10% of Dubai emirate to be Desert Conservation Reserve

By Divi S.

DUBAI 17 January 2018: The Marmoom Reserve – the first unfenced desert conservation reserve in the country – was launched yesterday by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The reserve spans 10 per cent of the emirate of Dubai’s total area – and will introduce more than 20 environmental, cultural and sports-related initiatives, sponsored by nine Dubai government agencies.

Enjoying over 40 hectares of shrubland and fertile area, the reserve is home to over 204 species of native birds, 158 species of migratory birds, and over 10 km of lakes, encompassing the Al Qudra Lakes. The new project will include 10 animal and bird observation platforms, star and sunset observations decks, areas for yoga, an outdoor theatre that can host 350-person events, and will be powered by a 5,000 MW solar power complex.

By 2030, it will host more than 20 annual sporting events, which will attract an estimated 20,000 participants. Its cycling tracks will add up to the longest in any desert anywhere in the world.

Sheikh Mohammed said, “Preserving and investing in the environment means preserving and investing in one of our most important assets. The Marmoom Reserve is an environmental, tourist and sporting addition to life in the UAE.

“The desert is beautiful and inspirational; it provides a peaceful shelter to plants, birds and people. Our goal is to provide a fertile and robust environment for plants, a natural reserve for animals, and an important destination for tourists and families. When nine government agencies work as a team, the result will be exceptional, as reflected in the Marmoom Reserve.”

This project reflects Dubai’s development goals to preserve the local environment, including the nature of the desert, and to enhance its aestheticism, as well as to provide a natural habitat for threatened wildlife through its natural reserve.

Natural Life

Al Marmoom is one of the largest protected areas in Dubai, spanning over 10 per cent of the emirate’s total area. It is home to 26 species of reptiles, nine mammal species, and 39 species of plants. It provides a sanctuary for 19 species of endangered animals and birds. It has the highest concentration of large flamingos in a desert region in the country, with 300 to 500 birds. It also welcomes 158 species of migratory birds every year, hosting them along 10 sq km of wetland. It contains one of the richest Houbara Bustard colonies in the region, and is home to one of the largest Arabian gazelle herds in the UAE.

The Marmoom Reserve is also the site of the important Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site, which dates back over 3,000 years to the Iron Age.

Marmoom Reserve Projects

The reserve will host more than 20 projects and environmental, recreational, sports, tourism and educational programmes that will engage people in unique experiences throughout the year. On the reserve are more than a dozen wildlife and bird observation platforms, star and sunset observation decks, yoga practice areas, a theatre that will host various cultural, artistic and recreational performances, and various sports initiatives and challenges.

The Dubai Municipality, Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Water and Electricity Authority, Roads and Transport Authority, Media Office, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai SME and Meraas will all be part of establishing and launching the new initiatives and projects.

Animal and Bird Watching Observation Decks

When complete, Marmoom Reserve will feature more than ten observation decks scattered across the grounds in different locations, allowing for maximum observation of nature in its various elements. Among these decks is a location to observe the Arabian gazelles, erected on the top of a slope in order to provide a panoramic view. The observation decks will be built in the shape of Arabian Oryx heads, and will blend in harmoniously with the surrounding environment to not disrupt the wildlife.

There will be several decks to observe birds, including a bird’s nest themed deck, which will allow people to observe the birds without confusing or disrupting them. The Bird’s Nest platform will be located on the edge of the park’s water bodies, offering beautiful scenery for photography.

Spaces for meditation and relaxation

Several platforms will be erected in order to provide a space for meditation and relaxation, surrounded by peaceful and beautiful landscape. The platforms will take up 1,500 sqm, and will be inspired by the sand dunes of the desert. The yoga practice hall will be shaded by a sand-dune designed cover, which will provide protection from the sun for yoga practitioners and yet preserve the beautiful view, especially during sunrise and sunset.

An air-conditioned yoga lounge will also offer a spectacular view of the desert with all its captivating charm. Another multi-level outdoor podium for yoga will also open, allowing people to practice outside amidst the desert nature where practitioners can relax in the serene environment and take in the beauty.

For astronomy enthusiasts, five star observation decks will be included, in an order inspired by the solar system. The decks’ unique locations in the middle of the desert will offer clear visibility. The location will be far from the noise of the city, and will be a true experience for people who are looking to star gaze.

Emirates Nursery

The Marmoom Reserve will also be an incubator for the largest plant nursery in the UAE, covering an area of 40 hectares. The nursery will seek to contribute to Dubai’s strategic objectives to increase its green areas, to preserve and protect local plant species, to document local plants as part of the preservation of the national heritage and to expand the product of tree for use in horticulture and landscaping projects, as well as to make horticulture and afforestation projects more affordable.

The nursery will also serve as a training and educational centre for school and university students, researchers and academics in the field.
Sporting Events

The Marmoom Reserve will host a series of annual sporting events. The programme will include more than 20 sports events and competitions, which are expected to attract more than 20,000 people annually. Some of the events will include the Dubai International Cycling Tour, organized by the Dubai Sports Council, and the Sandstorm Marmoom Challenge.

Outdoor Theatre

The design of the outdoor theatre is consistent with the desert nature of the reserve; it is inspired by the formation of desert shrubs above the sand dunes. The theatre consists of a platform for performances and art, with a full-screen display, as well as service rooms and terraces of varying levels to give different perspectives to the audience. The stage is topped by an open dome, also inspired by sand dunes, giving a desert colour to the design, and providing a silhouette for the public.

The 350-person theatre will host a variety of artistic and lyrical performances from across the region and the world, within a year-round artistic and entertainment schedule.

Al Marmoom Biosphere Centre

The Marmoom Biosphere Centre will mainly be dedicated to studying the sustainable development and management of the protected area within policy in Dubai. It will serve as a centre for sustainable ecotourism, and will seek to be the main source of specialized ecosystem management practices in the UAE and the region, and to develop and provide expertise in the environmental field, serving as a reliable reference for best practices for environmental conservation.

Marmoom Reserve Protection Scouts

The Marmoom Reserve Protection Scouts is a result of the cooperation between Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Dubai Scout Commission and the Emirates Scouts Association. It will aim to develop the outdoor skills of the younger generation, and to foster the spirit of connecting with the natural environment. The ultimate goals is to enhance conservation, wildlife and desert protection, and to instil positive values including self-exploration and problem solving.

Solar and Intelligent Technologies

As part of the Marmoom Reserve project, the Mohamed bin Rashid Solar Power Complex will be connected to the protected area, which will be provided with clean energy to conserve the environment and promote sustainable development.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Complex will be the largest of its kind in a single location in the world with a capacity of 5,000 MW by 2030. Phase one and two are completed, with a capacity of 213 MW. Phase three is currently being implemented with 800 MW, to be followed by phase four with 700 MW of concentrated solar power.

Clean energy will be produced over the protected facilities through the Shams Dubai initiative for the installation of a photovoltaic solar system. Green Charger stations will be installed at the Electric Vehicle Park to encourage people to use environmentally friendly vehicles. State-of-the-art Smart Meter technology will also be available in the reserve, which will include advanced features that contribute to an intelligent and environmentally friendly lifestyle.

The Marmoom Reserve will be the largest sustainable environment, tourism and recreational project in the UAE. It will aim to become one of the most important desert reserves in the UAE and the region, which will host eclectic and diverse wildlife, provide shelter for a wide variety of endangered animals and birds, combining education, environmental awareness, tourism and leisure.

Sharjah establishes Jebel Al-Buhais Nature Reserve

SHARJAH: H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has issued Emiri Decree No. 01 of 2018 to establish ‘Jebel Al-Buhais Nature Reserve’ in Sharjah.

The Decree stipulates the prohibition of the acts, actions and activities that would damage or deteriorate the ecosystem and cause damage to wildlife. It also states that all flora and fauna, including birds and other organisms, shall enjoy the protection of the reserve.

An article within the Decree states that no activities, actions or acts should be carried out in the areas surrounding the Reserve unless a permit from the competent authority is provided.

Without prejudice to any penalty imposed by any other legislation, whoever contravenes the provisions of this Decree shall be punished as per Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 stipulations.

The competent authority shall administer the reserve and take the necessary administrative measures in the coordination of the mechanism of cooperation with the concerned authorities.

The Decree shall be effective from the date of issuance and shall be published in the Official Gazette.

Sharjah establishes Al Medayna Nature Reserve

SHARJAH: H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has issued an Emiri Decree that establishes ‘Al Medayna Nature Reserve’ in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Emiri Decree No. 02 of 2018 stipulates that a nature reserve will be established in the Emirate of Sharjah under the name of “Al Medayna Nature Reserve” and shall have the specified geographical locations and boundaries demarcated in a map attached to the Decree.

As per the Decree – subject to the provisions of Article Nos. 64, 65, 66, and 67 of Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 – individuals and public and private sector establishments are prohibited from undertaking any works or activities in the nature reserve or in the adjoining areas that would destroy natural life, negatively impact it, damage wildlife and marine life or affect the aesthetic look of the nature reserve.

Article No. 06 of the Decree further stipulates that any person who breaches the provisions of this decree shall be punished by the penalty prescribed in Federal Law No. 24 of 1999, without prejudice to any penalty imposed by any other legislation.

Any person who contravenes the provisions of this Decree shall bear all damages and costs of removing the damage and the consequences of the violation determined by the Environment and Natural Reserves Authority without prejudice to the provisions of Article 6 of this Decree.

As stated by the Decree, the Environment and Protected Areas Authority shall be responsible for the reserve and shall take the necessary administrative procedures regarding cooperation mechanism with the Municipal Council and Sharjah Municipality as well as Al Batayeh Area and the Sharjah Police General Headquarters.

The Decree is effective from the date of its issuance and shall be published in the Official Gazette.