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United Arab Emirates Nature and Wildlife

  • Desert safari
  • Camels in the desert
  • Falcon on a leash
  • Arabian Oryx in the desert


In 2000, an Environment Protection and Development Law was issued by the late President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This was a landmark law in regards to environmental conservation. It strives to control pollution and to avoid both immediate and long term damages of economic, agricultural, industrial or urban development. Interestingly in Dubai, a region known for major developments and building, the biggest piece of land that Dubai has dedicated to one project was for the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This reserve covers and area of 225 square kilometers, or 4.7% of the total land area of the UAE.



The United Arab Emirates hosts a wide variety of mammals (both on land and in the water), reptiles and birds. Despite being known for continual urban development, the Sheikhs of the UAE have always been concerned with the environment, establishing mandates to help preserve it. Since the country’s formation in 1971, several laws, presidential decrees and local orders have been issued to protect the environment.

The Arabian Oryx is the largest of the Arabian antelopes and can survive in areas without trees or standing water. During the 1960s, the Arabian Oryx became extinct in the wild, however, thanks to the work of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, a breeding campaign was put in place with animals that had been in captivity. These animals bred well, resulting in several herds in various locations in Abu Dhabi. The Arabian Mountain Gazelle is another common species that lives in gravel plains, sand deserts and mountains. Natural habitats for these animals extend right across the northern Emirates. These gazelles are very interesting in that if they encounter danger, they can reach speeds of 65 km/hour in order to escape.

The Arabian Leopard is a very famous mammal, unfortunately, its fame stems from its near extinct status. The early 1990s witnessed a near massacre by hunters, leaving very few leopards alive. This triggered conservation efforts by the Arabian Leopard Trust (ATL), which was established in 1992. The ATL opened a breeding centre in the foothills of the Hajjar Mountain Range in Ras al-Khaimah. The area was donated by H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi, the ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah. The Arabian Leopard is now protected by law in the UAE.

Approximately one-third of the eighty known species of whales and dolphins inhabit the coasts around the UAE. Most species are found off the eastern coast where deep underwater canyons exist. This deep water accommodates species like sperm whales and Risso’s dolphins. In contrast, the shallow and warm waters of the Arabian Gulf are perfect for species like the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the rare, finless porpoise that prefer such conditions. Dugongs are also common as these animals, which are thought to be the origin of the mermaid myth, number around 5,000.

Reptiles are very suited to the hot and dry climate found throughout the UAE. As such, over fifty-four terrestrial species inhabit the country. Along with desert dwelling lizards, there are also water-based reptiles like the Green Turtle. These creatures are found in waters around the country, however, the largest populations occur on feeding grounds to the west of Abu Dhabi.

The UAE is considered by many to be a birdwatcher’s paradise. This is because of the more than 100 species that breed in the country. Popular birds amongst enthusiasts are the Persian Shearwater, the near-endemic Socotra Cormorant and the rare Barbary Falcon. In addition to those that breed in the UAE are large numbers of migratory birds that visit the country while en route between Asia, Africa and Europe.



United Arab Emirates Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Learn about the history and culture of UAE, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about UAE's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering UAE for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our United Arab Emirates tours today!


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AfricaExperts is the exclusive division of Goway that specializes in planning and organizing United Arab Emirates tours and experiences. Choose from a simple city stopover, a stay of distinctionlocally escorted tour, an independent travel module and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to United Arab Emirates.

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