Top Eco-experience places in UAE

UAE is not only about malls, shopping, and highest-biggest urban development icons. There is more to it. Sustainability Tribe highly recommends to get away from the urban jungle and explore the real beauty of UAE. UAE offers rich biodiversity, different Eco-systems, and breathtaking natural beauty. Even the man-made environments in UAE show the great examples of man’s efforts and determination.
 

Therefore we have compiled this extensive list of Top Eco-experience places including naturally existed as well as the man-made places where you can get close to Nature and create some of the best memories of your UAE stay.

UAE’s Natural Places

1. Beaches (Free)

In any almost any emirate, you can head to beaches as all 7 emirates have coasts. In Dubai our favorite is Kite Beach & JBR beach where there are all required facilities which you need on a beach day like showers, changing rooms, restaurants. Al Mamzar beach also offers great beach fun but it’s a bit far, closer to Sharjah.

For beaches far away from city life, there are Abu Dhabi’s Al Hameem beach or Al Ruwais Camping beach. For some more beautiful beaches, you need to try Kho Fakkan beach, popular for a picnic on the beach or Fujairah beaches great for overnight camping on the beach.
One of the closest to our home, Al Sufouh beach is our favorite too though it doesn’t have any facilities there.
You can spend a day easily on the beach. Take your sand toys, build sand castles with your children. Splash water. Fly kites, Do beachcombing, find treasures, Watch the sun go down, have a picnic on the beach. Just take sunscreen with you and please do not liter, as the garbage on the beach directly enters the ocean from there. You can also celebrate a special occasion or arrange a party on the beach but just make sure you are not harming the environment. Read here how to throw an eco-friendly beach party.

For an offbeat experience, you can also volunteer to release baby turtle on a protected beach in Dubai during turtle hatching season. Read here our experience of waving bye to sea turtles on the beach.


2. Desert (Through Tour Operator)

Liwa Desert
When I talk about the desert experience, it’s not about desert safari and no dune bashing, please! While dune bashing, you don’t know you are harming the habitat of how many animals staying in the sand

But if you fancy going on a safari and exploring desert, flora, and fauna Dubai Desert Conservation Renter (DDCR) is a great place. Platinum Heritage tour operator organizes some interesting desert experiences at DDCR like wildlife drive, overnight safari, Bedouin experience. Read here our tried and tested experience with platinum heritage at DDCR. 

If you don’t want to go for any desert safari but still experience desert beauty, there is another way. Just visit desert resorts like Al Maha resort or our favorite Qasr Al Sarab for a stay or even for a brunch. At Qasr Al Sarab, you can enjoy the tallest red dunes near Liwa, Abu Dhabi which are one of the most beautiful sand dunes in UAE.

But don’t think that walking on soft sand is an easy task, especially long walks like this Desert challenge where we took part in for a 5 km walk among desert dunes in Abu Dhabi. But if you fall down from the dune, you don’t get hurt, provided there are any rocks around. Especially in Liwa, you can play in the sand, like kids in a ball pit.

One warning, don’t try to drive on your own on sand because you need to know a few techniques like reducing tire pressure etc and always keep a shovel in the car which comes handy if you get stuck in the sand.

3. Wadis & Mountains (Free)

Jebel Jais

If you want to explore UAE’s wadis, you need a map and 4X4. Read here our guide to wadis in UAE. We are not talking about wadi bashing here, as it will harm the wildlife staying there. It is preferable to go there in better weather and remember there is a danger of flash floods. Please don’t live anything back when you return, take your garbage and throw it in next bin you find.

Jebel Jais, the highest mountain peak in UAE is worth visiting for a beautiful view and feel the cooler temper, especially in summer.

If you are going in a wadi or any rocky area, better to keep one spare tire if you need just in case and I highly recommend the explorer guides, totally reliable for finding ways to hidden places.

3. Mangroves & Khors (Free)

Kalba Mangrove

Mangroves and Khors are UAE’s Eco hubs and most important natural features. The most densely bio-diverse places, where you can find many species of sea life, birds, plants etc. That’s why these places are great bird watching sites as well. Read here a complete list of UAE’s Khors, Lagoons & Mangrove Forests.

There also many activities you can do including kayaking. Read here out tried and tested kayaking experience at Abu Dhabi’s Easter mangroves.

If you want to know more about Mangroves and mangrove plantation, read here.

4. Birds (Mostly Free)

Little green bee-eaters

UAE’s location is central on the world map, so here you get to see a lot of migratory birds along with native. Read more about Birds in UAE. 

You can visit below-listed places for bird-watching and learn about them.

My most favorite is Wasit Nature Reserve in Sharjah, read here more about it. It is by far the best place bird sanctuary in UAE. You can see birds in captive but natural habitat and learn about birds. They have great educational games for kids too.

Second and most frequented by us for many years is RAS Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai.

The third is Al Wathaba wetlands in Abu Dhabi. It’s on my list of ‘need to visit’ places yet. Till then you can just learn about it from their website. Recently a new bird Arabian Eagle Owl is discovered in UAE, read here about this discovery.

5. Wildlife (Nominal Charges)

Critically Endangered Arabian Leopard

Yes, there is native wildlife in UAE and Arabian peninsula. Many expats and visitors are still unaware of the existence of UAE’s wildlife. People generally think there is no life in this vast desert. So I think these places should be on the top of things to do in UAE by everyone visiting especially to see and find out more about UAE’s endangered wildlife.

We loved Al Hefaiya Mountain Conservation Center in Kalba, Sharjah (read here). It’s in a beautiful setting on the foothill of Hajar mountains.

Another great place to know about Arabia’s Wildlife Center in Sharjah

And if you fancy going on wildlife drive no so far from the city at Dubai Desert Conservation Center. Read here.

You can also take your children to Turtle feeding at Mina A’salam for free every Wednesday.

I recommend this read how our actions can help conserving wildlife in UAE.

Man-made Environment Experiences in UAE

Now let’s look at some Eco-experience places which didn’t exist naturally but are created. UAE’s harsh natural environment has limitations and therefore governments and organizations have created man-made environments to make cities more livable. There are numerous man-made Eco experiences waiting for you to enjoy. But I have supported and featured only those places where I feel, there is the right balance of man-made environment without larger impact on local resources.
Creek Park

1. Parks- (Free or less than 10 Dhs each)

There are many fantastic man-made parks around UAE. In winter months, you can go to park throughout the day but in the months like April, May, November when it’s hotter during the day; you can go to parks early in morning or in evening.

In Dubai, our favorites are Al Barsha Pond Park, Umm Suqueim Park, Creek Park & Mushrif Park. Mushrif Park is really huge and with a lot of local flora and fauna, great for barbeque and spending the whole day.

In these parks, you can have a picnic, take cycles and ride them. watch birds and plants, collect natural goodies and see how children get creative playing with it or crafting it.

There are also weekend markets in many parks, where they sell local and organic things so it feels like some festivals in the parks.

Public parks are important not for just taking our kids to play but I feel even for us adults to have some close to nature, outdoor time. Read here, some my favorite parks to visit for my me-time!

2. Zoos (Nominal Charges)

I personally have an issue with zoos, as I can’t bear to see wild animals in small cages, but I admit the significance of zoos in making our people and mainly future generations, kids aware of wildlife and showing them how to take care of wild animals and love them.

I am strongly against commercially using animal interaction for tourism purpose. So I am not featuring those examples here under my top Eco Experiences, I don’t think those are a good example of wildlife interaction. But here are some zoos in UAE, where you can see wildlife where they are treated well.

Al Ain zoo wildlife Center has the largest collection of wildlife in UAE, the night salaries during summer months are popular. A smaller zoo, Emirates Park Zoo, we visited it on my son’s birthday so read here our experience.

Emirates Park Zoo

The Green Planet is another place in the heart of Dubai, where you can give your kids some wildlife experience. Read here about our visit.

3. Aquariums (Charges apply)

There are some educational aquariums in UAE, where you can learn and teach your children about native marine life. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater zoo in Dubai mall has a great display of many underwater species. But Sharjah Aquarium is our favorite as they have displayed mostly local species. Read here.

4. Lakes (Free)

Al Qudra lakes at outskirts of Dubai are man-made lakes, but they provide a great habitat for wildlife and birds. Great place spend a day with family and friends. Read here about wildlife at Al Qudra lakes. But if you are visiting these lakes please remember to clean up your garbage when you leave, I have seen a lot of garbage around the lake last year. There is a great cycling track near Al Qudra lakes so it’s worth taking your bike for a ride there.

5. Farms (Need to take permission)

Dairy Farm

Technically I think traditional farming is not sustainable as the farms use a high amount of desalinated water. Water is precious in UAE, as quite a lot of energy is used to desalinate seawater. Also, the weather conditions and lack of natural soil makes traditional farming even more unsustainable. But there are few organic farms in UAE, who follow principals of organic farming, use non-GMO seeds and don’t use chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers.

These are definitely great places to take our kids and teach them how food grows.

Organic Oasis Farm in Dubai is one such farm.

Read here our fabulous experience of picking our own vegetables on Farm 182 in Abu Dhabi.

You can also introduce your kids to farm animals in UAE. Read here about our education trip to Dairy farm in Dubai.

Tribe, now that you have this list of our Top Eco-experience places in UAE, I know you will plan your visits soon and believe me your kids or visitors will love it there. just remember while taking these Eco-experiences we need to be mindful and reduce our adverse impact on these places as much as possible.

If you are new to Sustainability Tribe, join our tribe here!

(P.S. Few Links are taken from other blogs, where you can read their experiences. Thanks to these UAE mom bloggers! Tarana, Sand in My Toes; Sandy, Ginger & Scotch;  Tasneem, Thoughts over Chai; Zeyna, Mommy on my mind)

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Meet Amruta

Hi, I am Amruta, Thank you for visiting my blog!

I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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