When one notices a red flag on the beach, it is quite obvious to know what it represents. Basically, swimming is not permitted at that point of time due to dangerous conditions at sea. However, recently there are a number of blue flags turning up at various beaches in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. Most recently, these blue flags have made their way over to Mamzar Beach and Jumeirah Open beach in Dubai. In fact, there are not many people who are aware of what these blue flags indicate.

Firstly, these blue flags shouldn’t be mistaken for a bad thing. It’s actually quite the opposite. The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3,850 beaches and marinas across 48 countries by the Foundation of Environmental Education. In order for any beach to qualify for the blue flag, they would need to comply with 32 criteria ranging from safety and services, water quality, environmental management to environmental education and information. “It is not easy to qualify for the Blue Flag. It requires a lot of hard work and compliance on many fronts,” stated Mohamed Al Noori, Director Corporate Marketing and Relations who presented the project during the 1,000th meeting of the Technical Committee of Dubai Municipality.

Beach safety has always been a main concern in all emirates. The reason is because each year there are bound to be quite a number of drownings off the UAE coast. The cause of these drownings tend to be the strong currents. Swimmers are always warned not to swim, especially when the sea is rough. At the same time, municipalities have been pressured to install safety measures at both recreational as well as open beaches.

This blue flag marker guarantees of a set of crucial safety measures. First, a sufficient number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be made available at the beach, along with first aid equipment. Second, beachgoers and events have to be properly managed to prevent any conflicts and accident from occurring. Third, there should be a supply of drinking water made available at the beach. “We are working towards including all beaches in the emirate as ‘blue flag beaches. But this requires a lot of study and work. Currently other beaches are under review,” said Mohamed Al Noori, who is rather optimistic about beach safety in the UAE after the two beaches managed to qualify for the blue flag.

Happy Fish Swim School would like to remind all Singaporeans to pay attention to such flags at beaches abroad. It is important to know what each coloured flag stands for and to obey the rules. If you would like to learn more about water survival in the open waters, make sure to take a look at our Open Water SwimSafer Course.