UAE Unveils Nine Critical Conservation Zones

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has designated nine vital regions across the country as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). These KBAs encompass a wide range of ecosystems, from desert landscapes to marine habitats, and are crucial for safeguarding the UAE's unique species and ecological health.

The announcement underscores the UAE's growing commitment to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation. These KBAs will serve as cornerstones for targeted conservation efforts, ensuring the well-being of both wildlife and the communities that depend on these ecosystems.

Among the designated KBAs are the iconic Arabian Oryx Protected Area and the Marawah Marine Area, both located in Abu Dhabi. The Arabian Oryx Protected Area is a haven for the majestic oryx, an antelope species that was once on the brink of extinction. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, the oryx population has rebounded in recent decades, with the UAE now boasting the largest population in the world. The Marawah Marine Area, meanwhile, is a haven for diverse marine life, including coral reefs, seagrasses, and dugongs, also known as sea cows.

Dubai also boasts two distinguished KBAs:the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. These arid landscapes provide crucial habitat for a variety of desert-adapted species, including the Arabian sand gazelle and various reptiles. Sharjah contributes two KBAs to the list:Wadi Al-Helo and the Khor Fakan and Shark Island complex. Wadi Al-Helo is a seasonal waterway that attracts migratory birds, while the Khor Fakan and Shark Island area is known for its mangroves, coral reefs, and rich marine life.

The rugged terrain of Wadi Al-Bih in Ras Al Khaimah has also been designated a KBA. This mountainous region is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including some rare and endemic species. Finally, the UAE's northern emirate, Umm Al Quwain, contributes two KBAs:Siniyah Island and Khor Al Beidah. Siniyah Island is an important nesting ground for seabirds, while Khor Al Beidah is a haven for migratory birds and marine life.

The designation of these nine KBAs is a significant step forward for the UAE's conservation efforts. By focusing resources and initiatives on these critical areas, the UAE can ensure a brighter future for its unique biodiversity and the vital ecosystems that sustain it. This move aligns with the country's broader environmental goals, including its commitment to combating climate change and promoting sustainable development.

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