Build it and they will come: Prize-winning projects take on a life of their own at American School of Dubai
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31 July 2023 Share article

By American School of Dubai students and staff

In January 2019, two students from the American School of Dubai (ASD), Aleena Abassi and Yasmin Gulamhusein, were thrilled to win the Zayed Sustainability Prize. The Prize funded a Bee Garden (the first school-based apiary in the UAE) and an industrial composter.


Since winning the Prize, ASD has expanded its engagement with the Bee Garden and industrial composter beyond its own community. Despite COVID-19 limitations, the school has integrated curriculum connections across various courses and grade levels, including Global Issues in Action, AP Literature, middle school science, and grade 2. Activities range from studying pollinators in the Bee Garden to beehive inspections.


ASD has also trained eight staff members as beekeepers and hosted numerous visits from schools, universities, think tanks, and government representatives, including HE Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and the Environment.


The school's industrial composter, which can process 500 kilograms of waste per day, has helped ASD divert all food waste from landfills and reduce most of its landscaping waste. Given its high capacity (and ASD's focus on reducing food waste), the school has also been able to reach out to restaurants, non-government organisations, and hotels in the area to support their needs. ASD is even more excited to have reached an agreement with its current food services provider to participate in the composting program on behalf of all 19 schools with whom they work.


ASD is also hearing from its community members that the presence of such learning spaces and processes are creating a "stir" in ways that were not quite envisioned when the school applied for the Prize. Students have written in to say that they are studying beekeeping at the university level or focusing on sustainable architecture. The most recent email was from Yasmin Gulamhusein, one of the students who worked on our Prize-winning projects back in 2019. Now at Georgetown University studying business and environment and looking to pursue a master's degree at Oxford University, she requested a recommendation for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.


ASD is proud to have provided Yasmin and so many others with a "why" on which to set their sights. The school believes that the true award of the Zayed Sustainability Prize was the story of community building, connecting to the natural world, and to the millions of actions subsequently made to regenerate the planet in small ways. These are the things that define a community in balance - for all our people and our one home.