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ARABIAN JOURNEY the

ARABIAN JOURNEY the brick-red dunes that run inland from the coast. At first glance, the untrained eye could be forgiven for thinking that nothing lives in this dry, scorched land. Actually, it’s teeming with life. “Desert foxes, indigenous cats, snakes, scorpions, gerbils,” says Ryan Ingram, a conservationist who is director of the first nature reserve in the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah. He is listing just some of the local inhabitants of the five square kilometre reserve he has developed over the past decade. “We started out with only one square kilometre and 16 animals. We now have a herd of 53, including the Arabian oryx (maha), the sand gazelle (rheem) and the Arabian gazelle (domani),” he says of the desert habitat, which is also home to the Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort. It lies in the rolling desert dunes of the western coastal strip of the Musandam Peninsula and is a place where discerning visitors can gain a glimpse of real desert. Its individual tented villas, each with their own plunge pool, blend into the nature reserve in which the resort sits. PROTECTED RESERVES The land for the resort and T H E U N T R A I N E D reserve was granted by the Sheikh of Ras al Khaimah, who E Y E C O U L D B E is keen to promote sustainability F O R G I V E N F O R and the environment. “Though ours is the only nature reserve in THINKING THAT Ras al Khaimah, it is not the only N O T H I N G L I V E S protected area,” says Ingram. “There are also ecologically IN THIS DRY, important mangroves on the coast and mountain areas that SCORCHED LAND have protection.” A holiday in the UAE might make you think of sun, sea and sand, but Ingram believes there is a demand for wildlife tourism. The species he has reintroduced are growing in number annually and the hotels of Ras al Khaimah are also full of visitors who want to get out and do something. By offering nature safaris, visitors have a chance to connect with the local environment and culture. What’s more, the notion of a protected reserve is not unprecedented. In the Emirate of Fujairah on the east coast, Wadi Wurayah – one of the region’s Clockwise from top finest natural sites – has been turned into the UAE’s left: the reception of the Banyan Tree Al first national park and designated as a Wetland of Wadi is built in the International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. mudbrick style of Ras al This unique freshwater site in a desert country Khaimah with traditional latticework and lighting; supports close to 100 endemic species, covering Ryan Ingram, director of 129km 2 with a further 92km 2 buffer zone. the Banyan Tree Al Wadi The wadi is currently closed to the public while the Nature Reserve; bird handler, Khan, with a municipality – in conjunction with Emirates Wildlife desert eagle owl Society and WWF – work to restore a habitat that was THE BIG LIST You know Dubai has the world’s tallest building and all the rest… Here’s the big list you haven’t read about before THE COMEBACK ANTELOPE The Arabian oryx was listed as extinct in the wild in the early 1970s. Its reintroduction in protected areas of the UAE and Oman has led to it being reclassified from endangered to vulnerable, the first animal ever to make that positive move. There are now over 1,000 individuals in the wild. WORLD-FIRST HERITAGE PROJECT The city of Sharjah is pursuing the largest heritage project in the region – Heart of Sharjah – with the goal of restoring historic neighbourhoods. It’s the world’s first development of its kind on this scale, is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status and is slated for final completion in 2025. L ARGEST BOTANIC GARDEN IN ARABIA With only 120mm of rainfall per year, Oman might not seem like ideal gardening territory, but that hasn’t stopped the development of the region’s largest Botanic Garden to showcase the unique flora, landscapes and cultural traditions of Oman. FIRST NATIONAL PARK When the Emirate of Fujairah designated the wetland site of Wadi Wurayah as a 129km 2 protected area in 2009, it became the first national park in the UAE. UNIQUE DRAGONFLY Thought to have become extinct in 1957, the urothemis thomasi dragonfly had a range that only covered Oman. In June 2013, it was spotted in the UAE’s Wadi Wurayah by a research manager with the Emirates Wildlife Society. 61

 

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Onelife - October 2018

 

Land Rover’s Onelife magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond

Land Rover has always stood for the freedom to go anywhere and the ability to do anything when you get there. The latest issue of Onelife salutes this spirit, transporting you across the world in celebration of adventures ranging from the exotic to the everyday – from a town in the Indian Himalaya where classic Land Rover Series Is and IIs reign supreme, to Ireland's stunning County Donegal where seafarer Monty Halls enjoys family fun with a Discovery

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