WHAT IS IT?
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is a complex of surface water bodies, both natural and man made, around 40 km southeast of central Abu Dhabi, just past Mussafah.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was established in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It was the first place in the Emirate to be designated for protection by law and was declared a Ramsar site in 2013. This means that the site has been recognized by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and joins a list of over 2,000 other internationally recognized wetlands around the world.In 2018, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was placed on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, it is the first site in our region to received this recognition.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve covers a total area of five square kilometers, comprising wetlands, sabkhas (salt flats), fossilized sands and dunes.
Despite its relatively small size, it simply teems with life. You will discover an amazing diversity here, including several endangered species who have made this their home and found shelter, protection and nourishment.
The presence of so many different habitats and types of vegetation within one compact area has attracted many different forms of life. More than 250 species of birds have been spotted, along with an abundance of aquatic life, as well as 37 plant species. Al Wathba also features a rich variety of dragonflies and damselflies.
But its greatest and most spectacular attraction is, of course, its flamingo population. When these migratory birds fly in to spend autumn until spring here, as many as 4,000 can be counted. Even when the majority return to Central Asia for the summer months, they still leave behind a resident population which can be seen all year round. In July 2013, the Greater flamingo colony successfully hatched 231 chicks at Al Wathba.
WHEN CAN I VISIT?
As the Flamingo breeding season commences, the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve has closed its doors for the summer months. We hope to see you again when it reopens for the winter season.
WHAT WILL YOU FIND THERE?
There is a Visitor Experience Center, self-guided trails (1.5 kms or 3 kms) and a bird hide equipped with binoculars and a telescope. Planning is ongoing to make the site wheelchair-accessible. We have purposefully kept the reserve as raw as possible therefore there are no cafes available so bring your own water (there are washrooms). Entrance is free and no prior registration is required.
WHAT SPECIES CAN BE SEEN THERE?
There are hundreds of bird, plant and other species to be seen at Al Wathba – these are just some of them. To get more information, click on the name of the species that interest you.
HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
The reserve is squeezed between Baniyas City, Musaffah, and the Abu Dhabi Al Ain Truck Road.