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Finally going green? Eco-tourism on the rise in the UAE

Finally going green

The UAE hasn't had the best track record with being 'green' but recent developments makes Kipp think that is all about to change.

May 20, 2012 11:02 by

When I was younger, I enjoyed field trips out of school. Although Dubai had little to offer back then, any time away from school was much appreciated. Yet, the one trip I didn’t appreciate was a visit to the Dubai Zoo. Even if I could forget the reeking smell, I could never forget the frustrated lone lion, pacing about its ridiculously tiny enclosure-it looked no bigger than a cage. Of course, I was too young to realise I was something of animal’s rights activist in the making; all I knew was it was wrong. But the world was a different place then, and zoos for the most part were acceptable. But as wild life sanctuary and animal enclosures became more popular, I wondered why the Dubai Zoo remained unaltered.

Which is why, when the Dubai municipality announced plans of shutting down the 45 year old zoo and constructing a new zoo, Kipp was more than pleased. Three months after the announcement, Dubai Municipality has announced the new zoo will have a ‘safari model’ which will include the visitors travelling around in a vehicle to see the animals. The new zoo, called ‘Dubai Safari’ will cost Dh150 million to construct and will extend over 450 hectares in Al Warqa.

On a related note, during the inauguration of the Kalba Eco-tourism Project, the partial opening of a natural reserve in Kalba, Sharjah, was announced. The six year Kalba project will involve the development of three areas in Kalba:  Al Ghail, Al Hafiya and Al Qurm. Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, and  Environment and Protected Areas Authority have undertaken this project and are hopeful the development will help foster a culture of eco-friendliness. “We want people to see not what man has made but what nature has created,” said Al Sarkal. “The project also extends to Al Qurm area and, over a period of time, we will reintroduce the kingfisher bird, crabs, turtles and flamingos. The area has already been fenced and for the time-being, the mangroves are only allowed to be visited by schoolchildren and scientists for research.” said Marwan Al Sarkal, chief executive of Shurooq.

With an safari and reserve on the cards, what with the Sir Baniyas Island to boot, Kipp does think there is only one way for eco-tourism here in the UAE to go…and that is up!

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