Dubai – A Wetland Surprise

Whilst glitz, glamour and sand are at the front of anyone’s thinking when it comes to Dubai and the U.A.E. I suspect that few would suspect that it is also home to a world class wetland teaming with bird life.


This is exactly what one will find in Ras Al Khor.  Situated about a 10 minute drive from the glitz and glamour of Downtown Dubai and the shops of the Dubai Mall is an area of 620 hectares of protected salt flats, inter-tidal mudflats, mangroves, and lagoons.

The area is home to the most northerly permanent flock of flamingos in the world.  In addition to these pink beauties the area is home to a further 66 species of birds including grey and reef herons, cormorants, great egrets and even ospreys.

Most of the species that can be found here are migratory.  These wetlands are a crucial staging spot for birds migrating between East Africa and West Asia, and are in fact one of the best arid area wetlands to be found anywhere in the world.


There are 2 main areas for viewing the birds which have permanent hides close to the wildlife.  One, reached from the point where the Al Ain Road turns into Oud Metha Rd – is best for viewing the flamingo flock whilst the other which is reached from the Ras Al Khor Road, is best for viewing other birds and is quiet.

Access to the hides is free of charge and the prime time for viewing is the winter (between November and March)  when the migratory bird population is at its highest.

Dubai – so much more than camels and shops

Well I guess it’s time that I start to share some of the things about a place that is increasingly on people’s list of places to visit and has for the last 4 and a bit years been my home – Dubai.

Dubai, a fast paced city with a uniquely Middle Eastern flavour, is the ultimate travel conundrum, as it is:

  • An open and accepting place welcoming tourists from around the world that is also a devoutly Muslim country governed by Sharia Law.
  • A land where vast tracts of desert sit within 20 minutes of some of the largest, smartest and most extravagant shopping malls on the planet.
  • A land of sand and desert that is home to the most northerly permanent flock of flamingoes in the world in its wetlands.
  • A place that has less than 15cm of rain a year (compared to 120cm per year in Brisbane and 60cm in London) but has some of the best municipal plantings I’ve seen around the world.
  • A progressive city looking for ways to maximise its “green credentials” but relies on oil and aviation for the bulk of its economy,
  • Known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world and yet you can go out for and a fabulous lunch for the same price as a cup of coffee in cities like London, Sydney and New York.
  • Home to the world’s busiest long haul airport and yet only has a population of about 2.5 million

I will try to give my view of this amazing place and hopefully inspire a number of you to visit.