Dubai: ‘We filled our water bottles for free and it felt great’: Initiative sees residents, tourists ditch plastic


At the Dubai World Trade Centre water station alone, over 150 people were spotted refilling their bottles in just 90 minutes

Free water flowed nonstop at Dubai Can stations on Wednesday, as dozens of residents and tourists ‘made the change’ and pledged to ditch single-use plastic bottles.

At the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) water station alone, over 150 people were spotted refilling their bottles in just 90 minutes. Around 65 quenched their thirst at the Al Shindagha tap, while as many as 88 refills were recorded near Al Ghubaiba Metro Station within an hour.

“I was so thankful, the moment I saw this filling station. It felt great to have contributed to minimising plastic use while quenching my thirst,” said Andrew, an Italian tourist who was visiting Shindagha heritage village on Wednesday.

“Dubai is taking sustainability goals very seriously and I can see others following soon,” he added.

Launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, on Tuesday, the Dubai Can initiative aims to inspire mass action to actively reduce plastic waste.

Thirty-four stations were put up to provide free water to all, so that residents and visitors can reduce their reliance on water in single-use plastic bottles. Fifty more stations are coming up soon, with the total target set at over 1,000 water stations. Companies can easily request for a drinking station to be installed on their premises.

Russian tourists Alyona and Viktor loved the initiative so much so that they kept an eye out for nearby water stations as they were exploring Dubai.

When Khaleej Times met them at noon in Al Ghubaiba area, they were already on their third refill, they said.

“My wife Alyona is firm on reducing our consumption of single-use plastic. She had saved three water bottles to refill after reading the news, and now we are here refilling our bottles,” said Viktor, a tourist.

Even kids are taking the pledge to heart. Many of them were seen running towards the tap, with their tumblers in hand.

Cleaners of the Dubai Municipality are looking forward to seeing fewer water bottles on streets.

Ahmed, a Pakistani worker who keeps Deira clean, said more than 150 water bottles were usually collected from 10 roadside bins. “This area is a business hub, and we often have to change the bins’ garbage bags as they get filled. Most of the waste is plastic,”

On average, they pick about 20 small bottles per day from the streets, he added.

For Rashid, a Gulfood participant who got his fill from the DWTC station, the Dubai Can initiative was “the highest form of charity”.

Explaining it in the context of Islamic teachings, he narrated a hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “The Messenger of Allah was asked, ‘which charity is best?’ He replied, ‘Providing [water].’ [Abu Dawud] Allah says in the Holy Quran, ‘By means of water, we give life to everything.”

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