Nothing says ‘swim to me’ more than Blue Flags. The international symbol is a prestigious sign that a beach is clean, accessible, and eco-friendly. Where the Middle East is known for its extravagance (think gold-plated Mercedes?), there is also a silver lining that the planet loves: 12 more beaches in the United Arab Emirates have earned the Blue Flag.
The standards were developed by the the 30-year-old Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Now the United Arab Emirates proudly flies blue flags at 24 marinas and beaches. Most of the beaches are in the capital of Dubai, with one in Fujairah.
There are about 4000 Blue Flag beaches and marinas around the world in about 50 countries.
It is considered both hard work and an honor to achieve the flag, which can be removed if any of the eco-conditions are not met. The body makes sure that regular tests are done. If any negatives are reported, the flag comes down. This happened to one beach already for a short time in the UAE.
When I interviewed eco-ocean from Israel about the nine Blue Flags they helped to fly in Israel, they told me that some travellers will choose destinations based on Blue Flags alone, so it is something important for hoteliers and beach managers to consider.
Among the strict conditions that need to be met are third party water testing to make sure the waters are safe for swimming. The beach must include recycling bins, be free of charge and be accessible for the disabled and by bus.
The quality of water quality in the UAE is considered generally good, although the building industry has taken a toll on coastline flow, which has led to a build up of algae and pollutants. The coastline development also kills coral.
We bet this beach in Dubai where hundreds of dead cormorants were found won’t be Blue Flagged, but we admire the initiative over all as a way to educate the public and to get change-makers rolling towards a more sane way to manage beachfront natural resources.
The Blue Flag United Arab Emirates page is not yet updated, but click here to see the beaches that already have the Blue Flag. There are 8 beaches and 4 marinas. In the coming days, this is likely to be updated.