| Victoria Zurakowski

Plastic Pollution in the Arabian Gulf Trashes Dubai’s Moon Island


Learn What You Can Do To Help Fight Plastic Pollution


Plastic pollution and the Arabian Gulf are two phrases you wouldn’t expect to hear together. But the reality is the region, more specifically the once stunningly beautiful Moon Island in Dubai, is under serious threat.

The situation with Arabian Gulf pollution is so grave, it’s been predicted that more than a third of the biodiversity could disappear by 2090. An alarming example of this is that in one year alone, approximately 17 dugongs (sea cows) died from becoming entangled in discarded nylon fishing nets.

Arabian Gulf Sea Lif

While plastic pollution is the number one threat to the UAE’s waters and the Arabian Gulf in general, overfishing and rising water temperatures also play their part in the destruction of the region’s rich biodiversity and marine life.

A rich marine life is probably not something you automatically associate with Moon Island and Dubai’s surrounding waters and islands, but the regional seas are home to some unique and magnificent creatures. Dugongs, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, and whales are just a few that call the Arabian Gulf home – in fact, there are more than 200 marine species that live here. These stunning creatures rely greatly on healthy habitats, such as a miscellany of seagrass meadows and mangroves, and coral reefs, but sadly, the effects of plastic pollution are beginning to take a heavy toll.

Arabian Gulf pollution is killing sea life and also creating an unsightly mess upon the region’s once-pristine beaches.

Moon Island, Dubai

Otherwise known as Crescent Moon Island due to its distinct semicircular shape, Moon Island in Dubai is one of the UAE’s hottest recreational destinations, catering to all demographics.

For years, visitors have been frequenting this popular Arabian Gulf Island in search of exhilarating watersport activities like snorkelling, deep-sea diving, swimming, and waterskiing. The plethora of watersports on offer not only lures foreign tourists but also Dubai thrill-seeking city dwellers, who’re are looking to get as far away from the hustle and bustle as possible.

Dubai’s beaches have regularly featured in luxury travel magazines and blogs and have been coined as some of the best in the world, hence their popularity and blue flag statuses. Up until recently, however, Dubai’s Moon Island remained slightly off the beaten path.

What is perhaps special about Dubai’s unique island, thanks to its position, is that it gives visitors a whole new perspective of Dubai, allowing people to take in and appreciate the beauty. Situated 70 km off Dubai Beach, Moon Island is a place where you can quickly escape the commotion of Dubai’s metropolis without venturing too far. Despite its seemingly close vicinity, Crescent Moon Island is only accessible when you book with one of the many Moon Island Dubai tour companies.

The azure ocean waters together with the rippling dunes are synonymous with the island, making it popular among Dubai tour companies offering exhilarating packages and a host of entertaining activities.

But like with all tourism, the impact on the natural environment can have devastating effects – Moon Island, Dubai is no exception. In this case, it’s plastic pollution.

woman snorkelling moon island dubai

Dubai’s beaches have regularly featured in luxury travel magazines and blogs and have been coined as some of the best in the world, hence their popularity and blue flag statuses. Up until recently, however, Dubai’s Moon Island remained slightly off the beaten path.

What is perhaps special about Dubai’s unique island, thanks to its position, is that it gives visitors a whole new perspective of Dubai, allowing people to take in and appreciate the beauty. Situated 70 km off Dubai Beach, Moon Island is a place where you can quickly escape the commotion of Dubai’s metropolis without venturing too far. Despite its seemingly close vicinity, Crescent Moon Island is only accessible when you book with one of the many Moon Island Dubai tour companies.

The azure ocean waters together with the rippling dunes are synonymous with the island, making it popular among Dubai tour companies offering exhilarating packages and a host of entertaining activities.

But like with all tourism, the impact on the natural environment can have devastating effects – Moon Island, Dubai is no exception. In this case, it’s plastic pollution.

Plastic Pollution Threatens Wildlife On Moon Island, Dubai

While the world is trying to desperately reduce its plastic consumption, there are a few places in the world where it continues to pose serious threats to wildlife, flora, and fauna.

dead fish plastic pollution moon island dubai

According to watchers, plastic waste is accruing at phenomenal rates in the UAE’s once unspoiled waters and islands, Moon Island included. The ever-increasing amount of plastic debris that litters the ocean and shores continues to put animals and birds at risk. In fact, Lucy Gibson, owner and founder of Sand Dollar Dubai, recently visited Moon Island with her family. Instead of the pristine beaches that are a hallmark of the UAE, Lucy was met by a mass of plastic waste that littered the beaches and sea.  

Lucy Gibson Moon Island Dubai

Having grown up on the beach and now living in Dubai, Lucy has always had a strong connection to beaches and marine life, which is why she felt compelled, along with her young family, to help clean up the beaches of Dubai’s Moon Island during her last visit.

Plastic Pollution at Moon Island Dubai

So what plastic waste is the most common?

Single-use bottles are the biggest perpetrators. Plastic waste in deserts from unconcerned campers is just as prevalent as plastic waste on Moon Island, but there’s one major difference – plastic waste is far more challenging to remove from the ocean, which consequently endangers marine creatures and birds.

Sea creatures that call the Arabian Gulf home are under threat, especially turtles and marine birds that either mistake the plastic waste for food or become caught up and entangled in it.

The strong underwater currents drag plastic waste through the Arabian Gulf’s oceans, causing large deposits to accumulate on the archipelago’s shorelines. Despite locals’ efforts to clear the plastic waste by the boat, it continues to grow.

plastic bottle pollution arabian gulf beach

Where Does The Plastic Waste Come From?

Plastic waste on Moon Island, Dubai comes from varied sources, but mostly from pleasure boating, commercial ships, and careless fishermen. A lot of the plastic waste is branded with foreign languages and it’s still unknown whether the plastic waste in the Arabian Gulf has travelled so far or whether it’s from imports. And while one-use plastic bottles are more frequent, there have been other notable finds, such as bags of plastic pellets.

Plastic pollution on Crescent Moon Island and the rest of the UAE isn’t just a local problem – it’s a global one, which has also been highlighted in a shocking documentary “Plastic Ocean” by Joanna Ruxton that coins the North Pacific Ocean and surrounding islands as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The alarming film shows just how scary the plastic waste problem is, as fish and birds can be seen unwittingly mistaking plastic pieces for plankton.

arabian gulf pollution

Fashion vs. Plastic Pollution

Dubai’s a hot fashion scene and style is always at the forefront. Globally, we have seen a move away from fast fashion and brands that don’t support sustainability. Instagram is awash of up-and-coming sustainable clothing brands that pledge to help the environment.

One sustainable clothing label that’s taking the social media world by a storm is Pangaia.

Favoured by several famous fashion influencers, including the Kardashians and Pharrell Williams, Pangaia is an eco-friendly fashion label that has committed itself, alongside other major fashion labels like Stella McCartney, Burberry, Chanel, Prada, H&M, and Nike, to getting rid of plastic pollution while changing our attitudes towards clothes and mass-production.

Pagnaia is made up of, not only fashion designers but also scientists and technologists whose mission is to bring to life sustainable fashion designs in a bid to create responsible wardrobes using renewable, alternative, and very creative resources, including seaweed yarn.

If you live in Dubai and want to make an impact by reducing your carbon footprint while still looking chic, there are a few eco-conscious fashion labels to look out for. Here are just a few of the sustainable fashion brands we’re lusting over right now:

The Rocks Push – Using Plastic Pollution For Good

The Rocks Push’s catchphrase “Swimwear to clean up our oceans” is one. This Australian sustainable swimwear company for men, which specialises in men’s boardshorts and trunks uses plastic pollution and salvaged fishing nets to make fashionable sustainable swimwear.

Did you know that just one ton of old nylon fishing nets can help make approximately 6,000 pairs of sustainable board shorts? That is pretty awesome. In fact, for every six pairs of men’s boardshorts, The Rocks Push helps clear the oceans of 1kg of old nylon fishing nets.

But that’s not all, this sustainable fashion brand is of the highest quality and fashionable to boot. These quick-drying board shorts and swimming trunks for men are perfect for hanging out at some of Dubai’s hottest beaches and resorts.

As well as helping reduce plastic pollution in the world, The Rocks Push also has made a serious social commitment with its fair and ethical treatment of employees, which makes them even more awesome in our eyes.

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Artesano

Another sustainable fashion brand we’re lusting over is Artesano, an Ecuadorian eco-friendly brand that boasts a stunning collection of bags and hats. Lauded for revamping the original Panama hat, this iconic sustainable brand is known for its environmentally friendly and conscious approach to the world.

This revered South American brand goes to great lengths to help raise awareness of the many threats that threaten the natural world.

Following and using the highest eco-friendly standards, all Artesano’s accessories are not only lovingly hand-made, but they’re also designed and created in a way that doesn’t impact our natural environs.

Like The Rocks Push, Artesano has pledged to take environmental conservation seriously, which is why it’s always exploring new and innovative textiles and techniques.

While this stylish sustainable fashion brand may not be using plastic pollution from the Arabian Gulf to make a difference, it uses something just as intriguing and eco-friendly - Piñatex™ - ground-breaking, sustainable, vegan-friendly alternative leather, which has been ingeniously crafted from the extracted fibres from pineapple leaves.

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COÉGA – Seeking A Harmonious Relationship Between Our Oceans And Humans

There are many reasons why we love COÉGA. The fact that it’s designed right here in Dubai is number one. But another is the brand’s commitment to the environment – and its tag line sums it up well – “seeking a harmonious relationship between our oceans and humans”.

COÉGA recognises the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans – the Arabian Gulf is no exception.

COÉGA is unique. Unlike other local organisations and brands that tend to blame detached tourists and blasé locals about the growing amounts of plastic on Dubai’s beaches, it also states that the fashion industry and fashion consumers need to take onus. But the problem is – most consumers aren’t aware that every time they wash clothes made from synthetic fibres, such as elastic, Lycra, and polyester, their clothes are shed microplastics.

And where do they end up?

In our oceans of course, which is why COÉGA has pledged to create their range of swimwear and beach footwear using sustainable techno-fabrics that use regenerated yarn sourced from abandoned fishing nets to help reduce plastic pollution.

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FRESCOBOL CARIOCA – Upcycling and Recycling Materials

Based in Brazil, FRESCOBOL CARIOCA is a leading men’s swimwear company that understands the impact fast fashion has on the world’s natural resources.

Fashionable and sustainable, FRESCOBOL CARIOCA strives to produce high- quality men’s designer swimwear made from biodegradable and plant-derived materials as well as waste offcuts from the Brazilian furniture industry.

The company is also doing its bit to limit plastic pollution and the use of single-use plastics by focusing on sustainable packagings, such as poly-bags.

Dedicated to saving its precious Amazonia rainforest, FRESCOBOL CARIOCA places a strong emphasis on environmentalism and continues to look for ways to innovate and improve on every single level from production to the marketing of the products.

mens designer board shorts | frescobol carioca
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The UAE’s Fight Against Plastic Pollution In The Arabian Gulf

The UAE recently launched the ‘Drop It Campaign’ initiative, which aims to raise more awareness on plastic pollution and its lasting effects on places like Moon Island, Dubai, and other neighbouring areas.  

The UAE, despite its relatively small size, has one of the highest bottled water consumption rates in the entire world and it’s thought that every person consumes a whopping average of 250 litres of bottled water per annum. Not only this, around 80% of the plastic bottles aren’t recycled. Add the discarded nylon fishing nets and other plastic pollution to the equation and it’s clear that the UAE is on the verge of an environmental crisis.

Given the fact that it takes roughly 1,000 years for plastic waste to degrade, it’s no wonder that sea creatures are dying unnecessarily from becoming entangled or ingesting plastic.

How Can You Help Make The Change?

It’s impossible to fix the region’s plastic pollution single-handedly, but together we can make a change. Plastic pollution in the Arabian Gulf has reached a crisis point and it’s up to us to make the right choices when it comes to how we use and recycle plastic and the sustainable clothing brands we purchase. Plastic, in all its forms – bottles, packaging, straws, and nets – is choking our planet and destroying sea life – we need to take action now before there’s more plastic pollution in our oceans than fish.

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Beach Notes

Follow Lucy Gibson on the Sand Dollar Blog to find out about her lifestyle, this seasons latest trends and all things beach related. A hub for people who love to chase the sun, sea and sand way of life, whilst looking and feeling their best. We have all the tips to feel just that!