Earth Hour is an annual event that takes place on the last Saturday of March, all over the world.
For one hour, between 8.30pm and 9.30pm (local time) people are encouraged to switch off all their lights in order to make their stand against climate change. It is a means of raising awareness and is a global initiative with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating in the event.
In the Middle East and North Africa, awareness of Earth Hour has been increasing with more and more individuals and businesses taking part, often with the support of local councils and official endorsement.
In Jordan, Black Iris tells us about Earth Hour in Amman, where support for the event has grown since last year:
The Greater Amman Municipality did seem to participate with the closure of various lights, including Zahran Street, and perhaps the Citadel (although I can never tell in Jordan as those lights may have just been malfunctioning). The Sheraton Hotel also turned off its lights, and in doing so, provided a great display of its environment conscience in contrast to its biggest competitor, right across the street, the Four Seasons, which remained a castle ablaze. Rainbow street, as usual, was where it was at. Cups & Kilos lit candles, as did a few other places in the area, with a fairly large turnout of people at Wild Jordan.
Despite this growing support Black Iris is determined to raise more awareness about the event, and states that for next time:
It would be great to see some major landmarks go dark, including the Jordanian Flag at the Royal Hashemite Court, and the Royal Hotel on the third circle
In Saudi Arabia, Earth Hour was observed for the first time this year.
In Jeddah, volunteer photographers documented Earth Hour and have uploaded lots of photos of those who participated into a blog, Earth Hour Jeddah. Photos include businesses that participated, such as TGI Fridays and Berlitz, along with pictures of individual participants.
However, not everyone in the Kingdom was happy to participate in the event. Saudi Jeans pointed out before the event, that due to the unreliable electricity supply in the capital,:-
Khalaf al-Harbi says he won’t be joining everybody else for this event. Why? Because the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has already forced him to observe it more than three times this week in three different districts in Riyadh and at different times of the day and night. Can you blame him?
In Muscat, Oman, some of the major hotels participated by switching off their lights.
However, in Salalah, blogger Dhofari Gucci was dissappointed in the lack of knowledge about Earth Hour before the event, and asks:
Where the hell is the Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs? What is their role in this climate change initiative? Can someone enlighten me? Why not organize a walk along the beach from 8:30 to 9:30 … hundreds of people would turn off all the electricity in their houses and join the walk if only it were advertised properly.
Comments on the blog suggest their were some individual participants, with commentator Lamya, showing how it can be enjoyed:
Earth Hour was fun this year. Just had a good night playing card and board games
And an anonymous commentator showing their participation but lamenting the lack of awareness of the initiative:
i did it, cuz it felt nice, but we need to have more awareness esp at school levels.
In Egypt there was a good knowledge and support for the event, with many landmarks such as the pyramids and sphinx having their lights turned off, in addition to business and individuals celebrating the event.
Smile Rose tells us about the experience in Cairo and what it meant for her:
اقمت امس تحت الشموع فى الثامنة والنصف جلسة دعاء مع بعض الاقارب ودعيت فيها للعالم بالسلام والاستقرار كانت تجربة روحية جميلة وكان معنا طفل ظن ان الشموع موقدة لعيد ميلاده واخذ يغنى اغانى الميلاد فاضفى البسمة على قلوبنا ولاننى من قاطنى الجيزة فقد تم اطفاء الانوار بمنطقة الاهرام ومنع دخول المنطقة الاثرية من الرابعة بعد الظهر واطفىء النور فى الثامنة والنصف كذلك برج القاهرة والقلعة وايضا عدة فنادق بالقاهرة
Yesterday i lived by the light of candles at 8.30, i met with some relatives and we prayed for a safe and stable world. It was a beautiful and spiritual experience. There was a child with us who thought that the lit candles were for his birthday;-we sang the birthday song and there was a smile in our hearts. As i am one of the residents of Giza, the lights of the pyramids and areas around them were turned off, and entry to the the ruins had been closed since 4 in the afternoon. At 8.30 the lights we also turned off on the Cairo Tower, as well as the Citadel and also to several hotels in Cairo.
Smile Rose links also links to a youm7 news article which shows some lovely photos of landmarks before and after 8.30pm.
Lastly, Chay Altha7atells us about the Earth Hour experience in Kuwait. The lights to the Kuwait towers were switched off at 8.30 and the blogger arrived there just in time to take this video of the event.
Upon returning home, moving by candlelight, she soon realises there are certain risks invloved in celebrating Earth Hour, illustrated here:
but finishes on a positive note, asking:
عسى تكون الأرض راضيه علينا!؟
I hope that the earth is pleased with us?!
Pictures of Earth Hour in the Middle East and around the world can be viewed on flickr, here,