that some other Arab royal families will develop more representatives in the mold of Abdul Aziz who will be instrumental in seeking a peaceful future as these societies integrate with the rest of the world.”
Another guest whose first name I only remember as being Mike said that, “it gave hope that people of different cultures and religions can live together in harmony.”
Legendary Arabic hospitality
We were inspired by this event to establish Dine with an Unconventional Sheikh. This is a unique cultural program held in the Emirate of Ajman in the UAE. We open the doors to our home and invite international guests to experience traditional Emirati cuisine and culture.
I and my family personally welcome the visitors to our home, in the traditional style of the country, and enjoy the exclusivity of discussing both one on one and with the whole group any topics pertaining to the UAE. These topics could include culture, tradition, environment, family, spirituality, a few secrets people in the West don’t know about, and more.
The guests are able to walk around our home and freely ask questions. They will have a chance to see pictures of our family, learn about our genealogy, and hear anecdotes about the local community. At dinner, hosts and distinguished guests will have a chance to socialize further while savouring traditional authentic dishes of this region and experiencing legendary Arabic hospitality. Visitors are certain to leave with a great sense of satisfaction, having made new friends among the Emarati community, and with a truly better understanding of our beautiful culture. We hope that this program will boost cross-cultural exchange between international guests and Emiratis.
Sacred times with the Green Sheikh
Proceeds from the tour will be donated to un-sponsored children and single-parent families in the UAE through a local charity called Al Ihsan. This charity was founded by H.H Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, a member of the supreme council of the UAE and ruler of Ajman. It was officially established in 1998 and is dedicated to providing care to disadvantaged individual and families including widows, divorcees, and the disabled, as well as abandoned women and children.
Anthony Robbins and his Platinum Partner visited the wonderful country of the UAE for a once in a lifetime experience, and spent an evening with me and my family. In a gesture of thanks the Anthony Robbins Foundation donated to the Al Ihsan Charity.
Some members of Platinum Partner and other guests expressed their appreciation for the evening. Andy Green said, “the evening we spent in your company and with your wonderful family was truly a unique, unforgettable and life-changing experience.”
Another young man from New York, Michael Gitchel said, “I intend to visit Dubai and Ajman again with my family to meet Sheikh Abdul Aziz in order to open their hearts and minds and to see the truth as I have.”
Larelle Cox from Australia said that her visit with my family, “was truly a sacred night for all of us.”
Beyond fear for a sustainable future
My July 2009 visit to the United States for a dialogue study tour on Religion and Society has also added great value to all of us in the group. It was a wonderful experience where we learnt and shared the similarities and differences between Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other faiths. We removed fear and built new relationships for better future plans and activities.
It is in this spirit that Dine with an Unconventional Sheikh was created. The UAE is becoming the dream for all nationalities worldwide due to diversity in culture, life style and tolerance. Our country is a friend to all other countries in the world.
The lungs of the world
In other news, today I am traveling to Brazil to join thousands of people to celebrate World Environment Day. This and other events which fall in the same month – World Oceans Day on the 8th of June and World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on the 17th of June – are key global environmental events that focus on the most important challenges that Brazil, the UAE and the world face.
I will address the audience on how the Amazon rainforest has a critical influence on the South American climate and is one of the world’s most important carbon banks. Covering almost as much land as the contiguous United States, the Amazon is home to 20 percent of the planet’s animals and plant species and stores the equivalent amount of carbon as a decade of global fossil fuel emissions in its trees. It plays a crucial role in the precipitation cycle of South America and pumps oxygen into the atmosphere, earning it the nickname the “Lungs of the World.”
Arabs and Amazonians unite
I will also discuss the link between the important goal of saving the Amazon rainforest and combatting desertification in the UAE. Also, I will learn of the spiritual connection between the Arabs and Amazonian indigenous peoples – two groups who live in completely different lands but can learn much from each other and contribute significantly to the sustainable development of their own regions.
I hope my visit to Brazil will show heartfelt solidarity with all the world’s environmental NGOs, both regional and local, and their valuable work to help save the Blue Planet from future man-made disasters by putting it on the safe course of sustainable development.
More stories about and interview with the Green Sheikh: