Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve releases first annual report

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As Dubai begins welcoming international visitors, the Emirates Group is celebrating 20 years of partnership with the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) and the release of the first DDCR annual report.

The Reserve covers an area of 225 square kilometers and makes up 5% of the Emirate of Dubai. A small area of the Reserve is allotted to tourism activity under careful controls and monitoring, and in the past year, it has attracted over 238,000 visitors.

Under the supervision of professional guides, visitors from around the world came to experience spectacular dune drives, desert safaris, and traditional Arabian experiences. The guides also help visitors to appreciate and learn more about the desert’s natural habitat, heritage and wildlife, and the importance of conservation.

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve Annual Report 2019-20 covers the key highlights of the year from desert and wildlife conservation to plans to enhance the visitor experience.

“The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) provides a balance to Dubai’s growth and rapid urbanization, ensuring the conservation of our desert areas and unique wildlife. Over the past 20 years, the Emirates Group has continually supported the Reserve and its various initiatives to nurture a flourishing ecosystem. It is an investment in our heritage, and in our future. We are pleased to share our first annual report and look forward to welcoming back tourists and visitors to experience the Reserve,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Group Chairman and Chief Executive.

In 2019-20 the Reserve continued to work with local and international experts and academics on projects that track, protect, and reintroduce indigenous species to the UAE. In January this year, DDCR worked with the National Aviation Research Center and the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum to release 250 MacQueen’s Bustards, a large bird species that is classified as vulnerable through rapid population decline, into the reserve.

The reserve has also hosted VIPs and delegations from international governments and environmental bodies, such as Conservation International Vice-Chair Harrison Ford and CEO M. Sanjayan, and contributed to a series of workshops, conferences, and presentations to share research and knowledge.

The partnership between Emirates and DDCR has gone from strength to strength with Emirates investing AED 8 million into the reserve DDCR over the last five years, and AED 28 million since the establishment of the Reserve. The Dubai Conservation Board (DCB) is Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Plans for the future include enhancing the visitor experience with the addition of the Desert Visitor Center which is set to open in late 2021. This will provide an educational program for visitors, connect them with the desert and the environment, and garner support for conservation.

Due to the national pandemic response, DDCR was closed to visitors from mid-March. It reopened in mid-June with safety measures in place.

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