Dubai is known for its high tech skyscrapers and cutting edge metropolis; a bastion of modernity. But beyond Dubai and Abu Dhabi lies a wealth of ecotourism opportunities.
Dubai is often known for its extensive luxury, and engineering feats of man-made wonder. Even one of the largest land reclamation projects in the world was done in a custom pattern. Ecotourism is not what comes to mind when compared to what most people know of this region, or really the UAE in general. After all, deserts are not known for an abundance of life, and it takes massive amounts of resources to cool and keep people safe, let alone keep them comfortable. But to pick this fault is to do Dubai and the UAE a disservice: several eco-friendly projects, and initiatives are taking place in this booming tourism spot.
Al Maha is the leader in eco-tourism in Dubai. It protects a large area of protected flora and fauna, to ensure that the natural heritage is preserved. It has created a simple resort compared to the rampant development seen elsewhere. The resorts mission is to keep away such over-development so all can enjoy the natural beauty of the area. This makes Al Maha not just the largest in Dubai but the largest conservation area in the whole country. Don’t let the conservation fool you though; this is Dubai after all and, though eco-friendly, you can expect a very comfortable and luxurious stay.
There is also the Desert Islands Abu Dhabi; a collection of eight islands that are all a dynamic wildlife reserve. The islands have undisturbed marine ecosystems and a few archeological dig sites, all just off the coast of the UAE’s capital. The reserve offers a variety of nature based drives and hikes, as well as activities like snorkeling, kayaking, even falconry and archery and the first ever World Future Energy Summit was hosted here.
One of the biggest projects the UAE has set forth is Masdar City, not a single site or resort, but rather an ambitious project to create a whole city that is carbon neutral and produces zero waste; an eco-neutral city. This whole city is to develop and invest in clean energy technology. It caters to property investors looking for a more ethical slant when buying a property in Dubai. The latest in people movers and state of the art cooling technology will be all over the city and ensure it is comfortable without eating up energy. Masdar City is host to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology; an engineering school sister to MIT, and the Institute’s main focus will be the development of green technology.
Moving away from the glitz and glam of the city of Dubai, there is a wealth of biodiversity that you can journey through. The gulf has several reefs for snorkeling and an abundance of marine life that you can observe, and for which you can easily find snorkeling trips and tours. Not only that, but if you go off the beaten path a bit and do a little research, you can find bird watching excursions to the tidal wetlands, an area often overlooked by tourists. The wet lands have many types of birds you just can’t see in the city. If you are lucky you may even be able to see the migration of these birds between Asia and Africa.
Dubai, city of manmade wonder, and its partner Abu Dhabi, also host some of the most impressive and exciting opportunities for ecotourism in the modern world. Maybe it’s time to get out of the shadow of the city, and seek the real United Arab Emirates.
Image Credits: David Fenning