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Natural UAE

CLICK FOR SECTION MAP Abu Dhabi lagoons

The lagoonal complex to the north-east of Abu Dhabi city is much-prized. Several low-lying islands exist and the area has considerable natural beauty. It is of high ecological sensitivity, with extensive intertidal mudflat, seagrass beds, coral growth and mature mangrove. It has been little developed to date and remains relatively undisturbed.

On one of the islands, Balghelam, has an archaeological record going back four thousand years, with Barbar pottery originally manufactured in Bahrain having been unearthed. There was clearly as strong maritime tradition, even in those far off days.

Also on Balghelam, a herd of sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa) descended from native stock caught in the southern desert has grown to about 300 strong. Arabian or mountain gazelles (Gazella gazella) thrive here too.

The intertidal mudflats are internationally important for passage and wintering shorebirds, although difficulty of access has meant the true populations supported are not known with certainty. This restriction has, conversely, been to the net benefit of the entire ecosystem.

The headquarters of the Commission of Environmental Research which is vigorously pursuing research in the marine and coastal zone are fittingly located on the island of Al Sammaliah about 12 km from the Abu Dhabi city centre.


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