Sanctuary Factsheet

Country/Territory: United Arab Emirates
Administrative region(s): Dubai
Central coordinates: 55o 20' East 25o 12' North Map
Area: 620 ha
Altitude: 0 - 20m
Criteria: A4iii, B1i

Site description:
The head of a 10-km-long tidal creek which penetrates 7 km inland from the Gulf through Dubai city, containing tidal mudflats (maximum low-water extent c.150 ha) and a lagoon with maximum depth of 2 m and tidal range of 1.0-1.5 m. Flat sabkhah surrounds the intertidal area; there is some salt-tolerant scrub above the high-tide line, and some Tamarix in disturbed areas. The intertidal zone supports an abundant invertebrate fauna, but in late 1993 most of the 50-cm-deep top layer of mud was scoured off and a network of channels created, after which most of the area was densely planted with mangrove saplings. There is nutrient enrichment from irrigation run-off and treated sewage effluent. Seawards of the mudflats the creek has been dredged for shipping, and much is bounded by commercial development. The land is under the authority of the Coastguard, but is owned by the Government of Dubai/His Highness Sheikh Mohammed.

Land-use and percentage cover:
nature conservation and research: 100%

See box for key species. The most important mudflat area in the UAE, supporting a more varied assemblage of waterbird species at much higher densities than any other sites in the coastal zone, especially in winter and during passage periods. Important for Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus); no other significant concentrations have been found elsewhere in the country. Furthermore, the site is well-known for its population of Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber), which is present all year but is largest in winter (January av. max. 1,400, 1989-1992; 2,300 in February 1990, peak 3,100 in January 2011 ); another notable winter visitor is Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) (max. 40). Large numbers of Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) also roost in winter (see box).

Species Season Year Min Max Quality Criteria
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) breeding 2007-2011 400 1000 good B1i
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) passage 1992 727 0 good B1i
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) breeding 2007-2011 300 1500 good B1i
Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus) breeding 2007-2011 500 2000 good B1i
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) non-breeding 1990 700 1100 good B1i
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) non-breeding 2007-2011 100 500 good B1i
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) breeding 2007-2011 450 1000 good B1i
Dunlin (Calidris alpina) non-breeding 2007-2011 400 2400 good B1i
Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) non-breeding 2007-2011 400 2500 good B1i
Little Stint (Calidris minuta) breeding 2007-2011 4000 6000 good B1i
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) non-breeding 2007-2011 500 4500 good B1i

Conservation approaches:
The Government of Dubai/His Highness Sheikh Mohammed declared the area a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1985, giving protection from interference (only) at his discretion. Thousands of mangrove, Avicennia  sp. saplings were planted in  1991 to 1994. The mangrove forest is steadily flourishing since then. A Mangrove Management Plan is currently being developed to maximize the advantages of the expanding forest which is currently showing signs of encroachment to the mudflats.  Moreover, researches on the biodiversity of the sanctuary are continuously being undertaken.  Lectures are also being conducted (upon request) regarding the sanctuary to schools or any groups interested in the activities being done in the sanctuary.

BirdLife International 2007 BirdLife's online World Bird Database: the site for bird conservation. Version 2.1. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. Available: (accessed 4/7/2007)