In fulfilment of the prominence placed by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan on animal and environmental protection, the United Arab Emirates hosted its first, and very successful, national conference on animal welfare 2-3 November 2016.

The conference, organised by the UAE government, with joint support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s regional office in Dubai and the Emirates Animal Welfare Society, brought together speakers from the UAE and such places as Australia, France, the US and the UK to discuss international animal welfare perspectives and regional needs.

In his keynote speech, Dr Thani Al Zayoudi, Minister of Climate Change Environment, spoke of the important integration of international standards and procedures in developing an animal welfare platform in the UAE to include a new national animal welfare strategy.

Dr Salem Al Doobi, representing the Sharjah Government, proclaimed the importance of religious values underpinning civilised treatment of animals and the environment, pointing out that Islamic teachings make it very clear that animals must be treated with kindness.

Dr Majid Al Qasimi, director of the Animal Health and Development Department, looked forward to the development of a ‘Needs Analysis’ to identify animal welfare priorities and the development of strategies to address these.

Dr Mathew Stone, representing the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), congratulated the UAE on their animal welfare initiative and offered support through the OIE’s animal welfare standards and regional implementation strategies and materials.

I was invited to speak as well with my colleague Cindy Milburn, IFAW’s director of outreach and policy development. We highlighted the importance of paying regard to the welfare of captive and free living wild animals as well as species conservation.

In partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, IFAW has produced information for schools to provide information about the complications of keeping exotic pets which is a serious problem in the region. A law to limit the keeping of dangerous wild animals is being enacted to address the issues.

READ: UAE to ban the ownership of ‘exotic dangerous animals’

Conference participants contributed to a series of workshops discussing the principles and practice of animal welfare, education and training, monitoring standards of care, legislation and enforcement and the importance of respectful cooperation between all animal welfare stakeholders, including civil organisations.

The enthusiastic participation of the local, regional and international delegates, including students of the Veterinary Medicine Department at the UAE University, and the high calibre of the discussions bodes very well for the future of the UAE animal welfare initiative and national animal welfare strategy in the UAE.

IFAW was very pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute.

–EM

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Article source: IFAW

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