- WHAT IS ECOTOURISM?
- TOP PLACES FOR ECOTOURISM IN DUBAI
- ECO-FRIENDLY HOTELS & RESTAURANTS
- ECO-FRIENDLY STORES IN DUBAI
World-class dining, extravagant shopping and record-breaking architecture are just some of the things that come to mind when we talk about tourism in Dubai. The emirate; however, with its increasing emphasis on going green also offers much in the way of eco-friendly tourism. If you are seeking sustainable ways of enjoying a vacation, you have come to the right place. Here is all you need to know about ecotourism in Dubai.
ECOTOURISM IN DUBAI: VACATIONING RESPONSIBLY
Sustainable ecotourism practices in Dubai allow you to explore the desert landscape and the local flora and fauna without harming the environment. But first, here’s an overview of ecotourism in the emirates.
WHAT IS ECOTOURISM?
Ecotourism encourages travellers to be responsible and mindful while visiting natural areas. This is a kind of tourism that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people as well as plants and animals. According to the United Nations, ecotourism contributes to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.
The UAE has more than 5,000 sq.km. of protected areas, which is why the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has launched ‘The UAE’s Natural Wonders’ to promote ecotourism in Dubai along with other emirates. The goals of ecotourism under this program include raising awareness about ecotourism places in the UAE and building environmental and cultural understanding among both locals and tourists.
DUBAI ECOTOURISM: TOP LOCATIONS
Here are some of the best places in the emirate that provide eco-friendly leisure.
DUBAI DESERT CONSERVATION RESERVE (DDCR)
The vast expanse of DDCR is one of the largest nature reserves in the UAE. Covering an area of 225 sq. km, DDCR covers almost 5% of the total land of Dubai. The reserve has hundreds of species of plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. Not to mention, you can also engage in activities like trekking, safaris, sandboarding, camel and horse riding and falconry. You can also head to Sonora Camp for some extravagant desert dining.
- Phone: +971-4-809-8710
AL MARMOOM DESERT CONSERVATION RESERVE
This desert reserve covers double the area of DDCR, and it is all unfenced. The area is also home to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park, the largest renewable energy project in the region. Al Marmoon Desert Conservation Reserve is open to the public and you can find more than 200 species of native birds and more than 150 species of migratory birds at the site.
You can also spot different species of reptiles as well. The defining features of Al Marmoom are its large populations of the Arabian oryx and flamingos. You can also spot many endangered species that have been relocated there.
And that’s not all. History lovers should also visit the Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site. This 3,000 year-old site dates back to the Iron Age, which makes it one of the most popular cultural and historical attractions in the emirate.
- Location: Saih Al Salam
- Phone: +971-4-606-6819
Next on our list is Hatta Dam, which offers panoramic views of turquoise waters and rugged mountains. The dam is part of the Hatta Mountain Conservation Reserve, a refuge for endangered mountain animals in the region. You can enjoy a drive along the dam or go hiking in the mountains. Or you can enter the waters for some kayaking, paddle boarding or boating.
RAS AL KHOR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
For those who love bird-watching, the wetlands of Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary are a must-visit site. The sanctuary is also called the ‘Cape of the Creek.’
It features a variety of salt flats, mudflats, mangroves and lagoons spread over an area of 6.2 sq. km. Along with preserving birdlife, the sanctuary also serves as a breeding ground and shelter for mammals, crustaceans and fish.
- Phone: +971-4-606-6831
DUBAI TURTLE REHABILITATION PROJECT
Here is an outdoor experience that you can enjoy in the cooler months and save turtles while you’re at it. The Hawksbill Turtle of the UAE is an endangered species and the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project aims to preserve them. Since 2004, the project has rescued more than 550 turtles and released them back into the sea. You can watch these turtles at Turtle Lagoon, Jumeirah Al Naseem. The enclosure is open to the public, free-of-charge.
- Location: Turtle Lagoon
- Phone: +971-4-301-7198
THE GREEN PLANET
Next on our list of sustainable places in Dubai is the highly innovative facility known as The Green Planet.
The structure consists of the largest man-made, life-sustaining tree in the world, which houses over 3,000 plants and animals.
Contributing to conservation efforts in Dubai, the building has obtained a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certificate. Even the waterfall uses recycled water.
- Location: City Walk
- Phone: +971-4-317-3999
DUBAI AQUARIUM & UNDERWATER ZOO
Here is one of the best sustainable places in Dubai that provides entertainment for the entire family.
The 48 m long Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is home to a 10-million litre aquarium tank, one of the largest in the world. Located inside Dubai Mall, the aquarium invites you to witness around 140 different species of aquatic animals, include the world’s largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks. Visitors can also interact with the underwater creatures with activities like cage snorkelling and shark dives.
- Location: Dubai Mall
- Phone: 800-38224-6255
JUMEIRAH GOLF ESTATES
Those who love to golf can head to Jumeirah Golf Estates, a destination promoting sustainable sports tourism in Dubai. Eco-friendly features at the Estates include green landscaping, climate labs and research centres. The Green Sports Hub, built-in collaboration with international football star Ebbe Sand, also incorporates solar energy, water preservation, waste management and reusable technologies at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Now that we have listed some natural attractions in Dubai, let’s now check out some eco-friendly restaurants, hotels and resorts in the city.
ECO-FRIENDLY HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS IN DUBAI
Whether you are seeking accommodation or dining options in Dubai, you can still go green with these eateries and hotels.
AL MAHA RESORT
Located at the aforementioned Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Maha Resort has been designed with impressive sustainable features. These include 43 swimming pools that are powered by solar panels. The luxury resort invites you to experience the beautiful landscape of the Dubai desert up close.
- Location: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
- Phone: +971-4-832-9900
NIKKI BEACH RESORT & SPA
One of the best destinations for ecotourism in Dubai, this beachside resort has also initiated green measures in recent years. Most importantly, the resort has replaced plastic straws with ones made with cornstarch and biodegradable polylactic acid at Nikki Beach, Soul Lounge, Cafe Nikki and Key West.
- Location: Pearl Jumeirah
- Phone: +971-4-448-9539
This luxury resort in JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) has launched the Operation Care initiative. Under this program, visitors are encouraged to bring along useful items that they are planning to dispose of. As a result, hundreds of clothes, shoes, handbags, towels, socks and toys have been donated to those in need while avoiding waste.
- Location: JBR, Dubai
- Phone: +971-4-428-2000
New York’s famous burger joint allows you to savour your favourite burgers while sustaining the planet. The interiors of their restaurants located in various areas of Dubai are made from sustainable or recycled materials.
This includes everything from ceilings to wall coverings and furniture. The food packaging is also made with compostable or recycled materials. Moreover, Bareburger sources free-range meat from local farms to further reduce its carbon footprint.
- Location: Dubai Festival City Mall
- Phone: +971-4-3387110
BAKER & SPICE
If you fancy a casual ‘eco-lunch’ head over Souk Al Bahar in Downtown Dubai to the rustic-style cafe known as Baker & Spice. The eatery uses local produce and only provides biodegradable straws. The furnishings are made from sustainable materials.
- Location: Downtown Dubai
- Phone: +971-4-425-2240
ECO-FRIENDLY STORES IN DUBAI
Finally, if you want some quick shopping on your trip, there are several shops and stores that sell environmentally friendly products.
MILK & HONEY
Dubbed as the first 5-star gourmet outlet in Dubai, Milk & Honey is a 24-hour convenience store offering everything from organic food to eco-friendly detergents. The store has also incorporated 100% recyclable bags, and shoppers who return the bags can also earn instant discounts.
- Location: Palm Jumeirah
- Phone: +971-4-432-8686
THE GREEN ECOSTORE FZE
This store is especially preferred by environment-conscious individuals who favour online shopping. You can look for a wide range of innovative products, such as solar-powered backpacks, reusable sandwich bags and water-saving devices.
- Location: Sheikh Zayed Road
- Phone: +971-4-359-0666
You can read about other stores in Dubai offering eco-friendly products on our blog.
This wraps our guide on ecotourism in Dubai. You can incorporate the locations listed above in your itinerary to make the most of the natural attractions that the city has to offer.