Planting a tree is considered Sadaqa Jariyah- charity that continues long after you’re gone. So how do you go about planting a tree in the UAE? Well… you could go to Give a Ghaf like I did. A Ghaf, for those who don’t know, is the name of one of the indigenous evergreen trees in the deserts of UAE. The tree is a symbol of the UAE, home to countless species of birds who nest in the Ghaf, and is highly valued for its ability to improve soil fertility. Not only that, it has lots of medicinal properties like treating rheumatism and scorpion stings. So all in all, quite a good choice if you’re looking to plant something here.
It’s quite thorny and not much of a looker, but I have a soft spot for it because it’s leaves are similar to those of the Flame Tree and used to make for great confetti to throw in each other’s hair when we were back in school and were awesomely unsuspecting trees to shake after the rain to soak each other with. I’m really not as naughty as that makes me sound, really…
I stumbled across Give a Ghaf and found out that not only could you buy the trees online, but you could also take part in their Community Planting Event where you’d not only learn more about the tree, but also plant the seeds for the trees straight from the pods. We signed up for the Community Planting Event which took place at the Al Barari Greenworks Nursery in Dubai and headed out on Friday morning.
I’ve never been to Al Barari myself, which is just shy of Global Village, and I was in for a big surprise.
Al Barari is like an oasis in the middle of the desert. From the moment we turned off E311, we were surrounded by lush greenery. As I later learned, Al Barari is an over 325 acre area covered with over 1800 plant species. We had stepped into heaven.
We started off by de-seeding the pods of the Ghaf which were fresh off the trees and so had luckily escaped being eaten by insects. As we de-seeded we sorted out the good seeds from the bad before we headed off to fill our bags with earth.
As we sorted the seeds we were told that the odds of the seed sprouting were one in over five thousand in the wild, but they thankfully had much better success in the nursery.
Once we had filled our bags, we headed to the seeding station, where we made a hole in the soil the size of our pinkie finger and dropped a single seed in before flattening the earth over it. Why such a big bag then you may well wonder. It’s because the Ghaf roots are very…very long. In fact so long that this was the reason why we were planting a single seed per bag – to avoid the roots of two trees getting inseparably intertwined. Once we were done, we were told about the next stage- which was planting the trees. Since the land here belongs to people, the public, however well-meaning, cannot just go and plant trees wherever they like. Once permission has been taken and a plot of land secured, the trees are then taken and planted in their new home. <3
It was a great experience and the best part of it was seeing all the families- parents who had come with their tiny tots and lanky teenagers on a weekend morning to do something lovely <3