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Bird-guiding in the UAE

As of spring 2015 we are struggling with availability of birdguides, now generally only available during the weekend (Friday & Saturday).


Half day guiding: AED 800/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

Full day guiding: AED 1.400/- (1-3 persons, no additional cost if you are one, two or three persons in the car).

This might sound a bit on the expensive side, but compared to hire your own 4WD car or a taxi (see below) it is actually quite reasonable considering you get a bird expert AND a driver that knows all the birding sites intimately and can take you off-road.

Pick-up & drop-off in Dubai is normally at a central location, for example a hotel along Sheik Zayed Road.
If you stay in Abu Dhabi and will be guided by a Dubai-based guide, additional taxi fare of AED 250-300 each way might be necessary.
If you stay in Dubai and will be guided by an Abu Dhabi-based guide, additional taxi fare of AED 250-300 each way might be necessary.

For further information, see Contact

If all of our guides are unavailable, do consider hiring a taxi for half-day or full day.
In Dubai this will cost (click here for link) AED 500 for 6 hours and AED 800 for a full day (12 hours).

In Abu Dhabi, info can be found here

Dubai-based guides:

Neil Tovey

Neil has been in the UAE since 2005 and has ben guiding since 2007. In that time he has covered over 350,000 km birding across the sites of the emirates. A token to Neil’s assuredness as a guide is the fact that over 50% of his day tours are from returning customers.

A member of the EBRC, he has participated in many ornithological studies and environmental impact surveys, most recently a detailed study of the Arabian Collared Kingfisher population at Khor Kalba.

A keen birder since the age of 7, he has birded in over 20 countries and is currently busy racking up his Indian species list, based from his newly built house in Kerala, southern India.

Neil is available most Fridays and Saturdays and can comfortably sit 3 birders in his LWB Pajero.




Neil Tovey




Mike Barth

Mike has been in the UAE since 2004. He has been specialising in Bird Photography since 2008
Mike has also spent time with his cameras in India, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Europe. Mike is also know for the many years he spent travelling the expanse of Russia photographing the now rare Soviet aircraft, published in many UK based Aviation magazines.

Mike takes a slower approach to birding in the UAE and caters very much to the Photographer who wants to spend time with their subjects. He knows many of the best spots for Bird Photography and using his 4x4, pretty much everywhere is accessible.

Mike can accommodate up to 3 Photographers however given that much of the photography is done from the car acting as a mobile hide 2 photographers is more optimal.

Available for half or full days, weekends only: Fridays/Saturdays



Mike during a recent photo-birding trip to Kerala

In Dubai, also try Mark Smiles for availability (see Contacts)


Abu Dhabi-based guides:

Oscar Campbell

Oscar began birding from a bicycle on the shores of Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland at the age of 10. He still does this on his irregular trips back home but nowadays his local birding involves pounding the sites close to Abu Dhabi, logging the vagaries of spring and autumn migration, for which he has developed a particular fascination. He also greatly enjoys looking at waders, birding Oman (where has had made numerous trips) and ruminating over large gulls, at any likely location from Killybegs to Mafraq. He is, however, currently receiving treatment for the last affliction. When not beguiled by birds, he takes a keen amateur interest in Lepidoptera and Odonata and has even been seen examining the odd plant. In the UAE the latter generally only occurs after rain.

Oscar has been resident in Abu Dhabi since September 2006. Being a teacher he is only available for guiding at weekends (or, locally, after 3pm during the week) and is generally hard to come by in the school holidays. He has not calculated his world list, but it ought to be less than Steve’s. Its current rate of increase, however, is more akin to a drifting harrier than a waddling albatross. Recently most of his holidays have been spent in South and East Africa, Thailand or any bits of India that are above 2000 metres.

Oscar became Chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC) in September 2010, and is currently working closely with the Emirates Palace hotel, producing information on local birds for their website and carrying out weekly censuses in their grounds. He is also a regular contributor to several ornithological publications and enjoys taking pictures that sometimes appear on this website and elsewhere.

Oscar can easily fit 3 fully kitted out birders in his vehicle, plus all the water, samosas and chocolate muffins needed to keep them going through 12 hours of shrikes and Sylvia warblers. He can sometimes arrange accommodation, providing prior notice is given.


Oscar in Madagascar


Simon Lloyd

Simon relocated to the Middle East just in 2009. In that time, he has spent most weekends travelling the length and breadth of the UAE and all its known birding sites. As a result of all this leg-work, his UAE list now stands at a commendable 338+ and he is just as at home with the 4am dash to the east coast as he is with a leisurely half-day birding the Abu Dhabi area.

Simon started birding at the age of 10 in his native Wirral, where he spent most of his time around the Dee Estuary and Hilbre Island. Over the years, he has birded extensively in Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Simon is available for full and half-day guiding and can accommodate up to 3 birders in his trusty Nissan X-Terra. A pick-up can be arranged from anywhere in Abu Dhabi and availability is at the weekends and school holidays providing he is in the country.


Simon at Namche Bazaar on the trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal



Steve James

Steve has been birding since 1962. Born and bred in Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, meant that early birding trips were around the east coast, particularly Spurn Point and Flamborough Head. He has traveled extensively throughout the world, amassing a world list of just over 4,600 species and has been resident in the UAE since 1992. Between birding trips, Steve is the Senior Environmental Protection Officer for ADCO, and full time husband to Carol and father to between two and four daughters, depending upon who is in the country at the time!

Steve has a long list of UAE firsts to his name, the most recent being the Lesser Yellowlegs found in Al Ain in November 2007. His name is almost synonymous with that of Al Wathba Camel Racetrack, this being his local patch for twelve years. Alas, his favorite site is no more, and recently his allegiance has switched to the east coast, particularly the Dibba area. His UAE bird list is above 400 species, but only increasing at the pace of an albatross's waddle!

Steve has guided tours for several of the big bird tour companies and many small groups and individuals both in the UAE and in Oman. His love for birds, birding and wild places, is infectious to those around him, and he is keen to share his knowledge with others, a fact which is readily noted and appreciated by his clients. He was a member of the Emirates Bird Records Committee up to 2010.

Providing due notice is given, Steve is available for weekend guiding. Half-day trips are limited to Abu Dhabi region only. He can accommodate up to 3 birders in his Toyota Fortuner, and can at times provide bed & breakfast in his home in Abu Dhabi.


Steve out on a pelagic trip off Fujairah






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