During your visit, you will be able to see many of the animals that live within the desert, under the water or on UAE shores. From the Arabian Camels and the adored Falcons to the protected Hawksbill Turtles, they are all here.
One of the most common animals you will spot when you’re on a safari here is the Arabian camel. They have a single hump, light coloured skin, a long neck and can grown to 2 metres in height. As they roam across the desert, they feed on plant, shrubs and grass, and can even drink up to 40 gallons of water at one time. Inside their hump, they are able to store fat allowing them to roam for weeks without eating any food. If you visit the Emirates Palace Hotel, you can enjoy a camel ride along the beach – definitely something to add to your to-do-list!
If you come across an Arabian Oryx during your trip, you can’t miss their long spiky horns, black features across their face, long neck and light coloured skin. If you’re out on a desert safari, keep an eye out for these creatures roaming across the desert sands.
A Saluki is a rare breed of dog - sometimes referred to as a desert dog – and is mainly found in this part of the world. Dating back thousands of years, hunting Saluki dogs was an ancient traditional sport, and one that was extremely popular among Emiratis.Today, these dogs, which look similar to a greyhound, are protected with many initiatives launched here in Abu Dhabi to help protect, train and care for them. The capital boasts its very own Arabian Saluki Centre, so you can see these adored dogs up close and learn about their fascinating history.
Across the UAE, Falcons are officially the national symbol of the country. With their hooked upper beaks, large wings, strong grasping feet and superb vision, Falcons are one of the most common birds of prey in the world. Years ago the sport of Falconry was a way of life here in the Middle East, however, today Falconry still exists, but the power, ability and beauty of these birds is treasured and protected. Abu Dhabi has its own Falcon Hospital near the airport where visitors can see these stunning birds up close.
With their tapered head and district bird-like beak, the Hawksbill is one of seven species of sea turtle and is commonly found around the mangroves and coral reefs of Abu Dhabi. Over the last decade the hawksbill population has declined significantly, leading to these saltwater reptiles now being endangered. Here in Abu Dhabi, a variety of important rehabilitation work takes place each year, especially around springtime when the turtles nest and hatch on beaches.
Just like the Falcon and Camel, the beauty, loyalty and strength of the Arabian horse is adored within the Arab culture. These beautiful animals have been a huge part of the UAE’s heritage dating back to the 1900s. Across the country, there are many equestrian clubs and places where these horses are cared for, trained and raced. An Arabian horse boasts a chiseled head, long neck, tall carriage and silky-smooth mane.
Under the warm blue waters of Abu Dhabi, you will find Dugongs. With their light grey skin, flat tail, wide flippers—similar to a whale— and large head, these mammals live in the sea and feed off the grass and other plants found along the sea bed. A fully-grown Dugong can grow to 3 metres long and can weigh around 400kg. Dugongs are often referred to as sea cows and known to be shy-natured. endangered due to the decreasing amount of sea grass in our waters.
Abu Dhabi is the only place in Arabia where the flamingos birds breed. The whole of the UAE is a migration hotspot for birds as they fly on a major route from Asia to Africa that sees millions of birds passing through every year.
And if you have time...
Visit the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, which covers an area of five square kilometres and comprises both natural and man-made wetlands. The site was established in 1988 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Check the website www.ead.ae for the opening times.