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A Study of the Dubai Desert: its Charm and Wild Life

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The author is an air warrior, military historian and writer on warfare and military history

Falmingo's

Falmingo's

Arabian Oryx Antelope

Arabian Oryx Antelope

Falcon

Falcon

Introduction

When anybody thinks about Dubai, all that comes to mind is the tallest building in the world like the Burj Khalifa and a thriving mega city which is often referred to as the El Dorado of the east. This is true but if one just goes out off this mega city into the desert then one will realize that a form of wildlife still exists in the desert. This wildlife is peculiar to the area where temperatures rise up to 55 degrees during the day and water is scarce. The wildlife that has survived over the centuries confirms Darwin's theory of survival and evolution. The wildlife is not teeming as in the African or Indian jungle but it is very much there and is really fascinating to get to know it. In this article, I will try to explain something about the wildlife in this desert.

Dubai lies at one edge of the Arabian peninsula. The entire Arabian peninsula is desert land dotted by arid mountains. At the turn of the last century Dubai was just little more than a fishing village but towards the middle of the last century the discovery of oil changed the entire lifestyle of the region. Dubai's initial rise was fueled by the oil boom and in no time a gigantic city took shape in the desert. The place where the city came, the wildlife perforce vanished.

The discovery of oil has led to Dubai having a per capita income that exceeds the United States. This has its benefits as the Dubai government has been able to earmark plenty of funds to try to conserve this wildlife by setting up wildlife parks and processes with the help of experts, to let the wildlife survive and grow..


Arabian striped Hyena

Arabian striped Hyena

Desert eagle

Desert eagle

Wildlife

If one has to savor the wildlife in the desert then you have to leave the megacity and venture out into the sand. This is part of the great Arabian desert that extends for hundreds of miles. The basic problem of this desert is scarcity of water. There are very few oasis and in addition rainfall is almost negligible. The wildlife that is now in the desert are the species that have evolved in such a way that they can live in the available conditions. The desert has a peculiarity property where in day temperatures are extremely high and night temperatures low. In addition, the desert does not support much of vegetation and sand has a peculiar property that with the wind, it keeps on shifting and forming dunes at different places.

One of the properties of the animals in the desert is that they spend long periods in holes underground while others like the sand skink and sand boa move rapidly beneath the surface of loose sand. A large number of species come out only at night as the desert is cooler then. Though it may be difficult to see wildlife in the Dubai desert in the daytime, yet it is very much a part of the scenario.

This heat also effects the birds. Only those birds can survive that have adjusted to the extreme heat. They are thus a resilient species. Birds cannot burrow in the sand so when the heat thrives they migrate. Bird species in the UAE are few but some species have mutated to survive in the harsh climate. Birds available are the desert eagle, long-legged buzzard, little owl, and the brown necked raven.

In addition, the cream-colored courser and the black-crowned finch are also seen. During the winter months, these local species are joined by migratory birds from central Asia like the warbler and hauberk bustard. The bird that has pride of place in Dubai is the Falcon which is the national bird of the UAE. The following bird species are seen in the Dubai desert.

  • Ostriches.
  • Ducks, geese, and waterfowl.
  • Pheasants, grouse, and allies.
  • Flamingos.
  • Grebes.
  • Pigeons and doves.
  • Sandgrouse.
  • Bustards.


monitor

monitor

Sand viper

Sand viper

Reptiles and mammals

The deserts do have a fair amount of reptiles. These are the main animals in the desert. This is because reptiles like snakes and lizards are able to adapt through the high temperatures and over the centuries have mutated to become a resilient species .Giant desert lizards and monitors that can be nearly a meter long are in reasonable numbers. Other types of Lizards, as well as snakes, also survive in the desert sands. The most common snake is the poisonous desert viper. There are many types of snakes but as they burrow in the sand they will only come out at sundown. Lizards easily survive in the desert heat . The prominent species available are

  • Oman Rock Agama (Pseudotrapelus jensvindumi)
  • Gallagher's Gecko (Asaccus gallagheri)
  • Baluch Ground Gecko (Bunopus tuberculatus)
  • Gulf Short-fingered Gecko (Pseudoceramodactylus khobarensis)
  • Arabian Short-fingered Gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus)
  • Middle Eastern Short-fingered Gecko (Stenodactylus doriae)

Mammals

Mammals have fared worse than birds and reptiles. Within the last century, there is a slow extinction of mammals in the desert. Some desert varieties of the wolf, striped hyaena, and jackal have survived. Two species of gazelle have also been noticed. In addition, mountain gazelle can be seen when you drive through the desert on the major roads between Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain. Another species almost on the verge of extinction is the Sand Cat. The Sand Cat is a small and shy animal that is only active in desert at night.

An animal that has adapted to the desert is the Red Fox. The Red Fox is native to Arabia and well adapted to desert life of UAE. It is a solitary animal and most active at night.

An animal almost on the verge of extinction is the Arabian Leopard. Very few are left and one can only see them in the Dubai Natural Park. The camel is one animal that has adjusted to the heat because of its peculiar body structure and it is available in abundance. It is bred in the camel farms.

Arabian Leopard-almost extinct

Arabian Leopard-almost extinct

a-study-of-the-dubai-desert

The desert charm has however been opened to tourists from all over the world. Tourists can see the sand dunes as they undulate in the plains. In addition some form of vegetation can also be seen like palm trees, whose roots reach to the water table. In the desert, the water table is pretty low down and the vegetation that survives can only do so with long roots. The best part of the desert is the spring rains .These showers are a welcome respite from the dry and hot climate of the desert. During this time the fauna and flora get respite.

The desert safaris have now become very popular as the land rovers take the tourists into the distant desert. All in all the desert in Dubai has its own charm and is not to be missed.

References

Jongbloed, Marijcke (1996). Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of United Arab Emeritus: Plant life. Trident Press Ltd.

Richardson, Colin (1996). Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the UAE: Birds and bird watching. Trident Press Ltd

Comments

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 09, 2021:

Bill, nice you commented, but I do hope that in good time you will be able to visit this place.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

Thank you for the travelogue and the great photos and information. This is one place I will never visit, and it is nice to read about it in an article written by an online friend. It gives the article some credibility and added entertainment value, knowing the person who wrote it.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 09, 2021:

Tom,thanks great effort in conservation in Dubai. India a failure in this field.

tom on September 08, 2021:

desert paradise dubai ,oil wealth and secuarlism saved the country ,vision of makthum family ,indians as construction worker ,low crime rate ,shame on india ,we failed in conservation

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 08, 2021:

Thank You Ishika Mehere, nice you commented,

ISHIKA MEHERE from NAGPUR on September 08, 2021:

I always wanted to visit dubai. An interesting piece of writing MG singh.

Hope you have a great day ahead.

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