An Excel-file with Google Earth friendly coordinates and correct name of sites can be downloaded here, regularly updated. Each site listed has a coordinate after the name; copy & paste the coordinate into the 'Fly to' window in Google Earth and hit the Enter key.
UAE sites excel file
Download the Google Earth file here Google Earth file
Double-click on the downloaded file to open it in Google Earth.
With a single click on a site you will see how many species that have been recorded on any single site, including escapes. Also great to locate the various sites in the UAE.
As you will see when opening the Google Earth file or the Excel file, there are a lot of sites in the UAE where birds have been registered, and most of these hold little interest to the visiting birder on a tight schedule.
I have listed the most important sites below, with some more remote sites listed for the visitor with more time on his/her hands.
I am currently (December 2010) 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:
- Safa Park during migration or winter when anything can turn up.
- Al Mamzar Park during migration or winter; April and May typically the best months here.
- Mushrif National Park for resident Pallid Scops Owl and wintering raptors.
- Dubai Pivot Fields any time for breeding White-tailed Lapwings; can be very good during migration and winter.
- Ra's al-Khor Wildlife Reserve during migration or winter; Greater Spotted Eagle guaranteed from October to April.
- 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 difficult).
- Masafi Wadi for mountain species like Scrub Warbler and wintering Plain Leaf Warbler.
- Wamm Farms any time of year, but September to May best. This is a must-visit birding site!
- Ra's Dibba for seabird watching any time of year.
- Fujairah Port Beach for seabird watching any time of year.
- Khor Kalba for resident Collared Kingfishers and Sykes's Warblers, and Indian Pond Heron from August to May.
- Green Mubazzarah for migrants and wintering birds.
- Jebel Hafit for a visit to the Mercure Hotel garden and Egyptian Vultures.
- Ghantoot for Cream-coloured Coursers on the polo lawn, and possibility of Hypocolius during winter.
- 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 for the unexpected any time of year.
- Dalma Island being the only accessible island where you can travel freely as well as camp. One hotel on the island.
- 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.
- Lulu Island, see this article
Introduction to Abu Dhabi island
Abu Dhabi area:
Al Ain area:
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
I do not know much about Abu Dhabi hotels, but the Masterburder himself, Steve James offers B&B in his villa.
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