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21 February 2024

Why Bu Tinah needs your vote

The island's waters are also home to the world's second-largest population of dugongs, a large marine mammal that is globally threatened. (SUPPLIED)

By Reena Amos Dyes

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has launched a campaign asking people in the UAE and the world over to vote for the country's Bu Tinah Island to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and the people of the country are keen to do their bit to ensure that the island makes it to the list.

Bu Tinah Island, located 130km west of Abu Dhabi, is a core area of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve – the first marine biosphere reserve in the region.

The island is unique; in spite of the harsh temperatures and salinity, its habitats and species, including coral, dugongs and sea turtles, continue to thrive, making the island an important location for climate change studies.

The UAE's Bu Tinah Island is shortlisted among 28 finalists from a list of 447 sites in 224 countries. The New 7 Wonders of Nature will be declared on November 11, 2011.

Messages like "Close your eyes and imagine a wonder of nature", "Blue skies, clean water, flamingos flying overhead, corals surviving underwater, turtles nesting happily and mangroves growing healthy", "Now open your eyes and vote for Bu Tinah Island as a wonder of nature", will be part of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi's (EAD) international campaign to encourage people to vote for Bu Tinah Island.

Residents of the UAE are very excited about the campaign and are keen to see an island from the UAE become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Snehal Doshi, a resident of Dubai, told Emirates Business: "I was not aware that such a beautiful and untouched natural habitat was here in the country. Such a place certainly deserves to be preserved and voted into the New 7 Wonders of Nature list and I will surely vote for it."

Michael Mukucha, a resident of Sharjah, said: "It's good to know that the UAE has something which will have immense value for scientists and researchers studying ways to preserve the environment and climate change. Not only will I vote, I will also ask my family and friends to vote for the Bu Tinah Island."

Siddharth Bafna, Dubai, said: "Sadly, there are not very many places in the world left untouched and unexploited by man. It does one good to know that there are still some places that have survived the destructive march of civilisation and that one of these precious havens for bio-diversity is right here in this country. Something as special and precious as this deserves to be on the list of New 7 Wonders of Nature and I will certainly vote for it."

The EAD will raise awareness about the Bu Tinah Island through various media, including newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, the internet and advertising in malls and other public spaces.

Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary-General, EAD, said: "Bu Tinah is a unique global natural wonder. Its value to mankind is very clear and we are extremely proud that it belongs to the Arab World. We would like to call upon your national pride and love of nature to vote for Bu Tinah."

Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam, Director of Biodiversity Management Sector, EAD, said: "It is very significant that right here in our homeland, we are blessed with thriving habitats that serve as a unique living laboratory, with key significance for climate change research.

"Bu Tinah Island hosts globally endangered marine life and critically important habitats, including seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs, birds such as the flamingoes ospreys, and socotra cormorants, several species of dolphins, and sea turtles including hawksbill and green turtles are found in and around Bu Tinah's waters and shores. The island's waters are also home to the world's second-largest population of dugongs, a large marine mammal that is globally threatened."

The new 7 Wonders of Nature

The Official New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign started in 2007, immediately after the campaign to elect the manmade New Seven Wonders of the World, in which more than 100 million votes were cast. From over 440 participants representing over 220 countries and through a national qualification and race to become one of the Top 77, as well as the recommendations of the panel of experts, the list of 28 "official finalist candidates" has been determined. Over one billion people are expected to vote this time around.

Voting for Bu Tinah

  • Visit Bu Tinah website www.butinah.ae
  • Or send an SMS with the word 'BU TINAH' to 3888.

The reasons

Seven Reasons to Vote for Bu Tinah Island

  • Coral reefs: Their survival, despite the harsh environment, has given researchers insight into coral reef survival elsewhere in the world in the face of global warming.
  • Natural mangroves: They reach an average height of five metres and support wildlife including birds, fish and crustaceans.
  • Hawksbill turtles: Every year, these critically endangered species arrive at Bu Tinah Island to nest.
  • Dugongs: These threatened species are often spotted swimming among the island's extensive seagrass meadows. They have been able to live without disturbance in a clean natural sanctuary, thanks to The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi management of the marine biosphere reserve.
  • Dolphins: The Indo-Pacific humpback, bottlenose and common dolphins swim around the Island.
  • Ospreys: Bu Tinah Island is a major breeding site for this globally important bird.
  • Socotra cormorants: The island is a roost site for about 20,000-25,000 of these birds.