National Operator Interviews: Moaz Sawaf


Environmental Center for Arab Towns (ECAT), UAE


City where the organisation is based: Dubai

Number of staff in the organisation/working with Eco-Schools: 7/2


What do you prefer?

  • Dogs or cats? Dogs
  • Sea or mountains? Mountains
  • Chocolate or chips? Chips
  • Film or book? Film
  • City or countryside? Countryside
  • Favourite word or phrase: Do not say it's impossible before giving it a try.
  • If you could sing one song on a music competition show on television, what would it be?

I did it my way

  • What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

In my spare time, I conduct basic survival courses in our mountains and deserts. I was with a group of five people explaining to them how to overcome natural obstacles and choosing the safest path, and we were on a very narrow ledge 20 meters high with a water pool beneath. As I was explaining to them how to cross safely, I fell down into the pool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


A high point of the programme, hopes and visions

Raising awareness, especially among school students has been my passion for years, and being involved in the Eco-Schools programme was a great way to boost this. For me to see keen Eco-Schools coordinators and young students bursting with energy and wanting to save our planet makes me so happy and bring tears of joy to my eyes. I would honestly say that schools who registered in the programme and are active, they exceed the programme criteria by far. My hopes, dreams and vision is to see more schools taking part in this great programme, and ensure those young students continue the great work in their university life and career.


Activities by ECAT

I do a lot of various activities for the schools. I make a point of giving a lecture, talk or a workshop to one school per week. The topics are basically on conserving the wildlife in the UAE, reducing our water and energy consumption and sustainable living.

I also arrange field trips. This year I did field trips to a wetland protected area on the occasion of the International Wetland Day. We explained to the students why wetlands are important and what benefits and services we get from them.

On the occasion of the World Tree Day, I managed to get from the government 100 small native trees and we planted them in various schools.

We also conduct workshops every year for the new schools and coordinators on how to implement the programme at their school.


An inspiring story by ECAT

It’s difficult to decide because most of the schools are doing outstanding work. Sorry for being greedy but I will talk about two cases.

The first one. The UAE is a hot arid desert with scarce freshwater resources and this means it’s not an agricultural country. One school managed to utilise all the available spaces they have to grow vegetables during the cooler months (Sept-Mar). They used the water from the Air-condition devices to water the plants, also they used the water from the wash sinks in the bathrooms. They also built two hydroponic systems. The project was a big success. The vegetables were given to poor people.

The second one. A group of students from grade 10 and 11 conducted their own research on the air quality for the classrooms with indoor plants and without plants. The way the research was conducted, the report and results were very well done.