Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Protected home of indigenous wildlife
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the largest protected land area in the UAE and is the only location where visitors can watch wildlife roam free while protected in their natural habitat.
The Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa was opened in 1999, with its own embryonic conservation area, which saw sand and Arabian gazelles and Arabian oryx reintroduced to their original home.
The luxurious hideaway was expanded in 2003, with its 27 square-kilometre nature reserve transformed into DDCR, a 225 square-kilometre national park.
To protect wildlife and control visitor numbers DDCR is segregated into zones, with some only open to researchers and access limited at others to a few selected desert safari tour operators.
Comprising five per cent of Dubai's total land area, the park received permanent protection in 2004 as the government moved to maintain a balance between Dubai's rapid development and the need to preserve its natural and cultural heritage.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and United Nations Environmental Programme gave the park international Protected Area status in 2008, establishing DDCR as the regional benchmark for sustainable development and conservation.
Emirates has sponsored the conservation and wildlife support programmes within the DDCR, investing more than AED 10 million over seven years.
Al Maha continues to have overall responsibility for the operations of DDCR, which is now home to home to more than 33 mammal and reptile species indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula, including the endangered oryx, as well as a wide variety of bird species, including the Barbary falcon, Lappet-faced vultures and even species of migrating Cuckoo.