The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, or EAD, announced that the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve has been nominated for the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award, part of the 27th World Annual Travel Awards.
The reserve was selected because of its excellence and responsible approach to tourism where visitors can enjoy biodiversity without harming the ecosystem and the environment.
Ahmed Al Hashemi, Acting Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD, said, “We are so pleased that the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is one of the three finalists at the World Annual Travel Awards, and more so that we were selected for the category of Responsible Tourism. We have always strived to ensure that all our environmental work is recognised beyond the borders of the UAE and that we meet global standards in whatever we do.”
“We encourage everyone to vote for Al Wathba Wetland Reserve which is the only site in the Arabian Gulf where the Greater Flamingo breeds regularly since 2011, is recognised as a Ramsar Site and was the first International Union for Conservation of Nature green-listed site in the region in 2018,” Al Hashemi added.
Established in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed, Founding Father of the UAE, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a nature reserve consisting of both natural and man-made bodies of water located 40 km southeast of central Abu Dhabi. Covering a total of five square kilometres, sq.km, the wetlands comprised wetlands, salt flats, fossilised sands and dunes, and are densely packed with a variety of animal and plant species.
The reserve is renowned for its spectacular flamingo population, which flocks to the reserve in their thousands to enjoy the warm weather during the winter months, with some remaining all year round. Nearly 4,000 flamingos reside on the reserve alone. The reserve was opened to the public in 2014 and now receives more than 7,000 visitors per season.
The World Annual Travel Awards were established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry, and considered the Oscars of the global travel and tourism industry.