UAE sites, hotel-info and literature
I have listed the most important sites for a visiting birder below, with some more remote sites listed for the visitor with more time on his/her hands.
I am working on making them as complete as possible. This will take time.
At a glance, operating out of Dubai, the key sites you should not miss are:
- Al Mamzar Park best during migration or winter; April and May typically the best months here, with September to November also good.
- Mushrif National Park for resident Pallid Scops Owl and wintering raptors.
- Dubai Pivot Fields closed access and completely dry, no longer watered as of July 2015.
- Ra's al-Khor Wildlife Reserve during migration or winter; Greater Spotted Eagle guaranteed from October to April.
- Safa Park during migration or winter when anything can turn up. This site is greatly reduced in size since Sept 2014.
- Qarn Nazwa for resident Pharaoh Eagle Owls and wintering Variable Wheatear.
- Khor al-Beida for resident Crab Plovers and wintering Great Knot (access can be very difficult).
- Masafi Wadi for mountain species like Scrub Warbler and wintering Plain Leaf Warbler.
- Ra's Dibba for seabird watching any time of year.
- Fujairah Port Beach for seabird watching, gulls and terns any time of year.
- Green Mubazzarah for migrants and wintering birds.
- Jebel Hafit for a visit to the Mercure Hotel garden and Egyptian Vultures.
- Al Wathba Camel Racetrack from October to April for possible Desert Nightjar and Bimaculated Lark.
For the more adventurous:
- Mirfa area during migration for any surprises. Winter can also be good.
- Sila'a Peninsula in the far west for the unexpected any time of year. This is a top site.
- Dalma Island being the only accessible island where you can travel freely as well as camp. Hypocolius every winter.
- Sir Bani Yas island staying in a 5-star hotel and doing organised safaris among the 50,000 mammals on the island.
- Liwa Oasis for the amazing sand-dunes and the possibility of the unexpected on the fodder fields.
- Lulu Island, see this article
The below list contains links to the various sites - click on the name to see them
Introduction to Abu Dhabi island
Abu Dhabi area:
Al Ain area:
A downloadable Excel file with all officially recognised names is found here: Download
It follows the eBird naming convention, and is updated regularly, with update info found on a separate tab.
An internet search will give you the best options, and most major rental agencies are present. If you plan to visit Oman (the Musandam enclave up north or Oman proper) you must make sure the car is insured for Oman. This is easily done from the agency; you will not be permitted to enter Oman without proper insurance. This does not apply to the drive from Dubai to Hatta and Huwaylat Road, as the Oman crossing here has no borders/fences.
Quite a few rental agencies require an International Drivers License, so make sure you carry one with you.
A map of the UAE can be ordered by clicking on the image
Driving in the UAE should never be underestimated; heavy traffic with major congestion in Dubai, Sharjah (stay away!) and Abu Dhabi, speeding on all major highways, cars over- and undetaking you at breakneck speed, sudden lane shifting with no prior notice, cars slowing down in front of you while the driver is busy writing or reading texts/SMS. The list goes on. Take care, be vigilant and never think that you know what the car in front of you, beside you or behind you will do.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have many hotels on offer, from semi-budget (Dubai) to 7-star. Your best bet is to search the internet for the best deals.
A lot of visiting birders to Dubai have stayed at the upmarket Towers Rotana Hotel on Sheik Zayed Road. Easy access to all sites, easy access to taxis and little or no congestion are key selling points.
A budget hotel near Safa Park is the Holiday Inn Express; it gets good reviews on Tripadvisor.
Info on East Coast Hotels can be found on our Forum, click here
The three must-have birdbooks for the region are:
- Birds of the Middle East 2nd edition by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall.
Published in 2010, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.
- Birds of the United Arab Emirates by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall
Published in 2011, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd.
- Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterstrom and Peter J Grant.
Published in 2010, Harper Collins
Also available in large format
An excellent offroad guide to the UAE is the UAE Off-Road
Publisher: Explorer Publishing
An offroad UAE website is found here