The Gulf emirate of Dubai has become the first Arab city to join two dozen cities around the world later this month in turning off the lights for one hour to raise awareness about global warming.
"Dubai is the first Arab city to declare its support for Earth Hour" slated for March 29, said a statement on Tuesday by sponsors of the move in Dubai, one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UAE has the world's largest ecological footprint, meaning it consumes the most natural resources per capita, according to a 2004 report by the conservation group WWF that measures the environmental sustainability of a state.
Residents in Dubai were urged to switch off all non-essential lights for one hour at 8:00 pm local time (1600 GMT) on the day "to send a message around the world that we have the power to take action against global warming."
They were also asked to turn off non-essential appliances "to show how people working together ... can make a difference."
The "Earth Hour" initiative, which is managed by WWF, started in Australia's biggest city Sydney last year when an estimated 2.2 million people flicked the switch.
Organizer Andy Ridley said in February that Sydney's 60-minutes of darkness generated huge interest around the world and 23 other cities had signed up to be part of the 2008 event. They include five more cities in Australia and four in each of the United States, Canada and Denmark.
The initiative in Dubai, which has more than 1.3 million residents, will be led by government conglomerate Dubai Holding and the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority.