A quick glance at Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s 2,200 posts on Instagram and it’s clear the Crown Prince of Dubai is a nature enthusiast and animal lover. Although His Highness often shares content from his outdoor adventures around the world, the UAE royal recently highlighted a charitable endeavor helping turtles in his home country. In honor of World Sea Turtle Day on Tuesday, June 16, Sheikh Hamdan joined Jumeirah Group in releasing 65 turtles into local waters as part of the luxury hotel chain’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP).
Since 2004, the DTRP has released more than 1,900 turtles to the Arabian Gulf after a careful multi-step rehabilitation process that ensures the turtles are safe, healthy, and ready to return to the wild. This year, Sheikh Hamdan assisted the team in releasing 20 hatchlings into the turquoise sea surrounding the iconic Burj Al Arab before hopping on a boat to set another 45 adult hawksbill turtles free into the wide-open UAE waters. In preparation for their big day yesterday, these rescued sea creatures have spent the past few months being treated at critical care facilities in Jumeirah’s seven-star hotel for a variety of incurred injuries, from plastic ingestion to missing limbs, before heading to Jumeirah Al Naseem‘s lagoon sanctuary to become acclimatized to soon-to-come outside conditions.
Hawksbill turtles are a critically endangered species native to the Middle East and there are only an estimated 8,000 nesting females alive worldwide, according to the DTRP. For this reason, Jumeirah created this initiative in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office dedicated to the protection and conservation of these rare marine creatures. As the only project of its kind in the region, the DTRP not only rescues and releases injured sea turtles but also educates residents and hotel guests about the ongoing crisis to help secure local governmental and international individual support for these aquatic animals. Under UAE law, it is prohibited to capture any species of sea turtles and in March 2019, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment unveiled a three-year National Plan of Action for the Conservation of Marine Turtles in the UAE, which aims to expedite further laws to protect these reptiles and their threatened natural habitats.