It’s official: the ghaf tree has been chosen as the official logo for the Year of Tolerance theme throughout 2019.
No less than Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president of the UAE, made the announcement and saying on Twitter that the tree ‘is the source of life and stability in the middle of the desert’ and that ‘under its shadows, our ancestors gathered to discuss their daily lives.’
The announcement thrust the country’s national tree into the spotlight, and suddenly was competing for attention alongside other national symbols like the dates, Arabian oryx and falcon.
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تعد شجرة الغاف عنوان الاستقرار والسلام في الصحراء، وتمتلك القدرة على التعايش والتأقلم مع البيئة الصحراوية، وكان الأجداد يتجمعون حولها للتشاور في أمور حياتهم…. الغاف شجرة دائمة الخضرة والعطاء ومصدر أساسي للغذاء، ستكون في #عام_التسامح عنواناً لترسيخ قيم العطاء والسلام والتنوع. __ Ghaf is a symbol of stability in the desert, under its shadows our ancestors gathered to consult on daily lives matters. In #YearofTolerance, we choose the Ghaf as a logo to represent the principles of tolerance, coexistence and diversity.
But how well do you know this humble desert tree? Here are some facts we dug up…
- Its specie name is Prosopis cineraria, and is also known through its others names such as Jammi, Shami and Khejri.
- A small tree by nature, the ghaf’s height ranges from three to five metres or 9.8 to 16.4 feet.
- It grows in extremely arid surroundings like the desert and can survive harsh climate conditions due to its high tolerance to high alkaline environment thus making it a symbol of strength and resiliency.
- The tree is highly revered in some cultures. In some parts of India, people practicing Hinduism worship the ghaf tree.
- It is the UAE’s national tree and continuous efforts have been made to plant more ghaf trees across the country. A word of caution: it is illegal to cut down the tree and you need to obtain permission from the authorities. If it’s really necessary due to reasons like obstruction or safety issues, the tree will be uprooted and transplanted somewhere else.