As countries in the United Arab Emirates struggle to prove that they are taking sustainability seriously, Abu Dhabi is trying to burnish its environmental stewardship commitment with a plan to save the endangered dugong.

Dugongs, closely related to manatees, are the only strictly marine mammal with an herbivorous diet. Spread across the shores of many countries from Egypt to India and Australia, they have a huge presence off the coast of Abu Dhabi. But the environmental degradation in the Arabian Gulf has wiped out countless clusters of seaweed and other marine plants on which dugongs feed. Now a coalition of UAE government agencies and NGOs are developing a plan to restore the habitat of these beautiful and peaceful creatures.

Oil and gas have led to spectacular development throughout the UAE and its neighbors over the past generation. But that transformation has come at a cost. Hopefully the government of Abu Dhabi and its partners will prove that the drive to save the dugong from extinction is sincere and not just a public relations blast. The Gulf Region and its sublime beaches are too beautiful to destroy. These countries have got to do better to protect and reclaim the dugongs’ habitat.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009 his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). During 2013 and 2014, he lived and worked in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as an associate director with a leading public relations firm within Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.