TDIC chief wins top achievement award
Abu Dhabi, May 22, 2012
Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Tourism Investment & Development Company (TDIC) and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, has been bestowed with a major achievement award by Middle East Economic Digest (Meed).
The Editor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement of the Year 2012 was conferred in recognition of Sheikh Sultan’s leadership of TDIC’s Hawksbill Sea Turtle Conservation Programme.
“A key aspect of these awards is that they recognise the wide contribution of a project to society and the environment,” said Richard Thompson, editorial director, Meed.
“I believe the introduction of TDIC’s Hawksbill Conservation Programme perfectly encapsulates these aims. The programme sets an example for the region of how large-scale investment projects can be delivered while, at the same time, enhancing and protecting the Gulf’s natural environment.”
“This award recognises Sheikh Sultan’s individual contribution to the Hawksbill Conservation Programme and his leadership in its delivery,” Thompson added.
“It also reflects Abu Dhabi’s leadership in encouraging sustainable development and environmental conservation in the Gulf. It is my hope that in recognising and promoting the programme’s success, others can be encouraged to learn from it.”
TDIC’s Hawksbill Sea Turtle Conservation programme, the only one of its kind in the Arabian Gulf, is focused on Saadiyat Island, which lies just 500 metres off the UAE capital’s coast.
The programme has ensured that the now critically endangered Hawksbill turtles continue to nest on the island’s sweeping beachfront despite development which has culminated in the opening of the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, the five-star The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort and Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, and the Monte Carlo Beach Club.
The nine kilometre Saadiyat Beach plays host to several Hawksbill turtle nests every year – the first two nests of this season have already been cordoned off and are being monitored.
TDIC’s conservation programme has seen the company restrict resort development on Saadiyat Beach to at least 60 metres back from the seaward edge of the coastal dunes, creating a buffer zone which serves as a physical barrier between construction and operations and the Saadiyat Dune Protection Zone nesting beach.
Since the monitoring programme began early 2010, some 650 eggs have hatched successfully on Saadiyat.
Operational guidelines further protect the nesting sites by restricting beach access to pedestrians who reach the shore via elevated boardwalks, which prevent people from walking through the delicate dune system and potentially disturbing the nests.
Other TDIC measures for the protection of the Saadiyat coastal dune system cover lighting guidelines and assessments of operational developments, and a dedicated environmental resource that monitors and audits properties operating on Saadiyat.
During nesting season, night lighting is reduced to aid the hatchling turtles’ orientation towards the sea, nests are logged and avoided by beach maintenance crews, and all beach furniture is moved off the beach.
TDIC is currently producing educational signage and information leaflets at the hotels and beach club on Saadiyat to promote the protection of the turtles among the island’s guests. Turtle information is being placed in hotel rooms and guest engagement is being encouraged through kids’ clubs on the beach. – TradeArabia News Service
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