Leading ecological school, The Arbor School, and top Dubai restaurant, The MAINE, join forces to restore the UAEs oyster reefs


Dubai, UAE: On November 1, The Arbor School, a leading ecological school in Dubai, announced the launch of The Dubai Oyster Project, in partnership with The MAINE New England Brasseries Company and Emirates Marine Environmental GroupDiscarded oyster shells from one of Dubai’s well-known restaurants, usually destined for landfills, are being diverted from landfills to create artificial reefs in the country’s first-ever community-driven reef restoration.

Developed through a partnership between Joey Ghazal, Founder & Managing Partner of The MAINE New England Brasserie Company; Fadi Abu Ghali, a Dubai based entrepreneur; the Arbor School, and Emirates Marine Environmental Group, The Dubai Oyster Project aims to rehabilitate a historic natural reef system off the coast of Dubai to increase local biodiversity.

So far, an estimated 250,000 oyster shells have been donated by The MAINE to the Arbor School, a leading ecological school in Dubai. The Arbor School’s secondary students, who are currently studying the oceanography of the UAE, will fill discarded fish traps known locally as gargoors, with the oyster shells in order to repurpose the shells as they provide structures where marine plants and animals can grow.

“Helping our environment is a necessity and our obligation, however small, to look after our natural habitats. It is also extremely rewarding. This is just the beginning of our CSR journey with The Dubai Oyster Project,” said Joey Ghazal, Founder and Managing Director of The MAINE.

Collaborating with the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) at its reserve in Ghantoot, the gargoors will be transformed into biological ‘building blocks’ and placed offshore at the EMEG reserve in a process called ecological restoration. If the project proves to be successful, it may then be expanded to different areas outside the reserve, contributing to the betterment of the UAE’s marine ecosystem.

Major Ali Al Suweidi, founder and CEO of EMEG said: “Our mission is to preserve biodiversity in the UAE and educate the future generations on the importance and necessity of conserving the environment. Saying this, we are proud to be partaking in this initiative to further raise awareness and activate the community.”

As an ongoing part of their studies, the Arbor School’s students will experiment with different placements of reef blocks and monitor species colonisation, optimising the process and expanding reef-building efforts.

Commenting on the partnership,  Ben Hren, Environmental Education Specialist at The Arbor School added: “At the Arbor School, we follow a unique Ecoliteracy curriculum that emphasizes the opportunities and responsibilities people have to take practical action to protect, conserve and regenerate the ecological systems we depend on. We encourage all our students to identify the things that matter to them and to use their passion and creativity to develop innovative solutions to address challenges. The opportunity for our year nine students to work with leading environmentalists and environmentally responsible businesses to regenerate critical reef habitats empowers them to think about other ways they can use what they’re learning in school to help build a future where is enough for all, forever.”

About The Arbor School:

The Arbor School, Dubai, is an international, ecological school for students from FS1 to Year 9, and is an Eco-Schools, Green Flag accredited school. Following the National Curriculum for England, The Arbor School is enriched with innovative teaching in the form of project-based, experiential and outdoor learning, focused on eco-literacy, sustainability, and environmental justice. The Arbor School opens its senior years 10, 11 and 12, from September 2022.