Ghaya al Ahbabi, a young activist dedicated to environmental protection, made her debut as a Unicef ambassador at the age of just 13 during the Climate Conference COP 28 held in her native country, the United Arab Emirates.

Inevitably, comparisons arise with the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who is seven years older but has long been engaged in advocating for the planet. Known as ‘Green Ghayà’ on Instagram, where her popularity grows day by day, Ghaya, whose name evokes the Greek deity personifying the Earth, has seized opportunities and captured the world’s attention, earning the moniker ‘Greta Turnberg of the Arab world.’

Green Ghaya, with chestnut hair, green eyes, and a clear smile on a free face despite the hijab covering her head, conveys a message of perseverance, likening environmental commitment to caring for a plant. “It must be nurtured and watered every day; in the first six months, it may seem that there is no growth, but over time, the results become evident and surprising,” she declared during COP28.

Legend has it that the nickname ‘Green Ghaya’ was given to her by an Emirati sheikh, Abdulaziz al Nuaimi, also known as the ‘green sheikh’ for his attention to renewable energies. The story goes that the sheikh observed Ghaya feeding a stray cat with rice after an environmental meeting. This image convinced the sheikh to support her, turning the girl into an ambassador for the environment and change, starting from Arab countries.

At the heart of Ghaya’s battle are the fight against climate change and the crisis resulting from these changes. She has conveyed messages similar to the appeals of her Swedish counterpart, albeit in a different style. Unlike Greta’s extreme seriousness, Ghaya does not shy away from smiles.

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