I believe normal that when we hear news about the Middle East we all think about desert, sandy places, palms and dates, camels and recently oil. Well it is quite true, but we should not forget that here and there, there are also amazing oasis that give to the sandy landscape a different tone. Talking about Dubai, we all immediately think about the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), the biggest mall in the world (Dubai Mall), Palm Jumairah, the most luxurious hotel in the world (Burj Al Arab), but no one mention the precious Flamingo Oasis that is few kilometres away from the down town.
Downtown Dubai from Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
You have to know that before the Emirates discovered precious black gold, Dubai’s first source of profit was the use of the creek, a natural harbor that was used by the past generations to store and trade goods from India and Iran. In that period Dubai became the most important Gold hub for the Middle East and an important producer of pearls and other mother-of-pearls stuffs. The City, thanks to the oil revenues, expanded rapidly but the creek survived, remaining a central point for Dubai’s life. At the end of the natural creek (yes because now there are impressive projects to extend it, but this is another story) there is a neighborhood called “Ras Al Khor” that in Arabic means ‘Cape of the Creek’ where the salty water together with a colony of mangroves created a surprising Lagoon. Little by little this natural spot was populated by many kinds of flora and fauna becoming the first Ramsar Site of the region with the name of “Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary”.
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing their fundamental ecological functions and economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
Owing to its position, the lagoon acts as a critical staging ground for the wintering birds of the East African-West Asian Flyway and therefore it is easy to see many spectacular species of birds including the beautiful and well-known Flamingos. I remember I firstly discovered the place by chance, noticing a road signal indicating a “Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary” while I was driving to Hatta from Dubai.
The Sanctuary can be visited only from appositely built observations deck, close enough to enjoy the view but distant enough to avoid disturbing the wild animals. This piece of green nature among the sand dunes is a real pearl for those who like natural spots to relax, think, take photographs and contemplate the wildlife astonishing complexity and variety.
The contrast between the natural zone and the down-town built few kilometres away is impressive and leave the observer with a sense of how invasive could be the humanity and how determinant for the preservation of the wildlife it shall be.
Unfortunately many huge projects are under development in the surrounding areas to create a new residential unit called “Lagoon” facing the Wildlife Sanctuary and to extend the creek to reach another part of Dubai. Let’s hope they will not ruin this little beautiful piece of nature just in name of business. It would be a shame otherwise.